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Stonewalling: The Silent Killer In Relationships(and what it means)

Couple stonewalling in their relationship

Communication forms the foundation of healthy relationships. It is through open and honest dialogue that we foster connections, deepen understanding, and resolve conflicts. However, when one or both individuals resort to stonewalling, a destructive pattern emerges that can undermine even the strongest of bonds.

Stonewalling, the act of withdrawing from communication and shutting down emotionally, can wreak havoc on relationships of all types. In this blog, we will explore why stonewalling can destroy any relationship and offer insights on how to address and prevent this manipulative behavior.

1.The breakdown of communication

Stonewalling severs the vital link of communication that relationships depend on. By refusing to engage or share one's thoughts, feelings, or concerns, stonewallers effectively block any potential resolution or growth. This lack of communication breeds misunderstanding, creates silent treatments, grows resentment, and increases emotional disconnection and discord.

2. Escalation of conflict

When one person in a relationship resorts to stonewalling, it often triggers an unfavorable cycle of communication. The other person might interpret the stonewalling as rejection or abandonment, leading to frustration, anger, and intensified conflict. This escalation can erode trust and deepen emotional wounds, making it increasingly difficult to repair the damage caused. The longer the silence impacts the relationship, the harder it is to reconnect and resolve differences.

3. Emotional detachment

Stonewalling is a defense mechanism rooted in emotional self-preservation. By shutting down and withdrawing, individuals may believe they are protecting themselves from further emotional harm. However, the unintended consequence is emotional detachment. Over time, stonewalling deteriorates emotional intimacy and creates a sense of isolation, leaving the other person feeling unheard, unimportant, and alone.

4. Undermining trust and security

Trust is necessary of any thriving relationship, especially when trying to recover from past turmoil. When stonewalling becomes a recurring pattern, it breaks down trust and creates insecurity for one or both people. The stonewalled individual may question their worth, wonder if their needs will ever be met, and doubt the reliability and commitment of the stonewaller. This destructive behavior can be incredibly difficult to repair and may ultimately lead to the dissolution of the relationship.

5. Lack of resolution and growth

Stonewalling hinders the ability to use conflict resolution tools and evolve the relationship because the stonewaller is resistant to discussing relationship matters. Without open and honest communication, issues remain at an impasse, betrayal and resentment form, and emotional wounds deepen. Over time, the accumulation of unresolved conflicts can create a toxic connection, making it nearly impossible for either person's needs to be met.

How Stonewalling Can Be Interpreted:

  • "I'm not going to give you what you want"

  • "I'm going to punish you until I comply"

  • "I'm scared you will see the real me"

  • "I don't have to tell you how I feel"

  • "I don't have time for this"

  • "I don't care what you have to say"

  • "I care more about what I need than you"

Addressing and Preventing Stonewalling:

1.Recognize the manipulative pattern

Awareness is the first step. Both individuals need to acknowledge and recognize the presence of stonewalling in the relationship. Understanding the destructive impact it has is crucial for motivating change. If the stonewaller refuses to acknowledge their behavior, please seek professional assistance as we can help you decide the next plan of action to best support your needs.

2. Foster empathy and understanding

Encourage empathy and understanding by actively listening to one another. Each person should make an effort to understand and validate the other's perspective, even during difficult conversations. It doesn't mean you agree with what they are saying but you validate you have heard them and can engage in further to ask open-ended questions.

3. Adapt healthy communication skills

Foster an environment where open, honest, and respectful communication is encouraged so you can amicably discuss your differences. Choosing the right time and place to discuss concerns and make all the difference if they are open to talking. Additionally, practice active listening so you can seek greater understanding while keeping an open mind for negotiating differences. This isn't about negotiating your value, but trying to create alignment to best support the relationship.

4. Seek professional help

If stonewalling persists despite efforts to address it, there could be more underlying issues that need to be addressed that require individualized attention. Coaching can provide guidance, communication tools, and healing techniques to overcome communication barriers and rebuild the relationship.

5. Practice self-care and self-love

Individuals who stonewall should engage in self-reflection to understand the root cause of their behavior and how its damaging to the relationship. This introspection can help uncover underlying fears, inadequacies, or past experiences that contribute to their tendency to withdraw.

If you are on the receiving end of the stonewaller, implementing self-care and self-love is crucial to your mental and emotional well-being. Stonewalling can weigh heavily on one's conscious and lead to insomnia, anxiety, depression, adrenal fatigue, and ailments.

Ultimately, stonewalling has the potential to destroy any relationship, be it romantic, familial, or friendship. If you looking for support, please set up a discovery call today. You deserve to be heard and understood.


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