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Stonewalling vs Silent Treatment 

by | Love

May 7, 2024

It is sometimes quite difficult to tell the difference between stonewalling and the silent treatment. One thing stands out between both, however, and this is the fact that both the silent treatment and stonewalling hurt really badly. 

While the stonewalling treatment seems to be an intentional approach to conflict, the silent treatment may not be as malignant. 

In this article, with examples, we will be showing you the difference between the stonewalling and the silent treatment, and how to cope or what to do if your partner uses any of these. 


It’s important to mention that the stonewalling treatment is usually an intentional approach to conflict. 

Everybody who walls the partner usually does it on purpose, and this is commonly seen among people who suffer from narcissistic disorders. 

Think about putting up a wall in somebody’s face when this person is talking to you. That is what stonewalling is. 

Two couples get into a fight, and one of them decides that it’s a good idea to address the problem. The one who addresses the problem tries to talk to the other one. 

Instead of listening, the other says I don’t want to hear anything you’re talking about. Or something like, please leave me alone. 

The stonewallers usually play a lot of victimhood. You already know the victim is a very effective manipulation tactic. They do this all the time. They will make you feel like your trying to talk is such an unhealthy thing to do. 

But the truth remains that we all have a right to speak and talk about things that will offend us. 

So, the key difference between the stonewalling and the silent treatments lies in intent. 

Sometimes the silent treatment is just a way to avoid conflict because of one’s reaction during conflict. As I will show you in the folllowing paragraphs, not everybody’s great with handling conflicts. 

Some people chicken out from conflicts not because they don’t seek a solution to the issue at hand but because they fear that they may escalate the problems even further. 

You will usually feel these five things if you’re being stonewalled: 

1. You will feel like you’re very problematic:

This is exactly what the manipulator seeks to achieve. 

He or she wants you to think that you’re very problematic and that they have no influence on the conflict that you’re having as a couple. 

If you ever feel like all the problems in the relationship are coming from your end and that your partner is the saint who does nothing wrong, then it’s possible that you’re being stonewalled. 

I’ll give it an eight out of ten chance.  

Read: Signs You Are in a Toxic Friendship

2. You feel the need to shut up and not talk about your issues:

That’s exactly what your manipulative partner wants. He wants you to shut up and have no reason to talk about your issues, no matter how much pressure you feel on yourself. 

You should always feel free to talk about your problems in any relationship. That is how you know that the relationship is healthy when something goes wrong. 

3. You feel like you should leave, but you are majorly unable to:

Stonewalling is very painful. 

A lot of the times, many partners catch the game at play and decide that is the best if they left the relationship. 

However, leaving is not as easy as it looks, as it sounds, especially in relationships when you are denied any form of closure. 

As we know, closure comes from speaking up about your fears and about your problems. However, with a partner who is very effective at manipulation, closure becomes some kind of impossibility.

If you want to leave or feel this intense pull or push to stay against your wish, then it’s likely you’re being stoned. 

4. They alienate you from your friends:

Do you know the interesting thing about stonewalling? 

Not only do they dismiss you and not listen to anything you have to saw, they also have a way around separating you from your friends or from anybody who has the potential to give you sound advice. 

They don’t want anyone advising you to leave. 

If you speak to someone about the relationship, your partner may get very upset. 

5. You feel overwhelmed:

Being stuck up and unable to talk about what you feel is going to produce some feelings of frustration in you. 

You feel overwhelmed, like everything is currently up against you.

This is the result of suppressed emotions. It is quite unhealthy, and I advise that if your partner continues to stonewall you, it may be time to consider leaving the relationship. 

Read: How To Deal With A Divorce

Silent Treatment

The silent treatment, unlike the stonewalling treatment, can be thought of as a random, malicious way of approaching conflicts. 

The partner who does the silent treatment does it innocently, unlike the partner who stonewalls the other. 

They may be using silent treatment because they lack the capacity to solve or deal with conflict at a particular time. 

Silent treatment is often picked up in childhood and extends all the way into relationships and has the potential to destroy them.

Many times, the treatment may be as toxic and damaging as its counterpart, the stonewalling treatment.

But then again, it’s something that doesn’t really have roots in mental diseases like narcissism. 

What are the features of the silent treatment that we do not see in the stonewalling treatment?

Well, there are five of them. 

1. Can we talk about this later?:

Usually, when one gives the silent treatment it may be as a result of fear or the result of a bruised ego. 

But one thing always stands out in the silent treatment, especially if the partner really loves you: there’s always going to be room for talking about it some other time. 

They may say something like: can we talk about it some other time when we are both comfortable?

This is something that will not show up during the stonewalling treatment. The partner who stonewalls is very likely to blame you for what has happened and will be waiting for you to come around and apologize. 

That is how damaging the stonewall treatment is.

Perhaps all you have to do is give your partner the space they need, and along the line, they will come up and talk to you about it. 

2. They’re affected emotionally too:

The thing about this silent treatment is that it tends to hurt both sides of the relationship. Unlike the stonewalling treatment, where only one partner is usually hurt. 

This is because the partner who stonewalls has no interest in the relationship or in talking about the things that have caused the dent. 

The one who gives the silent treatment is obviously in love. 

He may really be attached to his or her partner, but to be honest, it will be very uneasy for him to talk about the problem at hand. 

This means the silent treatment is going to hurt him as well. 

We see this a lot in relationships between younger couples, where they ignore each other, but at the same time, the person doing the ignoring on both sides feels pain.

3. They apologize:

Another thing about the silent treatment is that many times, the partner who does the silent treatment may want to reach out first. 

As I explained earlier, the ones who do the silent treatment are in love. 

They would likely apologize and convince you that they had no intention of making you feel bad. 

At the end of the day, you both are going to arrive at the level ground and maybe be able to talk about the issue at hand. 

4. They try:

The partner who does the silent treatment will try to settle the issue in contrast to the partner who stonewalls. 

They will try a lot harder and a lot more to preserve the relationship. 

Sadly, fixing things is not as easy as it sounds. Both of you may have to settle for therapy and talk about your issues, especially the issues from childhood that have made you become the adults you currently are.

Read: How to Fix a Sexless Marriage

5. They are like children:

The one who gives the silent treatment usually has a lot of childish features and one of these features includes being very clingy, being unable to endure separation, and lying. 

If your partner has childish features, it is possible that the silent treatment is also one of those childish features. 


The stonewalling treatment and silent treatment are quite common. They are also very painful and difficult for couples to deal with. The signs are always there. In the following article, I will be showing you how to deal with stonewalling and silent treatment. 

By Martin Corden

Martin Corden is a certified relationship expert and a songwriter from Australia. He loves researching and writing. Martin loves finding new ways to improve and inspires others to be their best version and work together towards it. Martin has a wide range of intellectual and artistic interests.

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