Stonewalling is a negative communication strategy that denigrates another person. Discover the causes and effects of stonewalling, as well as how to respond to this behavior.
What Exactly Is Stonewalling?
Stonewalling is a dangerous communication tactic and defense mechanism in which someone avoids emotional intimacy by giving their partner the silent treatment in order to avoid difficult conversations.
Out of discomfort, a stonewalling partner does not communicate feelings and avoids deeper conversations. This is a form of gaslighting, and it can make the other partner feel ignored and incapable of engaging in difficult conversations. Stonewalling is frequently the result of low self-esteem or relationship dissatisfaction.
4 Signs of Stonewalling
Stonewalling is a type of emotional abuse that can take many forms. Some examples of stonewalling include:
1. Your partner switches the topic. Those who stonewall will go to great lengths to avoid discussing a subject that bothers them.
2. Your partner exhibits uneasy body language. When tense situations arise, stonewallers frequently avoid eye contact and exhibit uncomfortable body language. Other psychological changes, such as an increased heart rate, can result from stonewalling.
3. Your partner refuses to respond to questions. Stonewalling is a type of nonverbal communication in which people remain silent, leave a room, or ignore their partner if they are uncomfortable answering specific questions or discussing specific topics.
4. Your partner is hesitant to talk about his or her feelings. When people stonewall, they avoid discussing topics that cause stress. The next stage of a relationship, professional success, or family dynamics are examples of such issues.
3 Common Reasons for Stonewalling
People stonewall as a coping mechanism or as a tactic of manipulation. While Dr. John Gottman of the Gottman Institute discovered that women stonewall their partners less frequently than men, both genders are capable of stonewalling their partners. Consider these reasons for stonewalling:
1. To avoid difficult conversations: When people are unhappy in their professional lives, friendships, or family relationships, they may stonewall their partner. They may obstruct their partner by avoiding discussing these issues.
2. To escalate a conflict: In more extreme cases, stonewalling can be used to achieve a goal. A person may want to end a relationship but avoids discussing it. They will use stonewalling to keep someone out, eventually leading to an explosion that will end the relationship.
3. To gain control in difficult situations: People who are unhappy in their romantic relationships may try to gain control by stonewalling.
The Impact of Stonewalling
A relationship can suffer as a result of stonewalling. Stonewalling can lead to resentment, a lack of trust in the relationship, and disorientation as you begin to doubt yourself and the person you thought you loved. Stonewalling, at its worst, can lead to a breakup or prolonged mental anguish as partners fail to build a bridge between them.
How to Deal with Stonewalling
There are constructive ways to deal with stonewalling. If you are the victim of stonewalling, try the following responses:
Discuss sensitive issues in a private setting. If your partner is sensitive to conversations in public, try bringing them up only in a safe place where they will feel at ease.
Set an ultimatum. Discuss your partner's well-being with their close friends. To maintain your mental health, you can issue an ultimatum to your partner. However, be prepared to follow through, or an ultimatum will be ineffective.
Offer assistance. If your partner continues to be unresponsive, inquire about seeing a couples therapist.
Make self-care a priority. If your partner is refusing to listen to you, it is critical that you practice self-care. You could take some time for yourself and separate from your partner.
Take a deep breath. If a conversation is causing stress for your partner, avoid bringing it up for two or three days. Give it some time and see if it improves your mood.
Inform your partner of your feelings. Tell your partner calmly how stonewalling affects you. This can help to personalize the situation and elicit empathy from your partner.
How to Get Rid of Stonewalling
Professional assistance is sometimes required to combat stonewalling. Couples therapy can be a healthy way to take steps toward problem-solving if the partners believe their relationship is worth saving. A couples therapist can facilitate communication between partners and provide them with the tools they need to understand how to bring up and discuss difficult topics.
Individual mental health professionals can also be sought if people prefer to have more private, one-on-one conversations. These can improve a person's wellness and provide a safe space for the wounded partner to discuss their issues, which can then shift their perspective and improve the romantic relationship.