Today’s dating landscape includes a wide variety of relationships. They can range from casual relationships and exclusive hookups, to friend with benefits arrangements and serious, long-term relationships. And one of the factors that separates all of those types of relationships is the level of depth. The opposite of depth, of course, is superficiality. So, how do you know if your relationship is superficial?
According to The Oxford Dictionary, the definition of superficial is “existing or occurring at or on the surface; not thorough, deep, or complete; lacking depth of character or understanding.” That last word — understanding — is key in talking about what a superficial relationship is lacking. When you have a deep connection with someone, there’s a sense of not only understanding but acceptance. You know all of each other’s quirks, fears, and so-called “flaws,” and you love each other anyway. At the same time, you challenge each other, and you any tackle problems that arise as a team. A deep connection typically means not only having physical intimacy, but also emotional and intellectual intimacy as well.
If you know for a fact that you’re just in it for the sex or you literally never talk about the future, then you may be well aware that you’re in a superficial relationship. But here are some slightly subtler signs that your relationship is shallow.
We’ve all seen that couple at a restaurant. They sit across from each other at the table scrolling through their phones, barely making eye contact let alone having a conversation. Perhaps this comes as no surprise, but if you’re more interested in checking in to that trendy new restaurant or Instagramming your meal than you are in being present with your date, that might suggest you have a shallow relationship on your hands. That’s not to say that posting a pic on date night automatically means your relationship is superficial. But if you’re spending more than a minute or two on social media while out with your boo, that says a lot about your priorities.
When you’re in a relationship with depth, date night is about being in the moment with your person — potentially learning more about them, and making new memories with them. If you’re constantly on your phone, you obviously can’t accomplish any of that. So, it’s time to ask yourself what’s lacking. When you’re in a superficial relationship, you may be grateful just to have someone to go out to dinner with and snap enviable Instagrams with. But that suggests you like the idea of a relationship rather than being with the specific person you’re dating.
How much do you and bae really know about each other? And no, I don’t mean about what beer they like or which show they binge watch. Do you know what their career aspirations are? Do you know what scares them more than anything? Do you have a sense of what’s important to them? What are their values, and what can they not tolerate? Unless you’ve only been dating for a month or two, if you can’t answer these kinds of questions, that could be a red flag.
One of the best ways to get closer to someone on a deeper level is to ask them questions. So, if you and your boo don’t know much about each other, you might want to consider why. Maybe deep down you don’t see this going anywhere, so you don’t care much to learn more about them. If that’s the case, your relationship is likely of the shallow variety.
If you think you’ve determined that your relationship is superficial, you may be wondering what to do about it. The first step is to decide if you’re happy with your current situation. There isn’t anything wrong with this kind of relationship, as long as it’s fulfilling enough for both people involved. Just as serious relationships have their place, so do surface-level ones. For example, if you know you’re moving across the country in a month and you’re not interested in pursuing a long-distance relationship, or you really want to focus more on your career right now, then a superficial relationship may work for you.
However, if you feel like something is missing or you’re not satisfied with your current situation, that may suggest that you want more. Fortunately, it’s totally possible to build on a relationship that’s superficial to make it stronger. Experiencing new things together, asking each other more questions, and allowing disagreements to play out can definitely bring you closer. That said, you can only turn a superficial relationship into a substantive one if both people are on board. So, provided you and bae crave a more meaningful connection, it’s time to dive in — and dare to go deeper.