Do you remember the first time you were hurt by a boy?

Probably not. Of course you’ll always remember your first heart break because not even 16 shots of Tequila can block out that memory. But you probably won’t remember the first time a boy made you feel like a mug. Why? Because when things happen so frequently they become less significant. It might be something little like giving you a courtesy pie in a club, or not replying to your text when you’ve got off your face and sent him a photo of your genitals. But it happens all the time.

One minute boys are sending us the green light, the next minute they giving you side-eye just because you asked how he felt about an autumn wedding and if he was free on the weekend to meet your parents. You could be on top of the world and all it would take is that one incident with that one guy to put you in the pits of devastation. You’ve just found out you’ve got the job of your dreams in Los Angeles and will be working with the biggest names on the industry, but it doesn’t matter ’cause that fit DJ is flirting with someone else. Of course we don’t all get bent out of shape over such trivial shit, but it’s part of the gay DNA to be over-analytical and a bit too sensitive.

The bad news is that as you get older, these incidents don’t become any less common. But, the good news is that you learn to identify the times when you’re being a bit pied and can start damage control as soon as possible: enter, the emotional shield of protection.

This all sounds very dramatic, but that again is part of the gay DNA. The emotional shield of protection comes in to play only when you reach a level of maturity that you can reason with yourself about when being mugged off just isn’t worth putting yourself on the line for. It’s kind of similar to the “fight or flight” concept. Once you identify that the chances of you getting hurt or being disappointed are quite high, your emotional shield comes in to play to minimise that from happening.

A good example of this is when you get hung up on a guy, and all he’s interested in is fucking your mate. It’s not a massive deal, but every time you see him on your Facebook feed it reminds you of how rejected you felt. The second you hide him from your News Feed, you speed up the recovery time by double. Because the best way to quit addictions (including men) is to go cold turkey. I think back on boys I’ve hidden from my feed because I was THAT in to them, and I’m like “What the fuck was I smoking?”

Then you know you must have been on some serious comedown to have been even remotely bothered that they didn’t want you. Or even to have wanted them in the first place.

But this example is just one of the ways the shield works. It’s also an after-measure, but as you get wiser you can sometimes prevent yourself from pain before it even happens. Like, why would you go to the club he’s at if you know he’s gonna be there with someone else? Obviously, ’cause you like him you don’t think rationally. But rather than looking at the positives of a five-minute flirt and temporary ego boost, you should be looking at the realism of your emotions when he goes home with his man and you go home with a kebab. Not to mention a battered self-esteem.

What the emotional shield boils down to, is avoiding situations that are detrimental to your emotional well being. Now, that might just seem like common sense but, like most matters if the heart (and hard on), it’s easier said than done.

Once you know how to use this shield effectively, identifying the situations becomes second nature and you free up more time and energy to meet new men, as opposed to ones that leave you crying into an extra large Donner with chips.

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