Love & Relationships

More People Are Using The 'Gray Rock Method' To End Relationships. It Needs To Stop.

Breaking up is hard to do. That’s the hook of a song from way back in the day, and as someone who has broken up with people before and had a few end things with me, I can certainly attest to that very fact. Thing is, when it comes to this particular topic, sinceI am also a life coach in the area of relationships, I do think that what can make a break-up so much more painful — or at least triggering — is how someone chooses to do it…and boy, if the gray rock method is not one of the most cowardly ones out here — WHEW.

And just what is the gray rock method? I’m so glad that you asked because, although I didn’t know until semi-recently that there was an actual term for it, I have experienced it and witnessed far too many other people go through it, to not call it all the way out.

Before breaking it down, if you’re on the verge of ending things with someone (someone you’re dating, not someone you’re married to because you definitely shouldn’t go this route in that case), if you want your life karma to be good, this is how to NOT handle your relationship.

Let me explain.

What It Means to Be a Coward


Before I get into what the gray rock method is all about, I think it’s important to lay down a bit of groundwork. You know, I’ve been working professionally in the field of relationships for damn near two decades at this point, which means that I have seen a lot — and when it comes to the approach that folks will take in order to end their own romantic connection with someone, I’ve noticed that men will oftentimes take the cowardly way out while women will lean into being passive aggressive.

For the record, both are ridiculous (in my opinion), and I’ll expound on why. Starting with being a coward.

By definition, a coward is someone who lacks courage. Some synonyms for the word include wimp, deserter, and quitter. Because I am a traditionalist (more like a complementarian) in many ways when it comes to relationships, a cowardly man grates my soul because, if a man is to lead a relationship, he can’t be a coward and do it well.

Hmph. That reminds me ofan article that I once read on traits of a cowardly leader; some of them included avoiding hard decisions, being a poor listener, not being genuine, refusing to grow or change on any level, and not following through with things.

And you know what? There are a lot of guys out here who, when they are ready to end a relationship, instead of just coming right on out and saying it, they will take the cowardly approach. For instance, they might stop listening to you or paying attention to your needs, or they might become inflexible or unwilling to compromise, all the while hoping that their actions will frustrate you to the point where you will leave them so that they don’t have to be “the bad guy.” And yes, that is a coward. A textbook one, at that.

Is it on the top of anyone’s list to end a relationship? Does anyone rush to hurt someone’s feelings or worse, break their heart? Unless they’re a clinically diagnosed narcissist or sociopath, absolutely not. Indeed, calling it quits with someone requires courage. Yet, if a man wants to be respected, courage is something he’s going to need to have if he comes to the conclusion that a relationship no longer suits him anymore.

That said, people who use the gray rock method with people they date are not very courageous people. Put a pin in that while I handle how a lot of women tend to move towards the end of relationships for a second.

What It Means to Be Passive Aggressive


“What’s wrong with you?”


UGH. My clients know that if there’s one thing that I’m going to call out, each and every time, it’s saying “nothing” to clearly something — and it’s not (typically) men who do that mess; it’s usually women…by far. I don’t know who started that approach to communication, but whoever it is should be placed on billboards all over the country with bright red flags circling their head because mature and effective interaction doesn’t require someone having to beg you to speak up. If something is wrong, say it; being passive-aggressive profits absolutely nothing.

And what exactly does it mean to be a passive-aggressive individual? In many ways, it’s a lot like gaslighting. Rather than confront a matter head-on, passive-aggressive folks do things likegive the silent treatment, address issues with cynicism or sarcasm, smile in your face, and then talk about you behind your back (even if that means venting about you online), dish out backhanded compliments; will engage in self-sabotage by creating drama and problems that don’t really exist, and/or they will pull that “nothing” mess in order to make someone pull how they are feeling out of them (which again, is pretty immature, if we’re gonna be real about it).

And why would someone do this if they are unhappy in their relationship? Well, the interesting thing about passive-aggressive behavior (which is why it’s so close to gaslighting) is if people do it “well” enough, they can play the victim; that’s because it’s so subtle that, although they are annoying/irritating the entire mess out of someone, it can be challenging for the person who is on the receiving end of their game-playing to directly call them out on it.

So, if a guy is dating a woman who is passive-aggressive and she says things like, “I mean, this is a better restaurant than the ones you’ve taken me out on lately,” or she suddenly decides to nitpick at what he does when she used to be quite chill, if he starts to distance himself or wants to end things, then she can act like he abandoned her, even though she’s the one who started all of the discontent and low-key drama, to begin with — and yeah, that’s some pretty nasty work.

And this, along with being cowardly, at the end of the day, can both play a direct role in applying the gray rock method to ending a relationship. Here’s how — and why.

Here’s How They Both Play a Role in the “Gray Rock Method”


When was the last time you stared at a rock? If you honestly can’t remember, I don’t blame you. Rocks are pretty boring. In fact, the only thing worse than looking at a rock is looking at a gray rock. I mean, even though I like to wear gray, let’s not act like the color is super stimulating or anything. And so, if you pair that hue with a stone, and then look at it for minutes on end, there is a huge possibility that you are gonna be bored out of your mind to the point where you’d rather do almost anything but continue to do so.

Ladies (and possibly gents as well), I give you the gray rock method. Although some people say that it’s a helpful way to deal with negative or draining people, remember that we’re talking about it in a particular context for this article. For this piece, the gray rock method is applied by tapping out so much, becoming so bland and ho-hum in conversations, literally acting boring as hell that the person you’re seeing ends up fading out or ending things altogether…and gee, you didn’t have to do any of the dirty work.

Could it work? Sure, it could. Hell, it does. People do some variation of this mess all of the time. However, even the person who came up with the term says that if you’re going to attempt it, you should during the beginning stages of dating NOT when you’re ready to end something that is far more substantial. Why shouldn’t you for more serious relationships? Well, now that you know what the gray rock method is all about…do you see how it can be cowardly like a mug and/or passive-aggressive as all get out? What’s even remotely respectful about either of those things?

One way that I’ve seen someone pull the gray rock method approach that was pretty foul is she totally disengaged with her partner. Then, when he stopped doing as much work as he used to in order to maintain the relationship, she accused him of cheating — just so she could feel good about ending a relationship that she no longer wanted to be in, in the first place. Foul, foul, and super foul. Yeah, no matter how difficult it can be to end things with someone, putting them in a position where they will seem like the villain and you the hero-victim when you know that you were pulling puppet strings all along? Either you’re heartless, or you don’t believe in karma.

Which brings me to my final point for all of this.

There Is Usually Karma in Break-Ups. Remember That.


Not too long ago, someone asked me about what kept me from totally clowning a particular individual (who they know) who did me pretty dirty back in the day. I mean, I do have a book coming out before the year’s end. LOL. I promise you, I don’t know why folks wanna screw with writers (any kind of writer too). The bigger point here is when you know that you did right by — or at least better than —someone, you really can let karma (destiny or fate, following as effect from cause) handle it.

And for those of you who claim not to believe in karma, do you not believe in sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:6-10) either — because that’s pretty much what karma is. And here’s the thing about it: it doesn’t have an expiration date. What that means is you can plant a “bad” (or cowardly or passive-aggressive or jacked-up motive) seed, forget all about it, and BOOM! Out of nowhere comes a harvest that you can’t figure out…and it was all connected to that nasty seed that you planted back in the day.

Yeah, the thing that you have to be careful of when it comes to matters of the heart is, that you really do need to always and consistently apply the Golden Rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” So, even if you’re not feeling someone in the way that they feel about you (anymore), don’t be delusional (or arrogant) enough to think that one day you won’t be emotionally where they are about you now regarding someone else — which could cause them to “gray rock” the mess outta you. See where I’m coming from?

Actor Keanu Reeves once said, “Your karma should be good and everything else will follow.” Break-ups are included. If you want things to end well for you, end well with someone. There’s no need to bore them to tears so that they will leave so that you won’t have to. Be what you want: honest, clear, fair, compassionate, and caring. Even if it’s time to bring this chapter of your love life to a close, who said that it can’t be respectful, grown, and honorable? The gray rock method? Yeah, it doesn’t check off any of those boxes. Not really.


I know this is a bit of a different kind of relationship article. Like I said earlier, although you may have never heard of the term before, “gray rocking” happens too much to not address it head-on to hopefully get fewer people to do it.

Bottom line, is if you want a mature break-up from someone, give one.

I would hate for a gray rock to hit you on your head (or at your heart) one day (you know, metaphorically-speaking)…all because you didn’t.

Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Featured image by Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty Images



5 Things To Tap Into For 'UnPrisoned' Season 2

This article is sponsored by Hulu.

UnPrisonedhas returned for its highly anticipated second season, delving deeper into the complex dynamics of the Alexander family.

The series premiere comes a year after its debut season garnered rave reviews from fans and critics and earned record-breaking ratings for Hulu's Onyx Collective brand. UnPrisoned's success can be attributed to its raw, relatable themes and comedic appeal.


In the vibrant world of travel influencers, Black women are making waves and offering fresh perspectives on globetrotting adventures. And when we say, “Book that trip,” we can’t help but recognize the women who fill our feeds with the inspiration to do so.