Narcissist Stonewalling Examples: Understanding and Navigating this Manipulative Tactic

Narcissist stonewalling is a form of emotional abuse where a person refuses to communicate or cooperate with the person they are victimising – examples include ignoring the victim, refusing to answer their questions, and shutting down any form of communication.

Narcissist Stonewalling Examples

What is Stonewalling?

The term ‘stonewalling’ comes from the image of a stone wall – it’s solid, immovable, and impenetrable. Just like a stone wall, a person who is stonewalling becomes a barrier to communication, understanding, and resolution.

This behavior often leads to an unhealthy power dynamic, with one party asserting control by consistently withholding communication, leaving the other party feeling helpless and undervalued.

It’s important to note that stonewalling is not the same as needing time to cool down after an argument or disagreement. While taking space can be healthy, stonewalling is a persistent and damaging pattern of behavior that avoids resolution and fosters disconnection.

ignoring the victim

Examples of Narcissist Stonewalling

Narcissist stonewalling is a manipulative tactic that can take on various forms, each one designed to assert control and create an unhealthy power dynamic. Here are some examples:

1. Ignoring Messages and Calls

One clear example of narcissist stonewalling is the complete disregard for your attempts at communication.

The narcissist will leave your messages unread, fail to return your calls, or even go as far as blocking you on social media platforms.

This behavior is designed to leave you feeling ignored and insignificant.

It’s a power play that puts the narcissist in control of the communication flow, leaving you in a constant state of uncertainty and anxiety about their response or lack thereof.

narcissist stonewalling examples

2. Refusing to Solve Problems

Another form of narcissist stonewalling is the refusal to address or resolve any issues or conflicts.

When confronted with a problem, the narcissist will evade the topic altogether, swiftly changing the subject or abruptly walking away from the conversation.

By refusing to engage in problem-solving, they maintain control and leave the other party feeling frustrated and powerless.

This tactic not only avoids resolution but also perpetuates the problem, often escalating the conflict further.

silent treatment

3. The Silent Treatment

The silent treatment is a classic and particularly harmful form of narcissist stonewalling.

In this scenario, the narcissist may refuse to speak with you for extended periods, ranging from hours to days, or even weeks. This behavior aims to inflict feelings of anxiety, guilt, or unworthiness.

By withholding communication, they manipulate your emotions, creating a sense of desperation and confusion. The silent treatment serves as a punishment for perceived slights and is used to regain control and reinforce their superiority.

4. Ghosting

Narcissists will also resort to ghosting as a means of exerting control and causing emotional distress. They effectively disappear from your life, leaving you confused, hurt, and questioning what went wrong.

The sudden silence makes you feel rejected and abandoned, causing significant emotional turmoil. It’s a form of psychological manipulation aimed at making you question your worth and instigating feelings of insecurity and desperation.


Strategies for Navigating Narcissist Stonewalling

Understanding narcissist stonewalling is the first step towards navigating this manipulative behavior. Here are some strategies to help you effectively deal with this form of emotional abuse.

Setting Boundaries

Setting clear boundaries is a crucial strategy in dealing with narcissistic behavior. It involves clearly communicating your needs and expectations, in this case asserting that stonewalling is unacceptable within your relationship.

Here are some examples of how to phrase these boundaries:

Examples of Boundary Phrases

“I appreciate your concern about X, but I’ve got it from here.”

This phrase indicates you’re capable of managing the situation yourself and don’t require unsolicited advice or interference.

“I’m putting my needs first.”

This assertive statement shows that you’re prioritizing your wellbeing, which is especially important when dealing with narcissistic individuals.


Sometimes, a simple ‘no’ can be a powerful boundary-setting tool. It succinctly communicates that you won’t tolerate certain behaviors.

“I need time for myself.”

This expresses your need for personal space and time, which is a healthy aspect of any relationship.

“That is not allowed. What you are doing is hurtful. If you are going to continue ignoring me, I will leave.”

This phrase directly addresses inappropriate behavior and its impact on you.

setting boundaries

Practical Tips for Setting Boundaries

Use “I” Statements

When setting boundaries, use statements beginning with “I” instead of “you.

This decreases defensiveness and focuses the conversation on your feelings and needs.

For example, “I feel overwhelmed when you refuse to communicate,” is more effective than, “You always ignore me.”

Be Clear and Specific

Your boundaries should be specific and convey exactly what you will and won’t tolerate. Vague boundaries can lead to misunderstandings and manipulation.

Be Consistent

Consistency is key in setting boundaries. If you allow a boundary to be crossed without consequence, it sends the message that your boundaries can be ignored.

Accept Reactions

When you start setting boundaries, be prepared for resistance or backlash. Stand firm and remember that you are not responsible for the other person’s reactions.

Seek Support

If setting boundaries becomes challenging, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. They can provide guidance and strategies to help you navigate this process.

By setting clear and firm boundaries, you’re not trying to control the narcissist’s behavior, but defining what you will and won’t tolerate in your relationship. This is an essential step towards maintaining your self-respect and mental well-being.

setting boundaries

Seeking Professional Help

When faced with a narcissist who continues to engage in stonewalling and other manipulative tactics despite your best efforts, it might be time to seek professional help.

Understanding the Dynamics

Therapists can provide you with crucial insights into the underlying dynamics of the narcissist’s behavior.

They can help you understand why narcissists use techniques like stonewalling, what they hope to achieve, and how their actions affect those around them.

This understanding can be empowering, helping you see the situation more objectively and reducing feelings of self-blame or confusion.

Learning Effective Strategies

A mental health professional can equip you with effective strategies for dealing with narcissistic behavior.

These would include techniques for setting boundaries, managing emotional reactions, and improving communication.

They can also guide you on how to protect your mental health and well-being while navigating these challenging interactions.

Guidance in Decision Making

In some cases, the best course of action may be to limit or cut off contact with the narcissist.

A therapist can guide you through this difficult decision, helping you weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks.

They can support you in taking necessary steps towards disengagement, if needed, and help you manage any guilt, fear, or grief you might experience during this process.

Support System

Seeking professional help also means gaining an additional support system.

Facing a narcissist can feel isolating, but you don’t have to go through it alone.

A therapist can provide emotional support, validation, and reassurance as you navigate these complex dynamics.


Prioritizing Self-Care

The emotional toll of dealing with a narcissist’s stonewalling can be draining and damaging to your mental health. Therefore, prioritizing self-care is paramount.

This includes maintaining a healthy lifestyle, engaging in activities that you enjoy, and nurturing your emotional well-being.

Surround yourself with supportive friends and family who can provide a listening ear and emotional support.


Concluding Thoughts on Narcissist Stonewalling

Narcissist stonewalling is an abusive and manipulative behavior that leaves victims feeling powerless, confused, and emotionally drained. It’s important to recognize this form of psychological manipulation for what it is – an attempt to control and dominate through silence and withdrawal.

Understanding the dynamics of this behavior is the first step in dealing with it effectively. Dealing with narcissist stonewalling can be daunting, but with understanding, firm boundaries, and professional guidance, it’s possible to navigate these interactions in a healthier and more empowering way.

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