Sammy Nickalls
October 29, 2015 10:00 am

A wise woman named Mindy Lahiri once said, “A best friend isn’t a person, it’s a tier.” It’s actually one of six tiers, if you ask Mobinah Ahmad, the young woman whose detailed theory on the many phases of friendship is now going viral.

For Mobinah, it all started with the word “friend.” What does it mean? Mobinah thinks it’s thrown around much too often these days — and that the phrase “You can never have too many friends” is totally false. “What I define as a friend is what most people would define as a best friend,” she told Australia’s ABC News. “So someone who you talk to regularly, you have a very close connection to, you can turn to.”

To better define her circle, she asked her online “friends” to take a quiz on their relationship (romantic partners and relatives don’t count). Questions included: “Would you make the effort to drop me to the airport?” and “Can we sustain a 20-minute conversation?” From there, she deduced that there are six types of friendship in all.

“I came up with a friendship theory” to help navigate relationships, says Mobinah Ahmad. #abc730 #socialmedia pic.twitter.com/WIBtyVnFJk

— abc730 (@abc730) October 29, 2015

According to her theory (which you can read in full here), there are pre-acquaintances, acquaintance level 1, acquaintance level 2, acquaintance level 3, pre-friend, and friend.

Pre-acquaintances are people you know by name only. Acquaintance level 1 are casual co-workers, colleagues and the kinds of people you run into but don’t make plans with. Level 2 are those you’ve known for a while, but only see in groups—as opposed to one on one. Level 3 or “Pre-friends” are those people you care deeply about, and feel strongly connected to, but don’t see on a regular basis.

At the top of the food chain is the “Friend.” That’s somebody with whom you share “mutual feelings of love.” According to Mobinah, a friend fits the following description:

I care immensely in every domain of their life (academic, physical, mental  wellbeing), how their relationships with their loved ones are.

I also care about their  thoughts, ideas, elations and fears.

I can easily give my honest opinion and thoughts.

This person notices when I am upset through subtle indications.

I see this person regularly and feel totally comfortable to contact them for a deep and meaningful talk.

Someone who takes initiative and makes sacrifices to work on this friendship.

Mutual trust, respect, admiration, forgiveness and unconditional care.

Mobinah concludes her friendship hierarchy with some caveats. Namely that there is “no shame in being an acquaintance,” and that the theory is “flexible” and based on personal experience.

“I understand that this theory cannot be applied to everyone, but it significantly helps me,” she writes.

Not everyone may relate to Mobinah’s theory, but it’s already gaining some serious traction online. It’s also helped Mobinah deduce who exactly fits in her top tier “friend” category.

Using her test, Mobinah determined that she only has one: Iman, who she’s known for over three years. Saying that it’s a “privilege to be called her only friend,” Iman supports her system. “In society we always tend to say you know I’m friends with this person, I’m friends with that person, but in reality we’re not, it’s an acquaintance,” he told ABC News. “And I was so proud that someone was brave enough to come and say that publicly.”

It may be going a little far to define friendship in such black-and-white terms, but it’s an absolutely fascinating theory. By Mobinah’s standards, perhaps we all have a lot fewer friends than we thought — but also by those same standards, that isn’t such a bad thing.

(Image via NBC.)

Related:

30 questions to ask your BFF

All the signs you and your bestie are friend-married

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