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10 Characteristics of Shallow People (and How to Spot One)

by Madel

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Key points

  • Shallow individuals often prioritize physical appearance and material possessions.
  • They typically avoid deep, meaningful conversations and relationships.
  • Despite their behaviors, shallow people can evolve with guidance and patience.

We meet all kinds of people throughout the course of our lives. And, by now, we’ve all probably accepted the fact that not everyone is worth keeping. There are some who can turn out to be shallow people, while others can simply be impossible to get along with. 

Take someone who can be described as “shallow.” No matter how much effort you put into having a good relationship with them, their lack of depth will make you lose interest sooner or later. Whether they only see things on the surface level or are obsessed with showing off, shallow people are challenging to deal with especially if you value quality relationships.

There’s nothing wrong with being selective when it comes to your social circle. So, if you want to know how to spot shallow people, keep reading!

Why do we value depth in people?

As humans, needing social connections is intrinsic to us. We all long for friendships, support, romance, or simply having enjoyable conversations with someone. 

But we don’t just look for fleeting interactions or trivial exchanges. Having real, meaningful relationships is valuable to us.

According to psychology, deep relationships are important to us because they also positively affect our overall well-being. Moreover, these kinds of relationships help us to thrive.

This is why it’s natural for us to be drawn to depth when it comes to the people we meet. For example, a study has found that conversations beyond small talk are more enjoyable and can lead to stronger connections.

Aside from having good conversations with them, a deep person can also be naturally captivating to us because they:

When we have deep people in our lives, we also thrive through their generosity, intelligence, and understanding. In short, these people are for keeps!

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Characteristics of shallow people

Looking at your current social groups, you may want to separate the shallow people from the deep ones.

Here’s how to evaluate and identify those who may not be adding value to your connections.

1. They give more value to physical appearances

In the era of online dating, you may have found yourself being judged (or judging others) based solely on your appearance. Once we look at someone’s photo from our screens, it’s easy to weed them out by simply swiping left if they’re not exactly our “type.”

It goes the same in real life. Some people have the tendency of valuing physical appearances more than our personality, intellect, and other capabilities. So watch out if you think someone in your life is taking this Tinder mentality too seriously!

2. They are not capable of thoughtful conversations

When you’ve only just met someone, it’s normal to start having conversations through small talk. But, if you’ve known them for a good amount of time, and all you talk about with them is the weather, then it can easily get boring and frustrating.

For some of us, it’s important to be stimulated intellectually and emotionally in conversations. If you’re this kind of person, then a shallow person may not be someone you’d want to have a relationship with.

3. They love attention and drama

Being the center of attention and drama is something that excites shallow people. Half the time, they’re talking about themselves; and the other half, they’re exaggerating every detail of the latest gossip.

Having someone in your life who is self-absorbed and seeks complicated situations can be toxic. If you want to maintain quality relationships, then look for people who don’t make too much fuss about the superficial things in life.

4. They lack deeper emotions

In the field of psychology, having a “shallow affect” means a person has the inability to respond with appropriate emotions to a given situation. In relation to daily life, you may struggle to sense emotional depth when engaging with shallow people.

Imagine feeling really upset and looking for support. If you find yourself with a shallow person in this situation, you may not get the kind of comfort and understanding that you’re hoping for. They may simply brush it off and say, “Why don’t you just cheer up?”

5. They lack meaningful relationships

From flat conversations to superficial remarks, there’s little wonder why shallow people may lack deeper relationships with others. They may frequently find themselves hopping from one friend group or romantic partner to another because they struggle to form connections that last.

In some cases, they may be the ones who would bail out of a relationship just because something “better” came along. Their lack of loyalty can also be a reason why they can’t have a constant presence in our lives.

6. They are materialistic

There are people who measure worth based on how much one earns, how big their house is, or how many gadgets they have. Those who lack depth focus more on material assets, and even judge others for not having much to show.

If you want to be appreciated for your inner wealth, then it’s best to spend your energy on people who don’t care much about price tags.

If you want to learn more about this, here’s our article with examples of materialism, and how this state of mind can impact your mental health.

7. They are conformists

Some people struggle to find their true sense of identity because they tend to follow where the crowd goes. They don’t care much about standing up for something, because they’d rather fit in or feel accepted.

If you sense that someone puts on different masks depending on who they’re with or where they are, then it’s a warning sign that you’re dealing with someone who’s shallow.

8. They are obsessed with being “cool” and “trendy”

Being materialistic and conformists, shallow people always feel the need to follow the latest trends. They obsess about looking cool, no matter how much it would cost them.

Rather than changing styles every season and having the newest smartphone in hand, people with depth would put more value on quality, authenticity, and contentment.

And that’s what we should all strive for.

9. They like to show off

A scroll through a shallow person’s social media page can fool you into thinking that they’re living the best life 24/7.

Sometimes, they even do things just so they can post it on their feed and let everyone know that they’re having a better time than the rest of us.

Shallow people can easily become pretentious because they like to flaunt a grand lifestyle even when it’s not always the reality that they’re living.

10. They don’t have a long-term vision

Because they’re always chasing the next cool thing, shallow people may lose sight of their long-term goals (if they do have them.) It can seem like all they care about is what would make their image look good at present.

There’s nothing wrong with having fun and feeling like you’re on top of the world. But we must also be grounded by a deeper purpose and aim to build things that last.

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Wrapping up

While it’s hard to form great connections with shallow people, they are not really bad people per se. If we do have a loved one who has the tendency to be shallow, we must be patient with them as they might still have the potential to evolve.

If we’re willing, we can show them kindness by not judging them or completely cutting ties with them. Rather, we can guide them in realizing that they can still make meaningful changes in how they live their lives and interact with others.

After all, we all have something to learn from each other no matter how much depth we think we already have.

Do you find it hard to recognize shallow people in your life? What’s your favorite telltale sign of a shallow person? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Madel Asuncion AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Writer and advocate for young people’s mental health. Firm believer of validating one’s feelings, prioritizing the inner-self, and finding happiness in a plate of chicken curry.

2 thoughts on “10 Characteristics of Shallow People (and How to Spot One)”

  1. Being superficial or shallow, is often a form of self-protection.
    These people prefer to not look to close at themselves, for fear they might not line what they will see. Overtime they
    At convince themselves that there is nothing more to who they are than the outer persona that they present to others. You have to want to grow, to move beyond the limitations of a fixed self. So many people stay stuck in the box they call their life. You
    Have to be willing to face your self, with compassion, and honesty.

  2. I’m not sure how I got to your article, but here it is. A new term/description of my newly separated husband of 38 years! 38 years later I now know that we never connected over more than the shallow. As age has only deepened his shallow(but wouldn’t that make him deeper?), let’s say further shallowed his shallow, it finally becomes as clear as a clean shallow tide pool that this is the cornerstone of our supposedly failed marriage. Shallow makes it hard to understand the nuanced beauty of relationships, right? He left. I wanted to hang in there and keep trying to work things out. So sad. Thank you for this added perspective.


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