All About ‘Stonewalling’ And Why It’s One Of The Most Toxic Relationship Behaviors

Stonewalling is actually a very common occurrence in a lot of relationships but you might not be sure what it is and therefore unsure of how to spot it in the wild. Stonewalling is when someone refuses to communicate or participate in a conversation or a conflict within their relationship. If you think you’ve been on the receiving end of stonewalling before and aren’t sure what to do, keep reading.

  1. Stonewalling makes it impossible to resolve conflict. When your partner stonewalls you during an argument or fight, it makes it utterly impossible to reach any kind of resolution together. When someone chooses to shut down instead of discussing things like a rational human being, it puts the conversation at a standstill and makes it impossible for you to take it anywhere else. It’s essentially a dead end and provides no relief or answer to the problem.
  2. It’s a form of manipulation. First and foremost, stonewalling is a definite form of manipulation. If someone refuses to see your side of an argument or refuses to listen to how you feel but instead shuts you out, it’s a way for them to cut things off before you can convince them that might be in the wrong. If you try to communicate with you and they continue to stonewall, eventually you’ll have to give up trying which, in their mind, will mean that they’ve won the argument.
  3. It’s a way for people to deflect from the truth. If your partner tends to constantly stonewall you during an argument, it could be because they are trying to end the argument before the truth comes to light. They don’t want to accept certain things about the situation and don’t want to have to change their thinking or behavior so, instead of having to grow as a person, they’ll just shut down and ignore it altogether. It’s very unhealthy behavior.
  4. It can cause you to feel powerless. No one should ever feel powerless in their own relationship, but stonewalling can definitely make someone feel as if they have no control or say. Stonewalling can be so harmful to a person because not only does it force you to sweep problems that you have with your partner under the rug, but it can also cause you to start to feel resentment for your partner and when you suppress your feelings and anger for too long, it’s only a matter of time before there’s an explosion of emotion.
  5. Partners who stonewall hate to be wrong. If your partner uses stonewalling frequently during your disagreements, there’s a very likely chance that they’re the type of person who hates to be wrong and hates to be told ‘no’. If they start to see during an argument that they’re not completely in the right, they might rather stop the conversation altogether and refuse to continue speaking about it because they are so desperate to always be right. It doesn’t mean they’re right, it simply means that they’ve found a way to sneak out of it.
  6. Stonewalling is an immature response to conflict. There’s no getting around the fact that stonewalling is a totally immature response to a conflict within your relationship. Mature and responsible adults don’t shy away from having serious discussions with their partners because they know that when all is said and done, your relationship will be stronger and happier for it. If your partner refuses to have serious conversations with you, you might want to start thinking about how this will affect you in the future and if it will start to become a real problem.
  7. It can be used as a defense mechanism. Stonewalling can be a way that people try to protect themselves from criticism and failure. If someone has a real fear of conflict, whether it’s because they were exposed to a lot of it growing up or have dealt with a lot of judgment, they might be terrified to engage in healthy conflict with their partner. It doesn’t justify the stonewalling, of course, but they might just need to be shown healthier ways that they can cope.
  8. It’s an extremely unfair way to fight. One of the things that make stonewalling so toxic in relationships is because it’s a completely unfair way to fight within your relationship. It’s not being fair to your partner because you’re not giving them a chance to speak their mind and argue their points but rather ignoring them and essentially ignoring their feelings in the process.
  9. It makes it impossible for your relationship to grow and evolve. Stonewalling can ultimately destroy a relationship quickly because it makes it impossible for couples to push past their problems and grow together. No one wants a partner who can’t be open-minded and can’t agree to disagree sometimes. It’s not fair to either person to have to sacrifice their opinions and avoid any and all conflict simply because one of the people in the relationship refuses to engage. If you want your relationship to survive and your partner constantly stonewalls you, you have to have the courage to tell them how it’s damaging behavior to your relationship and that in order for this to work, they must change.
Shelby is a journalist and fiction writer raised in the South but built for the big city. She's a book nerd (well, an overall nerd, honestly) and coffee addict and obsessed with all things leather and lacy.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies from Sam Houston State University and worked for her university newspaper, The Houstonian, as well as serving as a producer and part-time entertainment anchor for Cable 7 Huntsville. You can follow her on Twitter @shelby777.