Why do men stonewall?

Since the day I posted it, my original article on stonewalling has consistently been my most popular.

What is stonewalling?

Stonewalling is withdrawing or refusing to respond to your partner.

For men, it may be a response to their own confusion or due to them feeling overwhelmed. Early in life, men learn that they have to come up with the answers to problems on their own, so this behavior makes sense.

For women, being stonewalled by a partner creates excessive anxiety—and anger.

What’s really going on?

PLEASE REALIZE THAT most people … both men AND women … stonewall as a defense against overwhelming anxiety.

Think of it as a person’s best attempt to calm everything … and everyone … in the midst of what feels like an impossible situation.

One main reason men stonewall is that Men hate conflict. Many shut down in an attempt to slow it down … or to avoid it altogether. Yes, that’s stonewalling, and it invariably has exactly the opposite effect than the one he’s hoping to achieve.

If you’d like to know more, download the free QuickStart Guide: Why do men stonewall?

Just click the image here.

Now, for the surprising side of stonewalling:

It’s actually much more damaging to the relationship if the woman is the stonewaller!!

In response to that statement, a gentleman posted the following comment and question:

I’m aware of my male ego. I can intellectualize this issue I’m faced with. I spend an inordinate amount of time qualifying the why’s, how’s, the possible misinterpretations, before saying one word about how I’m feeling.

But it doesn’t matter. At some point she will disengage.

Here are her most popular ways.

1) I can’t take this anymore

2) can we talk about this later

3) shouldn’t you be working, instead of dealing with this….this one really hurts

4) or she’ll change the subject, and ignore what I’m saying

5) or she’ll pretend to listen, but meanwhile she’s only in her own world

6) she’ll play the victim ‘you’re always complaining about me’…..

my response is usually…it’s not a complaint, it’s a concern, and if we managed to complete one of these conversations in a respectful and courteous way, we wouldn’t be ‘here’ again

7) if I make one mistake (as she sees it) during attempt at communicating….for example, raising my voice slightly? … she’s done.

I eventually end up losing my temper, and saying something I feel I should apologize (and always do so). She has a difficult time with apologies and acknowledging truth.

It’s funny; I completely understand what she’s doing. I was guilty of this in a previous relationship. However, this does nothing to heal the pain I feel.

Here’s the kicker … other than this, she’s the sweetest, funniest, nicest person I’ve ever been with. But my real need for what I term as ‘real intimacy’, would seem to transcend this.

Any thoughts would be deeply appreciated.


p.s. I almost forgot. What’s your reasons for saying, ‘It’s actually much more damaging to the relationship if the woman is the stonewaller’

Great question!

THE SHORT ANSWER IS … that men are more emotionally and relationally sensitive. And they are less likely to have the skills needed to repair the damage.

That is, it’s often very difficult for a man to express his vulnerability and to elicit the empathy and support he needs from his partner.

QUESTION: Do you shut him out when he hurts your feelings or does something you don’t approve of?

The female version of stonewalling can be subtle (refusing to talk to him for a few minutes) or dramatic (pouting, stomping out of the room, slamming doors, not speaking for days, etc.).

EXERCISE: Observe your own behavior today. Notice how often you stonewall in response to something he says or does. Remember, your stonewalling may be more subtle, so you’ll have to be a diligent detective.

Men and women are both capable of taking this approach when things aren’t going well. However, in my clinical experience, it was most often the husband who would take the position of defending himself or withdrawing from conflict.

So if that’s true for you, and want a better understanding of why your man does this … and/or what you can do about it … you’ll want to read my book Ephesians 5 Romance. It’s available on Amazon.

Until then, I hope that helps. We’ll talk again soon.