The Mating Grounds

Is Your Partner Stonewalling You? Here’s How to Address the Behavior

Understanding Stonewalling Behavior

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your partner completely shut you out? They ignored you, refused to talk, or walked away while you desperately tried to keep the conversation going.

This is a classic example of stonewalling behavior. Stonewalling is a refusal to communicate or respond to an individual, usually during a heated argument or uncomfortable situation.

It’s a painful and frustrating experience, and it takes a toll on both parties. So, what really is stonewalling behavior?

Stonewalling is a defensive behavior that serves as a retreat or coping tool to avoid conflicts. It is used by individuals who are either overwhelmed by negative emotions or fear a power imbalance.

When someone stonewalls, they shut themselves off, which can cause emotional distance in relationships and make it difficult to resolve conflicts or address issues. Some examples of stonewalling behavior include obsessive thoughts, deflection, and aggressive body language.

When someone is stonewalling, they may obsessively turn over a problem in their minds while remaining emotionally inaccessible. They may also deflect conversations to avoid the issue at hand, changing the subject or making a joke to deflect from the situation.

Aggressive body language, such as crossing the arms or avoiding eye contact, is another sign of stonewalling behavior. It can be difficult to recognize stonewalling behavior, especially if you’re on the receiving end.

Those who are being stonewalled may tend to blame themselves or feel like they’re not worth listening to. They may also feel emotional stress, confusion, and doubt, which can cause them to dismiss their own feelings or thoughts as being less important than the other person’s.

Emotional Effects of Stonewalling

Stonewalling behavior can have a profound effect on one’s emotional and mental state. It can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and emotional distance.

When someone is stonewalling, they are essentially shutting down and closing themselves off from the people around them. This can cause feelings of abandonment, which can lead to a breakdown in emotional intimacy.

Another emotion associated with stonewalling is anger. Those who are being stonewalled may become increasingly frustrated and resentful.

They may blame themselves for not being able to “fix” the situation, leading to feelings of unworthiness and victimhood. These emotions can turn into full-blown resentment and hatred, further damaging the relationship.

Stonewalling can also lead to low self-esteem and confidence. When someone is being stonewalled, they may feel unwanted or unimportant.

They may feel like they’re not worth listening to, leading to a sense of hurt and pride. As a result, they may start to doubt their own self-worth and doubt their ability to make decisions, causing a major blow to their self-esteem.

Other emotional effects of stonewalling include decreased intimacy, trust issues, and confusion. The feeling of emotional distance caused by stonewalling can decrease passion in the relationship and cause a decrease in both physical and emotional intimacy.

Trust issues can also arise as a result of stonewalling behavior, leading to confusion and doubts about the relationship. In severe cases, stonewalling can lead to the end of a relationship.

If the behavior is not addressed and corrected, it can cause long-term damage to the connection between two people. Although ending the relationship may provide temporary relief, it’s important to recognize the red flags of stonewalling before it gets to that point.

Apart from the emotional effects, stonewalling can also have a physical impact. Emotional unavailability can lead to stress and anxiety, which in turn can cause psychosomatic diseases.

It can cause a decline in self-care routines, such as exercise and healthy eating, leading to a decline in physical health.


Stonewalling behavior is a destructive defensive behavior that leads to emotional distance, confusion, and stress in relationships. It can cause feelings of isolation, anger, resentment, and low self-esteem.

Being on the receiving end of stonewalling can take a heavy toll on one’s emotional and mental state, leading to decreased intimacy and trust issues. It’s important to recognize and address stonewalling behavior before it permanently damages a relationship.

Seeking Help

If you find yourself in a situation where communication with your partner has broken down due to stonewalling behavior, it’s important to take steps to address the issue before it permanently damages the relationship. Seeking help can come in different forms, including working on healthy communication or seeking support from licensed advisors or counselors.

Importance of Communication

Communication is a vital part of any relationship, and healthy communication is essential in maintaining a strong connection. When communication breaks down, stonewalling behaviors can take over, leading to a breakdown in the relationship.

However, healthy communication can keep stonewalling at bay. When there is open and honest communication between partners, there is less likelihood of resorting to defensive behaviors like stonewalling.

It’s important to recognize the elements of healthy communication, such as active listening, expressing emotions in a non-judgmental way, and being able to compromise. These communication skills can only be developed and sustained by both parties in the relationship, and it requires a willingness to learn and grow together.

If you recognize a lack of healthy communication in your relationship, taking action to improve it can help avoid stonewalling in the future.

Support from Counselors

Sometimes couples may find it difficult to work through stonewalling and other relationship issues on their own. In such cases, seeking professional help from licensed advisors or counselors can be a viable option.

People tend to shy away from seeking professional help due to a fear of being judged or feeling ashamed, but there is no shame in asking for assistance and seeking help should be considered a sign of strength. Licensed advisors and counselors can provide impartial and neutral perspectives on the issues at hand, helping the couple to understand each other better and learn new communication skills.

They can also work with each individual to work through feelings of resentment, anger and other negative emotions that are associated with stonewalling behavior. Counselors work towards recovery, and aim to create a safe space where each person in the relationship can express their emotions freely without worrying about being judged or invalidated.

Counselors can also help the couple identify the underlying causes of the stonewalling behavior and work towards addressing them. This can be anything from past trauma, abusive behavior, or feelings of disempowerment, which can interfere with communication and intimacy.

Licensed counselors have the experience of working with different couples and are equipped with relationship behavior and dynamics to offer helpful insights and strategies for the couple to move forward. In seeking professional help, couples can take advantage of the different forms of therapy that cater to their specific needs.

For example, couples therapy, involves exploring conflict and communication issues, while one-on-one therapy is tailored towards an individual, aimed at working towards self-improvement. It’s important to choose a counselor that is the right fit for you, someone that you are comfortable speaking with and share similar values with.


Its normal to have disagreements in any relationship, but how you respond to them can make all the difference. Stonewalling behavior can be a destructive defensive behavior that leads to emotional distance in relationships, but they can be addressed with healthy communication and seeking professional help.

Learn the elements of healthy communication and practice them in your relationships, and don’t be afraid to seek help if you feel overwhelmed. Remember that seeking professional help is a sign of strength, and the efforts put towards improving the relationship can lead to a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling relationship.

In conclusion, stonewalling behavior can take a toll on any relationship, leading to emotional distance, confusion, and stress. Recognizing and addressing stonewalling behavior through healthy communication, seeking professional help, and learning new skills can prevent long-term damage to the relationship.

Remember that having a healthy relationship requires effort, willingness to learn, and growth. Being able to recognize and communicate effectively through any conflicts that may arise is vital in a long-lasting and fulfilling relationship.

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