If you’ve been on TikTok of late, you might have seen the latest trend taking over the video-sharing app is the 7 Friendship Theory.

Sharing love to your nearest and dearest is the latest TikTok trend. While not one of the social media platform’s recent conspiracy theories, the 7 Friendship Theory is a way to share with your pals what you truly think of them.

Two hands linking pinky fingers in 'pinky promise'
Photo by Womanizer Toys on Unsplash

Friendship groups celebrate 7 types of friends with the TikTok theory

This January, the 7 Friendship Theory trend took off on TikTok. The trend sees users post the seven categories, assigning one to each of their friends. The slideshow plays while Phoebe Bridgers’ Scott Street (slowed version) plays in the background. This track has been one of the latest songs to go viral on TikTok. The particular sound used in the 7 Friendship Theory videos has been used in over 60,000 TikToks as of publication.

What is the 7 Friendship Theory?

While not a legitimate theory, the 7 Friendship Theory is a way to describe one’s social group. It is a categorizing method which shows that there are seven types of friendship that an individual has in their life.

  1. The friend you’ve had since you were little
  2. The friend that could make you laugh in any situation
  3. The friend you can go on forever without talking to but nothing changes
  4. The friend you can tell anything to
  5. The friend that’s like a sister
  6. The friend you can’t imagine not being friends with
  7. The friend that knows about all your boy problems even though she doesn’t want to hear about it

Alternative 7 Friendship categories debunk the theory

Despite calling itself a theory, this viral trend is more of a way to show your friends what they mean to you.

Because of this, there are alternative ‘theories’ being put forth on TikTok about the types of friends found in a group.

Some of the other friend types we’ve found online include ‘the friend that always pushes you to be the best version of yourself’ and ‘the friend that never fails to show up to important events’.

There are many theories about categorizing friendship types

While this latest fad seems to be the invention of TikTokkers, there are sociological and psychological studies about types of friendships found in groups and between individuals.

Last July, The Edvocate reported on the results of a recent poll about friendship networks. In this poll, seven types of friendship categories emerged. These categories are far from the ones trending on TikTok, although some parallels can be drawn. The poll reveals these seven friendship types:

  1. Long-term friendships
  2. Best friends
  3. Close friends
  4. Friends in a social group
  5. Activity people (ones you see over activities such as dining out, the gym, book club etc.)
  6. Convenience friends (those you might participating in communal activities such as neighborhood groups, carpool)
  7. Acquaintances (those you encounter from a distance but aren’t close to)

For the first three, parallels can be drawn with the TikTok theory, although the trending idea doesn’t take into account those distance relationships such as convenience friends or acquaintances.

There is plenty of disagreement with these types of friendship categorizations. Metro reports that there are 15 types of friends we all have which includes the likes of ‘the parent figure’, ‘the wild one’, and ‘the career driven one’. The notion of friendship itself has even been debated stretching back thousands of years.

But if TikTok’s 7 Friendship Theory is a way to show the people you love a little love, then there’s no need to over-theorize the intended meaning.

Eight hands placed on top of one another
Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

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