Bromance & the ‘Emotional Switchboard’

Ever since my best mate started seeing this girl, I feel as though we’ve grown apart. He’s changed. Any thoughts on what I should do?
Macca, via email

I hate to break it to you, but your friend has always been this way. Maybe not to this extent, but studies show that people rarely change. They just emphasise different aspects of their personality according their mood.

Think of it as a switchboard: We all feel the same emotions (well, except serial killers and those with “insane” stamped across their forehead), but we turn up the volume on some feelings and not others. Why? Because we want be heard, so to speak.


I’m also going to go out on a limb here and say that this riff isn’t about the girl. It never is. Your friend’s newfound relationship is just the catalyst for an argument that was destined to take place at some point in time.

Ever hear the one about the two pacifists who went toe-to-toe? I was at a party recently and a friend and I were having a laugh, exchanging in some cheeky banter. It was all wine and roses until this friend (let’s call him Cameron) said a few below-the-belt comments.  I, of course, hit back with a few doozies of my own, and before we knew it, a war of words erupted. Nothing serious. In fact, come to think of it, our entire relationship is inspired by jokes about each other.


The party ended and like any drunk 20-something year-olds we thought; “what better way to end the evening than by tackling each other to the ground”. Don’t ask why. It’s just what guys do.

So here I am, taking on Cameron, mono e mono. This is the guy I’ve known since high school. The guy who I shared my 21st with. The guy who I had barely seen for the past two years because he preferred the company of his girlfriend than someone who constantly pokes fun at him. Perhaps it was the alcohol talking, but all I know is that I wanted to hurt him. Bad.

But I couldn’t do it.

Sure, I put up a bit of a fight, but when it came the crunch time – that hit or quit moment – I let him throw me to the ground like a rag doll.

What began as a drunken haze finished in a moment of clarity. I realised that I would rather embarrass myself than throw down with my friend. He was my best mate and always will be.

You know that old chestnut about friends and family? The one about how you can choose your friends but can’t choose your family. The same can be said about true friends. You simply can’t choose them.

So to take long way round answering your question, I would say search deep in the memory bank for your own drunken moment of clarity. Remind yourself of this moment the next time your friend blows a fuse on your emotional switchboard. He may become cool again. He may not. But at least you’re giving the friendship a chance to stay afloat.

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