What Is Stonewalling In A Relationship (2023)

Stonewalling in a relationship is when one person starts to ignore or shut down communication with their partner. It’s a form of emotional abuse and can be very harmful to the relationship. If you’re being stonewalled, it’s important to talk to your partner about it and try to resolve the issue.

What Is Stonewalling In A Relationship (1)

Stonewalling is a defensive tactic often used in relationships. It occurs when one partner withdraws from the interaction, either emotionally or physically. This can happen in response to conflict, criticism, or feeling overwhelmed.

When stonewalling happens, it can leave the other person feeling abandoned, frustrated, and unheard.Stonewalling can be destructive to a relationship because it effectively shuts down communication. If one partner is constantly withdrawing or shutting down, it becomes difficult to resolve conflicts or work through problems.

This can lead to tension and resentment build up over time.If you’re worried that stonewalling may be damaging your relationship, there are some things you can do to address the issue. First, try to identify why your partner may be stonewalling.

Is there a particular topic that seems to trigger this behavior? Are they feeling overwhelmed or stressed out? Once you’ve identified the cause, try to approach the issue with empathy and understanding.

It’s also important to give your partner space if they need it – forcing them to communicate when they’re not ready will only make things worse.Ultimately, stonewalling is a sign that something isn’t working in the relationship. If you’re finding that this is a regular occurrence, it may be time to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor who can help you both learn how to communicate more effectively with each other.

What is an Example of Stonewalling in a Relationship?

Stonewalling is the refusal to communicate or cooperate. It can take the form of withholding information, refusing to answer questions, or making evasive statements. In a relationship, stonewalling is often used as a way to avoid conflict or difficult conversations.

It can also be a sign that someone is feeling overwhelmed and needs some time to process their thoughts and feelings. If stonewalling becomes a pattern in your relationship, it can create distance and mistrust. If you’re concerned that stonewalling may be affecting your relationship, talk to your partner about your concerns.

Is Stonewalling a Form of Manipulation?

Stonewalling is the act of deliberately avoiding communication or refusing to answer questions. It can be a form of manipulation because it is often used as a way to control the conversation or avoid difficult topics. Additionally, stonewalling can be used to make someone feel like they are not worth your time or attention.

This can be especially hurtful in close relationships where open communication is vital. If you find yourself regularly stonewalling your partner, it may be time to seek help from a therapist or counselor who can assist you in learning how to communicate more effectively.

What are the Signs of Stonewalling?

In a relationship, stonewalling is when one partner consistently refuses to communicate or engage with the other partner. This can be done through avoidance tactics such as silence, evading questions, or changing the subject. It can also manifest as an unwillingness to discuss certain topics, provide emotional support, or take any constructive steps to improve the relationship.

Stonewalling is often a sign that one partner is feeling overwhelmed and hopeless about the future of the relationship. It can be a defense mechanism to protect oneself from further hurt or pain. In some cases, stonewalling may also be indicative of underlying anger or resentment.

If left unaddressed, stonewalling can lead to further distance and conflict in a relationship.If you’re concerned that you or your partner may be stonewalling, it’s important to open up about your feelings and explore what might be driving this behavior. With patience, understanding, and a willingness to work on the relationship, it is possible to overcome this obstacle and build a stronger connection with your partner.

Is Stonewalling the End of a Relationship?

When one partner repeatedly withholds emotional responsiveness, the relationship is in trouble. This emotional withdrawal can take many forms, including stonewalling. Stonewalling is when your partner withdraws from conflict altogether and refuses to talk about issues that are important to you.

It’s a form of shutting down that can be very damaging to a relationship.Stonewalling is often a sign that your partner has reached their breaking point and can’t handle any more conflict. If your partner has been stonewalling you, it’s important to try to understand why they’re doing it.

They may be feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or even threatened by the conflict. Whatever the reason, it’s important to try to address the underlying issue rather than just focusing on the stonewalling itself.If you’re able to talk about the reasons behind the stonewalling, it may be possible to salvage the relationship.

However, if your partner continues to refuse to communicate, it may be best to end things. Stonewalling is a major obstacle in any relationship and unfortunately, it’s often an indication that one or both partners have given up on trying to resolve their differences.

What Is Stonewalling? (It Can Break A Marriage)

How to Respond to Stonewalling

Stonewalling is a difficult situation to be in, but there are ways to respond that can help improve the situation. First, it’s important to try to understand why your partner is stonewalling. It could be a sign of stress or anxiety, and often happens when people feel overwhelmed.

If you can identify the root cause, it may be possible to address it directly. Secondly, try to remain calm and avoid getting defensive yourself. This can be hard, but remember that stonewalling is not personal and is not meant to hurt you.

Finally, offer some solutions or options for how to move forward. This shows that you’re willing to work together to find a way out of the impasse.

The Emotional Effects of Stonewalling

When your partner stonewalls you, it can feel like a very cold and heartless thing to do. And often, it is. But sometimes people resort to stonewalling as a way to deal with their own emotional pain or stress.

If you’re on the receiving end of this behavior, it can be difficult to understand what’s going on behind your partner’s blank stare.There are many possible reasons why someone might stonewall. They may be feeling overwhelmed by the situation and need some time to process their feelings.

Or they could be trying to avoid conflict because they’re afraid of getting hurt or appearing weak. In some cases, people use stonewalling as a form of emotional manipulation, deliberately withholding communication in order to gain the upper hand in the relationship.Whatever the reason for your partner’s stonewalling, it’s important to remember that it’s not personal.

It doesn’t mean that they don’t care about you or that they don’t want to work things out. It’s simply a defense mechanism that they’re using to protect themselves from further hurt.If you’re struggling to cope with your partner’s stonewalling, here are a few tips:

1) Try not to take it personally. As we said before, stonewalling is usually not about you – it’s about your partner’s own emotional pain or stress. Remembering this can help you approach the situation with compassion and understanding instead of anger and resentment.

2) Don’t try to force them to talk if they’re not ready. This will only make them feel more defensive and less likely to open up when they’re finally ready. Just let them know that you’re there for them when they’re ready to talk and respect their need for space in the meantime.

3) Communicate openly yourself and set boundaries as needed . Just because your partner is shutting down doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing . Make sure you express your own needs and feelings openly , so that both of you are still getting your needs met even if communication is limited . And if necessary , set clear boundaries around what kinds of communication are acceptable ( e . g . text messaging only ) until your partner feels ready for more .

Stonewalling And Gaslighting

Stonewalling and gaslighting are two very common psychological manipulation tactics that are often used in relationships. If you’re not familiar with these terms, stonewalling refers to the act of deliberately withholding information or refusing to communicate with someone. Gaslighting, on the other hand, is a form of psychological manipulation that involves making someone question their own sanity or reality.

While both of these tactics can be extremely damaging to a relationship, they are often used together in order to control and manipulate the other person. If you suspect that you’re being subjected to either of these forms of manipulation, it’s important to get out of the situation as soon as possible. Here’s what you need to know about stonewalling and gaslighting in relationships.

If you’re being stonewalled by your partner, it’s likely because they want to maintain control over the relationship. They may withhold information from you in order to keep you guessing or off-balance. In some cases, stonewalling may also be used as a way to punish you for something that you’ve done wrong.

Whatever the reason, stonewalling is a form of emotional abuse that can have a serious impact on your mental health and wellbeing.Gaslighting is another common form of emotional abuse that involves manipulating someone into doubting their own reality or sanity. This tactic is often used by abusers in order to gain power and control over their victim.

Gaslighting can be extremely confusing and frustrating, leaving victims feeling isolated and alone. If you think you might be being gaslighted, it’s important to reach out for help from a trusted friend or family member.Stonewalling and gaslighting are two dangerous psychological manipulation tactics that should never be tolerated in any relationship.

How to Deal With Stonewalling Husband

If your husband is stonewalling you, it can feel like you’re being shut out and left to deal with whatever problem you’re facing on your own. But there are ways to deal with this difficult situation.First, try to understand why your husband is stonewalling.

Is he feeling overwhelmed by the problem? Is he trying to protect himself from getting hurt? Or is he just unsure of how to fix the problem?

Once you know why he’s stonewalling, you can start to work on a solution. If he’s feeling overwhelmed, help him break the problem down into smaller pieces that he can tackle one at a time. If he’s trying to protect himself, see if there’s a way to address the issue without putting him in a position where he feels vulnerable.

And if he’s just unsure of how to fix the problem, offer your support and encouragement as he works through it.Dealing with a stonewalling husband can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this marriage. You’ll get through this together.


In a relationship, stonewalling is the emotional equivalent of shutting down. It’s when one person withdraws from the conversation and shuts down all communication. This can happen in response to conflict or when one person feels overwhelmed.

When it happens repeatedly, it can be damaging to the relationship.

Table of Contents


What Is Stonewalling In A Relationship? ›

What does it mean to stonewall someone? In simple terms, stonewalling is when someone completely shuts down in a conversation or is refusing to communicate with another person.

What is an example of stonewalling? ›

Making accusations rather than talking about the current problem. Using dismissive body language such as rolling or closing their eyes. Engaging in passive-aggressive behaviors such as stalling or procrastinating to avoid talking about a problem. Refusing to ever acknowledge the stonewalling behavior.

What does stonewalling do to someone? ›

Stonewalling, or the refusal to communicate with someone meaningfully, is a form of emotional abuse that can harm relationships and self-esteem. This type of behavior can create higher levels of stress, depression, and anxiety among those who experience it.

What is the stonewalling end of a relationship? ›

What is Stonewalling? Stonewalling is when a person in a relationship withdraws from an interaction, shuts down, and simply stops responding to their partner. Rather than confronting the issue, people who stonewall resort to evasive maneuvers.

What is stonewalling stage relationship? ›

Stonewalling is, well, what it sounds like. In a discussion or argument, the listener withdraws from the interaction, shutting down and closing themselves off from the speaker because they are feeling overwhelmed or physiologically flooded. Metaphorically speaking, they build a wall between them and their partner.

Is stonewalling Narcissistic? ›

Stonewalling is the refusal to communicate with someone. This means that your spouse refuses to listen to you and your concerns. Stonewalling is one of the most prevalent narcissistic abuse techniques.

What triggers stonewalling? ›

Stonewalling is often born of frustration and fear, and when it is used alone, it may occur as the result of a desire to decrease tension in an emotionally overwhelming situation, or in an attempt to self-soothe.

How toxic is stonewalling? ›

The effects of stonewalling are disastrous for not only the receiver but also the partner who's stonewalling. For the person being stonewalled, it can leave them feeling confused, hurt and angry. It can wear down on their self-esteem, leading them to feel worthless or hopeless.

Is stonewalling Gaslighting? ›

The emotional effects of stonewalling include a sense of helplessness, worthlessness, and powerlessness. It can have a serious impact on a person's self-esteem. This is a natural response particularly, as stonewalling is widely considered a form of gaslighting.

What is a Stonewaller personality? ›

The “stonewaller” personality is the behavior of an individual who tends to shut down during an argument and refuses to communicate or even cooperate. This person is emotionally closed off, and at times it could be extremely hard to reach them.

What are the four horsemen of stonewalling? ›

The Four Horsemen: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. Being able to identify the Four Horsemen in your conflict discussions is a necessary first step to eliminating them and replacing them with healthy, productive communication patterns.

Is stonewalling a form of manipulation? ›

According to Gottman, stonewalling can be used as a form of manipulation or punishment and not just a way to avoid conflict. Teens may shut down or stonewall parents during the high-stress period of puberty. A teenager might find it challenging to manage their expectations, especially from one social group to another.

How long should stonewalling last? ›

A break is usually short while stonewalling can last hours, days, or even longer. Stonewalling is considered a type of psychologically abusive behavior of the passive-aggressive kind. It involves entirely shutting the other person out and ignoring them, which causes them to feel like they are worthless and unimportant.

What is the pattern of stonewalling? ›

Stonewalling is an avoidant behavior pattern by which a person withdraws and shuts down when faced with a conflict discussion. It can look like: Ignoring, dismissing, or minimizing concerns of the other. Statements such as: “I'm done,” “End of conversation,” or “I'm not talking about this.”

What is the difference between grey rock and stonewalling? ›

Grey rocking is different than stonewalling because the goal of grey rocking is self-protection, while the goal of stonewalling is punishment and control.

Is stonewalling a personality disorder? ›

Stonewalling may also be a direct result of a disorder, such as borderline personality disorder or narcissism that causes someone to manipulate others by freezing them out. This behavior also becomes manipulative when, despite evidence, a person denies they are stonewalling someone.

What is the antidote to stonewalling? ›

Antidote to Stonewalling: Stay connected, turn towards, self-soothe. Stonewalling occurs when the listener withdraws in some way from the interaction. The antidote is to practice physiological self-soothing.

Is stonewalling passive aggressive? ›

Stonewalling, which happens when someone stops communication altogether, is one of the most toxic forms of passive-aggressive behaviors, says Manly. It's also a leading predictor of divorce.

Does stonewalling mean they want to break up? ›

While it's OK to take space from your partner or an issue before discussing it, stonewalling shows a desire to detach from the relationship and conflict resolution. It can affect both partners physiologically, and it often escalates conflicts because of the reaction it elicits from the stonewalled person.

What type of message does stonewalling send? ›

Stonewalling Effects on Victim

In fact, Gottman and Levenson (2000) described the presence of stonewalling as one of the surest signs that a relationship might soon end. He observed that stonewalling sends the clear message that the stonewaller is not interested in trying to save, or even work on, the relationship.

Is stonewalling the end? ›

How Serious Is It In A Marriage? According to the research of psychologist Dr. John Gottman, stonewalling is a predictor of not only marital conflict and strife but also the end of a relationship.

How stonewalling turns victims into abusers? ›

They might use others to push the victim to admit that they're toxic & abusive, because it's impossible for the abuser to feel safe until the victim openly states that the abuser was right to treat them so terribly.

How do you respond to someone who Stonewalls? ›

How to respond to stonewalling
  1. Use 'I' statements in conversations. Because stonewalling is often a defensive mechanism, the moment you realize it could be happening, try to make a shift. ...
  2. Ask for a break. ...
  3. Address stonewalling outside of the conflict. ...
  4. Take care of yourself. ...
  5. Check for triggers. ...
  6. Seek solo or couples therapy.
Oct 6, 2022

How do you argue with a Stonewaller? ›

Let's look at a few examples of what you can say.
  1. Let your mate know the partnership is a priority for you. ...
  2. Express how you recognize the stonewalling. ...
  3. Don't point fingers. ...
  4. Don't try to change your partner. ...
  5. Good intentions are the hope. ...
  6. Make yourself present at the moment. ...
  7. Schedule a time to talk. ...
  8. Don't forget about yourself.
Mar 14, 2022

What is Stonewall form of abuse? ›

Stonewalling is cutting off all communication by giving someone the “silent treatment” until they do what you want them to do. Refusing to see the other person's perspective by minimization or disengagement is another form of stonewalling.

What is the 3 day rule after an argument? ›

The 3 day rule after argument is a common practice in relationships where individuals agree to take a 3 day relationship break from each other after a heated disagreement. During this time, both parties cool off, reflect on their feelings/thoughts, and avoid communication with each other.

Do Stonewallers ever change? ›

Acknowledge that the only way a stonewaller's patterns will change is if they are willing to change them. If you're the only one willing to work on the relationship, reconsider it. Aggressive stonewallers sometimes act like victims to protect themselves.

Is stonewalling the same as silent treatment? ›

The silent treatment, also known as stonewalling, is when a "listener withdraws from an interaction, refusing to participate or engage, essentially becoming unresponsive," explains John Gottman, world-renowned psychological researcher.

How do you communicate with a man who won't communicate? ›

Try being patient about his lack of communication and give him space when he does not want to communicate. You can also try being supportive and understanding. Ask to schedule a better time to talk. Finding a time both of you are comfortable could be the answer to how to communicate with a man that won't communicate.

What kind of person gives silent treatment? ›

The silent treatment might be employed by passive personality types to avoid conflict and confrontation, while strong personality types use it to punish or control. Some people may not even consciously choose it at all.

What are common reactions to stonewalling? ›

The emotional effects of stonewalling include a sense of helplessness, worthlessness, and powerlessness. It can have a serious impact on a person's self-esteem. This is a natural response particularly, as stonewalling is widely considered a form of gaslighting.

How do you know if someone is stonewalling you? ›

How can I tell if I'm being stonewalled by my partner?
  • They walk out in the middle of a conversation without warning or explanation.
  • They refuse to talk about or give reasons not to talk about an issue.
  • They dismiss your concerns.
  • They engage in passive-aggressive type behavior.
Aug 9, 2021

How do you deal with being stonewalled? ›

11 Ways to Respond to Stonewalling in Your Relationship
  1. Acknowledge That You are Not a Fixer.
  2. Empathize with Your Partner.
  3. Depersonalize the Interaction.
  4. Make Yourself Open and Available to Talk.
  5. Try to Avoid Pointing Fingers.
  6. Make Self-Care a Priority.
  7. Don't Try to Change Your Partner.
  8. Focus on Your Partner's Good Qualities.
Nov 7, 2022

Is stonewalling manipulative? ›

According to Gottman, stonewalling can be used as a form of manipulation or punishment and not just a way to avoid conflict. Teens may shut down or stonewall parents during the high-stress period of puberty. A teenager might find it challenging to manage their expectations, especially from one social group to another.

How long does stonewalling last? ›

A break is usually short while stonewalling can last hours, days, or even longer. Stonewalling is considered a type of psychologically abusive behavior of the passive-aggressive kind. It involves entirely shutting the other person out and ignoring them, which causes them to feel like they are worthless and unimportant.


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