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Are You in a Superficial Relationship? Here Are 19 Tell-Tale Signs

Last updated on October 6, 2022 by Sian Roelofsz

Let’s start by defining what exactly a superficial relationship is: a superficial relationship is often one that is only as deep as what lies on the surface - looks, wealth, and social status. These relationships are far more common than you might have imagined and they can be tricky to navigate. 

In a superficial relationship, you’ll oftentimes find that one of you begins to want more than what your partner is willing to give, causing feelings of frustration and resentment to build up.

If you resonate with the above, read on as we look at 19 signs that you might be in a shallow relationship.

19 Signs of a Superficial Relationship

1. Talking about the future is avoided.

Does your partner avoid talking about anything related to the future, whether it’s an upcoming holiday, event, or more seriously, marriage? If they constantly avoid talking about the future or where your relationship is headed it could signal that your partner isn’t serious about things and just wants a casual relationship.

In these sorts of relationships, talks about marriage or the future are almost always met with an “I’m not sure if I want to get married” or “I’m not sure what I want” sort of response. These replies are red flags if you’re wanting something more serious than a casual hookup. 

2: There’s a lack of communication.

there's a lack of communication

Communication is essential in a relationship and is the foundation of a long-lasting, successful romance. However, when it comes to superficial relationships, there’s almost always an unhealthy line of communication. In these relationships, a physical connection is more important than an emotional one; therefore, communication takes a backseat

It’s important to consider that all people communicate differently and at different depths. But if communication about thoughts, feelings, and aspirations is often avoided, or if your conversations always lack depth, it could be a sign that your partner doesn’t want to ‘let you in’ much more than surface level. 

3. Labels are avoided.

Do you often wonder where you stand with your partner or ‘what you are’? People who get into a casual relationship wanting nothing more might avoid labels to ‘keep their options open.’ Avoiding labels is also a way to avoid any sort of commitment. If you want to know where you stand with your partner, have the conversation sooner rather than later.

4. Your connection is predominantly a physical one.

When it comes to superficial relationships, looks, physical attraction, and sex are the most important aspects. Oftentimes these sorts of relationships won’t progress much further than your physical connection. If you feel like your partner is only with you for your looks or sex, you might be in a casual relationship. 

5. It’s all about convenience.

Ever feel like your partner only makes plans with you or contacts you when it’s convenient for them? Do your plans often come second to their plans with their friends or their hobbies? These are red flags that your relationship is superficial and not as deep as you perhaps hoped for.

“For some, being in a relationship of convenience is perfectly fine for where they're at in life. Maybe companionship is just easier than deep, emotional attachments for the meantime… “ As couples therapist, Teresa Solomita, LCSW-R, tells Bustle, "It is a perfectly legitimate relationship to have in the difficult world we live in."

6. You feel like you’re just never enough.

Because superficial relationships are predominantly about looks and physical appearance it’s easy to fall into the trap of constantly comparing yourself to others. When this happens it’s easy to feel as if you’re not good enough or like you’ll just never measure up to others. This sort of toxic behavior could signal superficial connections.

7. Your partner is withholding information.

Withholding information can be intentional or unintentional. When this is intentional it can be seen as a form of lying. Your partner may intentionally withhold information to avoid any arguments or disclosure about their whereabouts and actions. They may feel it’s unnecessary to divulge such information because they regard your relationship as a casual one. 

If your partner unintentionally withholds important information from you, i.e. a promotion at work or what’s happening in their family life, it may be because they don’t feel a deep connection with you and don’t want to ‘let you in’ too much.

8. There might be discussions about having an open relationship.

While not all open relationships are superficial if your partner is open to you dating or having sex with other people, it might indicate that they don’t have deep feelings for you. Your partner might want an open relationship to keep their dating options open or because sex and physical connections rank highly on their priority list. 

If one or both of you are open to the idea of having an open relationship, this guide will help you lay some ground rules and navigate your new world of dating, effectively. 

9. Material things are super important in these sorts of relationships.

material things are super important in these sort of relationships

In superficial relationships material things - money, social status, the car you drive, and your job title - might be very important to your partner. These relationships are, after all, based on surface-level things and outward appearances. 

10. You don’t care about each other’s needs as much as your own.

In most happy, serious relationships, you’ll find that people put their partner’s needs ahead of their own because they deeply care about the other person. However, in superficial relationships, your needs will more often than not take a backseat. 

11. Out-of-sight-out-of-mind applies to your relationship.

If you truly care about someone and have strong feelings for them you’ll likely be thinking about them 24/7 (well, at least it’ll feel that way) - wondering where they are, what they’re doing, and how they’re feeling. If out-of-sight-out-of-mind applies to your relationship it’s a red flag that there’s a lack of an emotional connection between the two of you. 

12. Your partner gives lame excuses.

Does your partner often come up with lame excuses as to why they aren’t taking you on dates or why they’re noncommittal? Lame excuses are often given as a cover-up for harsh truths. If you’re being met with these sorts of excuses over and over again you might want to have a serious conversation with your partner to see what the real story is behind these excuses. 

13. Little to no regard for each other’s boundaries.

Boundaries protect your well-being and keep relationships happy and healthy. There are five types of boundaries one should consider when entering a relationship - physical, emotional, intellectual, sexual, and financial boundaries. If your partner disregards or oversteps the boundaries you have set, it should be met with consequences. 

When boundaries are disregarded in relationships, resentment can build up. Boundaries are often overstepped when there’s little or no care for your partner’s feelings and well-being. A relationship based solely on superficial aspects may have this. If you feel like your boundaries aren’t respected, consider whether you might be dating a superficial person. 

14: Special occasions are often forgotten about.

special occasions are often forgotten about

In surface-level relationships, there’s often little to no consideration given to special occasions. This is simply because not much concern is given to the other person’s feelings and expectations. 

Has your partner forgotten about date night again? Did your birthday slip their mind? Is your anniversary put on the back burner time and time again? You might find this sort of behavior occurring over and over again in superficial relationships because ‘winning you over’ might not be a priority to your partner. These relationships are usually purely physical, remember?

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15. You haven’t met their family. 

Meeting your partner’s family would be considered a pretty big step in most relationships. This usually signals a certain level of commitment and that your partner is considering taking things further.

If, however, you’ve been seeing your partner for a fair amount of time and they never consider inviting you to family get-togethers it may be a sign that they aren’t looking to take things to the next level. 

I would suggest having a chat with your partner to establish where the relationship is going if the above rings true. 

16. You don’t ‘really’ know them.

Getting to know someone requires genuine interest, effort, patience, and one-on-one interaction. One of the signs of a superficial relationship is that you and your partner don’t know each other on a deeper level

If you want to get to know your partner better, find out whether you possess any shared interests and partake in these activities together, talk to them about your feelings and aspirations, spend more time with each other, and work on building a healthy line of communication. 

17. You don’t spend quality time together.

Going on date nights or spending one-on-one time with your partner isn’t a priority in a shallow relationship. Instead, you might be asked to come over at the last minute for a casual hookup. Time together in casual relationships might also mean that screen time (Netflix or social media) takes priority over creating personal connections. 

One thing is certain, spending time getting to know each other does not feature high on the priority list in these relationships. 

18. You feel lonely in your relationship.

“Loneliness is a state of being, and it’s not just boredom—it’s an inability to connect,” says Alysha Jeney, a millennial relationship therapist. 

Feeling lonely in your relationship could be a result of unexpressed feelings and emotions, a lack of emotional connection between the two of you, or an inability to be your authentic self around your partner. Loneliness in a relationship could signal that you’re in a superficial relationship where depth and understanding are lacking. 

19. The two of you are very different people.

the two of you are very different people

While opposites often attract and can make a relationship fun and interesting, if you and your partner have different core values and goals for the future then it could cause problems in the long run. 

If your ideologies and values around family, religion, finances, and lifestyle choices are vastly different it might signal that your attraction for one another is on the surface level. 

A Surface-Level Relationship vs. A Deep and Meaningful Relationship

The primary difference between these two sorts of relationships is the level of emotional connection that exists between you and your partner. If the two of you have very little emotional connection or no desire for real love, care, and respect then chances are you’re in a superficial companionship. 

Want to know if your man is emotionally unavailable? Have a look at these 27 tell-tale signs.

Furthermore, surface-level relationships are primarily based on physical attraction and sex whereas deep relationships require a lot more energy, time, respect, and emotional and intellectual investment to reap the rewards of your commitment. 

Superficial relationships usually only last for as long as the fun lasts and for as long as you find your partner physically attractive. Deep and meaningful relationships are able to navigate beyond the initial ‘fun and flirty’ phase and build a lasting bond. The bond that’s developed in deep relationships is what helps partners navigate through life’s ups and downs together.

What to Do if You Don’t Want to Be in a Superficial Relationship?

The best way to avoid finding yourself in a superficial relationship is by being open and honest in your communication with your partner. Let them know from the get-go that you’re looking to build a meaningful, lasting connection with someone special as opposed to being in a superficial relationship.

Talk to your partner about your needs and expectations and allow them to do the same. If you’re on different pages in terms of what you want, I would suggest either finding a happy compromise or else, walking away sooner rather than later. 

FAQs

What is the difference between real and superficial love?

The biggest differentiating factor between these two kinds of relationships is the level of emotional and intellectual intimacy that exists between partners. Superficial relationships are usually based on physical aspects only whereas real love is built on all of the above as well as shared core values, time, and empathy. 

How can you tell if a guy is superficial?

Someone who is superficial is usually materialistic, judgemental, and lacks emotional depth and understanding. You might also find that superficial people keep conversations light and surface-level as a way to avoid talking about deeper topics. Superficial people will put their needs ahead of others’ and they might cancel plans with you at the last minute if they’ve found something ‘better’ to do.

How do I stop being superficial?

If you want to add more depth to your character, practice improving on your communication skills; become more open-minded and less judgemental; spend time thinking and talking about your desires, aspirations, and feelings; and don’t let your possessions own you. Remember that there is more to life and more value to people than what appears on the surface.

What is the most superficial form of love?

Any relationship that’s based purely on physical attraction and looks would be considered highly superficial as there’s no connection beyond surface appearances. In these kinds of relationships, more value is given to outward appearances than to a person’s character and values.

Is being superficial a good thing?

While being superficial isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you might be missing out on some incredible experiences and people by not taking the time out to get to know them beyond what lies on the surface. Being superficial might prevent you from experiencing real, lasting love and joy.

Conclusion

I hope this information will help you better identify the red flags of a superficial relationship

If a shallow relationship is not what you’re after, be upfront and honest and talk to your partner about your feelings and expectations. Becoming a confident communicator will enable you to express your expectations from the get-go and allow you to find someone who wants what you want. 

Finding someone who wants what you want, is ultimately the beginning of a happy union!

If you enjoyed this article, let us know in the comments and give it a share, you never know who will benefit from reading about superficial relationships.

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Sian Roelofsz
Hello, I'm Sian! I've worked in the media industry for the past 6 years and my love for writing, coupled with many interesting dating experiences over the past decade, has led me here. I hope to give you some fabulous dating tips that'll help you navigate the complex world of relationships and hopefully, lead you to 'the one'. I'm a single mama and now work from home in sunny South Africa. I've managed to go on enough dates to figure out what works, what doesn't, and what'll seal the deal!

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