The Teda are divided into as many as forty patrilineal clans. In some instances, these clans are clustered in certain areas, but they cannot be considered territorial units. Each member traces descent to a common ancestor, who may have been forced to flee from some other area into the Tibesti. Most Teda clans cannot trace descent beyond about ten generations.
The dominant rule governing actual social organization is one of bilateral kindred and relationship rather than patrilineality. Marriage is kindred exogamous and ideally virilocal. Years of drought and revolution have reduced the economic viability of the Tibesti to the point that men sometimes remain absent most of the year, and residence has become more commonly uxorilocal, as the women stay with the children to care for the herds. The basic unit of social organization is the nuclear family. Friendship plays at least as large a part in determining cooperation as does kinship.