Stonewalling is a form of emotional abuse in which one partner deliberately withholds communication, affection, or support from the other. It is a way of controlling and manipulating the relationship, and it can be very damaging to both parties involved.
What is stonewalling in detail?
Stonewalling is the act of deliberately refusing to communicate or cooperate. It can be used as a form of passive-aggressive behavior or as a way to protect oneself from difficult emotions.
When someone is stonewalling, they may appear unresponsive or uninterested in the other person. They may also withhold information or make excuses for why they cannot communicate. This can make it difficult to resolve conflicts or reach a mutual understanding.
What are the signs of stonewalling?
Stonewalling can be a way of controlling or punishing the other person, and it can be extremely damaging to the relationship.
Here are 13 most common signs that you may be experiencing stonewalling:
- Uses the “silent treatment” as a way to control or punish you.
- Use passive-aggressive body language like eye-rolling, sneering
- Using short answers like “It’s OK”, “fine”, “I don’t care” or “nothing” to end the conversation
- Regularly withholds affection or intimacy.
- Consistently ignores your needs or refuses to compromise.
- Keeping quiet and refusing to give a response
- Avoid talking about difficult topics
- Withdraws from you emotionally
- Abruptly walk away when there’s disagreement
- Change the topic when you try to solve a problem
- Avoiding eye contact while talking
- Pretend to be busy and leave the conversation
- Act like they didn’t hear you or outright ignore you
If you are experiencing any of these signs, it is important to seek help from a qualified therapist or counselor who can help you address the issue and improve your relationship.
What are the causes of stonewalling?
Stonewalling is a communication tactic where someone deliberately withholds information or refuses to communicate. It can be used as a way to manipulate or control a situation, or to avoid conflict. There are three main reasons why someone might stonewall:
1. To gain power or control:
When someone withholds information, they are effectively taking control of the situation. This can be used as a way to manipulate or coerce someone into doing something. Unless you act or do things according to how they want it, or they will use silence treatment to pressure you. Once you give in, they will tend to do it again next time and this can become an endless negative loop.
2. To avoid conflict:
Stonewalling can be used as a way to avoid having to deal with difficult or uncomfortable conversations. By refusing to communicate, the stonewaller can avoid having to face conflict head-on. However, this also means that there will be more problems being accumulated and the relationship will break once it reaches the threshold.
3. To protect oneself:
In some cases, stonewalling may be a way to protect oneself from emotional hurt or pain. By shutting down communication, the stonewaller can avoid having to deal with difficult emotions like awkwardness, anger, sadness, jealousy, fear, and rejection.
How does stonewalling affect the relationship?
Stonewalling is a common occurrence in relationships. It can hurt the relationship by creating tension, mistrust, and resentment. It can also lead to a feeling of being shut out or unimportant.
Here are five ways stonewalling can affect your relationship:
1. It creates tension.
When one partner consistently withholds communication, it can lead to tension in the relationship. This tension can be caused by the feeling of being shut out or unimportant. You ended up do not speak with each other and it often leads to arguments if you try to communicate with each other.
2. It builds mistrust.
Stonewalling can also build mistrust between partners. This is because it can make it difficult to gauge what the other person is thinking or feeling. Most of the time, you will have to guess the meaning behind their words, and the wrong interpretation can lead to misunderstandings and arguments.
3. It breeds resentment.
Over time, stonewalling can breed resentment. This is because the stonewalling partner is not taking the time to listen to or understand the other partner. This can lead to a feeling of being unimportant or disregarded. The couple who live together might feel like there’s no more spark in the relationship and they are acting like roommates more than a couple.
4. It can lead to a feeling of being shut out.
If one partner is constantly stonewalling, it can lead to the feeling of being shut out. This can be a very isolating feeling and can make it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship. It hurts their self-esteem and makes both of them constantly struggle if whether they should keep the relationship or leave.
5. It can make it difficult to communicate.
Stonewalling can make it difficult to communicate effectively. This is because the stonewalling partner is not providing the other partner with the information they need to understand their perspective. This can lead to miscommunications and arguments.
What is an example of stonewalling in a relationship?
Stonewalling occurs when one partner shuts down and withdraws from the interaction, either physically or emotionally. This can happen in many ways, such as:
1. One partner may stop responding to their partner’s bids for attention. For example, they may no longer make eye contact, or they may give one-word answers to questions. This creates more resentment in the relationship and causes the other partner to do the same thing in return.
2. One partner may stop sharing their thoughts and feelings with their partner. They may become closed off and refuse to communicate. They also have to second guess what each other said. This can create a lot of misunderstanding and make the relationship worse.
3. One partner may stop being affectionate with their partner. They may no longer touch or show any type of physical affection. They no longer compliment or show appreciation for each other. In other words, there’s no more love in the air.
4. One partner may withdraw from all physical contact with their partner. They may no longer want to share a bed, or they may avoid any type of physical interaction. When intimacy stops, it is hard to feel emotionally connected.
5. One partner may stop participating in activities that they used to enjoy with their partner. They may no longer want to go on dates or participate in shared hobbies. When no quality time is spent together, the relationship deteriorates over time.
Is stonewalling a form of manipulation?
Yes, stonewalling is a form of emotional manipulation in which someone deliberately withholds information or communication from another person to manipulate others into making decisions that are not in their best interests, or simply to exert power over someone.
Stonewalling is also often used as a way to avoid conflict or difficult conversations, but it only serves to create more tension and resentment. It can be used to gaslight someone or make them feel crazy, as the person being stonewalled is left guessing what the other person is thinking or feeling.
While stonewalling can be effective in the short term, it ultimately destroys relationships and creates an atmosphere of mistrust.
How to deal with stonewalling
If you find yourself in a relationship with someone who frequently stonewalls, here are five ways to deal with it:
1. Communicate your needs and expectations.
Make sure that your partner knows what you need and expect from the relationship. This will help to prevent misunderstandings and conflict. Before you express your opinion, try to practice active listening and understand your partner’s perspective first.
Most of the time, if they feel heard, they will be more willing to open up and express their true feelings and need to you. Once you hear what they say, you can then take turns expressing your opinions and try to find an agreeable common ground for both of you.
2. Try to understand why your partner is stonewalling.
There may be a legitimate reason for your partner’s stonewalling behavior. If you can understand why they are doing it, you may be able to find a way to work around it.
Sometimes, you might be amazed that it is just a small problem, for example, they resent you because of not getting enough attention from you. However, if you ignore it and let it slip, a small problem might spiral out of control and break the relationship one day. So, always deal with the conflicts in a relationship while it is still manageable.
3. Don’t take it personally.
Stonewalling is not necessarily a personal attack. It is important to remember that your partner is not intentionally trying to hurt you. Maybe they just do not know how to express their difficult emotions correctly, so they resort to stonewalling. They could be mimicking their parent’s behavior without realizing it is not the best way to deal with conflict.
Let them know it is safe to voice out their emotions and you will not take their comment as a personal attack but as feedback to make the relationship better. And, you will do the same and hope that they can pay the same respect to you and hear out what you have to say.
4. Be patient.
Stonewalling can be a difficult behavior to change. Be patient and understanding as your partner works through their issues. When your partner forgot and stonewalls again, try to give them a gentle reminder by giving them a hug or a kiss.
Let them know you love them and encourage them to speak their mind openly as that will help to foster a healthier relationship.
5. Seek counseling.
If you find that you are unable to resolve the issue on your own, seek professional counseling. A counselor can help you and your partner communicate more effectively and work through your issues. They might be able to help you to uncover some hidden underlying problems which you might not be able to find out by yourself.