What Is Stonewalling And How To Spot It In Your Dating Life

Dating can be a mashup of highs and lows while you figure out what works and what doesn’t for you.

When you find yourself in somewhat of a committed relationship, the next step is trying to decide whether it’s worth taking things to the next level. There are certain toxic behaviors to watch out for, and stonewalling is one of them.

Stonewalling Is Actually A Common Occurrence In Relationships

Man and woman standing facing each other with heads looking down
Photo Credit: PNW Production / Pexels
Photo Credit: PNW Production / Pexels

Even if you have never heard the term “stonewalling” used when talking about relationships, there is a good chance that you have experienced it in real life.

Stonewalling is actually a fairly common occurrence in many relationships.

There Are Certain Signs To Watch Out For

Woman stands behind couch and glances over man's shoulder while he's on his cell phone
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels

Since most people are unaware of exactly what “stonewalling” is, they often don’t notice how it affects them in their day-to-day lives.

There are some signs to watch out for to help identify if you’re experiencing it in your own relationship.

It Is A Term Used By Relationship Experts And Psychologists

Man and woman on couch in therapy office
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels

Stonewalling is a term used by psychologists and therapists to describe the behavior of a person who refuses to communicate.

It most often describes personal relationships and a partner’s unwillingness to resolve a conflict by communicating.

It Makes Communication Impossible

Man and woman sit and stare at each other on a leather couch, looking stern
Photo Credit: Klaus Nielsen / Pexels
Photo Credit: Klaus Nielsen / Pexels

If you have ever been completely shut down by your partner in the middle of an argument, you may have experienced stonewalling to some degree.

The problem with this behavior is that the refusal to communicate makes it nearly impossible to reach any kind of solution.

It’s A Hard Behavior To Identify At First

Woman waves hand at man who talks to her
Photo Credit: Keira Burton / Pexels
Photo Credit: Keira Burton / Pexels

A person who shuts down and isolates instead of having a rational discussion can make it difficult to reach any resolution, no matter how big or small the disagreement is.

This behavior is a red flag that doesn’t always reveal itself early in a relationship but is important to watch for.

It Is A Form Of Manipulation

Man and woman in car; woman looks annoyed
Photo Crddit: RODNAE Productions / Pexels
Photo Crddit: RODNAE Productions / Pexels

Stonewalling is definitely a form of manipulation in a relationship.

If your partner absolutely refuses to listen to your perspective and tries to invalidate your opinions by ignoring them, they are cutting you off before you can convince them that they may be in the wrong.

They Will Stonewall You Until The Situation Diffuses Or You Forget About It

Man broods at window woman sits at table
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels
Photo Credit: cottonbro / Pexels

When you attempt to communicate with your partner and they stonewall you until the situation eventually diffuses, in their mind, they have won the argument.

Evading the conversation is equal to “being right” in their mind and they can move on, leaving you frustrated.

They May Be Trying To Avoid Certain Truths Being Revealed

Women sit on bed, one looks downcast
Photo Credit: RODNAE Productions / Pexels
Photo Credit: RODNAE Productions / Pexels

Another reason your partner may be stonewalling you during discussions is that they are trying to end the conversation before an ugly truth comes to light.

Not talking about tough topics means that there is no chance of having to answer for past mistakes or toxic behaviors. But just because you don’t discuss them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

You Start To Feel Powerless In The Relationship

Woman looks down and frustrated
Photo Credit: Keira Burton / Pexels
Photo Credit: Keira Burton / Pexels

Being stonewalled can make you feel powerless in your relationship. Over time, losing your voice and control in the relationship becomes a pattern that is hard to break.

It forces you to brush off problems you have with your partner instead of addressing them, meaning they never really go away.

You Are Putting Your Own Mental Health At Risk By Bottling Up Emotions

Woman looking upset with another woman facing the other direction behind her
Photo Credit: Liza Summer / Pexels
Photo Credit: Liza Summer / Pexels

When you suppress your feelings and emotions to accommodate a partner who shuts down, you are putting your own mental health at risk.

Bottling up feelings and anger can lead to resentment and an inevitable explosion of emotion down the line.

Stonewalling Is An Immature Response To Healthy Disagreements

Woman and man sit back to back on bed
Photo Credit: Alex Green / Pexels
Photo Credit: Alex Green / Pexels

Stonewalling is an immature response to the regular conflict that happens in intimate relationships.

No relationship is perfect and they take a little bit of work to stay healthy. Mature adults are willing to engage in the harder conversations with their partners knowing that the end result will be worth the work.

Stonewalling Prevents You From Being Able To Grow As A Couple

Man and woman hold hands under lights on city street under building
Photo Credit: Katerina Holmes / Pexels
Photo Credit: Katerina Holmes / Pexels

Stonewalling behavior can dismantle a relationship quicker than you might expect because it leaves couples trapped in one spot.

It becomes impossible to move forward and grow together when you’re hung up on unresolved issues and always considering the past.

You Need To Address The Problem Before It’s Too Late

Man and woman sit at table outside
Photo Credit: John Diez / Pexels
Photo Credit: John Diez / Pexels

If you’re worried that your partner is stonewalling you toward a breakup, it’s important to let them know before it’s too late.

Tell them that the behavior is damaging to your relationship and that communication needs to be a key component moving forward.