Friendship system with Laravel : Many to Many relationship

I'm trying to create a Friendship system with Laravel (I'm starting with it) but I'm blocked with relationships. Here's the thing : there is one table Users and one table Friends which contains the following columns :

friends: id, user_id, friend_id, accepted.

It looks like a Many to Many so here's what I set on User class :

class User extends Eloquent {
    function friends()
        return $this->belongsToMany('User');

But when I try a :

$friends = User::find($id)->friends()->get()

I have this error :

Base table or view not found: 1146 Table 'base.user_user' doesn't exist

I would like to get a list of the Friends of a user, no matters if the user sent the invitation or received it. So the user can ba on user_id or on friend_id and then I retrieve the data of the other user depending of that column.

Any idea? Thank's!

EDIT : Here's the code I use :

$usersWithFriends = User::with('friendsOfMine', 'friendOf')->get();
$user = User::find(Auth::id())->friends;

foreach($user as $item) {
    echo $item->first()->pivot->accepted;


tldr; you need 2 inverted relationships to make it work, check SETUP and USAGE below

First off the error - this is how your relation should look like:

function friends()
  return $this->belongsToMany('User', 'friends', 'user_id', 'friend_id')
    // if you want to rely on accepted field, then add this:
    ->wherePivot('accepted', '=', 1);

Then it will work without errors:

$user->friends; // collection of User models, returns the same as:


However you would like the relation to work in both ways. Eloquent doesn't provide a relation of that kind, so you can instead use 2 inverted relationships and merge the results:

// friendship that I started
function friendsOfMine()
  return $this->belongsToMany('User', 'friends', 'user_id', 'friend_id')
     ->wherePivot('accepted', '=', 1) // to filter only accepted
     ->withPivot('accepted'); // or to fetch accepted value

// friendship that I was invited to 
function friendOf()
  return $this->belongsToMany('User', 'friends', 'friend_id', 'user_id')
     ->wherePivot('accepted', '=', 1)

// accessor allowing you call $user->friends
public function getFriendsAttribute()
    if ( ! array_key_exists('friends', $this->relations)) $this->loadFriends();

    return $this->getRelation('friends');

protected function loadFriends()
    if ( ! array_key_exists('friends', $this->relations))
        $friends = $this->mergeFriends();

        $this->setRelation('friends', $friends);

protected function mergeFriends()
    return $this->friendsOfMine->merge($this->friendOf);

With such setup you can do this:

// access all friends
$user->friends; // collection of unique User model instances

// access friends a user invited
$user->friendsOfMine; // collection

// access friends that a user was invited by
$user->friendOf; // collection

// and eager load all friends with 2 queries
$usersWithFriends = User::with('friendsOfMine', 'friendOf')->get();

// then
$users->first()->friends; // collection

// Check the accepted value:

It's oviously a problem in your DB and also definition of the relation. Many-to-Many relation type expects you to use and intermediate table. Here's what you have to do :

  1. Create a user_friend (id, user_id, fried_id) table in your schema.
  2. Remove unnecessary fields from user and friend tables.
  3. Create proper foreign keys .> user_friend.user_id , -> user_friend.friend_id
  4. Better define full relation on the User and Friend models,

for example :

 class User extends Eloquent {
    function friends()
        return $this->belongsToMany('User', 'user_friend', 'user_id', 'friend_id');

You can read much more in Laravel docs, HERE

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