What's Your Friendship Style?

Have you always had a few different friend groups, various one-on-one friendships from different parts of life, or one, tightly knit wolf pack? According to a 2016 study at Midwestern University, most people's friendships fall into one of these three categories.

Related: You Can Only Have About 150 Friends At A Time

Tight-Knitters And Compartmentalizers

If you've had the same big group of friends since grade school (or high school, or college...), and you're all still connected in some way, you're probably what Dartmouth sociology professor Janice McCabe refers to as a "tight-knitter." In her aforementioned study published in the journal Contexts, McCabe describes tight-knitters as having cultivated a "sense of belonging," often referring to their friendships as "family or their home." At Midwestern University, this type of friendship was most common for minority students who found social support in their close friend groups. McCabe warns, however, that tight-knitters should be wary of the group pulling them down (e.g. academic focus).

Related: Friendships Are Crucial, Especially At Work

If you have a group of hometown friends, others you met in college, a few from your first job, etcetera, you sound like a "compartmentalizer." People who ascribe to this friendship category have friend clusters where the people within each cluster are connected to each other, but friends aren't connected across clusters. So, your friends from college don't know your work friends. In McCabe's college sample, compartmentalizers were often white and middle-class. According to the study, this friend category didn't need as much social support as the tight-knitters, and their "friendships among students from more advantaged backgrounds helped to reproduce their advantages." Compartmentalizers typically had one social friend group and one academically oriented friend group, which could easily transfer to the college friends vs co-workers scenario.

Then, There's The Samplers

Related: Hanging With Your Friends Can Help You Live Longer

If you've been friends with Jonathan from birth, Paige from your freshman dorms, Ravi from the first city you moved to after college, and Julia from your improv group (you get the picture), then you are a tried-and-true "sampler." Samplers make one-on-one connections with different people from different places, but none of them are clustered together. Since this makes for a less supportive social group, many samplers are more independent, have a greater focus on academics (or their jobs) and are typically more family-oriented than their counterparts.

Now that we've delved into the three friendship categories, which types of friendships do we have? Watch the following video to find out.

Is there something you're curious about? Email us at editors (at) And follow Curiosity on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Watch And Learn: Our Favorite Videos About Friendships

Three Types Of Friends

Let's give ourselves a break and focus on "growth friends."

Written by Curiosity Staff January 13, 2017

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