6 facts about stonewalling in toxic relationships
Stonewalling in toxic relationships has many different names like the silent treatment, being frozen out, the cold shoulder, or being ignored. It can be found in romantic relationships or the workplace but it’s basically the same behavior. Stonewalling is when someone refuses to discuss important issues and emotions by zoning out, giving you one-word answers, walking away, or ignoring you.
In toxic relationships stonewalling is used as a form of “punishment” or a way of keeping you in line.
Stonewalling Comments in Toxic Relationships
Common phrases used by toxic people as a way of opting out of conversations:
- – “Just leave me alone…”
- – “End of conversation…”
- – “Stop talking about…”
- – “That’s enough! End of topic..”
How Does Stonewalling in Toxic Relationships Make you Feel?
Stonewalling can make you feel isolated and helpless and is especially frustrating and painful when it happens in romantic relationships.
John Gottman’s research shows that stonewalling is the 2nd behavior that can predict divorce with a 90% accuracy. John Gottman’s study on Why Marriages Succeed or Fail refers to stonewalling as one of the four horsemen that red flag a future divorce.
If you regularly experience stonewalling in your relationship this is toxic and will have a dramatic effect on your relationship. The person stonewalling is able to emotionally detach which leads to you feeling abandoned.
You will initially have feelings of shock and pain which are typically followed by secondary feelings of anger and, then, aggressive efforts to get some kind of emotional reaction, even a negative one. When these efforts fail, your internal response to your partner is usually that “They don’t care. They don’t love me” and you will feel end up feeling insecure.
why Do People Stonewall?
Understanding that there are a number of reasons why someone may choose to use stonewalling in a relationship may give you a better understanding of how to effectively respond.
Look To Their Past For Clues
Your partner may be feeling overwhelmed and they are trying to protect themselves.
Some families do not discuss feelings, and your partner/friend may have developed these behavioral patterns in childhood.
For example, your partner may be going through a very stressful situation at work or maybe struggling financially and they withdraw into themselves consumed by their problems. They don’t know how to express how they feel and internalize their problems and ignore what is going on around them.
Your partner may not even be sure of how they feel about a situation and trying to express this confused feeling may not be possible.
This stonewalling will probably not happen consistently and will only occur during stressful times.
A short and strategic time-out can be beneficial after an argument.
However, ensure that you know the difference between taking a break to calm down which is beneficial, and a prolonged deliberate period of being ignored which can be regarded as abusive.
Is It Manipulation?
Are there signs of abuse in your relationship? If there are, ignoring you may be your partner’s way of trying to punish or control you.
Stonewalling in toxic relationships is done with intent and it’s deliberate, a partner uses it to dominate a relationship. It is a manipulative and controlling strategy used by abusive partners.
When used as a strategy of control stonewalling is a red flag of a toxic relationship.
Withdrawing and stonewalling as manipulation is a tactic that creates a sense of panic deep within your gut and you will be overwhelmed with an instinctive reaction to please them and this tightens their grip of control over you. If you are being stonewalled you may feel hopeless and experience a loss of control and self-esteem.
The Stonewalling Narcissist
It is important to note that stonewalling in toxic relationships is an insidious tactic used by narcissists in their cycle of abuse. In my experience when a narcissist uses stonewalling the silence is deafening. It leaves you feeling confused and vulnerable and it eats away at your self-esteem.
It is essential for your physical and mental well-being not to be part of an abuse campaign.
Dr. Kipling Williams, Purdue University says, “Excluding and ignoring people, such as giving them the cold shoulder or silent treatment, is used to punish or manipulate, and people may not realize the emotional or physical harm that is being done.”
Why does the narcissist stonewall?
When a narcissist stonewalls you they want you to react and give them attention and this is a very humiliating process. You may start to feel worthless, hopeless, powerless, and dismissed.
When you are being chronically stonewalled and the onset is sudden or it’s often for no apparent reason your response may be anger, yelling, and out-of-character behavior due to the turmoil of emotions created by the chronic unpredictable stonewalling.
The narcissist will then turn around and call you out for your behavior and claim that you are crazy. The stonewalling will be forgotten and you will end up apologizing for your reactions to it and this leads to feelings of guilt and shame.
Stonewalling in toxic relationships is done deliberately and with intent, it is a form of emotional abuse. Remember that abuse is not acceptable, do not allow someone to treat you disrespectfully as you are worth so much more.
”When someone walks away after you stand up for yourself and then stonewalls you for days, weeks, months or years….. That is not normal. IT’S ABUSIVE” – Psychopath Resistance
Move on and focus on the valuable lessons you’ve learned and build a brighter future.
So it is now clear that stonewalling can happen occasionally in healthy relationships as a defense mechanism or method of dealing with conflict.
However, when stonewalling in toxic relationships is used chronically as an insidious tactic of abuse by a toxic partner the mental and physical implications for you are numerous and need to be considered.
Toxic partners that entrap you in the cycle of abuse by using stonewalling are narcissists, sociopaths, or psychopaths, these people need to be avoided.
Remember, knowledge gives you acceptance and knowledge and acceptance give you power!
I would love to answer any questions or comments that you have below.