What is Stonewalling in Relationships and How to Deal With It?


The more important a person is for us, the more we worry when they are stonewalling us. The unknown fuels a sense of anxiety, we are at a loss not knowing what we did wrong and how to act now. Why do we suffer so much during this stonewalling emotional abuse and how to calm ourselves down?

Silence is one of the worst forms of emotional abuse. Some of us physically cannot stand it. According to psychiatrist Hemant Mittal, the trigger for depression and anxiety disorders in many of his patients was precisely the unwillingness of a loved one to communicate with them. You will find information about how to deal with the psychological effects of stonewalling and stop it once and forever.

stonewalling psychology,

What Does the Term "Stonewalling" Mean?

Stonewalling in marriage is painful. Regular neglecting on the part of the beloved can cause serious trauma. As an adult, a previously ignored child ignores others themself, finds a partner who practices stonewalling, and they build toxic relationships. So, the vicious circle of manipulations and ignoring continues in other generations.

To define stonewalling, we should say that it is a way to control another person, manipulation. It can be used in two cases.

1. To subjugate, trample another.

2. To attach another person to oneself. A chain of consequences arises — one runs away, ignores, the other catches up, trying to attract attention.

Hemant Mittal considers stonewalling in relationships one of the oldest psychological techniques for expressing disapproval or disappointment. Today, this simple psychological trick is practiced even between parents and children and often takes the form of brutal manipulation.

To notice the stonewalling, you should know that not all recognition is equally valuable. And although indifference to other people's opinions may seem attractive, in reality, it will not bring happiness. When another person ignores you, this is not normal, and you should not be the first to seek compromise.

Because the stonewalling definition says that this means ignoring a person to achieve selfish goals using manipulation. So, if you show the partner that you are vulnerable, they will use this trick again and again, you put the weapon in their hands. And while you come up with the new home date ideas to make up and please the other one, this person grows their power over you. We are social beings, and we need to communicate. In the world of our primitive ancestors, only those survived who were not rejected by the group or tribe.

Main Signs of Stonewalling in Relationships

This dirty trick is about ignorance, rejection, avoidance, evasion, withdrawal, neglect, inattention, indifference, and manipulation. To ignore is to put your feelings over those of another person. Do you still want to fall after this? If no, then you should learn how to recognize stonewalling.

Usually, stonewalling and keeping silence are closely linked

When the stonewaller finds the victim, this person ceases to communicate with them, and respond with deathly silence. But silence can be used without warning and prior ignoring, unexpectedly. In a difficult relationship with a narcissist, silence and disregard are manipulation tactics that form a constant cycle of cruelty. At the beginning of the cycle, a narcissistic person can strangle the victim with love and idealize them, giving them all the attention to win their heart. For example, you met on one of the single women sites, everything was perfect because toxic people are perfect at acting and pretending. But as soon as they get bored or you do something that displeases them, this person becomes a real tyrant.

Stonewalling cannot be predicted or prevented

The toxic partner sharply moves away from its victim, does not respond to the messages or requests for some time with absolutely no explanation. This deliberate silence causes their partner to experience excessive anxiety, fear, and constant self-doubt. A narcissistic person revels in the power and control, continuing to pull the strings of the victim like a puppeteer. In the context of humiliating relationships, both methods of manipulations and sudden silence are deliberately used as control tactics to intimidate and humiliate the victim and make them feel insignificant.

You are forced to reconcile

Although people do not longer fear rejection because, in an ancient tribe, it could lead to death, we still need relationships with other people and the approval of relatives and other members of society. Remember how important it was to fit into a team in high school? The need for approval has not gone away. In a relationship with a stonewaller, we are worried that we would somehow hurt them and that is why we are the first to apologize. Even when we do not think it was our fault, the manipulator acts in a way that makes us think, “I should be wiser, if I am not the first to compromise, this will last forever.”

Pleasing the partner at the expense of yourself

stonewalling in relationshipsA healthy relationship implies that we do not compromise our principles and beliefs, even for the sake of those closest to us. If we are disturbed by the feelings of others, and we ignore our own, we belittle our own significance. You have the right to have your own feelings, desires, and needs, and they are no less important than the feelings and desires of others. But the stonewalling psychology is about compromising at the expanse of your own needs. Not only you are the first to reconcile, but the making up always results in you being unhappy. While the partner stays in a winning position and receives everything they wanted.


Perhaps conflict is happening between the two people. The stonewaller notices that the partner is afraid of them. It can be seen in their words, deeds, and behavior. Or there may be the fear of engaging in dialogue to clarify the relationship. The victim stays silent about their feelings because this person is afraid that the conversation will be painful, they will hear an awful truth about how useless they are. So, in a relationship with a stonewaller, not only the person ignores you. But you too start to avoid the critical issues because you are afraid of even provoking them. You think that if you express displeasure, the person will close inside themselves again, and you will be to blame.

Feeling tension, discomfort, and rejection

Living with a person having stonewalling and narcissism disorders, you are under constant pressure. You feel the anxiety filling you each time you say or do something wrong. “What if they start ignoring me again? It was my fault, this is all because of me again.” Such unhealthy thoughts become the constant followers of the person who is a victim of a toxic partner. They cannot relax for a minute because a new portion of negativity may be directed at them. And it means apologizing, compromising, and wondering what went wrong all over again.

Psychological abuse

Stonewalling can trigger a strong thought process when the one who is ignored begins to “delve” into what they did wrong, what they said, or did not say. At the same time, strong feelings of anxiety, guilt, despair, feelings of uselessness, loneliness, and rejection join. Most likely, the victim is also an object of constant reproaches. Because the person may offend them psychologically, speak in a tone that is abusive but still refuses to talk about what is the cause of this aggression. At the extreme point, psychological sadism appears.

A way to take revenge

Revenge is a strong feeling of rage at a person who did harm to you in the past. Revenge is an attempt to restore justice, to punish, “Let them feel as bad as I felt.” Toxic people drift away from their partner, makes them suffer because of any minor detail. The stonewalling examples are not necessarily big issues. Was it a wrong look, the task that you forgot to do, even something truly unimportant, the person would make you pay for this many times more. Revenge is a way to regain your strength, power over a past situation. Is it possible to control what remains in the past? That situation has not changed, it remained in the memory of one. Revenge is a waste of personal resources on another person. What for? They are unlikely to change after revenge. Isn't it better to spend resources on yourself?

Is Stonewalling Considered an Abusive Behavior?

When you are stonewalled, it can hurt you, literally. The psychical effects can be strongly rooted in the victim's subconscious, creating new wounds, and strengthening the old insecurities. "Indifference or silence is used to punish or control, and people may not be aware of the emotional or physical harm they do," says Dr. Kipling Williams.

Stonewalling occurs when people misunderstand each other. It can happen even in healthy relationships as a defense mechanism or an attempt to deal with emotions during a conflict. But when ignoring is committed by a narcissistic partner — this is a completely different story. They will be callous, cold, and full of manipulative charges. Toxic partners use ignorance to inflict severe emotional pain. Partners in healthy relationships can be ignored in an attempt to end the conflict, but toxic partners who are skillful manipulators use it as a way to ruin their victims emotionally and cause them to lose control of themselves.

And while the victim continues to dream of “returning” their toxic partner, the ignoring person may continue to overlook the victim’s efforts, while the victim will make double efforts to please them. This behavior is extremely harmful to a person. The manipulator can be considered an emotional vampire in this case because they grow from the negative emotions and sufferings of their victims.

Main Steps on How to Deal with Stonewalling in Relationships

If you are in a relationship where the partner stonewalls you, and you have already tried to discuss it, but without success, understand that the problem is not about you. If this happens more than once, stop blaming yourself for it and stop tiptoeing in front of your partner in the hope of acceptance and recognition. Communication patterns of a toxic person cannot be changed if this person does not want to change themselves. Now that you know the answer to, "What is stonewalling?" you should consider advice on how to deal with it.

Find out the reason

The key to getting a person to listen to you and open up to you is to understand them before you talk about yourself. To be understood, you must first know why you feel the way you feel and what you want from another person. In other words, you need to first demonstrate to them that you understand the situation and the methods they use. Try to think why the person acts this way. Maybe they had toxic parents and were raised this way. Maybe they have trust issues and have been deeply hurt by the previous partner. There is still a chance that the stonewaller will change if you show that you wish only the best for them and that you will not allow the manipulations.

Reconsider your view on these relationships

While ignoring can be dealt with within the context of a healthier relationship, where both partners are willing to work on their wrong behaviors, taking care of yourself plays a very important role in unhealthy relationships. You must understand when it is time to leave, leaving this person behind. Otherwise, you simply encourage the games of their unhealthy mind. Instead of trying to regain the attention or approval of such a person, reconsider your view on these relationships: do you have to fight for them at all? If someone ignores you and is constantly silent, use this as a “free time” to think about how you can better take care of yourself and get the support that is needed to get rid of the psychological poison of toxic relationships.

Asses the future of the situation

Most importantly, the stonewalling partner is always an alarming bell. This behavior means that they put their principles above your feelings. Therefore, do not rush to dial the number of the player. First, recall how often a partner does this. If regularly, then you will not reeducate them. If this is the first time, it is important to understand what made them ghost you. Do not make hasty conclusions, evaluate everything with a cool mind. Perhaps you repeat the same mistake all over again, and it causes negative emotions. If there wasn’t anything unusual about your behavior, the reason is in the partner.

Get ready for a serious conversation

Haven’t been talking for a week? It's time to dot the i's and cross the t's. Gather your strength and offer a serious conversation. Find out what is the cause of this behavior. Because it already looks like a pause in a relationship, which does not always lead to a happy reconciliation. If the person continues to ignore you, try to put up an ultimatum. They should understand that you will not put up with such manipulations.

Do not blame yourself

If your partner suddenly stopped communicating, remember that this is not about you. define stonewallingYou have not become less valuable and worthy of love from this. But this characterizes the person who is playing this game with you as an immature and violent one. Perhaps they are afraid to face discomfort from their and your emotions. It may also be that they do not think about what kind of pain they are causing you or, even worse, they do not care. Regardless of the intentions, this is passive-aggressive behavior. In any case, a clear signal was sent to you, “I do not have what it takes to build a healthy relationship.” Of course, you will need strength to let go of the situation and leave.

Do not chase them and do not impose

Do not be miserable! In no case should you call, text, or constantly initiate with a conversation with a person that ignores you, do not beg or humiliate yourself, asking for forgiveness if you are not to blame. This will not solve the problem. Keep calm and dignity: if this is your person, you will be together. Wait. And to get distracted, meet friends, play sports, and do anything which makes you forget about the situation. No matter how hard it is, you should endure this pain and wait till they do the first step. The person will never change if they see that their methods work and you fall for them.

Do not panic or fall in depression

Stonewalling is the reason, and this is the consequence. You do not look deep into the nature of it, you always look only at the tip of the iceberg. And you could go as far as to understand that most likely a person ignores you precisely because you spread negativity. They feel it. And you just don’t notice it in yourself. You think you're positive and affectionate. But during the conflicts, you get angry and do not follow what you say. And the stonewaller subconsciously understood this. When a critical situation arises, they choose to avoid you at all because your behavior is predictable. Change it, and you will change their attitude.

Stop yourself from texting them

If your life now comes down only to the fact that you can’t think of anything other than this person, then you can be sure that you have lost common sense.

And this person. Because no one likes to be followed 24/7 and if you are overly intrusive, the person will get tired of you. So, now is the very moment when you should stop open their page, check it, see when they were online, why they did not text, as if you do not have your own life. On the contrary, now it is the time to prove to yourself and to a stonewaller that you can do perfectly well without them. So, they chose the wrong victim, if they wanted to ignore you, it means they lost you, not you lost them.

Live for yourself

The recognition from others, of course, affects our worldview. Is it possible to ever please everyone? No, but you can surely please at least one person in this world. And it should be you. And setting such a task should be your number one priority. We need inner comfort and peace within us, and then the question of demand or lack of demand will be as an appropriate addition to our self-esteem, and not the idea of fixation.

Decide whose approval and recognition really means a lot to you. If the person uses you, manipulates, and stonewalls. This one is not worth your attention. The worst thing you can do to yourself in this situation is to fight for their love and apologize for what you didn’t do. Put yourself first and train your willpower. This will help you endure the mental pain you feel when the person ignores you, and you want to reach out to them so badly.

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