How To Spot A Shallow Person—7 Clear Indicators Of Superficiality

Do you think you’re dealing with a shallow person?

Are you getting tired of your friend or partner’s materialistic nature and tendency to gossip and wondering what to do about it? Are you wondering if you’re shallow because someone has called you out for being that way?

If so, this article is for you.

Below, we’ll explore:

  • What it means to be a shallow person
  • Typical signs and common traits of shallow people
  • How to figure out if you’re shallow
  • How to deal with the shallow people in your life

What is a shallow person?

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term ‘shallow’ as it relates to a person as ‘not caring about or involving serious or important things.’

As the term suggests, a shallow person is someone who is not deep. They can also be referred to as a superficial human being. Shallow people tend to love life at a surface level and rarely look deeper into themselves or the world around them to question the true nature of things.

They tend to take things at face value and characteristically lack intellectual and emotional depth.

They are overly concerned about material gain and social status over personal growth and inner connection and can be a nightmare to live with, especially if you’re more inclined to think deeply and enjoy thoughtful philosophical conversations.

How to spot a shallow person

Some telltale signs can help you spot a shallow person. Learn and remember these signs to help you spot the shallow people in your own life, and read on to discover how to deal with them.

1. Shallow people are materialistic

Shallow people are more materialistic than others. They place a lot of value on material assets such as money, looks, the latest trends in fashion, or the latest tech gadgets and items, like the new phone or the latest smartwatch.

They’ll view these items as the cream of the crop and go to great lengths to acquire them, just so they can show them off to their friends.

The shallow person usually goes on shopping sprees without taking a moment to consider if they need what they’re buying. They’re unlikely to care for the environment when they shop but instead choose fast fashion.

The environment and the wise choice of buying reused and recycled goods is not as important to the shallow person as being able to show off their iconic fashion sense.

They will likely have no problem buying products made from unfair and unethical trade, such as from underpaid workers or clothes made from animal skin and fur.

shallow person

2. Shallow people judge others quickly

A person is considered shallow if they only see issues at a superficial level and rarely look deeper. This makes them quick to judge people and even shame others.

They seem to struggle to understand that not everyone has to share their taste, perspectives, and ideas.

If someone does not wear the latest fashion items, agrees with their clique’s opinions, or even wears their hair in a certain way, a shallow person may point out the flaws they perceive in that person to their friends.

They may even laugh and make snide comments. They don’t take time to consider the person in question but instead see them as different and, therefore, wrong.

3. Shallow people love to gossip about other people

Not only do shallow people love to gossip, but they also thrive on it. They get a real kick out of talking about other people’s business, even if that person’s business is private and has absolutely nothing to do with them.

As mentioned above in the previous sign, shallow people can be extremely judgmental. For example, a shallow student in high school may talk to his or her friends about a classmates’ choice of clothes.

They may make nasty jokes about that person’s sense of style, and even worse, their family background. The only thing the shallow person cares about in this context is their social status, not the emotional well-being of the other person.

If someone makes a mistake, a shallow person is likely to point out the mistake in front of others and make jokes about it. Their lack of depth means they don’t usually consider others’ feelings.

If they aren’t leading the gossip, they’ll get excited when they hear about it and will want to know everything. They don’t mind if the gossip is negative or nasty, they just want to know all about it.

4. Shallow people are focused on physical appearances

Shallow people place a lot of emphasis on their physical appearance as well as that of others. They spend a lot of time making sure they look ‘perfect’ – as if such a look exists – and judge or criticize others for how they look.

A shallow person wants to be beautiful and will go to great lengths to preserve that self-image so that they can show off to others. Typically, they want to only be friends with attractive people – where beauty is based on physical appearance and nothing deeper.

They’d rather not associate with people who may be considered socially undesirable.

If the shallow person fails to look how they want to on a given day, they may feel deeply insecure or anxious. They may hide away from the world because their sense of self is based on how they look.

If they don’t look their best, they don’t want the world to see them.

5. Shallow people are bad at healthy relationships

To the shallow person, a relationship is usually a means of achieving validation, acknowledgment, and praise. They want their partner to affirm their self-belief that they are beautiful and perfect. Typically, they are poor communicators.

Unlike their opposite, shallow people are not considered deep and thoughtful. In relationships, shallow people are likely to be self centered and self-absorbed.

They want to get their needs met but may not take the time to consider their partner’s needs. If the partner fails to meet their needs, even occasionally, they may completely disregard them and go seek validation elsewhere. As such, instead of long-term relationships, they have shallow relationships.

6. Shallow people are poor listeners

Given their lack of emotional depth, shallow individuals can be incredibly difficult to have a mature, deep conversation with. If you’re speaking to a shallow person, don’t expect much philosophizing and pondering of the nature of reality.

Shallow people typically discuss other people. As mentioned earlier, they thrive on gossip. If they’re not discussing people, they may focus on material things. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with talking about material things.

There is much to be said about fashion, technology, cars, make-up, and money, but if these are all a person talks about and the conversation rarely, if ever, goes deeper, you may find talking to a shallow person intellectually taxing. Their lack of intellectual depth keeps them from engaging in a mutually beneficial, growth-oriented conversation.

7. Shallow people are not loyal friends

Being friends with a shallow person can lead to disappointment. Since they’re usually concerned with image and status, they may hang around you if you’re doing well and succeeding in life but suddenly be nowhere to be seen when things aren’t going so well.

They usually want to be the center of attention, so they may get in your way or make a scene if they notice that you or other people are not paying attention to them.

They may even throw you under the bus (metaphorically speaking) to turn the spotlight back on them.

For example, if you’re at a bar with a shallow friend and you’re talking to a guy. That shallow friend may feel jealous and neglected and butt in, even going so far as to make fun of you to damage your image in front of the person you were speaking to.

shallow person

Am I shallow?

If you’re wondering if you’re shallow, you’re probably not. Even if others have called you shallow, the fact that you’re genuinely questioning it means you’re probably not as shallow as they’ve said you are. Still, you may possess some characteristics of a shallow person.

All of us do to some degree, but we can usually catch it before it becomes an issue. So, if you think you may be a little shallow and you’re wondering what to do about it, read on. 

Questions to ask yourself

How do I respond to compliments?

When someone compliments you for looking handsome or pretty, how do you respond? Do you get a little shy? Do you say thank you and offer a compliment in return?

Or do you roll your eyes because you believe that the person was stating the obvious? The latter is quite a shallow response.

What are my requirements for a friend?

What does a person need to have, or how do they need to be, to be your friend? Should they be attractive? Should they wear the latest style? Should they be rich and famous?

Or do they have to be any way at all? Is it important that they’re kind? Should they be good listeners?

If your answer is the former – looks, style, money are the only things that matter – then you may be making friends for shallow reasons.

What do I value in a conversation?

What do you like to hear and talk about? Do you love to hear the latest gossip about coworkers or classmates? Do you like hearing about the mistakes of others and discussing other people’s business? Do you like to talk about other people in general, such as what they’re wearing, how they look, and what their background is like?

Or do you prefer to avoid talking about other people’s business? Do you prefer to discuss ideas rather than people? Do you like to talk about other concerns, emotions, concepts, psychology, and philosophy?

Remember that shallow people tend to discuss other people’s business when it has nothing to do with them, so if that describes you, you may be a little shallow.

How to deal with shallow people

You may feel a little frustrated if you’re dealing with a shallow person, especially if that person is your partner. You may have seen them with rose-tinted glasses in the beginning, but now that you’re looking for deeper conversations and a deep relationship with meaning and substance, those are nowhere to be found.

The critical thing to remember when dealing with shallow people is to manage your expectations. If they can’t provide you with the intellectual and emotional fulfillment you’re looking for, then stop trying to bleed a stone and go find that fulfillment elsewhere.

Practice acceptance of shallow people. They are who they are, and they may change at some point, but that doesn’t need to be a concern. Step back and allow them space to be themselves.

However, if their behavior is harming you or others, don’t be afraid to set a boundary. You don’t have to tolerate disrespect or other instances of unfair treatment, whether that person is a coworker or classmate, a friend, a partner, or even a family member.

Understand that just because someone is a shallow person or shows traits common to shallow people, that doesn’t make them a bad person. Sometimes shallowness is a temporary phase, especially in younger people, and fades away as the person grows and matures.

Sometimes, a shallow person may just be caught up in the society we live in, one which places a lot of value and material gain, and social status. They may feel they need to be the way they are to survive.

We all do things to survive that aren’t in our own or other’s best interest, so it’s essential to have some sympathy for the shallow person. Nobody’s perfect, and we go through a thousand phases in our lives before we reach a state of intellectual and emotional maturity.

Even if the shallow person you know is in their later years, they may still come to realize a lack of depth in their lives. When and how a shallow person begins to look at life on a deeper level doesn’t matter.

We all move at our own pace in this unique life of ours.

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