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5 Stonewalling Examples in a Relationship
Unseen yet palpable, stonewalling can stealthily infiltrate a relationship.
To equip you with the knowledge to confront this silent saboteur, we’ve identified 11 common examples of stonewalling that may be subtly eroding the foundations of your partnership.
1. Refusing to Engage in Conversation
A refusal to engage in conversation is a classic sign of stonewalling. Your partner might appear distracted, unresponsive, or simply uninterested whenever you initiate a discussion. This goes beyond just needing some alone time—it’s a persistent pattern of avoidance.
This refusal to talk or discuss critical issues can create a significant rift in understanding and connection, preventing the resolution of conflicts and fostering resentment. Over time, this relentless silence can escalate the tension in the relationship, making it even harder to bridge the communication gap.
Example: You’ve been trying to discuss your finances for weeks, but your partner has clammed up and won’t talk about it. You get the silent treatment every time you try to bring it up, leaving you angry and feeling stuck with no decisions made.
2. Ignoring Emotional Needs
Stonewalling may manifest as disregarding your emotional needs. Your partner could seem indifferent to your feelings, consistently ignoring your emotional expressions or responding with indifference. Despite your attempts to share and express your emotions, they might not acknowledge or validate feelings, leaving you feeling unheard.
This dismissive behavior makes you feel invisible or unimportant, eroding the emotional intimacy of your relationship. You feel unsupported and emotionally isolated, undermining the trust and comfort that are the bedrock of any relationship.
Example: Your partner always made fun of much you love your dog. But now your dog has to be put down, and they act like it’s no big deal. Every time you cry, they roll their eyes and leave the room.
3. Avoiding Conflict Resolution
Consistently evading arguments or discussions around issues in the relationship is another instance of evasive behavior. Rather than facing problems and working through them, your partner might withdraw or shut down when confronted with potential conflict.
This avoidance tactic can stall relationship growth as disagreements and issues are left unresolved. These unresolved issues pile up, fostering resentment and causing damage that is challenging to repair. With every avoided conflict, your closeness drifts further away from healthy understanding.
Example: You had a huge argument a few days ago and want to sort it out. But when you try to address it, your partner pretends they don’t hear you. They say nothing and leave the room. Or they keep saying, “I don’t know what you want from me.”
4. Using Silence as a Weapon
Silence can be a weapon in the arsenal of a stonewaller. It’s not the peaceful silence of companionship but a cold, punishing one intended to frustrate or hurt. This kind of silence can feel like a heavyweight, creating a one-sided dynamic where one partner feels silenced and marginalized.
This behavior is often wielded as a form of control or punishment and causes feelings of confusion, anxiety, and isolation. Over time, it leads to a power imbalance in the partnership, making it harder for the silenced partner to voice their needs or concerns.
Example: Your spouse has asked you to do something you don’t want to do, and you’ve said no. As a result, they have stopped talking to you. You try to explain your reasons, but they just give you a cold stare and refuse to talk. It’s been going on for days.
5. Frequently Turning Away
Regularly turning away can indicate this puzzling behavior. Whether your partner leaves the room when you’re speaking or diverts their attention to something else, these behaviors are clear examples of stonewalling.
The habit of distancing can be incredibly hurtful, making you feel dismissed. In the long run, it can breed feelings of loneliness and disconnection. Recognizing this sign is crucial for calling out this harmful pattern and working towards healthier interactions.