All The Signs You Officially Have A "Tenured Friend"

They tend to feel like your favorite can’t-live-without jeans.

What is a "tenured friend"? The TikTok trend, explained.

Some friends will grab coffee with you and others will laugh with you in a group chat, but there’s a certain type of friend who will pick you up from the airport in the middle of the night. According to TikTok, this person holds a special title: the tenured friend.

In a viral video, posted March 14, creator @jennifermika_ shared the definition of a tenured friend, and it really is the perfect way to describe this very specific type of relationship. According to Mika, a tenured friend is someone who’s pretty much guaranteed to be in your life forever.

They’re the person you’ve known for ages and, while you may have the occasional fight or falling out, she says you always come back to each other. This is also the person you can count on to answer the phone and show up when you need them most.

Usually, a tenured friend is someone you bonded with as a kid, like your best friend from first grade, but it could also be someone you met in college, at work, or beyond. In Mika’s comments section, everyone seemed to agree that a friendship that’s older than seven years can be tenured. One person wrote, “I’ve always said 7 years of friendship = frenured.”

Why Tenured Friendships Are Built To Last

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A tenured friend could be someone you see every day, like a certified bestie, or it could be someone you talk to once or twice a year. One commenter said, “My longest friend is 30 years. We aren’t close anymore but [when we talk it’s] like no time has passed. We met in preschool.”

Either way, they’re total icons in your life. According to Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist and host of the Imperfect Love podcast, tenured friendships are extra strong because you have a deep history. That’s what helps them last.

“Whereas other relationships may take constant tending, the deep connection with a tenured friend thrives because of the unspoken understanding, ‘We might not talk all the time, but you know I’m here whenever you need me,’” she says. There’s also a foundation of trust and loyalty, similar to the kind you have with a relative.

These bonds usually start during formative moments in life, which is why a college roommate could be a tenured friend, and they only get stronger the longer you know each other. At a certain point, Manly says they transcend beyond a casual pal and turn into something more.

“Our tenured friends tend to feel like our favorite can’t-live-without jeans; they have traveled with us, seen us at our best and worst, and feel ever so comfy,” she says. “There is a sense of ease and familiarity with a tenured friend that allows for greater vulnerability and intimacy.”

Below, here are some signs that your friendship has officially been tenured.

1. They Always Answer The Phone

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In a follow-up viral video, Mika explained that one of her tenured friends is practically “contractually obligated” to pick up the phone. It’s an understanding in their friendship that if she calls, the other has to drop everything to talk.

While most friends would send you straight to voicemail — or look on in horror, wondering why you won’t just send a text or voice memo — a tenured friend knows it’s their duty to answer.

When you chat, the conversation always picks up right where it left off, even if it’s been ages since you last spoke. On these calls you can talk about everything and nothing, and it usually last for hours.

2. They Pick You Up At The Airport

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When you have a tenured friend, you can rest assured that you’ll never get stranded at the airport again. Other, lesser friends might say they’re busy or ignore you when you ask for a ride, but the tenured friend is essentially your personal Uber service.

This is great when you don’t have a partner or any family nearby. And it’s extra fun because it means you get to run to each other and hug dramatically by baggage claim, like you’re in some sort of rom-com.

3. They Watch Your Dog While You’re On Vacation

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A tenured friend is someone you trust with your keys — and your dog’s life. If you’re going out of town, you know that you can ask them to stop by and feed your pets, water your plants, and collect your mail.

To sweeten the deal, you always offer to let them stay overnight. Sure, they’ll probably go through your medicine cabinet and use your last drop of shampoo, but you’ll sip your poolside margaritas with a little more joy knowing that they’re there.

4. They Attend Your Family’s Events

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Most tenured friends feel more like a family member than a pal. They text your mom, go to all of your holiday parties, and nestle in comfortably at backyard barbecues, kind of like the own the place. And in a way, they do. They know where everything is in your house, and can often be found cleaning up the kitchen alone.

5. They Know Way Too Much

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Since the tenured friend has been in your life since the dawn of time, they know everything there is to know about the inner workings of your mind, and they’ve also witnessed every stage of your life. And vice versa.

While they’ve seen all the good moments, like your college graduation, they also know all of your deepest, darkest secrets.

They know why your parents got divorced and why your brother never calls, and this is why you have to stay close, lest they use their powers for evil.

6. They Run Errands With You

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If you hate going to Trader Joe’s alone, you can always text your tenured friend and ask if they’d like to join. There’s no need to impress them with exciting plans, like a fancy brunch or a whirlwind night out. At this point in your relationship, it’s OK to do nothing together.

Speaking of, they’re always down to walk around Target, stare at the lamps in Home Depot, or help you fetch a couch from Facebook Marketplace. As a bonus, this is the friend to call when you’re craving Taco Bell at midnight. They will happily sip a Baja Blast in any random parking lot.

7. They Pick You Up After Surgery

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If you need someone to drive you home after getting your wisdom teeth removed, you can always call your tenured friend. While others might be “too busy” to pick you up, these pals are required to save you in your moments of need. Not only are they your emergency contact on doctor’s forms, but they also have the top ICE slot on your phone.

8. They Can Get You Through A Breakup

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After a tough breakup, you might go out with your wildest friends whose job it is to show you a good time. But in the moments when you’re crying on the couch or forgetting to shower, that’s when a tenured friend swoops in. This pal will show up at your door with all your favorite foods and offer to stay over until you’re functional again. If they live far away, they’ll FaceTime as a way to keep you company.

9. They’ll Help You Move

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On TikTok, one person referred to their tenured friends as their “elite employees”, and it’s honestly so spot-on. This crew doesn’t even have to be lured over with promises of pizza or beer. Instead, they’ll show up with bags, tools, and boxes and get to work like you hired them.

They’re down to make a fun day of it, if that’s the vibe, but they can also work fast if you need to, like after a breakup. They aren’t going to ask questions, but they will want all the tea once you’re settled in your new place.

10. They’ll Be In Your Wedding

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A tenured friend has a guaranteed spot in your wedding, and you’ve both always known that, even way back in high school. It wouldn’t be right to walk down the aisle without them there, especially since they’ve known you longer than your partner.

Chances are they’ll be your maid of honor — and they’ll absolutely kill their speech. The toast will be full of personal anecdotes and sweet stories, but they’ll also be sure to embarrass you in front of all of your loved ones with a shocking story or two.

11. They’ll Always Be Your Date

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Whether you have a work event, holiday party, or wedding to attend, your tenured friend is always ready to be your plus-one. Sometimes they’re your top pick over an actual partner, but they’re also happy to stand in when you’re single.

They’re just as excited as you are to get dressed up and go out. They make a great date as they’re willing to dance and laugh and mingle with your other friends, even if they don’t know them. That’s their duty as your permanent pal, and they never let you down.


Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist, host of the Imperfect Love podcast