Superficial Person & How to Deal With One

I had a male client tell me about his superficial, plastic girlfriend, that’s all he could talk about so I decided to do some research on the topic and this is what I found.

Yeah, right!

This song called “Plastic” by New Order sums up superficial women: Check it out!

Superficial Person & How to Deal With One

What does Superficial mean?

The dictionary defines superficial as ‘’Existing or occurring at or on the surface‘ or ‘appearing to be true or real only until examined more closely’. The antonyms of superficial include genuine and authentic. So, if we apply the same concept to personality, superficial personality refers to someone who is not genuine or is inauthentic. In other words, a person with superficial personality traits lacks depth or is shallow.

Plastic, artificial. A superficial person is someone who only cares about their appearance.


  • They lack opinions.
  • They are concerned about their physical appearance.
  • Their relationships are one-sided.
  • They lack intellectual depth.
  • They do not say what they mean.
  • They do not contribute their part/role.
  • They are judgmental.
  • They frequently engage in gossiping.
  • They like to be in the limelight

“People say sometimes that Beauty is superficial. That may be so. But at least it is not so superficial as Thought is. To me, Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”― Oscar Wilde If we get our self-esteem from superficial places, from our popularity, appearance, business success, financial situation, health, any of these, we will be disappointed, because no one can guarantee that we’ll have them tomorrow. Kathy Ireland In terms of description, a superficial person has a focus on outward appearances and disregards the internal depth of people for things. They prioritize taking care of their self and are not concerned about others in their life. In relationships, they do not fulfill the role of a reliable friend or a genuine lover. Such people are not attentive to the needs and emotions of others and are more focused on receiving rather than giving.

They are concerned about their physical appearance.

People with superficial personality traits are concerned about how they appear to others. They spend a lot of time and energy making themself look attractive and appealing to others. They do not focus on their inner self rather, their priority is to beautify their external shell. They seek similar external attractive qualities in others and evaluate people based on whether they are physically appealing. In short, they do not look inside a person and notice their feelings, behaviors, or thoughts. And they don’t spend time trying to know another person.

Their relationship is one-sided.


In relationships, people with superficial personality traits focus on themselves rather than prioritizing what their partner wants, needs, or feels. Instead of a balanced relationship where there is reciprocity and give-and-take, superficial relationships are centered around one person. They appear to be selfish and focus on making friends and connections only if they see benefits for themself in them.                  While they may not have an opinion on important issues, superficial people do have opinions on others, especially when it comes to their appearance. They might make a snarky comment about someone’s job, or give them a backhanded compliment about their outfit or hairstyle.[2]

  • Superficial people constantly criticize others, and no topic is off-limits to them. If you feel uncomfortable with what they’re saying, leave the conversation, or ask them why they feel that way.
  • If they’re willing to listen, you can also encourage them to change their perspective about someone. For instance, you could ask, “Maybe you can put yourself in their shoes?” Or, say, “I think you two have more in common than you might think.”

 Rather than kindness and loyalty, superficial people prioritize appearance when it comes to their friends and romantic partners. They might date someone just because they’re “hot,” even if they don’t share a real connection with them. In their mind, being seen with attractive people boosts their attractiveness, which is the ultimate goal at the end of the day.[4]

  • If you constantly hang out around people who focus on outward appearances, it may negatively impact your self-esteem. Consider limiting your interactions with them so you can take care of yourself properly. Remember to get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and acknowledge your good qualities to feel your best.

They’re self-centered.

 Whether it’s deciding what time you’re meeting up with them for dinner or where you’re going to hang out afterward, a superficial person wants everything their way. They don’t consider anyone else’s needs, and they tend to ignore other people’s opinions, ideas, and concerns.[5]

  • To deal with a self-centered friend, think about how their behavior bothers you and communicate your concerns to them. For instance, if they never ask how you’re doing, you could say, “I feel upset when you only talk about yourself. It would be nice if you would ask me how I’m doing.”
  • Alternatively, set boundaries with them so they don’t walk over you. If your friend takes your time for granted, you might say, “I can only stay out until 9 PM because I have work tomorrow. If you want us to stay out later, we’ll have to meet up another time.”

They don’t listen.

 Most superficial people believe that they’re better than others, so they typically don’t give anyone their full, undivided attention. If you’re speaking to a superficial person, they might be looking at their phone or zoning out completely; in other words, they’re disrespectful and rude in conversations.[6]

  • Consider highlighting the importance of your discussion before talking to a superficial person. You could say, “I have something really important to talk about, and I need your help.” This might encourage them to pay attention to you, at least at the beginning of your conversation.
  • If you keep getting frustrated with someone for their lack of listening skills, interpret it as a sign to walk away from the conversation. A superficial person can be difficult to manage, and there’s no point in getting upset about behavior that you have no control over.

They’re attention-seeking.

 To superficial people, there’s no such thing as “good” or “bad” attention—they’re satisfied with whatever type of recognition they can get. They enjoy bragging about all of their accomplishments, and they might even exaggerate them to sound cooler.[8]

  • If you’re hanging out with someone who boasts about themself frequently, sit back and let them enjoy their limelight. If they’re truly your friend, try to be happy for them and celebrate their wins
  • However, if their behavior gets out of hand, it might be time to establish boundaries with them. You might say, “I always support you, so I would appreciate it if you could let me have my own moment to shine. If not, I’m going to take a step back from our relationship until you change your behavior.

They’re entitled.

 In a superficial person’s mind, the whole world revolves around them, so they deserve everything they want without working for it. Whether it’s a job or some other opportunity, superficial people aren’t afraid to make outrageous demands, and many are rude to service workers (or anyone that they believe is “below” them).[10]

  • If you’re with a superficial person who is being rude to others, let them know that their behavior isn’t acceptable. You might say, “That was not okay, and I think you need to apologize to them.” Remember, their behavior also reflects you if you stand by and watch it happen.

They lack intellectual depth.

Superficial people have a broad knowledge of various subjects and they are well-informed. However, their knowledge may be factual and lack depth. It’s not that they have a low IQ, it’s just that they do not apply the knowledge they have acquired, practically. We can say that they lack emotional intelligence especially since they are unconcerned about the emotions of others and don’t use that information to make their relationships meaningful. They also don’t have certain social skills like gratitude, grace, manners, etc. similarly, they do not go beyond the surface when analyzing someone to understand them. So, when they talk to others, their conversation shows that it is only a superficial and surface-level discussion.

They do not say what they mean.

A person with superficial personality traits may make shallow remarks either directly or indirectly. Even in cases, where they do comment positively, they don’t mean it as their focus is on noticing the physical appearance of another person and not on trying to understand them. It is apparent when their emotional display is not in line with their thoughts. Furthermore, they can backstab or go against people as soon as an opportunity arises.

They are judgmental.

When evaluating or analyzing others, people with superficial personality traits adopt a very critical approach. They disregard the beliefs of people who are different from them. Furthermore, their ability to analyze and understand the feelings and thoughts of others is usually incorrect. They don’t understand that: “When we generalize and judge people quickly without taking ample time, we’ve chosen a shortcut. It’s superficial of us, and a lack of wisdom.”― Assegid Habtewold When someone else does not understand their perspective, they get distressed and develop negative opinions about them without any authentic evidence. They may use the defense mechanism of projection. For example, if they are feeling jealous of someone, instead of admitting it, they would say that the other person is jealous of them. Similarly, they might make up negative rumors about them.

What does it mean to be a superficial person?

A superficial person has a focus on surface-level qualities. They judge a book by its cover and do not go deep inside to read it. They are overly concerned about their appearance and their self-image. Furthermore, they have a strong need to be admired and recognized by others be it for their power, physical appearance, and financial status. These people lack authenticity in their character.

Is being superficial a bad thing?

Being superficial is not always a bad thing. Physical attraction is important in a relationship. Similarly, it is good to care about your health, your appearance, and overall maintaining your lifestyle. However, it can be wrong when the motive for such behaviors is to impress others. Similarly, when this behavior goes overboard, it can be maladaptive and unhealthy for a person.

What is a superficial relationship?

A superficial relationship is based on impressing others. It is a surface-level relationship that lacks depth. Both people are concerned about their looks and self-image. They just have fun together and flirt with each other. It is not a relationship in which time, energy, and effort are invested to get to know the other person and be there for them in the good and bad parts of life.
Therapeutic Deep Tissue, Swedish Massage, Sports Injury Massage Therapy in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Ca.

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