Understanding Stonewalling in Relationships and How Can It Be Avoided?

What Is Stonewalling In Relationship
What is Stonewalling in Relationship

Stonewalling is one of the most difficult forms of communication to deal with. Healthy communication is a must for relationships and bonding. Stonewalling can have a negative impact on the situation. In this blog, we shall explore insights into stonewalling in a relationship and how it can be prevented with helpful tips and solutions.

What is Stonewalling?

Stonewalling is a refusal to communicate with someone intentionally and meaningfully. It is completely unresponsive behavior to avoid engagement.

It is a form of behavioral and negative attitude to stop all kinds of communication with another person by shutting down the conversation. Stonewalling is a destructive form of communication creating an ignore-like situation for the other person.

On the other hand, looking at the positive aspect of stonewalling, it may be required to take a break from a conversation, especially during a conflict to keep uncomfortable situations at bay which may engage in a fight.

How is Stonewalling Expressed?

Stonewalling is expressed negatively by being ignorant and avoiding the person and situation with no interaction. This may result in a lack of bonding and connectivity creating an emotional impact on stonewallers and stonewalled persons. It is important to vent out and express your emotions in a polite manner instead of completely stonewalling.

Dealing with the situation in the right manner is a must before you express the stonewalling with your loved one.

Incidence of Stonewalling

Stonewalling occurs more in relationships among couples, marriage, or among friends. It is commonly seen in males rather than women to remain neutral to avoid conflict and overwhelming situations.

Why Does Stonewalling Cause Stress?

Stonewalling can cause extremely stressful situations for the stonewalled and the stonewaller. It may create a confusing and panicky state when the opposite person avoids you completely. In extreme cases, the stonewaller may develop an increase in cortisol levels in order to suppress emotions or anger. This can cause an internal build-up of emotions leading to high stress hormones. This may lead to self-emotional abuse or self-harm.

Signs of Stonewalling

The signs of the stonewalling are as follows:

  1. Sudden withdrawal from the conversation
  2. Refusing to engage or communicate by shutting down conversation
  3. Frustration at the receiving end
  4. Avoiding eye contact
  5. Walking away from the conversation or leaving the space
  6. Not replying at all
  7. Changing the subject and jumping to the next topic
  8. Giving one-word answers or non-verbal action-oriented responses
  9. Looking for a topic change
  10. Replying with aggressive answers or being sarcastic.

Types of Stonewalling

There are two types of stonewalling, which are as follows:

1. Intentional Stonewalling

Intentional stonewalling is a self-oriented and targeted conscious decision made by a person to stop communication completely with the opposite person. This is a way to gain power in a relationship and punish the other.

2. Unintentional Stonewalling

Unintentional stonewalling occurs due to stress or anxiety in the relationship. This may be done by a person to shut down communication as they might be unable to handle the situation.

The Impact of Stonewalling

Stonewalling can have a negative impact on a relationship. It has been proven as per research that stonewalling may result in 100% high risk chances of divorce or separation from your loved one. The after-effects of stonewalling are as follows-

  • Inability to resolve conflicts
  • Petty disagreement
  • Fighting verbally or physically
  • Frustration or anger
  • Stressful situation to deal with
  • Sudden reaction out of desperation
  • Low self-esteem on being stonewalled
  • Serious complications related to mental health issues
  • Health issues
  • Increased defensiveness
  • Reduced ability to concentrate and think
  • Prolonged fighting
  • Negative emotions
  • Flooded thoughts and being overwhelmed

In Which Situations Can Stone Walling Occur?

Stonewalling can occur in many situations. Some of the examples are as follows-

  1. Stonewalling with partner relationships
  2. Stonewalling at workplace
  3. Stonewalling in parent/adult relationship
  4. Stonewalling with family and friends

Is Stonewalling a Negative or Positive Reaction?

This is quite a challenging question to answer. As per the psychologist and depending on each situation, stonewalling can be a negative as well as a positive reaction. It is important to note that every person and every reaction is different. Some people may consider stonewalling as a positive to avoid conflicts or any kind of fight generated from a situation. On the other hand, stonewalling can be a negative reaction that is brought above for manipulation or controlling strategy to make the stonewalled person hopeless and has low self-esteem.

However, there are ways to get out of the conflict by avoiding stonewalling. Yes, avoiding stonewalling to a certain extent can create a healthy relationship with your loved one. Let us help you discover how to avoid stonewalling in the next part of the article

How to Avoid Stonewalling?: 10 Therapeutic Steps for Stonewalling

Here are easy tricks and tips on how to avoid stonewalling in your relationship and recreate a healthy bond for better living.

  1. Couples therapy
  2. Counseling to overcome a defensive tactic
  3. Communicate openly and freely
  4. Relax and take a break
  5. De-stress yourself with a cup of coffee or green tea
  6. Engage in some activity and keep yourself busy
  7. Recharge yourself with exercise
  8. Practice self-care
  9. Take a deep breath to relax yourself
  10. Check for indications like panic attacks or muscle spasms
  11. Schedule a time to talk later
  12. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  13. Opt for professional guidance with a counselor or therapist


Stonewalling is not always negative. It is a self-expressive technique that may give positive and negative outcomes at times. It is important to understand the situation and react accordingly. Getting relationship help can help you figure out with a professional therapist how to overcome stonewalling. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can relationship counseling help in avoiding stonewalling?

A professional therapist or counselor can positively address the conflict by developing good communication behaviors, de-stressing techniques, and counseling sessions to ease out unhealthy interactions and resolve the conflict without stonewalling.

Is stonewalling a withdrawal behavior?

How do you deal with stonewalling in a relationship?

What happens when an individual stonewalls?





Dr. Rati Parwani

Dr. Rati Parwani is a Professional Practising Medical Doctor with expertise in treating chronic diseases. With over ten years of clinical experience, she currently provides medical and holistic care for all age groups with professional case consultation and medicine. She also has expertise in health and medical writing with research-based proven ethical writing.