During the Middle Ages, military strategist developed highly sophisticated means to protect knights from being impaled by a lance or hammered by a mace. Suits of armor made of metal and male afforded jousting knights and battling warriors some physical protection. However, this system of self-protection was heavy and bulky. It often hampered the combatants as much as it kept them from harm. With the passing of the age of the knights of bold, these suits of armor became dust collectors in castles and museums. In any of these repositories of past military protective technologies, one can find rows upon rows of empty suits of armor standing silently as if at attention.

While these antiquated means of self-protection wait patiently for the next long delayed joist, they do provide for us a lesson of life. We need to understand that the age of chivalry is dead and so is the wearing of armor for protection. We, in a more enlightened world, don't wear metal armor to protect us from physical attack. However, we often employ emotional armor in our relationships with family, friends, and co-workers. There is much diversity to the modern emotional protective armor.

  • Sometimes, the armor takes on a contentious air. Those wearing the armor of contentiousness go about life always up in arms about everything. These modern day warriors wear this armor so that others know that they mean business. Instead of shining armor to ward off attack, these present day combatant cop an attitude that is designed to strike fear into those that might consider taking them on.
  • Others always attack first and ask for clarification after their preemptive assault has taken place. These persons feel that, if they shoot first and ask for questions later, their preemptive posture will protect them from attacks by hostile acquaintances. Their lives are walking emotional battlefields where their victims are laid waste. These causalities are attacked without warning and often without real cause. These modern day warriors feel that the ends justify the means. If they don't take the other out, that person will take them out.
  • Still other emotional warriors fight dirty. They feel that the only way that they can win is to back stab or gossip about others. They don't believe that they can win the joust on a level playing field, so they engage the enemy clandestinely when no one knows that a battle has been planned. These cowardly knights demean and undercut the enemy when the enemy sometimes isn't even around.

With all of these emotional armors, these modern knights are often successful in protecting ourselves from getting hurt, but in exchange for winning, they fail at finding true closeness or intimacy with another person. When they get all dressed up with their emotional suits of mail, the armor works wonders in protecting them, but with their defensives up, no one can get in. It is nice that they can't get hurt, but they also can't find love and acceptance either. They are always battle ready, and consequently, they are often war-weary.

One cannot find closeness or intimacy without risk. Protecting oneself works wonders if protection is the goal. However, if having meaningful relationships with family, friends, and co-workers is what you desire, the armor that you wear will merely get in your way. The less armor that you employ in life, the better the chance that you will have in finding and keeping good relationships with others.

This is not an article that condones exposing yourself to abusive relationships. This is rather an essay about the folly of thinking that you can protect yourself with emotional armor-you can't. If you find yourself in an abusive relationship, let the other person know how you feel about the abuse. Make sure that the other person knows that you are serious about closeness, but that you won't tolerate abuse in any manner. If that person continues the abuse, get out.

The best way to find closeness without the use of encumbering armor is to model the behavior that you seek. Treat those around you the way you wish to be treated. If they see you treating them without attacking, they are far more likely to respond in kind. You will have to take a chance. However, careful risk taking is the only way that you can find true closeness. The irony is that unless you risk hurt and failure, you guarantee hurt and failure because you won't find the closeness that you seek.