The 24-Hour Friendship

There’s an article in the current issue of GQ about 24-hour bromances. The story is called “Warning: This New Friendship Will Self-Destruct In 24 Hours,” and it is just So. On. Point.

How have I not written about this yet? Probably because I seem to have given up on the 24-hour friendship. In my yearning for new pals, I took it upon myself to try and turn every 24-hour pal into a lifelong one. I got phone numbers, I followed up. But now I’ve been thinking: Maybe, sometimes, a 24-hour friendship is fine. Good, even. Maybe it’s precious in its own way, and thrives best in the context of your meeting place. A wedding. A vacation tour group. A work conference. Maybe trying to take it out of its natural habitat is wrong, and will only ruin what you once had.

Or maybe I’m reading too much into it. (Typical.)

I love this passage. I have lived this passage (the female version of course):

I’ve realized those nights pattern themselves in familiar ways. The work conferences, the bachelor parties, the birthday dinners and weddings—in particular, those bottom-of-the-guest-list weddings. You’re seated at a table with the loose ends, a little vulnerable in your disconnections. Your girlfriend starts chatting with the woman at her side, so you kill time talking to her date, more likely than not about sports. Soon enough, you two are leaving the girls behind to lean on the bar. Fast-forward five beers and you’re on the dance floor, jacketless, pointing—pointing!—at each other. In between songs you’re laughing at some inside joke from two hours ago. End of the night, guess what? Turns out he lives just thirty minutes away from you! You’re tempted to say it: Dude, we’ve got to hang out again.”

The author, Daniel Riley, goes on to say that he did try, one time, to meet up again with one such friend. It was a guy he met when out of town for work. The friend never responded. “I don’t blame him. He was seasoned and recognized the situation for what it was: a mutually beneficial short-term friendship. We used each other, and when we shifted back to the norm, he moved on. After all, once you’re home, you slip back into that comfort bubble of everyday co-workers and friends. Are you really gonna tell your inner circle that you can’t go to the ball game because you’ve got a date with a guy you shared a special night with in Toledo? Of course not.”

Now that I think of it, this isn’t unlike the blog post my brother wrote for me a couple years back. He too, he claimed, killed at weddings. Is this more of a man phenomenon?

Ok, so many questions for you folks: Is the 24-hour friendship more of a guy thing? (As us ladies always call the next day?) Do you believe the one-night-stand friendship should sometimes be left at that?

21 Comments

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21 responses to “The 24-Hour Friendship

  1. I love your blog!

    I’m moving to a new city in a few weeks. When I went to look at my new apartment, it was the current tenant who showed it to me. I got such a good vibe from her, and I really liked her furniture and the way she had the apartment set up. Plus, she had a painting of The Beatles on her wall (I’m a huge Beatles fan). I wasn’t there for long, but we got along well and I felt very comfortable around her (it usually takes me awhile to warm up to strangers). It wasn’t exactly a 24-hour friendship, but I was happy to have crossed paths with her, even if for a very short time.

    Those moments/hours/days/nights of clicking with a stranger are very cool, and I think sometimes it’s the temporariness of those connections that give them that much more punch. At the same time, you can’t help but wonder if you’ll be missing out on a great friendship by not pursuing it.

  2. I definitely think the 24-hour friendship is more prone to men. But I think girls can experience it too. So it doesn’t surprise me that you have. I have too. At leadership camps, work conferences, functions like weddings, etc. True, social media helps (now) to keep in touch long-distance if you really hit it off with someone, but even close geographic proximity isn’t always enough, as the writer points out. People I think, can be instinctively cliquey. It can be hard to invite one of your 24-hour friends into your “real every day” life. Also, I think the 24- hour friendship can be based on a place. For example, when I used to go out a lot before I got married, I had “friends” I would see when I would go out because we were all “regulars” of that club/bar/etc. But would we exchange digits and get together for lunch? Hardly ever. Why? Because we knew we would see each other the next Friday at Happy Hour.🙂

  3. This phenomenon is not inclusive to only guys. In fact, it has happened to me far too often.

    My question is this: With technology keeping us in touch nowadays, how does one decide whether or not to extend the 24-hour encounter to real friendship? What are the criterion?

    • I think that’s an excellent question. I have a lot of wedding-acquired friendships or playdate mommies that I’ve only met once on my friend lists. While technology is great for keeping us in touch with friends, it also creates an awkward interim that delays the inevitable fade of the pseudo-friendship.

  4. I think the 24-hour friendship, or, a one-night-stand of the friendship variety isn’t gender-specific but perhaps men are more prone. I think men tend to bond over a shared interest/instance/circumstance and can make friendships – whether short-term or long – over the most random things. Women can be friendly in such situations but I think we realize the connection is just surface and unless we plan to see them again in the same reoccurring situation like, say, yoga or a professional group, we just leave it well enough alone. In my experience, the female friendship take a very long time to mature while male friendships can burn bright and end quickly (although not always).

  5. This has happened to me on several occasions over the years and I now just enjoy it for what it is…a chance to get to know a new person because of a specific set of circumstances not shared by any other friends.
    I was doing jury duty when a large group of us were called into a room to wait to be called. The gal next to me started to make conversation about the front page story of the newspaper I was holding.
    We ended up joking about what makes “headlines” these days and enjoyed each other enough to have lunch together.
    At the end of the day, however, we were excused for doing our service and before I could turn around to say goodbye, she was dust.
    Would I have invited her home to have dinner with me and my husband?
    Nah
    It was a perfect, intimate day between us that would never translate.
    That is, until reading this blog.
    Thanks for writing it, Rachel.

  6. I’ve had this happen & tried to call, but the relationship fell flat on its face. I always thought it was me – maybe I was being too needy. It’s nice to know there is such a phenomenon as this, so I don’t have to always feel bad.

  7. Halos Rachel.

    I don’t think it happens with only guys, cos I’ve experienced it at some point myself. It has happened twice in fact.
    There was this time I met a guy that came to my estate to spend the christmas holiday with his cousins. We met at my mum’s shop when he came to buy some stuff and we seemed to like each other. We would talk, and chat and he’d go coming back every other day. But then, he left all of a sudden, and after a few months of missing him without making contacts, I searched for him on fb, found him and we got talking. It was really surprising how we never clicked as much as we did during that christmas holiday. Right now, we are at loggerheads with each other.

    Met some guys too a few weekends ago at a boutique, we chatted and I didn’t feel like leaving at the end of the day. It was just a day- friendship thing, and it was fun!

    I don’t think its bad to wanna extend a 24-hour relationship into a lifelong thing, I just think it has its days and off-days! At times it works out, at other times, it doesn’t. That’s just how I see it! And yeah, the 24-hours friendship thing happens with ladies too.

    Totally love your posts.

  8. oh yes. I’ve had plenty – conferences are a good example.Or any event really. Recently I went to a author talk and lunch/ book signing thing (4 hours) – was at the same table and got along great with 2 women there but I haven’t even bothered to email them back (!!!)

  9. What an interesting post, and such interesting responses. Good blog. OK, let’s see. Like most of the commentors, I’ve had my share of brief friendships. Someone above mentioned the temporariness being the thing that made the relationships unique. At this point, I would agree. The limited contact, the unusual context seems to provide a protective frame to form around the union – inside that frame anything is possible, you get to be liberated from the you that is defined by your larger frame “back home” or back in your regular life. It’s almost as if in being liberated from your “real life” allows you to become something else. It seems that when we are “in transition” or freed from the restraints of context, we get to explore other sides of who we are…granted this exploration might be fueled by a kind of psychic necessity…the need to not feel so alone.

    Nothing stimulates the urge to bond as finding oneself religated to the fringe at a big fancy wedding.

  10. I’ve had 24 hour friendships, people I’ve kind of paired up with at hen weekends (bachelorette parties), added on Facebook and then never really spoken to again. One of them I would have liked to have become better friends with (and we occasionally exchange information we think the other would find useful), but most of them were people from other towns and I think we both forgot about each other once the weekend was done.

  11. North Woods

    Does this imply that most of us are just too lazy to do the necessary work to move beyond the ’24-hr period’ in order to establish a long-term friendship?

  12. Sometimes one night friendships work best because you’re in the same position, and I hate to say it, but at the same level of drunk. Sometimes it works amazingly and you end up with great relationships with the person, but other times it’s just awesome and wonderful because as it is. I’ve done it many a time, normally on a weekend away for training where I made friends and had a blast but meeting up afterwards wouldn’t be the same and we’d have ruined the good memories.

  13. Anonymous

    Unfortuanetely I think the 24hr friendship is a lose/lose situation..both people know their is a false sense of intimacy, so if the other person doesn’t anything past original encounter, it creates this feeling ‘ OMG they really think we are good friends, YIKES …STALKER!’ because in reality you don’t know each other at all….so unless an occassion presents itself again, to approach the ’24 hr friend’ just feels weird!

  14. This is a BRILLLLLL-yant concept! I now realize how many 24-hour friendships I’ve had… but it also made me stop to think about the other right-time-right-place friendships I’ve been thankful to have and confused to see them dissolve.

    Years ago, at my first “real,” salaried job, I worked with a woman who quickly became my BFF. We cried when I moved cross-country several years later, and we kept in touch with monthly phone calls (that’s right, back before email, FB and text-cussions).

    A few years later, I found myself moving to the same big city where she had successfully transitioned to a new career. We were so excited! We were going to reunite!

    We had brunch once. The clickage was over. The romance was dead. Our commonalities had moved on when I did. We’re not even friends on FB now!

  15. I think the 24 hour friendship is just fine and pertains to all people regardless of gender. Friendship is a complicated topic as you so aptly concluded in your book. Maybe some people are meant to ‘experience’ a moment with you instead of being a BFF. Wouldn’t it be exhausting if every time you met someone new that you had to go through every stage of friendship with them? That might stifle anyone from even being friendly – too much commitment. I like that I can chat or have an experience with someone (like a wedding) without having to match up on anything but the moment.

  16. Rachel, this reminds me of the “friendship quota” that you wrote about. We can have a certain number of true-blue friends, but at weddings and other events, we may make what I would call “necessity friends”, people to hang out with for the evening until we can get back to our normal routine lives with our normal, routine, consistent friends.

  17. Jay

    I had one of my best 24-Hour friendships with a married lady when we sat next to each other in a bus on a 9 to 10 hour journey. We talked well and seemed to get along perfectly. We even took turns to watch each other sleep but I thought we shouldn’t take it further than that.

    I didn’t ask for her number but I still remember her fondly most times.

  18. Bandit

    I’m not sure if it’s a gender thing, I think it’s more a personality thing.

    Certain people get attached to others quickly and they grow deep and rooted friendships that way. They make the effort to stay in touch, talk a lot, write letters even (or maybe I’m dating myself here? Or showing my romantic side? I dunno) and get devastated when their friendships end.

    Other people get along with almost everyone, and can have incredible 24-hour friendships and move right on the next morning, remembering the people but not making a conscious effort to seek them out again.

    Personally, I’m stuck between the two. I get along well with people, and I can talk to everyone on the topic of pretty much anything, but I also get attached quickly. It’s odd… Loved the article though (both yours and the one you linked) and thinking maybe I just need to chill out a little more about “losing the 24-hour friend”.

    Great read, thank you🙂

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