What Are Superficial Relationships? 17 Signs You May Be In One or More

We've all been there: you're out with your friends or at a party, and you meet someone new. 

You start to chat, and before you know it, you've exchanged numbers, made plans to hang out, and maybe even talked about getting serious. 

You may even have defined your relationship and met each other's friends.

But then, the creeping fear sets in: are you really into this person, or are you just caught up in the novelty and excitement of a new relationship? 

If you're unsure, it could be that you are in a shallow, superficial relationship.

What Are Superficial Relationships?

Superficial relationships are those that are based on little more than appearances.

People in these relationships typically care more about what others think of them and how they look together than about developing meaningful connections with their significant others.

They may be superficially friendly with a large number of people because they don't invest the time or energy necessary to create deep, lasting bonds.

These relationships are often unstable and do not last long, leaving one or both parties feeling used, unfulfilled, and empty.

Why Do People Have Superficial Relationships? 

There are numerous reasons why people opt for empty, superficial relationships.

From low self-esteem and a deep-seated fear of intimacy to a desire to appear popular or attractive, here are five reasons why someone might pursue these kinds of relationships.

  • They're afraid of getting hurt: When you don't allow yourself to get close to someone, it's impossible to get hurt by them, right? You may believe that keeping your connection on a superficial level will help you avoid the pain of rejection or abandonment. This defense mechanism often stems from a bad experience or a deep-seated fear of abandonment.
  • They don't think they are good enough: Low self-esteem can cause people to doubt their own worthiness of love and happiness. Consequently, they may believe they deserve nothing better than a superficial relationship.
  • They're afraid of commitment: People who are fearful of commitment often have trivial relationships unknowingly because they are unwilling to invest the time and energy required for a more meaningful connection. This way, they can avoid the vulnerability of being genuinely open and honest with another person, making it easier to end the relationship if they get scared or if things get too difficult.
  • They're narcissists: Narcissistic people are more likely to have simplistic relationships because they are only interested in people who will reflect their own positive image. They want to be seen as perfect and flawless and thus only associate with those who will help them maintain this persona.
  • They're trying to impress others: People-pleasers often find themselves in shallow relationships because their need to be liked and accepted by others outweighs their need for intimacy. They may be more worried about pleasing their partners and the people around them than about developing a real, meaningful connection.

17 Signs of Superficial Relationships You Need to Know

For most of us, it's quite easy to spot a superficial person. They are the ones who only care about appearances and surfacy things such as money and status. 

But when it comes to relationships, things can be a little more complicated. We may not even realize we are in a shallow relationship until it's too late.

If you suspect that you may be in a superficial relationship, but you're not sure, here are 17 signs to look out for:

1. Your Relationship Is Based on Physical Attraction

Do you find yourself attracted to your partner solely because of their looks? Do you spend more time thinking about how hot they are rather than how great of a person they are? If you answered yes to these questions, then it's likely that you are in a surfacy relationship.

While being physically attracted to your partner is essential, it should not be the only thing that keeps you together.

If it is, then your relationship will likely be unfulfilling, and you may find yourself constantly looking for someone else who meets your basic criteria.

2. You Don't Know Much about Each Other

Do you know your partner's favorite color, food, or hobby? What does your partner like when they are sad, moody, or feeling low? Do you know their hopes and dreams? 

You're probably in a superficial relationship if you've been together for a while and still can't answer these questions.

For any relationship to be meaningful and fulfilling, both parties need to connect on a deeper level. This means being interested in each other's thoughts, feelings, and experiences without judgment.

3. You Don't Talk About Anything Important

When you're with your partner, you may find that most conversations revolve around trivial topics such as the weather, what you will wear tonight, or who said what about whom.

You don't talk about anything serious or meaningful because you're afraid it will make things awkward.

In a shallow relationship, both partners are usually afraid to open up and be vulnerable with each other. It leads to a lack of communication, which can eventually cause the relationship to break down.

4. There Are a lot of Lies and Half-Truths

A lack of emotional intimacy characterizes shallow relationships leading to a lot of lying and half-truths to keep the peace. For example, you may lie about how much you earn, what you did last weekend, or who you're texting.

You may also lie by omission, which is when you withhold information from your partner. For example, you may not tell them about an ex you're still in contact with or a hobby you don't think they would approve of.

Lying and hiding the truth from your partner signifies that you're uncomfortable with who you are. It's also a sign that you don't trust them enough to be honest with them.

5. You Don't Have Any Shared Interests or Hobbies

Relationships are fuelled by commonalities, whether a love for the same sport or hobby or simply enjoying spending time together. 

Finding things to bond over will be challenging if you don't have anything in common with the person you're dating, and your relationship will likely fizzle out eventually. It creates an overall shallow relationship that lacks depth and meaning.

6. You Keep Your Options Open

Are you holding on to the hope that someone better will come along? This hope could manifest itself in several ways, from regularly swiping through dating apps to constantly scouting out attractive strangers whenever you're out and about. 

You may even have a “backup” person you text or talk to when your partner is away and you feel bored or lonely.

If you constantly think that the grass is always greener on the other side, it could signify that you are a superficial person who prefers shallow relationships. 

It may feel exciting at first to always have someone new on the horizon, but ultimately it's just a way of avoiding intimacy and commitment. If you're only ever focused on what's next, you're likely missing out on what's right in front of you.

7. You Don't Feel Like You Can Be Your True Self

When you're in a shallow relationship, you might find yourself censoring what you say or how you act around your partner. You're afraid to show them your true self because you're afraid they won't accept you.

Feeling accepted for who you are without judgment and criticism is a vital ingredient of a healthy relationship.

When you're not your true self, the relationship is built on a false foundation, which can lead to a feeling of disconnection and, ultimately, its demise.

8. You Get Bored Easily

Do you find yourself quickly getting bored in your relationships? Do you often start to feel restless, like you need something more? If so, it's probably because your relationship is superficial.

After all, when you're only focused on the surface level of things, it's natural that you would get bored quickly. There's only so much you can learn about someone when you're not really digging deep.

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9. You're Not on the Same Page About Your Relationship Status

“What are we?” It's a question we've all asked at some point in our lives, usually when things start to get serious with someone we're dating. But in shallow relationships, this conversation might never happen.

One person might be under the impression that you're just casually seeing each other, while the other is convinced that you're in a committed relationship. This mismatch in relationship status can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings down the road.

10. You Don't Argue or Fight

Healthy relationships involve arguments and disagreements from time to time. You will bicker over little things and have the occasional big blowouts when you just can't see eye to eye.

But at the end of the day, you will make up and be stronger for it.

Disagreements are normal in relationships. They mean that you're both passionate about something and are willing to stand up for what you believe in.

But if you never argue or fight, it could signify that you're not invested in the relationship. You may agree on everything because you don't want to rock the boat. So you would rather just keep the peace than deal with any conflict.

11. Your Partner Is Not Your Top Priority

In a superficial relationship, your partner will not be your top priority. They may not even make the top three. Your career, your friends, and your hobbies all come before them.

It’s a sign that you're not invested in the relationship. You're not willing to make the time or effort to get to know them better or make things work.

But in a healthy relationship, your partner will be one of your top priorities. They may not always make it to number one on your list, but they will definitely be up there. You will make time for them and put in the effort to keep things strong.

12. You Don't Care About Their Needs

We all have needs in relationships, whether it's attention, love, or support. When these needs are not met, it can often strain the relationship, leaving one or both partners feeling unfulfilled.

And because superficial relationships are built on what your partner can do for you and how they make you feel, rather than on a genuine connection, you likely won't care about their needs.

All that matters is what they can do for you and whether or not they make you happy.

13. You're Not Understanding or Patient With Them

Think about the people you genuinely love, like your family or friends. You probably understand them well.

You know what makes them tick and what their triggers are. You know how to make them laugh and how to make them feel better when they're down. 

You're also quite compassionate with them and can see things from their perspective, even when you disagree with them.

Now, think about your relationship. Do you understand the person you're with? Or do you just feel like you're on different wavelengths? If it's the latter, it could be a sign that your relationship is not very deep.

You probably don't know much about each other's inner thoughts, feelings, and experiences. So you don't have a deep connection.

14. Lack of Emotional Intimacy and Communication

Because most surface-level relationships are based on, well, the surface, it's no wonder communication is often lacking. 

Couples in these types of relationships will avoid having difficult conversations about their relationship or feelings in general. Instead of communicating with each other about their needs, they will either go without them being met or go outside the relationship to fulfill those needs.

Avoiding difficult conversations can lead to a lack of emotional intimacy, which is essential for a strong and healthy relationship. Remember, couples need to feel safe enough to share anything and everything.

15. You're Not Planning a Future With Them

Everyone says that when you find “the one,” you'll just know. You can picture yourself with them long-term, and you're excited about all the adventures you'll have together, from taking a trip to Europe to thinking about the children you’ll have together.

But when you're in an empty relationship, the future is the last thing on your mind. You're not thinking about what could be because you're not invested in the relationship.

Shallow relationships are all about the present — there's no depth, no substance, no real connection, and no tomorrow.

16. You Prefer Having an Open Relationship

Many experts will tell you that open relationships are a recipe for disaster. And while that may be true for some couples, it's not necessarily the case for all. After all, there are plenty of people in successful open relationships.

But if you only prefer open relationships and casual hook-ups, it's because you're looking for something other than a committed and serious relationship. And that's perfectly fine. Just don't expect things to go any further than they are now if that's the case.

17. You Forget Important Occasions

Do you ever forget your partner's birthday or anniversary? What about other important occasions, like their graduation or the day you first met? If you do, it's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, we're all human, and we all make mistakes.

But if you constantly forget these types of things, it could signify that your relationship is pretty superficial. After all, you're not really invested in each other's lives if you can't even remember when important things happen.

How to Change a Surface-Level Relationship 

Do you think you're in a surface-level relationship? If so, don't worry. There's always room for improvement. Here are a few tips on how to change things:

  • Talk to your partner about your concerns: If you're worried that your relationship is getting a little too shallow, talk to your partner about it. They may not even realize that they're doing anything wrong. Talking about things openly and honestly is the best way to improve any relationship.
  • Try to get to know each other better: If you don't know much about your partner, try to get to know them better. Ask them about their childhood, dreams, goals, and thoughts on important issues.
  • Make an effort to spend more quality time together: Instead of just going through the motions, make an effort to spend some quality time together. Turn off your phones, put away your laptops, and focus on each other. You may be surprised at how much you have to say to each other once you start paying attention.
  • Seek therapy: If you're struggling to improve things on your own, it may be time to seek professional help. A therapist can help you and your partner communicate more effectively and work through any underlying issues that may be causing problems in your relationship.

Final Thoughts

A superficial relationship can be fun and exciting, but it's not usually the type of relationship that lasts long-term. If you're looking for something more serious, it's essential to make sure that you're focused on more than just the surface level.

Trying to get to know each other better and spending more time together can help improve things. And if you're struggling, don't hesitate to seek professional help.