Defining No Contact

It’s Narcissist Friday!

Here’s a great question I read recently:

“Does no-contact work to get an ex back?”

There are counselors and coaches who recommend no-contact to motivate an ex to want to come back. They claim that it might take a while. My question is whether you really want the ex back.

If you have tried to extricate yourself from a narcissist, you almost certainly want no-contact to finally and forever end the connection. No calls. No visits. No emails. No opportunity for the narcissist to reach into your mind and heart again.

Not everyone can do this. If you share children with a narcissist, you know what I mean. Visitation rights, health and education decisions, child support, and more make it almost impossible to consistently have no contact with the abuser. If your narcissist is a parent or sibling or one of your children, you may have little choice about your interactions. And, when you connect with the narcissist, you know that it won’t go well.

But many can do this. Sometimes even with family members. Some people need to do this. So, here are some thoughts.

First, when you are dealing with a narcissist, no-contact is not a game. If you think you can manipulate your narcissist into coming back to you or falling into line with your boundaries and desires by threatening the end of the relationship, you will almost certainly fail. Narcissists are masters at manipulation. You probably are not.

I realize that people use this to try to get their exes back, as I mentioned above. But you really do want to ask yourself if you want that person back. If you want the narcissist to change, you will probably lose the battle. He might come back but you will find that he has more power and takes more advantage when he does. If the ex you are trying to get back is not a narcissist, then a technique like this might indicate that you are. (In case, you can’t see it, I don’t like playing games with something like no-contact.)

Second, if you do try to separate yourself from the narcissist with no contact, be prepared for a battle. Narcissists love to test your boundaries. This is an ultimate boundary. They will call. They will drop by. They will complain to friends and family. They will lie. They will cry. They will threaten. They will twist your words. They will use the children. They may even try to break into your house. Be prepared. You can do this, but you may have to be as strong and as ruthless as the narcissist.

Part of me wants to say that you can slack off the no-contact after a while. But I know better. If you start this, you have to be committed to all the way and forever. That’s why it is so hard with family. What do you do when someone goes into the hospital? How about funerals? You may still have to see that person, and you can almost count on the fact that they will try something to get to you.

There is a sub-tactic of no-contact popularly called “gray rock.” The idea is that you consider yourself a gray rock in front of the narcissist. You become boring. Nothing they say gets a reaction from you. Even if you have contact, you do not connect.

The idea that you can become boring to the narcissist is certainly attractive. If they can choose to walk away from you, you might find that your contact with them is painless, even benign. But here’s the problem. Narcissists are like cats, predators. Playing dead might make them walk away and allow time for them to become interested in something else. But if they see you move, they will be right back. The game will start again, and this time they will not be as easily deceived.

You might want to use the gray rock method differently. Make the narcissist the gray rock in your life. Instead of trying to hold back your anger or sadness, learn to look at the narcissist without emotion, as though they are boring to you. When you look at the ground, there are many gray rocks. None of them interest you. They have no connection with you. There are many people in the world whose lives do not connect with yours, even though you might see them at the grocery. So, even though you see the narcissist at mom’s funeral, she is no different from the people you don’t know. In fact, she is less because you already know she is uninteresting. Other people at least have potential.

Most of us have had random strangers say odd things to us or interact with us in strange ways. Maybe a joke that comes out of the blue. Maybe an expectation that seems odd. The woman who randomly yells at you at the thrift store. The man behind you at the grocery who makes a political comment you don’t understand. The clerk who talks about what you are buying. You shrug these off. You might wonder for a while, but soon you forget. With the narcissist, you don’t even need to wonder. It’s just another of his twisted jokes or her critical comments. Means nothing to you. You do not have to respond.

If you want to go no-contact or gray rock, you may have to set normal triggers aside. You will not be able to jump in to defend someone else. You will not think maybe the narcissist is changing. Not ever. Diligence, commitment, strength, and prayer.

Otherwise, don’t do it. There are other ways to establish and maintain boundaries. No-contact is hard work.


Apparently the audio file is not included in the email of this post. It may be too large or email filters might not let it through. If you would like to listen to the audio version of the post, you will find it on the blog site.



Filed under Narcissism, Uncategorized

5 responses to “Defining No Contact

  1. Batya Ahul

    Thank you again Pastor Dave, for another insightful post.
    I have just applied for and received a generous voluntary redundancy package from my school nursing job- which in previous comments I have discussed having a narcissistic manager within a narcissistic organisation (very old very prominent public (in the UK this means private) school) within a very famous Cathedral).
    I had struggled for 15 years doing the best I could for these children (who despite coming from extreme wealth & privilege have very real needs). The school has always had “flexible boundaries” which are extremely difficult to work in- I won’t go into detail but to the governors (which include very senior members of the Church of England) the reputation of the school is far more important than the welfare of an individual child- and that is just plain wrong.
    There is no problem that cannot be solved with a large donation from a parent….
    I was ready to leave a year ago without a redundancy payout as I along with my colleagues, we were going to be expected to prescribe and administer emergency contraception to female pupils as young as 13- I took a conscientious objection to this and thankfully the policy has not been implemented- but still may be in the future.
    As it is a boarding school it will be a very difficult environment with COVID 19, many international pupils won’t be returning hence reduced income via school fees, resulting in the offer of voluntary redundancy (it was made to all staff including teaching).
    After I received a generous confirmed redundancy offer on Friday there was another double rainbow 🌈 🌈 outside my home. God provided me with a way out, for He is good always!

    I continue with my part time work in ITU, please pray the right family friendly work will come along to replace my school income (about 1/2 my overall salary), more ITU will mean more nights which are not great for my health 😩.

    Apologies for the length of post, I pray for you all, as you are fellow members of one of the most comforting Christian congregations I have ever been a member 😊

  2. Batya Ahul

    Also urgent prayer request for my eldest son,
    He has returned to school this week & it’s a strange place with social distancing in place. He is a very bright, but extremely shy & ultra sensitive boy who has struggled with bullying in the past. I know a lot of children will be struggling right now
    He’s just broken down sobbing with anxiety as he is finding school so difficult- like his mother he worries so much and I pray that the Lord can lift this anxiety from him and protect him from any bullying. 🌈🌈

  3. Z

    Pastor Dave, You are so right that it takes a certain kind of person to go No Contact with even the most destructive, malignant narcissists in his/her life when they are “family”. It does mean even no 3rd party contact or communication. No funerals, no visits to hospitals, no weddings…if the people trying to destroy you are going to be there. Because that is when they WILL use that opening of access to you to harm you. I’ve had the police falsely called with a report of a completely fabricated offense. It resulted in a false arrest! Because “family” wouldn’t lie about “family” the police wrongly thought!! Lol. Family can be the WORST, most conniving, spiteful evil people when it comes to payback for establishing BOUNDARIES and going NO CONTACT. Even though the reason for No Contact is completely valid. They are my violent childhood abusers as well as abusers throughout my entire adulthood. They went so far, after I kept to my BOUNDARIES regarding their continued abuses and separated from them for some months, to committing violence against me (and my husband). And then lied to police and got the bleeding victim arrested. That is the very definition of UNSAFE PEOPLE that MUST be removed completely from one’s life for physical safety and mental well-being. Unsafe people ESCALATE and RETALIATE when boundaries are placed on their abuse. Normal people reflect and think about their behavior and make changes to keep a valued relationship. Malignant Narcissists don’t have “relationships”. People are a means to their ends. They use and manipulate people. No consciences. Evil in their hearts.
    No, going No Contact isn’t easy but with the kind of people I was dealing with, it was lifesaving. Completely necessary. The hardest part is when one goes No Contact-all the “allies” of the abusers who know about their lifetime of abuses stick together and turn on the victim. Shunning, betrayals, abandonments, ostracizing…all these things followed my going No Contact due to a violent, documented, bludgeoning weapon attack that was preplanned by “family”. These relatives and church people saw the pictures of the victim’s injuries. Still, they followed the “crowd” like sheeple do. And they were well-compensated with bribes and money for their “loyalty” to the abusers they’d been loyal in covering up abuses for all their lives. “Christians” (supposedly)!! I don’t think so!! There’s no such thing as a “Christian Abuser” or a “Christian Abuse Enabler”. So all the “cult/clan” had to be included in the No Contact. The victim is left with no family or friends at all. No church either. The abusers and their “posse” poisoned all the churches I’d ever attended. Smeared all over social media and the sad thing is the church people ate it up. Which makes me reluctant to find another “church”. My church is now the community of other abuse victims who have in some way walked in my shoes and know the evil hearts of abusers. They’ve been damaged and wrecked by the abuses and the aftereffects of getting free from their abuser.
    Thanks, Pastor, for writing about No Contact and validating it’s need one certain cases. Even permanently removing oneself from truly evil, completely unrepentant, counterfeit “christian” agents of satan. We are children of the Most High God and He would never want us to be habitually harmed mentally and physically by anyone. But ESPECIALLY wolves posing to the world (and churches) as “christians”. The Bible speaks about this numerous times. Your Pastor’s voice, your discernment and understanding about the need for No Contact for safety and well-being is greatly appreciated.

  4. Penny

    I went NC in 2012 with a toxic MIL. It was tough. I grew a steel spine. My hubs had to choose between me or his toxic mother, b/c she was so intrusive, manipulative & devious; she had vowed to turn my kids against me & destroy my marriage. It was so engulfing that I was nearly suicidal.
    But, I stood firm….and am still standing.
    Every card, gift or letter went straight into the trash. No response, b/c even a response would be “contact’.
    I’m still here, she is 95 years old and still assassinating my character, gossiping, denigrating & destructive. But, I “buried” her long ago, in 2012, when I went NC. No regrets.

  5. Thank you for explaining Gray Rock. I’ve seen it mentioned other places but didn’t understand the concept. I realize now that I repeatedly tried to be the gray rock, but they just pushed harder and made life more difficult. Finally, I made the narcissist the gray rock. What a remarkable difference. My world became more peaceful. I had to correct myself when I realized I was enjoying their frustration too much. I didn’t want to become like them.

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