24 Signs You Have a Superficial Friendship (+Helpful Tips)

Do you sometimes wonder if your friendship is as real and deep as it should be? Or do you feel like there’s something missing in your bond? If so, it might be a superficial friendship. 

A superficial friendship is one that lacks depth, genuine affection, and mutual support, often staying at the level of casual chit-chat and hangouts. These friendships can often leave you feeling unfulfilled or even used.

But how do you spot a superficial friendship? In this article, let’s delve into some signs that might indicate you’re in a superficial friendship and some tips on what you can do about it. So let’s dive in!

Communication Issues

1. You Don’t Talk About Deep Topics

When your talks only revolve around general things like weather, TV shows, or gossip, you may not be connecting on a deeper level. Real friendship often includes conversations about personal beliefs, hopes, fears, and dreams. These deeper topics give insight into each other’s lives and foster a stronger connection.

For example: If you notice that your friend only talks about the weather, TV shows, or gossip and never about their dreams, fears, or feelings, you may want to consider if this friendship is more superficial than you thought.

2. They’re Unresponsive

A friend should be someone who’s there for you, someone you can count on. If they often don’t reply to your messages or calls, you may feel like you’re not important to them.

If this is a pattern, you might want to talk to your friend about how this makes you feel. Remember, communication is vital to any relationship.

Fact: A study by Brigham Young University suggested that good friends, and the interactions you have with them, can significantly impact your health, even extending your lifespan.

3. They Rarely Give You Their Full Attention

Everyone gets distracted sometimes. But if they often look at their phone or seem distracted during your interactions, they might not be fully invested in the conversation. This lack of interest can feel disrespectful and can hurt the connection between you two.

Did you know? According to a study, even the presence of a phone on a table (even if it's not being used) can make people feel less connected to each other during a conversation.

Lack Of Support And Interest

4. They’re Absent During Tough Times

A real friend sticks with you through thick and thin. If they’re only around during the fun times and disappear when things get tough, this could be a sign of a superficial friendship.

Tip: If you're going through a tough time and your friend isn't there to support you, it might be worth having a conversation with them about it. They may not even realize they're doing it.

5. They Don’t Support Your Achievements

When you achieve something, your friends should be among the first to celebrate with you. If your friend doesn’t share your joy or acknowledge your achievements, they might not be truly invested in your happiness. Celebrating each other’s successes is a sign of a healthy friendship.

For example: If you just got a promotion at work and your friend brushes it off or doesn’t seem interested, that could be a sign that they’re not genuinely happy with your success.

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.

Thomas Aquinas

6. They Aren’t Excited For You

In a superficial friendship, the lack of excitement isn’t just about your achievements or successes; it’s about you as a person. Your friend might not show genuine enthusiasm for things that matter to you, whether it’s a hobby, a trip you’re planning, or even just a story you want to share.

Their responses might be indifferent, lackluster, or disengaged.

True friends take joy in each other’s individuality and the things that make each person unique, and they express that joy openly and sincerely.

7. They Don’t Show Up For Important Events

Whether it’s your graduation or birthday party, a real friend should want to be there for your big moments. If they often miss these events, it might mean they’re not invested in your friendship.

For example: If your friend frequently makes excuses to skip your important events, they might not value your friendship as much as you do.

8. They Don’t Know Personal Details

If they don’t remember basic facts about you or details from your past conversations, it might suggest a lack of interest or attention. Knowing personal details is often a sign of a deeper connection.

Real friendships are built on mutual understanding and knowing each other well. If you feel like your friend doesn’t know you, it may be time to reconsider the friendship.

Fact: According to a study from the University of Kansas, it takes about 50 hours of socializing to go from acquaintance to casual friend, an additional 40 hours to become a real friend, and a total of 200 hours to become a close friend.

9. They’re Not Interested In Your Work Or Hobbies

If they show no interest in what you’re passionate about, it might indicate they’re not genuinely interested in knowing you. Having common interests can be great, but a real friend would also show interest in your personal passions.

For example: If you’re passionate about painting and they never ask about your artwork or your progress, they might not be invested in your personal interests.

Disrespect And Negativity

10. They’re Quick To Anger

Consistent anger over small things can lead to a tense and uncomfortable environment. If your friend has a short fuse and it often leads to awkward situations, it could be a problem.

Tip: Speak up about how their anger makes you feel. If they refuse to change, it might be time to create some distance.

11. They Make You Feel Bad About Yourself

Friends should lift each other up, not bring each other down. If you’re often left feeling bad about yourself after spending time with them, it might be time to reconsider the relationship.

For instance: If after every hangout, you find yourself doubting your worth or abilities because of their comments, that’s not a good sign.

12. They Make You Feel Anxious

Friendship should bring joy and comfort. If you often feel anxious around them, this might not be a healthy friendship.

You could reflect on why you’re feeling anxious. Is it because of their actions or words? Address these issues directly or consider seeking advice from a counselor or trusted friend.

Did you know? Based on a survey, about 84% of people have at least one "toxic" friend who makes them feel anxious or uncomfortable.

13. They Don’t Respect Your Personal Space

Everyone needs some time to themselves. If your friend doesn’t respect your need for personal space, it might be an issue. If they’re constantly messaging you or showing up at your place uninvited, it’s a clear sign they’re not respecting your boundaries.

Related: How to Set Healthy Boundaries With Friends (19 Ways + Tips)

14. They’re Quick To Point Out Your Flaws

Nobody’s perfect, but constant criticism can be harmful. They might not be a good friend if they focus more on your flaws than your strengths. A good friend would approach your flaws in a kind and constructive manner, not use them as ammunition to make you feel bad.

15. You Feel Drained After Spending Time With Them

If you’re always feeling tired after hanging out with them, it might not be a healthy relationship. Good friendships should energize you, not drain you. If you consistently feel this way, it might be time to take a step back and reassess.

Lack of Effort Or Investment

16. It’s A One-Sided Effort

Friendship is a two-way street. If you’re the only one making an effort to communicate or make plans, it’s not balanced. If you’re always the one to text first or propose plans, and they never take the initiative, it might show a lack of investment in the relationship.

Tip: A healthy friendship requires effort from both parties. Try holding back a bit and see if they step up.

17. They Ignore You When Around Other Friends

Feeling included and valued is a fundamental part of any relationship. If you’re often feeling ignored or overlooked, or they tend to ignore you when other friends are around, it might suggest a lack of respect or care. 

18. They Flake On Plans

If they frequently cancel plans at the last minute without a good reason, they might not be respecting your time or relationship.

For example: If they often cancel plans for no good reason, or you find them hanging out with other friends when they’ve said they’re “too busy,” it’s a sign of disrespect.

As the saying goes:

Actions speak louder than words.

19. You’re Always The Backup Plan

Being someone’s backup plan isn’t fair. If you’re only invited when their other plans fall through, they might not value your friendship as they should.

Tip: You deserve to be someone's priority. If you feel like you're always a backup, it might be time to reconsider the friendship.

Issues With Trust And Control

20. They Try To Control You

When friends try to control your actions or decisions, it shows a lack of respect for your autonomy. Friendship should be about understanding and respecting each other’s choices.

For example, your friend often tries to:

  • Tell you what to wear.
  • Decide who you should hang out with.
  • Make choices for you without your consent.
Tip: Stand your ground and make it clear that while you appreciate their concern, you're capable of making your own decisions.

21. They Don’t Trust You

Trust is a vital part of any relationship. If they often question your actions or intentions without reason, it shows a lack of trust.

You could open up a conversation about why they might be feeling this way. It might be time to reevaluate the relationship if they can’t trust you without cause.

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.

Ernest Hemingway

Relationship Imbalance

22. They Only Need You When They Want Something

If they mostly reach out when they need help or a favor, it could mean that they see you more as a resource than as a friend.

For instance: If they only call when they need a ride or help with work but rarely check in on you otherwise, it might suggest a one-sided relationship.

23. Their Mood Dictates The Friendship

When a friend’s mood always dictates the nature of your interactions, it could signify a superficial friendship. This means that your friend’s emotions control the mood, topics, and even the frequency of your conversations.

For example: If they’re feeling cheerful, you might spend much time together laughing and having fun. But if they’re feeling down or stressed, they might avoid you or only talk about their problems.

Tip: Healthy friendships require consistency. It might be helpful to address this issue with them directly or seek advice from a counselor.

24. They Take More Than They Give

A sign of a superficial friendship is when they’re always on the receiving end and give very little back. Friendship is about mutual giving and taking. If you’re always giving and they’re always taking, it’s an imbalance that can make you feel exhausted and used.

As Benjamin Franklin said:

Friendship is a two-way street, not a one-way lane.

For example: If you’re constantly lending them money, giving them rides, or supporting them emotionally, but they’re never there when you need a favor or a shoulder to lean on, this could signify an imbalanced friendship.

Each category represents a different aspect of the relationship that may be contributing to its superficiality. If you’re experiencing a large number of these signs in your friendship, it might be beneficial to reassess the value and health of this relationship.

Always remember, every person deserves to be in respectful, supportive, and balanced relationships.

Ways To Handle Superficial Friendships

Navigating superficial friendships can be challenging. But it’s possible to manage these relationships. Here are some tips:

Open Communication About Feelings

Opening up about your feelings is the first step in addressing a superficial friendship. It’s important to communicate honestly and directly. Use “I” statements to express your feelings without blaming the other person. 

For example, you might say, “I feel hurt when I’m only invited out as a backup plan.”

Tip: Pick a calm, private setting for this conversation. This helps create a safe space where both parties can express their feelings without fear of judgment or interruption.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Setting boundaries is a vital part of any healthy relationship. Boundaries help define what behavior you find acceptable and what makes you uncomfortable. 

In a friendship, this could mean: 

  • Deciding how often you’re willing to meet
  • What favors you’re okay with doing
  • What topics you’re comfortable discussing

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.

Brene Brown

Decide Whether to Repair or End the Friendship

If a friendship feels consistently superficial and unsatisfying, you might need to decide whether it’s worth repairing or if it’s time to part ways.

Consider factors like:

  • The duration of your friendship
  • Shared history
  • The other person’s willingness to change their behavior

Related: 20+ Signs You Should End a Friendship

It’s natural for friendships to evolve or even end. Not all relationships are meant to last forever, and it’s okay to outgrow friendships.

Tip: Make a list of pros and cons. It can help you visualize the impact of this friendship on your life and make an informed decision.

Seek Advice and Help if Necessary

Don’t hesitate to seek advice from trusted people in your life, like family members, other friends, or mentors. They can provide perspective and guidance based on their own experiences. 

If dealing with a superficial friendship causes significant stress or anxiety, talking to a mental health professional might also be helpful. Therapy or counseling can provide valuable tools to navigate complicated friendships and help you understand your feelings better.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a superficial friendship become a deep friendship?

Yes, a superficial friendship can grow into a deeper one. But both friends need to be open to sharing more about their lives and feelings. And they need to be there for each other, not just when things are fun but also when things are tough.

Does the length of a friendship determine its depth?

Not always. You might have a friend you’ve known for years, but your relationship stays on the surface. And you might have a friend you’ve only known for a short time, but you share deep connections. 

The depth of a friendship is more about how well you understand and support each other, not how long you’ve been friends.

How can I avoid falling into a superficial friendship?

If you want to avoid superficial friendships, it might help to:

Be open from the start: Show your real self and share your feelings. This can help set the tone for a deep friendship.

Choose friends who are open, too: Look for friends who are willing to share about their lives and their feelings. It’s a two-way street.

Look for mutual sharing: A deep friendship is a two-way street. Look for friends who are also willing to share their own experiences and feelings with you.

Find shared values: Finding friends who share your values and interests can often lead to deeper connections. Shared values can create a strong base for mutual understanding and respect.

Are superficial friendships bad?

No, superficial friendships are not inherently bad. They can serve many purposes, like filling social needs, providing fun and leisure, and broadening your social circle. They can be enjoyable and easygoing without the complexities that sometimes come with deeper friendships.

However, if all your friendships are superficial and you crave deeper connections, you might find them unsatisfying. You might feel lonely even when you’re with your friends or feel like your friends don’t truly know or understand you.

Whether a superficial friendship is good or bad depends on your individual needs and desires in your relationships.

Is it normal to have more superficial friends than close friends?

Yes, having more superficial friends than close friends is completely normal. Many people have a wider circle of casual or superficial friends and a smaller inner circle of close, deep friendships.

This is because deep friendships often require more time and emotional energy. Maintaining many deep friendships at once is challenging because each one needs attention and care. 
On the other hand, superficial friendships can be easier to maintain because they don’t require as much time or emotional investment.

As long as you have a balance of friendships that satisfies you and fulfills your social needs, it’s perfectly okay to have more superficial friends than close friends.

What’s the best way to handle conflicts in a superficial friendship?

Handling conflicts in a superficial friendship can be tricky because you might not feel as comfortable talking about serious issues. Here are some tips:

Be honest but kind: Share your feelings, but try not to blame or criticize.

Listen to their side: They might have reasons for their behavior that you don’t know about.

Decide what you want: If the conflict makes you realize you want a deeper friendship, you can try to make that happen. But if you decide you’re okay with the friendship staying superficial, that’s fine too.


Recognizing the signs of a superficial friendship isn’t always easy, but it’s a crucial step toward finding fulfilling relationships. Remember, friendships should add value to your life, bringing joy, support, and a sense of understanding. 

If you feel your friendship lacks depth, it’s okay to address it and even make necessary changes to create more satisfying and genuine connections. After all, life is too short for friendships that don’t make you feel loved and appreciated.

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Robby is a multimedia editor at UpJourney with a journalism and communications background.

When she's not working, Robby transforms into an introverted art lover who indulges in her love for sports, learning new things, and sipping her favorite soda. She also enjoys unwinding with feel-good movies, books, and video games. She's also a proud pet parent to her beloved dog, Dustin.