What Is Stonewalling in a Relationship?


When we’re in a relationship, we want everything to work out. We work hard to make our partners feel loved, appreciated, and cared for.

But what happens when your partner isn’t giving you the same courtesy? What happens when your partner refuses to communicate with you and shuts you out? Can a relationship cope with stonewalling?

Stonewalling in a relationship occurs when one partner refuses to communicate with another. Usually, the stonewaller is upset about something, and they use stonewalling to push the other partner away until they solve the issue at hand.

But it becomes unhealthy when the stonewalling continues for an extended period of time. This can negatively impact the integrity of the relationship.

If you suspect something like this is happening in your relationship, read our in-depth guide on stonewalling and how to deal with it!

Different Types of Stonewalling

Stonewalling in a relationship is when one person withholds a lack of communication or ignores their partner as a way of handling conflict. It’s a form of emotional abuse that can damage the relationship.

There are different types of stonewalling, including verbal, physical, and emotional. Each type has different consequences for the relationship.


It is often used as a way to maintain power in a relationship or to avoid difficult conversations. This can be done through verbal stonewalling, which is when someone refuses to speak or engage in conversation, or non-verbal stonewalling, which is when someone uses body language to avoid communication issues.


It can be difficult to re-engage someone who has physically stonewalled; it is often a strategy to avoid conflict or further escalation. If you are on the receiving end of physical stonewalling, try to remain calm and respectful. If the situation allows, take a break yourself and come back when both of you are ready to continue the discussion.


It can also manifest as a form of emotional abuse, where one partner repeatedly diminishes, invalidates, or dismisses the other partner’s feelings. This can be damaging to the relationship as it creates a feeling of isolation, disconnection, and mistrust.

How to Effectively Address and Respond to Stonewalling?

The good news is that there are ways to effectively address and respond to stonewalling.

Try to understand why your partner is stonewalling. It could be that they’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or even threatened. If you can gently and calmly explore the reasons behind it, it can help prevent it from happening again in the future.

If your partner isn’t ready to talk, don’t force them. Instead, let them know that you’re there for them when they’re ready. In the meantime, try to find other ways to connect and communicate, such as non-verbal cues or written messages.

It can be difficult to deal with, but it’s important to remember that it’s not personal. With patience, understanding, and a little bit of creativity, you can find ways to overcome it.

How Is It Different From Gaslighting?

In a relationship, “stonewalling” is the act of shutting down, withdrawing, and avoiding any discussion, or, more aggressively, by outright refusing to listen or engage in dialogue.

Gaslighting, on the other hand, is a form of manipulation in which one partner tries to control the other by making them question their reality. It can be done by withholding information, denying statements or events, and making false claims. It is often used as a way to maintain power in a relationship.

Negative Effects on Relationships

Stonewalling can have negative effects on the relationship, including making the stonewaller feel isolated and misunderstood and causing the other person to feel shut out and resentful. If it becomes a pattern, it can damage the relationship and make it difficult to resolve conflicts.

Feel Isolated and Misunderstood

This can make the other partner feel isolated and misunderstood. It is important to remember that stonewalling is usually a defensive mechanism, so try to remain calm and understanding.

If you are the one being stonewalled, try to express your feelings in a non-threatening way. If you are the one stonewalling, try to take a step back and understand why you are doing it.

Feel Shut Out and Resentful

When one partner consistently withholds communication, support, or intimacy, it creates a feeling of being shut out and resentful. This can lead to a feeling of being unimportant and unloved.

If you’re feeling shut out in your relationship, it’s important to communicate your needs to your partner. If your partner doesn’t respond or is unwilling to work on the issue, it may be time to seek counseling or end the relationship.

What Can We Learn From It?

It’s important to remember that communication is key in any relationship, and stonewalling should only be used as a last resort. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, take a step back and try to communicate with your partner in a calm and respectful manner.

Try to see the situation from their perspective and be open to compromise. If you’re both willing to work on the relationship, you can overcome anything.

If you’re one of the people who experience stonewalling, always remember that there is always a way to restore trust in a marriage or even in a relationship.

Maintain a Healthy Relationship

If you find yourself in a relationship in which you feel like you’re being shut out, it may be due to stonewalling. This occurs when one partner consistently refuses to communicate or engage with the other.

If you’re being stonewalled, it’s important to try to open up the lines of communication. This may not be easy, but it’s necessary if you want to maintain a healthy relationship.

If you found this helpful and want to read more great content, check out our latest blog posts now!

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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