The one thing I love most about human relationships is the deep connections you establish through meaningful conversations.
Unfortunately, some people aren’t built for that. They are superficial, which means they don’t much care for what lies beyond the surface – on the contrary, they often busy themselves with keeping up appearances.
So, how can you tell you’re dealing with a superficial person? Here are the 11 unmistakable signs.
1) They obsess over their appearance
Superficial people are vain.
‘Tis the truth.
If there’s a mirror, they’ll probably look at it and fuss over their hair, outfit, or makeup for ages.
You’ll often notice them stopping by reflective surfaces on the street, taking a pocket mirror out of their bag and adjusting their eyebrows, or combing through their hair every five seconds.
This is because they’re way too self-aware of how they look at any given moment, trying to come across as the most polished version of themselves.
2) They love to comment on other people’s looks
The more you concentrate on how you look, the more you project that focus onto others – and superficial people easily fall into the trap, comparing themselves to everyone around them as they go on about their day.
I once went on a holiday with a friend. He took great care to put together the most fashionable outfits he could think of. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but once we got to our destination, he proceeded to comment on the looks of one stranger after another.
“She seriously needs to get a haircut.”
“What even is that outfit?”
“Those shoes don’t match her dress at all.”
It wasn’t long before I got self-conscious about my own appearance, wondering what he thought about my own fashion style.
3) They assign a lot of importance to designer clothes
The very same friend once told me he only wears vintage jewelry and aspires to have a higher income so that he can walk into a store and buy Gucci clothes without worrying about the price tag.
As I see it, there are two types of people who buy designer clothes: those who buy them for their durability, quality, and sustainability, and those who buy them in order to look rich.
My friend was the latter. He wanted to impress others and seem “cool” as it were, showing the world just how stylish and expensive his lifestyle was.
But what he didn’t realize was that most people don’t care.
As Morgan Housel says in The Psychology of Money,
“No one is impressed with your possessions as much as you are. You might think you want a fancy car or a nice watch. But what you probably want is respect and admiration. And you’re more likely to gain those things through kindness and humility than horsepower and chrome.”
4) They don’t care about the deep stuff
Once the conversation turns philosophical or political, they switch off.
Superficial people like to focus on tangible things in their environment, things they can see and understand, be it gossip, material things, or celebrity culture.
If you start talking about life after death or Schrödinger’s cat, they’re likely to get bored and direct the flow of the conversation elsewhere.
Unfortunately, this also means they can be quite difficult to build genuine connections with as they’re not keen to dig deeper.
And this manifests in various ways, including…
5) Questions aren’t exactly their forte
Have you ever had a conversation with someone, only to realize that literally anyone could replace you and the other person wouldn’t mind?
Superficial people are like that. Their lack of interest in you is obvious when they go on long tangents about themselves or about the latest gossip, not asking you any questions and not caring much whether you contribute or not.
Chatting with them can get very boring as it begins to dawn on you that they aren’t looking to engage in a dialogue. They just want a pair of ears.
Well, apart from when you’ve got some juicy news about who did what with whom and where.
6) They revel in gossip
For people who are superficial, the most vital element in life is to keep up the pace in the game of appearances. The way they are perceived is of utmost importance to them.
Which is also why they care so much about the ABCs of the social world around them.
They want to know all the latest scandals, drama, conflicts, and faux pas – partly for the fun of it and partly because it helps them understand what they ought to avoid in order to keep their image intact.
And while they will excitedly listen to you spill all the tea and will have strong opinions on who did what, this is one of the few areas in life where they show strong engagement.
7) They lack a sense of conviction when it counts
Most days, they don’t really have an opinion about anything important.
Who should be elected into office? A shrug of the shoulders.
Isn’t it terrible that we’re destroying our planet? Sure, but meh.
If you’re not talking about interpersonal relationships, they simply aren’t too bothered.
Unfortunately, this also means that superficial people can be quite easily swayed by speakers with excellent rhetoric skills but no moral compass.
Since they don’t spend enough time researching important issues and creating their own opinion, they are likely to just go with the flow and return to the drama of their own life as soon as they can.
8) They use relationships as social leverage
A superficial person cares about relationships, alright. But it’s not the authentic behind-the-scenes connections they’re after.
It’s what’s on display.
They will go out of their way to become friends with popular people, skyrocketing their social status in the process.
They’re constantly on the lookout for those who are deemed successful, attractive, or just very cool, and think of all the ways they could be associated with them in order to up their social game.
For a person like that, relationships aren’t meaningful in and of themselves. They are a means to an end.
9) They’re obsessed with celebrity culture
Celebrities sort of establish what’s in and what’s out. Not that most of the world pays any attention – I mean, billions of people have more important things to busy themselves with than to read about a celebrity’s latest outfit on their way to the grocery store.
But superficial people thrive on this kind of stuff.
They love to keep up to date with all the celebrity drama, from romance and friendships gone sour to fashion faux pas.
Their goal is to watch celebrities’ behavior, copy what works, and discard what doesn’t.
10) They are judgmental and narrow-minded
One of the biggest signs you’re dealing with someone superficial is that they’re not open to new perspectives and ways of thinking.
Unless it’s coming from a celebrity or someone else they admire, of course.
In general, they just love to stay in their own bubble where everything is comfortable and familiar, so anything strange or unknown feels scary.
They shield themselves with judgment, mocking remarks, or avoidance.
11) They lack self-awareness
A complete lack of self-awareness is the cherry on top, so to speak.
The problem with superficial people is that they’re not interested in diving below the surface, and this applies to their own sense of self, too.
They don’t self-reflect. They don’t think about their weaknesses and how they could improve. They’re quite content as they are, and if you provide some constructive feedback, you’re likely to be met with complete disagreement.
It’s a shame, really.
“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”