The internet's decided you need 7 types of friends to be fulfilled. But do you really?

There’s a new TikTok trend doing the rounds that insists we must all have precisely seven types of friends. No more, no less. Just seven. 

And they must all be OuR EvEryThInG <3. 

(If you aren’t immediately having Myspace flashbacks by this point then you’re out of my top eight). 

Where did this latest fad come from? No one knows. But somewhere, somehow, in the dark bowels of the internet (I personally blame ChatGPT), the ‘7 Friend Theory’ has emerged – and it’s catching. 

Watch: Work Wives – A Love Story. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

There are now literally reams and reams of girlies – and some lads in there too  - who’ve made these cutesie lil videos about their besties and what extremely specific attributes they bring to the table of friendship. There’s even emotional backing music, to really drive the message home. 

And that’s the secret to happiness, or so TikTokers would have you believe, and viewers are lapping it up with the hashtag #7friendtheory racking up more than 10.8 million views.


So, what are they, these specialised friendship types, and – no pressure here – do you have them all? 

  1. A friend you’ve had since you were little.

  2. A friend that could make you laugh in any situation.

  3. A friend you can go forever without talking to but nothing changes.

  4. A friend you can tell anything to.

  5. A friend that’s like a sister/brother.

  6. A friend you can’t imagine not being friends with.

  7. A friend that knows about all your relationship problems, even though they don’t want to hear about it.

It really is quite the list, and straightaway a bunch of mates spring to mind. Heck, some of them even cross over into other categories (wait, is that even allowed??), which has left me feeling super #blessed. 

@lysscausey 7 bridesmaids for a reason 🥹🤍#CapCut #bride #married #wedding #bridesmaids #7friendtheory #2023bride #bestfriend ♬ original sound - Lysscausey

But what I really wanted to know, is do we actually need these seven different types of friends to be ultimately fulfilled in life? Or will our cup forever be half empty without them? 

So I went straight to the experts.

The list is “problematic”

First things first, let’s be clear. This list is officially “not a thing”, according to Dr Lydia Woodyatt, Associate Professor of Psychology at Flinders University. 

“There is no research that says you need seven friends and that type of friend for friendship and wellbeing,” she told Mamamia. “There are lots of people in life who don’t have those sorts of friends and are still satisfied and happy.” 

While she said it can be a good thing to have different ways of valuing friends, the idea that happiness is reliant on having a specific type of friend can actually “be really problematic”, especially for adolescents.

“When they engage with these sorts of things on social media, it’s always that ‘am I living up to the ideal?’ and ‘do I have all the things that I need to be perfect?’ [type of insecurities],” Dr Woodyatt said.


“This is just another example of a list of things that sounds really great and looks really great on TikTok, but it isn't necessarily the reality; it doesn't actually represent real friendships, and it’s over-specific on what you need in life out of friendship.”

Dr Vicki Andonopoulos, an Associate Lecturer at the University of Sydney, agreed. 

“Someone's just come up with this list off the top of their head and now it's become gospel,” she told Mamamia. “And for people who have trouble making friends, I think that puts pressure on them.”

She said it also makes making friends “inorganic”.

“When we have a rule book, we start to refer to the rule book,” she said. “So if so if you're talking to someone on the street, you might refer back to this list, and that might be a decision on whether you want to continue that friendship.”

What type of friends should we have?

At the top of the list of the seven friendships we should all reportedly be having, is ‘a friend you’ve had since you were little’. 

Sweet, right? Well, it depends. 

“There are lots of arguments for having friends who understand who you really are as a person, people who really get your value and understand that even if you muck up it's not representative of who you are,” Dr Andonopoulos said.

@allieworton #7friendtheory ♬ original sound - Allie Worton

“That may be childhood friends, but also, childhood friends could be toxic or could be people who really run you down. The idea that we need any specific type of friend to meet that need is a little bit problematic, because sometimes it can make us hang on to people that actually are really bad for us.”

And we all know by now that even if you’ve been friends forever, that’s not a reason to stay friends if your relationship has gone sour. 

However, that doesn’t rule out ‘a friend you can go forever without talking to but nothing changes’. Ah, those long-distance lovers. Our interstate pals. Those buddies overseas. How our hearts grow fonder with every passing day. 

“There are benefits to friends who we don't speak to very often to the extent that when we do speak, it's a meaningful continuation of the friendship,” Dr Woodyatt said.

“Friends who meet our need for equal attachment security – that’s feeling like we're accepted and that we’re psychologically safe and supported – those are the kind of people that allow us to expand who we are and change and grow.

“Those friends are really beneficial in your life. You don't see them for a long time but when you get together, they provide that role for you in your life, or you're providing that for them."

Listen to Mia Freedman discuss the Big Secret to female friendship. Post continues after podcast.


How many friends do we actually need?

The general rule of thumb is “quality over quantity”, Dr Woodyatt said. So what makes a good friend?

“People who know us and people who we can really connect with,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who they are, it matters about the quality of friendship.” 

But there is something to be said about keeping your social circle too small.

“When we’re adolescents, we tend to have more friends – those more strongly related to our subjective feelings of wellbeing. But over time, that tends to reduce greatly,” she said.

“I’d say it’s a bit of having lots of eggs in lots of baskets.” 

And not relying on just one relationship, which can make you quite psychologically vulnerable if something goes wrong with that friend. 

“Think about it as diversifying the social groups you’re part of and the number of people you're friends with,” Dr Woodyatt said. 

“That gives you the possibility of developing more quality relationships with different kinds of groups of people, and that's really associated with health and wellbeing in lots and lots of different ways.”

At the end of the day, maybe this latest TikTok trend is just giving us a chance to shout out our mates – and what could be better than that?  


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