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  • Are You Making This Relationship Mistake?

    Stonewalling is a term used to describe when an individual withdraws from interaction. This is also commonly described as “shutting down,” whereby the listener effectively closes themselves off from the speaker due to feeling overwhelmed.  If you took stock of all your romantic relationships, you’d probably be able to find several instances (probably more) of you or your partner engaging in stonewalling.

     

    Unresponsiveness, acting busy, turning away, and engaging in obsessive behaviors or fidgeting are all indicators that a partner is stonewalling. However, the main function of this defense mechanism isn’t vindictive, it’s actually protective. If you were to take a peek into the mind of a stonewalling partner you may hear things like, “don’t say anything, you’ll just make it worse”, “just let them keep talking, they’ll wear themselves out,” or “don’t say anything, you’ll only regret it later.”

     

    Stonewalling is actually a poorly executed attempt to “self-soothe.”  Unfortunately this attempt to self-soothe often sends unintended messages to the other partner.  External unresponsiveness or “stonewalling” can be interpreted as “I am not important to you” or “I don’t care about you.”  These misinterpretations of relational signals by the other partner can result in increased anxiety, anger and conflict.

     

    Don’t let stonewalling derail your relationship.  Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy is a researched based approach that teaches couples to break out of that pattern.  It helps couples clarify the messages they send back and forth and it helps both to be present in the moment as they face life’s challenges and joys.

     

    John Gallagher, LMHC has been a practicing therapist for over 20 years and specializes in both individual and couples therapy. Schedule your appointment today.