Stonewalling is when someone refuses to talk to you or is very evasive when you’re talking to them.
It’s incredibly frustrating. If your partner is always stonewalling you, it’s likely they’re either hiding something or has some emotional issues.
How you deal with stonewalling can literally be a make-or-break situation for your relationship.
Here are 10 ways how to respond to stonewalling in a relationship:
10 Ways How to Respond to Stonewalling
1. Don’t Get Frustrated
The first step is to not get too frustrated. It’s easy to do, but try and remember that they might not be doing it on purpose.
If you start getting angry, it’ll only make the situation worse and they’ll be less likely to want to talk to you.
Try and stay calm, even if it feels like they’re purposely trying to annoy you. You need to keep your emotions in check if you want to make the best possible decisions.
2. Back Away and Give Them Some Time
If your partner is stonewalling you, it might be best to back away and give them some time.
It could be that they just need some space and if you try and force them to talk, it’ll only make things worse.
Give them an hour or two to cool down, maybe even let them sleep on it, then try talking to them again.
If they still won’t open up, they clearly have difficulty opening up and might need more help than you can give them.
3. Try and See Things from Their Point of View
I’m not saying you should excuse their actions, but try to see things from their point of view.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own emotions, but it’s important to try and understand where they’re coming from.
They might be going through something you don’t know about that’s causing them to stonewall you.
Or, they could just be really bad at communicating. Either way, try and see things from their perspective before you react.
4. Arrange to Talk Again when You’re Both Calm
If you’re not getting anywhere, there is no point grilling them over and over.
The best thing you can do is to let them know how important it is that you talk about whatever it is you’re trying to talk about, and arrange a time to talk again.
When you do pick it back up, try and make sure both of you are in a good place emotionally.
If one or both of you are still angry, it’s likely the conversation will just devolve into another argument.
Pick a neutral time and place to talk, somewhere you won’t be interrupted and where you can both focus on the discussion.
5. Make Sure You’re Giving Them a Chance to Talk
Sometimes, we can get so caught up in what we’re saying that we don’t give the other person a chance to talk.
This is especially true if you’re feeling frustrated.
Try and take a step back and make sure you’re giving your partner an opportunity to speak.
If they still won’t, then at least you know you tried.
Remember, it takes two people to communicate and if they’re not willing to meet you halfway, then there’s not much you can do at that time.
6. Tell Them Exactly How They’re Making You Feel
If they’re still refusing to talk, it might be time to lay everything out on the table.
Tell them how their stonewalling is making you feel.
Try and be as honest and open about your feelings as you can without coming across as confrontational.
They need to know how much this is affecting you and why it’s such a big deal. Otherwise, they might not realize how serious the situation is.
Plus they’ll have no excuses in the future if their stonewalling causes more issues in your relationship, they can’t say they didn’t know.
7. Tactfully Suggest You Seek Professional Help Together
If they’re still not willing to talk after you tried various tactics to help them open up, you might need to seek professional help.
This is a big step, but if they’re refusing to communicate with you it might be the only way to get through to them.
A therapist can help you both learn how to communicate better and hopefully get to the root of why they’re stonewalling you.
If your partner is unwilling to seek help, then you might need to reconsider your relationship as their willingness to talk is unlikely to improve.
8. Practice Self Care so It Doesn’t Have a Negative Impact on You
It’s important to remember that you can’t always control how your partner communicates.
You can only control your own reactions and responses.
If they’re stonewalling you, it’s likely they have their own issues they need to work through.
Sure, you’re there to help and I’m sure you’ll be instrumental in helping them. But in the meantime, make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
Take out time to do things you enjoy, meditate, and surround yourself with good people – do anything other than dwell on the situation,
9. Explain to Them that Things Can’t Continue Like This
The last thing you want to do is give your partner an ultimatum or put too much pressure on them, that’ll only make them stonewall you even more.
However, at some point, you’ll need to have a talk with them about how things are going.
If they’re still not willing to communicate, then you might need to explain that things can’t continue like this.
It’s not healthy for either of you and it’s putting a strain on your relationship.
They need to know that their stonewalling is not only affecting you, but the relationship as a whole.
10. Realize that They Have the Problem and You Might Not Be Able to Help
In the end, you need to realize that they have the problem, not you. And unfortunately, you might not be able to help them if they’re unwilling to help themselves.
You can only do so much and if they’re not willing to communicate or seek professional help, then there’s not much else you can do.
The most important thing is that you take care of yourself and don’t let their stonewalling have a negative impact on your mental health.
What Is Stonewalling?
Stonewalling is the act of shutting down communication or refusing to talk about an issue.
It’s a form of passive-aggressive behavior that can be incredibly frustrating for the person on the receiving end.
If you’re feeling stonewalled by your partner, it’s important to remember that you can’t always control their behavior.
However, there are things you can do to try and get them to open up as I’ve covered above.
Why Do People Stonewall Others?
There are a variety of reasons why people might stonewall someone. It could be that they’re feeling overwhelmed and need some time to process their thoughts.
Or it could be a defense mechanism to avoid conflict or difficult conversations.
In some cases, it might even be an act of control.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that it’s not about you, it’s to do with whatever the person is hiding, dealing with, and for whatever reason can’t open up about.
Should You Leave Someone Who Keeps Stonewalling You?
This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on the situation and I can’t tell you what’s best for you and your relationship.
However, if you’re feeling stonewalled by your partner, it’s important to try and talk to them about it rather than simply putting up with it.
You should always see if there’s anything you can do to help them open up.
If they’re unwilling to communicate or seek professional help, then you might need to reconsider your relationship as their stonewalling is only going to have an increasingly negative impact on the two of you.
In the end, you need to do what’s best for you and your mental health.
I hope this article was helpful in giving you some ideas on how to deal with stonewalling. If you have any further questions or would like to share your experiences, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Image credits – Photo by Alexander Popov on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.