I've been friends with three other men since high school, Alex, Michael and Luke. We're all in our mid twenties. Since not all of us live in the same city anymore, I created a Discord server for us to communicate, acting mostly as a group chat.

My friends and I often all participate in "pranks" with each other. Usually online, but sometimes offline. Some examples being:

  • Purposefully making a bad play in a team-based game we're ahead in combined with a Steve Urkel-esque, "Did I do that?"
  • Changing the virtual locks on our base in the game Rust, immediately ready to undo it once someone notices
  • We make fun of Alex, he's an artist, by saying things like "Who would pay money for this?" in reference to his art (we've all, on our own, praised his art in the past)
  • We make fun of Michael as a member of the U.S. military by saying things like "Our nation's finest, people." when he makes a bad play in a video game
  • We make fun of Luke for having a strong opinion on not sweating small details in the way he lives/his appearance, fondly calling him "garbage man" due to his tendency to keep trash/garbage on his floor in his room
  • We make of me for being a bit of a braggart saying things like "Oh listen to Steve he's got a master's degree" with a sarcastic tone
  • On occassion we've kicked another person out of the Discord saying something like "Banned" right before doing so, each time immediately reinviting and reinstating existing permissions/roles

Out of everyone in the group, I indulge in this type of humor most frequently. I would say probably 5-10x as much. Although I'd say each of us pokes fun at the other at least once when we're all together online or offline. This is a behavior that I have actively been working on avoiding and I have made progress into less frequently doing this, which some people have noticed.

Our group is no stranger to disagreements, every once in a while things get heated, but for the most part they get resolved. In my case, I get a little more frustrated and often find myself taking a break from the group, leaving the Discord server for a weekto cool off abnd talk to whomever I had a disagreement and come to a resolution. This type of situation has never happened with Luke. Upon my return, I would be granted back the same permissions/ownership role until after the third or so time in which it was given to Alex and then Luke, later. I've had my personal disagreements with Alex and Luke with how they managed the server, but nothing that has gotten too out of hand or anything that's been personal.

Over the past two months of so, I had asked Luke to give all four of us a specific permission to manage a music playing bot in the server. This gave us the ability to skip a song in its playlist. During a conversation, we were having, I was made aware that a friend didn't know that Tom Petty had passed away this year and we jokingly talked about how we couldn't think of any Tom Petty songs besides "Free Fallin'". So I emptied the queue of the current songs and queued up "Free Fallin'" multiple times. Immediately, Luke took the permission away from me and removed all of it.

I was irrationally angry at this point. From my perspective, I was playing off of a joke and a permission that I had asked for specifically to solve pain issues (often times people would accidentally queue the wrong thing and no one could skip that song) was taken away. I left the Discord server, angry, fearful of what this meant for me, and feeling ashamed that apparently I couldn't handle that responsibility even though I thought I had used it in an "appropriately" inappropriate way. I snapped and personally insulted him on another messaging platform with the gist of it being, "You have an extremely flawed personality and because of it you couldn't handle your most recent relationship."

After this, I took a step back for a week to cool off. While I wasn't part of the server, I attempted to invite Luke, and two other friends, Sam and Bob, to dinner, my treat. At this point I had no idea how upset Luke was. After receiving no response from Luke, Sam had told me that Luke was very upset with me. They had been having a conversation with Alex as well about how Luke was "done" with me. He said that all of my previous behaviors combined with this made him extremely upset and that he didn't want to deal with me anymore. I heard this solely through Sam, but he had shown me screenshots of the conversation (that I did not ask for).

I felt horrible. I didn't realize I had cut so deep, even though that was what my angry self had attempted, especially since Luke is usually the one friend of ours who seems unphased by most things. So I apologized saying something like:

I'm sorry for the harsh words I used towards you. There's no real excuse for my behavior. I don't want you to think that I don't like you or don't think you're a good person. I was angry about something dumb and went for a cheap, easy blow in order to blow off some steam which was wrong of me.

He hasn't responded and according to Sam and Alex, it doesn't seem like he's going to. He's "done".

I'm concerned about two things: my relationship with Luke and my relationship with Alex and Michael. They're all dear friends of mine and I'd hate to lose any of them; I care very deeply for them.

Is there anything I can do in this situation with Luke outside of just waiting and seeing if he accepts my apology?

In the event he doesn't, what's the best way I can maintain a healthy relationship with Alex and Michael?

I rewrote this question to better explain some of the nuance; check the edit history if it helps

  • 3
    "I am working on changing my behavior". Why? Do you work on your behavior because you see that your behavior brings you in trouble? Or do you want to change your behavior because you don't like yourself anymore with that behavior? I think that makes a big difference. Because if you only change because you think it will be good to keep your friends then you don't really change yourself, you only change how you present yourself. Do you want to change yourself because you don't like yourself the way you are anymore? Or would it be perfect if your friends would like you the way you really are?
    – user8838
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 19:25
  • @Edgar It's a bit of both. I don't like what my behavior does to the people I care about. I do like being a trouble maker, but not when it causes... actual trouble. It's also generally been a barrier to connecting with people which is something I'm also trying to work on.
    – Arthas
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 19:27
  • maybe it's time to look for new (additional) friends. Maybe you find people who really love your pranks and can't get enough of them. And if you do the heavy duty pranks with new friends then maybe you will do fewer pranks with your old friends.
    – user8838
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 19:36
  • That is something I'm also working on. But right now this situation has caused a lot of distress considering these are (honestly) the only friends I talk to outside of Sam and one other person and right now it'd be nice to have the sort of pseudo-emotional support of having current friends while trying to make more friends. But that is great advice because you're right - I'm sure if I found friends who were much more comfortable being pranked/messed with I wouldn't find the need to prank my other friends as much.
    – Arthas
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 19:38
  • Depending on where you live (big city or not) maybe there are not too many options to make new friends. Maybe you can do something online. Maybe there is something like the prank club or something like that where you could enjoy the pranks with likeminded people. And then do fewer pranks with your offline friends.
    – user8838
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 19:44

8 Answers 8


You ask for a privilege, it is granted, you immediately abuse it, and then get upset for losing it again? You're in dire need of some introspection, friend.

The problem with constantly issuing apologies, only to screw up over and over again, is that eventually people get tired of hearing them.

I've known people like this, and cut them off - it was the only sane thing to do after the 300-th apology, and countless headaches over drama I didn't need in my life. I don't blame your friend for finally giving up.

As for how manage the situation going forward, get a grip of yourself. The world does not revolve around you. Focusing on your desires, your fun, your entertainment, your gratification - always at the expense of others - is not a healthy way to live.

Write a heart-felt message to your friends (not just Luke), and actually bloody apologize, and not just for this incident, but for your pattern of behavior. Ask for their forgiveness, and understanding one final time. Ask them to help you on this journey to better yourself (assuming you actually want to do so).

Then start building better habits. Every time you want to blow up, take a few seconds and reconsider your actions. Don't hit send on a message before you've read it over a few times, and ask yourself how you'd feel if one of them sent it to you. Maybe get professional help, I don't know. But don't expect other people to keep taking your attitude, and forgive you simply because you feel a bit of remorse (until you don't).

Look into what emotional intelligence is, and how you can improve yours.

Even now, you don't seem really sorrowful for upsetting Luke. Correct me if I'm wrong, but your post reads more along the lines of you being worried about losing outlet for social interaction.

  • Sorry if my question seems to indicate a lack of remorse/sorrow. When I had heard what I had said to him had affected him so deeply, I felt genuine sadness. If I should add that as part of my answer, I will; I just didn't know if expounding on my feelings helps my question or not. I also do not genuinely say anything angry/hurtful outside of rare situations like this, every thing that falls into my "Oh that's just Steve" situation is said with more than enough indication that it isn't meant to be malicious.
    – Arthas
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 18:36
  • 6
    @steve - I don't know you, but I think I known someone similar. And that person is currently in a situation where, unknown to them, all our mutual friends are always "too busy" to hang out with him, and I'm in the awkward position where if they know he is invited, our other friends will literally not show up. Don't be that guy. Learn to listen.Genuinely ask friends for advice, even if it's uncomfortable. "Hey, Alex, please let me know when I'm being annoying/a d!ck. Sometimes I can't tell, but I know i need to improve, I'm asking for your help as one of my closest friends".
    – AndreiROM
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 18:41
  • Well put. I think we both agree, in our responses, that OP has a lot of work to do. Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 18:46
  • 2
    @steve - unfortunately, the ball is in Luke's court. You may wish to write him another email (perhaps addressed to all of your friends), and outline what you did wrong, how sorry you are, and that you genuinely wish to change for the better. Ask for their help, understanding, and guidance. But Luke may need some more proof before he lets you back into his life. Best of luck.
    – AndreiROM
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 18:51
  • 6
    @steve - a lot of people don't go out of their way to say "hey, you did X, and it bugged me". They just sort of put it away in a corner of their mind. out of politeness, or more likely because they want to avoid the drama. The 50th time it happens however, they blow up, and you don't understand why. People are like that.
    – AndreiROM
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 20:01

I think the focus of your question on the pranking behavior of your friend group is a huge red flag that you aren't prepared to address this situation.

Luke probably doesn't want to speak to you right now (maybe not ever) because you broke a really key level of trust with the personal insult about his "flawed personality" and blaming that for a recent breakup. There's nothing about a prank in that, that's some really deep cutting stuff to say. I can't imagine keeping a friend who would respond that way to a conflict with me. It's so different from use of a common expletive or insult: you used the power of your relationship including knowledge of happenings in his personal life and your knowledge of his personality to craft a directed insult. In the future, it's up to Luke, not you, whether you and him will continue to have a friendship.

When you write things like "Unfortunately, this made me irrationally angry" in response to the Discord situation, I think your language is very telling: "this made me angry" is deflecting a lot of responsibility: your language is still blaming the situation, as if you think it's natural that you get angry when a clearly not-deserved permission is revoked from you. "Unfortunately" again makes it sound like bad luck, something that was destined by something outside yourself. I know you are stating that you feel remorse, but your implicit language does not support that.

This conflict between explicit and implicit language suggests to me that you haven't quite caught up to truly feeling bad about what you said - you're stuck on the consequences, stuck on excusing your actions by dwelling on the situation that led up to it, and stuck avoiding a direct assessment of your own behavior. My perspective, based on your question and the edits you have made to it, is that you came here hoping for an easy solution.

To answer your question about what to do:

You've made your apology, now I think you need time to think to yourself and to give your friends time to think to themselves. Maybe time will repair things, maybe you will need to try again with a new friend group. Ultimately, Luke gets to decide both a) Whether to accept your apology, and b) Even if he does accept your apology, he gets to decide whether he wants to interact with you again. Your other friends have the same choice.


You've presented your apology. One of many that have been issued when you've offended or hurt your friends. Someone who is hurt will see your persistence as self serving.

Why self serving?

I can tell that you are are remorseful and genuinely want people to see the change in you but I also see your attempts to repair the situation as self serving. When we feel guilty we want forgiveness. There's nothing wrong with wanting forgiveness. You have apologized many times in the past and your friends cared enough about you to accept it.

However, now Luke has stated that you've gone too far and he is "done". You've apologized but the situation isn't following the normal script (where everyone forgives you) so now you're more upset.

Every time you persist in contacting him directly or through other friends, that relights the fire that reminds Luke of how angry he is with you. You're not respecting the boundaries that he does not want to talk to you.

As the offender, it's not your right or privilege to be forgiven. You've expressed you're sorry. He does not have to accept it.

Wake up call:

Continue your growth as a person. You should not be doing this only because you want things to go back to normal. I think Luke being firm on this is your wake up call.

You can only genuinely continue your journey to work on your temper and hope that your friends get to witness your growth.

How do I be genuine?

Be transparent about the situation and your feelings. You sound like an action person so you want people to see the changes you're trying to make. You may have to open up emotionally to your current friends about your situation with Luke including how your behavior in the past has affected your friends too. Luke is the only one who firmly said "I'm done" but your other friends could feel similar.

However, you can't force people to see your growth and accept it. You may have to come to terms that you've permanently damaged your relationships.

This is your guilt to bear as a result of your behavior but that doesn't mean you should not be motivated to grow. I say grow and not change because we're not asking you to replace your personality but to use this wake up call to reevaluate whether your behavior is worth losing friendships.


I believe I used to be a lot like you, so I can definitely sympathize with the way you act and how you feel. To me it seems like it's the unfortunate combo of wanting to be silly, but also being a little oversensitive to when people respond poorly to your jokes. And to a degree, your friends may only be acting in such a way because of how you are. For instance, would Luke have revoked Alex's ability if he did something like that? Or is he revoking yours because he's annoyed with you?

Regardless of the fairness, your friends can't help how they feel. And they won't want to spend time with you if you're constantly getting upset. Honestly I feel as though your jokes aren't so much the problem, it is how you handle the aftermath. I used to do the same thing, I'd abruptly sign off or get quiet, and it made me realize that no one wants to feel guilted into laughing at a joke.

Since then I've become popular with my friends again, and really it just came with being able to laugh off a bad joke and make fun of yourself. Don't interpret every action to be an attack on you. Perhaps Luke was trying to make a joke himself when he revoked your permission, but you left before you could see how anything resolved. The only thing at this point to mend your relationship, is to just take time to show them how you can be better. If you feel upset try to avoid making rash decisions, and gradually you'll probably see them warming up to you again. Best of luck.


You ask: "Is there anything I can do in this situation besides "wait and see"?" Yes, you can change. Or you can move on and accept that you are not compatible with Luke, and maybe the others, anymore.

People change over time and what was a funny prank one or five years ago is maybe no funny prank anymore now because people changed.

I know a guy from work who somehow finds it funny to wind up everybody. The guy is the boss's friend and the boss somehow finds this funny and challenging. He accepts that that's the way the guy is. Many other people at work are annoyed with that guy because for us this is no fun. For me this just shows that we are different and not compatible to each other. We are different so we don't hang out together and that's it.

I think you should ask yourself: Do you want to keep your behavior in principle? Does it make you feel good? If yes, then stay like that. But you have to accept that not everybody likes the way you are so maybe you lose some old friends and maybe you make some new friends who like the way you are.

Or maybe you decide pranks was in your past and now you want to change and "grow up". I think you should consider this option. But you have to feel comfortable with it. Do you really want to change? Or do you like yourself the way you are and you just need new friends who like you the way you are?

  • So this is kind of the core of it, part of me I think is genuinely being a little mischievous. I guess I'd really like to find a happy medium in which I can pull a little prank every once in a while (far less frequently than I do now), but still have the respect of my friends. For reference, I'm not the only one in my friend group who does these kinds of things. I probably pull these kind a factor of 10 times more often than they do, but it would be quite odd to be the one guy who just stops doing it.
    – Arthas
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 19:15
  • When I read your comments it sounds like "I like the way I am now and I don't really want to change, I like myself the way I am" but because you don't want to lose your friends you consider changing so that they are comfortable with the "new Steve". But, deep down in your mind, do you want to be the "new Steve"? Or wouldn't it be so much better if your friends would love the real Steve just the way he is?
    – user8838
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 19:31
  • 1
    Ideally, it'd be great if I could just be current Steve. But I acknowledge that growing as a person sometimes means changing especially if staying the same hurts the people around me. And I do want to be a person people respect and don't really consider to be a trouble-maker. Basically, staying as current Steve would be great... for me. But maintaining these close friends that accept basically every other aspect of me besides that is a much greater boon and that changing will most likely solve some other problems I have in my social life.
    – Arthas
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 19:35
  • Imagine the all new Steve who maybe a year from now doesn't do pranks anymore. Do you like this guy? If you like him then change to him. If you don't like the new Steve, or at least you like the old Steve more than the new Steve, then I don't think your change will really work.
    – user8838
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 19:40
  • 1
    Oh I'd hate that Steve. That's why I'd much rather find a middle ground that maintains the core of the personality while being much more tolerable. Like I mentioned, I "prank" my friends about 10 times more than they prank each other/me. If I could reduce how much I do that to the same as they do or lesser, that'd be the ideal situation.
    – Arthas
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 19:42

So, you've really insulted your friend as a result of your prank backfiring, and got personal. Sorry for being blunt about this, but let's start with an open admission. Because you're going to need to do that.

E-mails are impossible to take back, so don't waste a lot of time trying. You've sent Luke an apology and now the ball's in his court.

Here's the question: what was your apology like? Did you admit what you did? Did you explain what you have learned from this? If a friend really insulted me, I'd want to see how things are going to change. Obviously if he's "done", this has been building for a while and he feels like things are not going to change. If someone gets me to that point, I'm going to want to know these two pieces of information before I even consider their apology to be sincere.

So... how do you maintain a friendship with the others? By not repeating what was done to Luke. The friends now have to make a choice: between someone who by his own admission is a troublemaker and the latest victim of his pranks. Quite frankly, the odds are not in your favor. How do I know this? Because I've been in that situation.

The first step is to figure out what needs to change to keep them as friends. Yes, guys play pranks on each other. But they are generally harmless and don't involve getting the others mad at them. So I'd suggest sitting down with the group and coming out and saying it. "I really stepped in it with Luke. He's said he's 'done' with me. I know I really messed up and don't want to repeat that with the rest of the group. I don't want to put anyone into a position where they need to choose between the two of us, because I know I'll lose that. So, please tell me: what do I need to change to not repeat the same stupid mistake with you guys?"

Then make the change. Be the friend that they need. Additionally, don't talk about Luke behind his back, except to respond positively to what other people say about him. Eventually word will get back that you know what you did and speak well about Luke. He may calm down or you may run into him again. If that's the case, you want him to know that you haven't done anything to make the matter worse and that you value him. And when your paths cross, that will make your apology more likely to be accepted. That may help you regain his friendship or at least repair the relationship.

  • In my apology I expressed sincere remorse, admitted what I said was wrong/hurtful and came from a place of anger, and generally expressed that being angry is out of character for me and that I'm sad for potentially ruining our friendship. One of my issues is that, as of right now, there isn't any real good avenue for me to demonstrate change and even if my friends notice change, I'm not sure they'll just off-handedly say "Hey Steve hasn't been a prick for a few months" to him.
    – Arthas
    Commented Feb 2, 2018 at 18:57

I think it’s important to realize where you may have been at fault. Which you have done. But you also can’t fully blame the situation and people for all that happened. It sounds like although you may have valid reasons to why you did what you did- like feeling undermined, slighted or looked down upon- that you also did not talk it out. You rage quit, said some harsh words and peaced out. You don’t try to talk about you felt first or say hey? why is this happening? Have I overstepped my bounds? So to me your friend Luke being upset and calling it quits is not 100% surprising, especially if situations like this have happened on multiple occasions. But- I feel like you getting angry and fed up quickly with what happened may also have some validation- maybe your friends were also ones who cut you off, and have also done or not cared about your friendship either. There is probably more to this than just this incident, and sounds like probably a lot of issues that were never discussed. The ball is in your friend Luke’s court right now, and I would try not to pressure him. Let him work out how he feels. You’ve apologized. The best you can do now is wait, work on your relationships with your other friends, and work on improving how you interact with your friends. It doesn’t have to mean changing your whole personality, but working on that anger, controlling your temper and if there is a problem addressing it right away, asking what’s wrong and contemplating why someone else may be upset before going off.

  • Please add paragraph breaks...
    – NVZ
    Commented Feb 3, 2018 at 5:11

You're a more action-oriented person and although it may be difficult, you're going to have to wait and see instead of expecting a simple answer as to how to "make" him accept your apology. You should also avoid pushing him by saying anything else; he needs time to reflect and any persistence will only remind him exactly why he doesn't want to talk to you.

And, based on what you've said to him, you should not expect him to accept your apology. You took advantage of a very personal aspect of your relationship with him in order to hurt him and should acknowledge that the way you made him feel might've indeed made your friendship not worthwhile for him to be a part of anymore. You need to be prepared to accept that he's "done" and you may have to make new friends.

But, going forward, there are several things you can do to improve (not "fix") the situation.

You need to evaluate and potentially change. It seem as if your personality/behavior (whether or not it's shaped by the group or not) is at odds with what your friends (at least Luke) want out of a friendship. You need to decide which is more important: the enjoyment you get from the behavior you indulge in or the enjoyment you get from the company from your friends.

In the case of the former, maintaining this friend group with Luke as a part of it will be impossible and you will have to move on and make new friends. He clearly is fed up and "done" with your behavior and unless he has a sudden, magical change of heart, you will not be able to remain friends with him without change. You'll need to make new friends who are willing to put up with this behavior.

In the case of the latter, you will need to change your behavior. You've stated that these behaviors are part of the group, but clearly the frequency and extent to which you do these things is too excessive for Luke and potentially Alex and Michael. Think hard about how your words and actions might be received before doing anything. This really comes down to improving your emotional intelligence such that you better involve the thoughts and feelings of your peers in your decision making processes rather than focusing solely on yourself.

Part of this process involves taking a look at the type of language you used to describe this situation. Your language indicates a lack of remorse for how you made Luke feel and instead it puts the blame on the situation itself. It doesn't matter how you feel if the way you're perceived is negative. Based on how most answers to your question perceived you, your question comes off as self-serving; it comes off as if you're trying to find a quick, easy fix to capture your friend back. Part of having emotional intelligence is being able to accurately express your feelings without them being misconstrued.

So how do you maintain your friendship with Alex and Michael? By not making the same mistakes with them and making these same changes with them. You can't expect to just make changes to "make Luke happy", you need to make holistic changes to yourself and how you interact with your friends. You need to have the utmost respect for Luke and what he's going through and you should take his side whenever you can; he's the one in pain because of your actions, not the other way around.

A few notes that are not necessarily related to the question asked but are related to the "triggering" situation itself. You messed up. You were at fault for asking for the permission and immediately abusing it, even if you intended it to be a prank. You especially messed up when you reacted so harshly to it being taken away. It was a privilege granted to you, not an entitlement. Luke gave you it in trust and you broke that trust.

TL;DR: You messed up. Wait for Luke, but don't wait to change.

I'm writing a self answer as a form of synthesis and reflection on the situation based on the answers I received

  • I wrote this self answer mostly to address a common issue that has made it hard for me to accept other answers here: the issue with perception versus reality. From my language, it may be easy to perceive me as being self serving and looking for an easy answer or that I lack remorse for what I did. I think a lot of that came from me trying to write my question more "clinically" rather than trying to add more of my own emotional context to the situation. I've addressed this as part of my answer.
    – Arthas
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 15:44

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