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What is Stonewalling? Definition, Signs, Causes, Impacts and Everything else

What is Stonewalling? Definition, Signs, Causes, Impacts and Everything else

Updated on May 27, 2022

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

Stonewalling - Definition, Signs, Causes, Impacts and Everything else

Wondering if you’re a victim of stonewalling? Perhaps your partner takes unnecessary space from you for a long duration, leaving you feeling insecure?

Or, they’re never free when you want to talk, and you feel helpless in the relationship.

That breaks me from within… but the good news is you might find your solution in this think-piece. Before that, let me say, I’m proud of you for your bravery. 

However, if you’re stonewalling someone, I welcome you equally because you want to change for a healthier relationship… Even if it’s hard, I’ll show you how to get over it soon.

So, let’s heal together from within…

Stonewalling Infographics

Stonewalling - Meaning & Signs
Stonewalling – Meaning & Signs
How to Stop & Deal with Stonewalling
How to Stop & Deal with Stonewalling

Stonewalling definition

When you give someone the silent treatment to avoid difficult conversations, that’s stonewalling. It results in many emotional and physiological effects on the one being stonewalled.

All couples experience difficult situations in their relationships, but the way they deal with them makes a big deal.

A person with poor coping skills during difficult times might completely shut down or give the silent treatment to their partner, aka stonewalling.

Usually, a person who is stonewalling builds a virtual stone wall around them during any conflict and stops verbal or even nonverbal communication to the other.

The most common way to identify stonewalling behavior is when the other person completely ignores you, becomes busy with something random, tunes you out, or even calls you nagging, unreasonable, or oversensitive.

Obviously, stonewalling victims feel hurt, frustrated, disappointed, overwhelmed, experience physiological responses, and emotionally distance you from your partner, which is detrimental to the relationship.

To understand stonewalling better, check some…

Stonewalling examples

If your partner stonewalls you, most of the time, they become distant, quiet, silent, and aloof. 

However, sometimes they might get really talkative, but about the wrong things. They might communicate only to express how you hurt them. 

Let’s know some more similar scenarios down here…

1. They ignore you when you criticize them

2. They stall difficult conversations with excuses like being preoccupied with work

3. They exhibit passive-aggressive body language like rolling eyes during arguments or even avoiding eye contact

4. They exhibit defensive mechanisms during arguments

5. They blame you for every issue at hand

6. They give you the silent treatment

7. They walk out on you

8. They dismiss your feelings or concerns

9. They show obsessive tendencies

10. They have communication issues, i.e., don’t respond to communication

11. They say they’re okay even when they’re not

12. They leave you feeling overwhelmed after all conversations or attempts

13. You experience physiological responses of stonewalling like increased heart rate, or fight or flight responses.

14. They refuse any responsibility for wrongdoing

15. They deny stonewalling you or giving you the silent treatment.

 But, did they really mean to hurt you? Let’s know from…

Stonewalling Types

Stonewalling can be Intentional – when your partner wants to control you, and Unintentional – when it’s a defense mechanism against possible conflicts.

Some people confuse stonewalling with space and boundaries, however, that requires proper communication.

Stonewalling doesn’t include communication… rather it’s full of poor communication skills. Depending on the goal of your partner, stonewalling can be of two types…

1. Intentional Stonewalling

If your partner stonewalls you to manipulate the relationship, makes you feel guilty, hurts you with their silence, or even includes verbal abuse in the little time you communicate… that’s intentional stonewalling.

2. Unintentional Stonewalling

If your partner stonewalls you to avoid any conflict or difficult conversations, they probably fear your reactions.

This might be their learned behavior to deal or cope with emotional situations, i.e., when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

Some people also confuse stonewalling with gaslighting, let’s learn the difference…

Stonewalling vs Gaslighting

Stonewalling is generally an unintentional silent treatment as a coping skill during conflicts. Gaslighting is when someone denies responsibility for their past actions and makes you a liar.

Usually, stonewalling stems from past relationship experiences where they felt troubled emotionally or physically.

It’s a learned defense mechanism where the stonewaller (your partner) doesn’t know how to communicate with you so your partner refuses to communicate.

However, gaslighting is an intentional attempt at controlling you, so it’s a form of emotional abuse.

During gaslighting, your partner refuses that they ever told or did anything you confronted them about.

They make you question your sanity to manipulate you further.

Think only men stonewall? Let’s know the truth from…

Stonewalling in men vs women

Stonewalling is mostly about past experiences, so despite gender, anybody can stonewall. It has nothing to do with communicating abilities alone.

Since past studies showed that men have a harder time communicating in a relationship, or tend to emotionally refuse to communicate more than women… Many believe only men stonewall or only women get stonewalled.

However, that’s a ridiculous assumption because stonewalling tendencies usually stem from childhood experiences in relationships with caregivers.

Men and women can equally give silent treatments.

Worried if there’s any stonewalling in your relationship? Read on…

Signs of stonewalling – when you’re being stonewalled

Stonewalling can happen both ways in your relationship, you might give your partner the silent treatment or your partner might give you the cold shoulder.

However, even if you notice the signs, you mostly ignore them because they might be tired, or you want the best for your relationship. 

So first, let’s find out the signs when you’re being stonewalled…

1. They get defensive during conflicts

When you bring up a relationship issue to your partner how do they react? If they deny the issues or revert the blame back to you, make you feel bad about something, that’s their defense mechanism talking.

A stonewaller can go to severe lengths to protect themselves… even if it needs to turn the tables on you.

Instead of finding solutions to conflicts, the conflicts build up which becomes a threat to your relationship.

2. They downplay you

A stonewalling partner will always make you feel indebted about your past mistakes. They will prove that you’re far worse than them and must work on yourself before asking someone else to fix themselves.

They try to manipulate your thoughts and keep you under control. Usually, after every conflict, you’ll brush the original issue under the rug and think more about what they pointed out.

This is a kind of emotional abuse, however, you don’t recognize it too soon.

3. They leave – every time!

Whether a romantic relationship or not, some stonewallers apply a universal solution to conflicts – walking out. Be it a romantic partner or their parents, they walk out of a room whenever anybody brings up a difficult topic.

They make you feel that they have much better things to do rather than entertaining you or your insignificant topic.

You feel unsure about the situation and push the conversation back until it takes a bigger form.

4. They’re busier than a bee

Some stonewallers make you think they’re busy all the time, and everything else other than you is a priority. They might actually start working when you approach them.

Suddenly doing chores, or scrolling through their phone and saying “This is important, I’ll talk later”, or even switching on their laptop and going through emails to pretend it’s real work.

You know it’s not real but can’t help but stop the conversation… This is another form of emotional abuse.

5. They’re monosyllabic

A stonewalling partner might also show their disinterest in a conversation, with one-word responses. They usually reply with lots of Hmm, uh-huh, okay, sure, nope.

They respond too softly to hear and try to push out a reaction from you with this behavior.

Further, they look for chances when you’ll lose your mind for their responses and insult you for stirring up commotions.

That’s a very sly psychological game some stonewallers play to suppress partners.

6. They’re tight-lipped

If your partner refuses to communicate or is totally unresponsive, you feel overwhelmed, exasperated, and annoyed about the communication issues… all of these are signs of stonewalling you.

Moreover, their refusal obstructs you both from getting relationship satisfaction, because of the lack of communication resulting in the lack of emotional bonding.

Also, their cold shoulder might make you question where you went wrong and strip off your confidence.

You suspect you did something wrong and feel guilty all alone without any solid reason.

7. Your concerns are insignificant

How frequently do you hear “You always think about useless stuff! You really don’t have a job other than overthinking, do you? Oh, not again, babe I have far worse things to handle, not right now”?

They say they’ll resume the topic, but they never do. If this is a usual scenario in your life, that’s another kind of stonewalling.

They make your issues seem smaller than theirs, leave you feeling under confident about your thoughts, and inflict emotional scars about your lack of space in their life.

8. Passive aggression is their natural response

Do they avoid your conflict resolutions a lot? Or reassure you about wrong things? Like saying “Everything’s fine, don’t worry! I’m not angry, who said that?”

Or, do they procrastinate conversations because they’re too tired, preoccupied, and don’t have time at all?

When your partner makes too many excuses to avoid your or a meaningful topic, it’s a sign of passive aggression. They shut themselves down to hide their emotional vulnerabilities.

This damages a relationship in numerous ways.

9. They don’t even spare you a glance

Sometimes do you feel that your partner turned into a distant person… a very close stranger in your life?

Forget about verbal communication, they don’t even engage in nonverbal communication like eye contact, or even non-sexual physical intimacy like holding hands or hugging.

If you feel unfamiliar with their body language, can’t read their thoughts like usual, or make you feel invisible, those are stonewalling signs.

10. They label you a fixer

Another warning sign of stonewalling in a relationship is a stonewaller twisting your intentions. Suppose you want to resolve a conflict and approach your partner with…

“Hey, I think we gotta talk about this thing…let’s just solve this issue and get back to our old selves”

This is a nice way to initiate conflict resolution… nothing’s wrong. However, your partner spoils the mood with “Here comes the almighty fixer who can solve everything”.

Stonewallers don’t want to face the immediate issue, so they resort to emotional abuse and discouragement.

11. You feel they’re punishing you

Another alarming sign if you’re always wondering if their silent treatment is a punishment for your actions.

Since stonewallers refuse to communicate, you don’t have any idea what’s going on.

Whether they just want some space, are busy, or you hurt them somehow. This is a type of psychological manipulation where your partner makes you feel guilty for unknown reasons.

Your mood depends on their actions and they have the upper hand in the relationship.

12. You don’t feel loved

Do you think loving memories of you and your partner is a story of another couple of another time? Or that it never happened, because why else is there a lack of affection in your relationship?

Well, maybe because they’re stonewalling you.

You can feel your partner distanced you emotionally and that’s what made you think they don’t love you anymore.

However, every time you feel unloved doesn’t indicate stonewalling. Stonewalling also comes with a good amount of ignoring and lack of communication.

13. They deserted you

Sometimes space is important in a relationship to redefine your feelings for each other and find out how much you both mean to the other. However, there must be a limit to the space they take.

For instance, if they disappear in thin air after asking for space for weeks… that’s unhealthy space.

In fact, if you feel insecure whether they ghosted you, about their whereabouts, and actions while taking space… that’s not space.

They only wanted to seem innocent while stonewalling you.

14. They’re good topic-hoppers

Suppose you bring up an important discussion about your relationship, and they say “Hey, you remember my parents will come over next week? Let’s pick the menu, we gotta impress them!”

If your partner covers an important relationship conversation with a seemingly more important conversation, they smoothly change topics without your notice.

Momentarily, you feel “oh yeah, I totally forgot that”… and that’s their aim, to distract you from the important topic.

15. They never focus

When you begin important conversations with your partner, do they seem immersed in some other thought?

Perhaps, they’re immersed in their favorite show and delay the conversation.

Or, they’re always looking at their phone while talking to you.

Also, since they don’t focus on your words completely, they might listen to small details and misunderstand you.

If you have a hard time making them concentrate on conversations, that’s another stonewalling sign.

Signs of stonewalling – when you’re stonewalling

However, what if you’re stonewalling someone? Well, you might do something from the list above, and relate to some more unique signs like these…

1. You escape from conflicts

Whenever there’s an issue with your relationship, what do you do? Do you feel like you need to flee that instant to avoid addressing the issue?

You might do it intentionally because of underlying reasons or unintentionally give in to obsessive behaviors.

Perhaps, whenever your partner starts a hard topic, you remember you didn’t do certain important work.

If you always find yourself bailing out from the important discussions, you’re a stonewaller.

2. Your defense mechanism auto-activates

If you always think of your relationship discussions as your partner nagging you, framing you as the bad guy, and having a severe urge to protect or prove yourself innocent… you have a hyperactive defense mechanism.

In relationship conversations, you focus more on justifying your actions than finding solutions to the relationship problem.

Getting defensive is another sign of stonewalling, which obstructs you from handling the real issue. Your conversation shifts from resolving issues to building new issues.

3. You conceal your emotions

Do you have an obsessive urge to hide your feelings? Perhaps, you feel showing your emotions or vulnerabilities will give them more reasons to hurt you.

Or, you believe any kind of emotional attachment is for weak people and steer clear from it?

Disengaging from emotional connections is also a sign of stonewalling, damages the relationship, and hurts your partner.

It obstructs any fruitful conversation and brings a standstill position in your relationship.

4. You fear their reactions

Another possibility is that you suppress your emotions because you’re scared of your partner leaving or hurting you.

If they really hurt you or destroyed objects before and your actions aren’t a result of assumptions, seek help to leave the abusive relationship.

However, if they never hurt you, and your actions are mostly based on past experiences with a caregiver or other romantic partners, you’re stonewalling your partner unreasonably.

Give conversation one shot before jumping to conclusions.

5. You believe you’re always right

Suppose you did something wrong and that hurt your partner. Your partner confronted you about the issue, how will you react?

If you answer “I can never hurt them, I’m incapable of it”… you might have some personality disorder like narcissism.

Instead of confronting the issue, denial and strong belief in being right harm your relationship from moving forward.

You obstruct the journey whenever you make it all about yourself and not your partner.

If you’re not open to your partner’s different perceptions is another stonewalling sign.

Curious why it even happens? Let’s find out from…

Causes of Stonewalling

A person might stonewall you intentionally to manipulate you, or just because it reminds them of the dreary past which they don’t want to repeat.

There are distinct reasons behind stonewalling depending on the intentions.

So, let’s dig up the roots…

1. They want the upper hand

The worst reason behind stonewalling is to manipulate someone or a situation for one’s own advantage. Your partner might be a manipulative person who obsesses over controlling everything around them.

They might have control issues that bring toxicity to a relationship. During conflicts, people feel stressed, their heart rate increases, they feel they’re out of control.

If they react to you, such feelings increase, so they decide against reacting and feel powerful enough to control your feelings.

2. To escape confrontation

During conflict situations, the adrenaline rush brings the fight or flight mode to the brain. Your partner might surrender to flight because they fear such situations.

They feel uncomfortable from the feelings of a fight or conflict and simply want to escape from such situations.

They feel that talking won’t help so stalling is the solution to any disagreement. And, they might also be emotionally passive.

3. They think they can’t take it

Some people lack the confidence of conducting proper communications. This might be due to past experiences with a caregiver or romantic partner who controlled them and suppressed their emotions.

They think that communicating itself is too hard, or a particular topic is a goner in their life.

Perhaps it’s about their dark past and they want to hide it at any cost. They feel the revelations might ruin the relationship so keeping mum can save it.

4. They fear the unknown

If your partner was an abuse victim, they might fear opening up because they might experience hurtful feelings if you react similarly to their abuser.

When someone is scared of communicating due to any form of abuse, they’ll stop themselves from expressing anything that might trigger you and ruin the relationship.

If you didn’t ever hurt or scare your partner, they’re stonewalling you because they’re still stuck in the past.

5. They think you don’t wanna talk

Another cause behind your partner stonewalling you is because they think you’re disinterested in such conversations.

If you give away aloof and mysterious vibes, your partner might think that you don’t want to be bothered.

Perhaps, you intentionally or unintentionally gave away such impressions and they only want to respect your desires in the relationship. A little more effort in communication might help your situation.

6. They feel hopeless

Your partner’s stonewalling might also depend on the concerned topic. Perhaps, they’re demotivated to the core or feel depressed about the concerned topic. 

Deep inside they believe that there’s no solution so they give up on it.

If your partner usually communicates but is emotionally distant about a certain issue, then they lose hope about the issue, and not you or the relationship.

7. They really don’t have an opinion

Perhaps, you were talking about painting the new house, or getting new bed linens to change the bland look… but your partner doesn’t understand it much.

Or, it was about the new engine from your favorite sports car brand… but your partner hardly has knowledge or interest about it.

Your partner’s silence might be a sign that they don’t understand an inch of what you’re saying.

Moreover, if they don’t show any signs of being angry, nod away absentmindedly, and stay beside you while you talk, there’s a high chance they just like to listen to you blabber more.

8. They want to end things

If your relationship dynamics are too toxic and usually conflict resolution attempts result in them stonewalling – your confrontation about the stonewalling leads to larger conflicts – that’s an alarming sign.

Your partner is possibly riling you up so that you initiate a breakup yourself and take the blame for ending things.

This is a manipulation trick, and either way, ending the relationship will bring you a better life.

9. They have abandonment or attachment issues

If your partner’s caregiver or past romantic partner abandoned them or denied them support unless they behaved a certain way, that might be a grave issue for deep-seated mental health issues in them.

They possibly fear you’ll abandon them or won’t love them if they don’t behave like a silent puppet.

Try communicating about it if they had such past experiences. If they don’t respond to your communication, get professional advice.

10. They deny their emotions

Some people obsess over being detached from their loved ones. They feel the more they suppress their emotions, the lower their chances of hurting themselves.

They fear the consequences of emotional attachment and cage their emotions inside as a coping mechanism.

Possibly their trust was returned with betrayal in the past and they have trust issues now.

Other serious mental health issues might also be linked with this reason, so seek medical advice.

But it’s not a big deal though… many might say so, let’s find the truth.

Impacts of Stonewalling

Some say “deal with it, it will get better with time”, others say “you’re hungry for attention, that’s cute!”

But is that really it? After all, that’s not the only effect of stonewalling. It can impact you both physically and mentally. 

Let’s know why you mustn’t tolerate stonewalling silently…

1. The emotional wire snaps

If your partner ignores you, shows disinterest in your life, or even talks down to you, you’ll naturally feel a lack of love… as if you’re all alone in a relationship, hopelessly stranded on an island.

Since they don’t care about your life, you feel unheard, worry over invisible issues, and slowly yet surely lose the emotional connection.

You feel there’s no love in the relationship which might result in other physical or mental issues.

2. Relationship satisfaction goes down the drain

When your partner refuses to communicate or resolve conflicts, you’ll naturally feel frustrated because you’re investing more in the relationship.

Meanwhile, your partner takes your effort for granted which instills resentment in you.

Healthy couples must work through difficulties like a team, when they don’t, the teaming feels forced and burdensome.

You both feel a lack of relationship satisfaction and begin to harbor thoughts of ending it.

Poor relationship satisfaction also leads to infidelity.

3. Intimacy reaches the extreme bottom

If you think sex and intimacy are the same, you’re wrong. Intimacy can be far more than sex and it requires emotional presence the most.

Two people in a relationship must overcome hurdles together and need emotional intimacy for that.

But if your partner doesn’t listen at all to what rubs you off the wrong way, the intimacy or emotional closeness damps.

The issues never resolve on their own, leave scars on both parties, and resurface as bigger wounds later.

4. You might get sick

When your partner continuously stonewalls you, makes you feel the emotional distance between you two, you’ll eventually fall prey to mental health concerns like anxiety disorders, depression, or even suffer from physical ailments.

For instance, being stonewalled picks up your heart rate from anger which leads to issues in the nervous system and the cardiovascular system.

Also, the effects of stonewalling apply to children and loved ones under the same roof. Children lag academically because of the second-hand stress from their tension.

5. They might get addicted

Stonewalling is simply a bad coping mech in a relationship. Due to its inefficacy, many people take up addictive substances to deal with the stress of conflicts.

Usually, this happens when people aren’t taught proper coping skills since childhood.

Alcohol and drugs are intended to be a substitute for stonewalling habits to pacify the emotional or physical impacts of stress.

6. You might lose confidence

When a loved one distances from you, your natural retort will be “Where did I go wrong?” People who don’t understand the concept of stonewalling immerse in self-blame about their dysfunctional relationship,

You bring up an issue, your partner stonewalls you, and you feel unworthy of their affection, lose motivation in life, or even beg for their attention. You lose confidence, self-esteem, and individuality altogether.

7. Your soft skills become dull

All human beings don’t have good senses – listening and communication, or even vision.

People in healthy relationships don’t train each other for these skills, however, bonding emotionally and showing vulnerabilities, and resolving fights eventually sharpens your soft skills.

On the flip side, when your partner ignores you, in the long run, you do the same and it hurts your communication and listening skills extensively.

8. You both become defensive

People in love unintentionally grow the same kind of patterns or habits. When one person in a relationship acts defensively, the other partner eventually becomes defensive too.

Moreover, some stonewallers also turn tables on you and make every issue about you… that also leads to you becoming defensive.

Your communication patterns revolve more about justifying yourself than confronting the situation.

9. It destroys problem-solving skills

Healthy couples support each other through rain and shine and nurture each other’s problem-solving skills together. You learn to grow in ways your partner comes short, and learn more from your partner’s skills.

However, the lack of healthy communication results in the development of problems rather than solving skills. In the long run, you learn to magnify your problems and forget about resolving them.

You don’t necessarily do it intentionally but it becomes a habit due to your relationship dynamics.

10. You might break up

As per John Gottman, criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling are the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Either of these can crack a relationship for good, whereas all of these promise the end of the relationship.

Usually, persistently stonewalling partners hide something serious from their partner like infidelity or hidden toxic or abusive characteristics in the partner. Endless suspicions lead to trust issues and result in breakups.

If you’re the stonewaller, read on to sustain your relationship…

How to stop stonewalling if it’s something you do?

Found that you’re a stonewaller, and still here? Proud that you’re over the denial stage.

Well, since you’re worried about your partner and your relationship, how can I let you return without some tips to your happily-ever-after. 

Instill hope in yourself with the steps below…

1. Never ignore the issues

Which one feels better, fighting with old baggage or without? When you hold onto old baggage, resentment, and even think about how your partner told you off during your last fight, you will feel worse during the current fight.

The key is resolving an issue when it occurs and moving on. However, when you haven’t resolved the issues yet, make sure to keep your mind free from old grudges.

The grudges can result in a mental fight with the past which you express in the current fight and totally give them a cold shoulder.

2. Minimize arguments or fights

The easiest thing said then done: minimize the fights. However, it’s possible because you don’t need to take the battlefield every time something goes off in your relationship.

Even if you habitually get defensive, remind yourself they’re not blaming you. Even if you were in their position, that’s the only way out – talking.

Think about when your boss tells you about a problem in your productivity. Do you fight with them? No, you listen calmly so do the same.

3. Time the fight

Some people feel palpitations, heightened heart rates, become sweaty, nervous, or suffer from other kinds of physiological effects on the body while facing a conflict… and stonewalls as a cover.

If you’re the same, notice when your body exhibits such symptoms. How long does it take to begin these symptoms? Notice them and make the confrontations within that time limit.

When you can’t wrap the conversations within that, take some time apart like a break.

4. Take a short self-love trip

Though this is the last moment you feel like doing something that makes you feel good, still do.

Perhaps, listen to music, let off steam on a jog, count backward from a hundred while taking deep breaths, or even practice a calming yoga posture.

All of these can help you regain your composure and prevent your stonewalling habits. When you feel better, you won’t find the need to stonewall.

5. Resume with a fresh mind

Suppose you timed your fight for thirty minutes, then immersed in self-love, now when do you return to the issue?

At this moment you might feel your partner isn’t around or they’re busy so it’s better to forget about it. Nope, the wrong way, don’t take that lane.

You both have your own life and different commitments outside your relationship. If either of you becomes busy after the break, neither rush it nor brush it.

Discuss at a different time when you’re both free.

6. Understand that denial worsens everything

You’re already here trying to solve your stonewalling issue, so why keep it a secret from your partner? Moreover, telling them the issue can help them understand your situation and act wisely.

Suppose you take a break from the conversation to calm yourself down. If you don’t tell your partner you’ll return after letting off steam, how will they understand your intentions?

They won’t! So, admit to your time-off.  

7. Have faith in yourself

The first few attempts to have a conversation without stonewalling will be hard. Even an innocent baby needs time to articulate feelings, so you will too when you have so much on your mind.

Giving up on healthy conversation dynamics is equivalent to giving up your relationship.

8. Seek help from a mental health professional

When your attempts at resolving issues without stonewalling fail, or if you suspect some kind of deep-seated mental health issue from the past, it’s time to seek medical advice.

Medical attention can promise you freedom from stonewalling if you stay true to yourself.

9. Ask your partner out on the journey

It’s not just about you, your partner suffered several blows when you stonewalled them for a long time. They might suffer from a lack of confidence, anxiety, or mental or physical issues.

Pick up couples counseling if you want to heal together.

Also, couples’ therapy can help your partner understand your triggers and respond desirably when you cope with them.

10. Forgive and restart

Every day is a war for you against stonewalling. Meanwhile, you also overthink your partner’s intentions whenever they confront you.

Your partner might unintentionally hurt you, and you inflicted several emotional wounds on them. Don’t resort to avenging your wounds, rather think about restarting with forgiveness.

Show mercy if you truly love each other instead of getting back for old wounds.

But if you’re not the stonewaller, still have more to share…

How to deal with stonewalling if your partner is doing it?

Well, being on the receiving side of stonewalling makes the situation hard, but not impossible.

Your relationship isn’t doomed as long as your partner doesn’t abuse you in some manner, and you still love them. Your love might conquer their heart once more.

Sow the seeds of hope with these steps…

1. You’re not the trigger

If your stonewalling partner makes you feel inadequate, pull yourself up. They give you the cold shoulder, so it’s about them. Stop pushing yourself to the edge with overthinking.

It’s hard to fight with the situation, but harder when you don’t believe in yourself. Be strong before you begin this journey.

2. Neither are you the healer

Also, you can’t heal your partner because you have a grasp of their situation. Don’t take complete responsibility for the situation on yourself.

Don’t let anyone tell you “You didn’t give them enough attention or time” because you did.

Remember, your partner must take charge of the situation, not you… you can only guide them in that direction.

3. Begin with mildness

Don’t attack them with “You stonewall me and that’s unhealthy for our relationship”. After hearing that they’ll go back to their business and pay you no attention.

Begin with “Hey, I came across this term… and I think it might be of concern to our relationship. Wanna check it out together?” Be kind while making them aware of the impacts.

4. Step back

If your partner doesn’t take the news of being a stonewaller or becomes defensive during any conversation, time to step back. Give them some space, hovering over them won’t allow them to think rationally.

When you’re out of sight, they can try thinking more rationally.

5. Shower empathy

However, giving space doesn’t imply that the rest of the day is off-limits for any conversation. That delays conversations even further.

Rather, approach them with empathy, acknowledge their feelings, and show them you’ll listen no matter how much time it takes.

They’ll lower their guard and be less defensive if you show you don’t mean any harm.

6. Don’t let ego slide between you both

If any conversation might hurt your partner’s ego, tiptoe a bit. Don’t leave the situation, rather follow a way that doesn’t end up jumping off a cliff.

Suppose they always burn the food… suggest cooking together for one day to show them how to avoid burning. Don’t be too direct if they have a fragile ego.

7. The tunnel’s end is near

There will be times when you feel there’s no use, or that you’re better off breaking up. Well, that depends on your relationship health and your feelings.

However, if you wanna make it work, motivate yourself every day. There’s no fairy Godmother to change your partner instantly. It’s a hard way but it will all be fine in good time.

8. Soak in self love

Dealing with a stonewalling partner isn’t that easy… moreover it’s emotionally draining. Whenever you feel down, do something that brings joy.

Whether you like crafts or love watching Breaking Bad, do it. Remember you’re nurturing a relationship and another human, so spoil yourself with your favorite food.

Your world doesn’t need to be bland because of relationship issues.

9. Fix your method

Perhaps your approach makes your partner feel bad about themselves? Do you criticize them too often? Or, do you compare them to others?

If you’re always drowning yourself in negative thoughts, try to change that. Speak about everything optimistically.

If they forgot to do their chores, tell them “You forgot to do the dishes last night. Tell me when you’re done, I’ll prepare breakfast asap then.”

Talking from a different perception can help ease the tension.

10. Consider couples’ therapy

And then some scars need professional attention.

For you, it’s the effects of stonewalling, for your partner, the long-term scars from past experiences. Neither of them is a child’s play, so seek couples therapy to heal.

Learn to communicate better from a therapist, and respond better to not trigger each other’s wounds. Stay motivated and build a healthier relationship together. 

However, when stonewalling turns into abuse, it’s a dealbreaker. Know when…

Can stonewalling be considered a form of abuse?

If your partner intentionally stonewalls you to keep you under control or manipulate you, that’s when it becomes abuse and your relationship nears its end.

If your partner stonewalls you because they can’t articulate their feelings, that’s unintentional stonewalling. They only blocked you to protect themselves.

However, if your partner low-key manipulates your actions, lifestyles, freedom, or confidence… or you feel afraid or have thoughts of a breakup, then it might be intentional stonewalling, which is abusive.

Abuse is when someone intends to hurt, deride, degrade, or disrespect you with their actions, so intentional stonewalling is abuse.

For instance, if they spoil you with gifts whenever you delight them, and give you the cold shoulder when you displease them… that’s manipulation.

You’ll crave the good times and think of ways to please them all the time.

And once stonewalling turns into abuse, time to leave the relationship.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Whether your partner stonewalls you for underlying mental issues or does it intentionally, remember you have no reason to tolerate it silently… even for the sake of the children. 

Children, even if innocent, understand when things go wrong between their parents. 

Though that’s not your cue to pick on your partner continuously. If your partner gives you the silent treatment, communicate about it. 

Even if they pretend to not hear it, they can. If they still don’t talk, bring up therapy. 

However, if they belittle you unnecessarily, there’s a pattern of manipulation… time to take a stand in your life and take space. Remind them that you’re not someone dispensable. 

Meanwhile love yourself, and if things don’t turn out better, rejoice in the freedom.