Surface-Level Friendship – What Is It, And What Can You Do?

Surface-level friendships are more common than we imagine, in fact as adults, most of our friendships are surface-level friendships. That is because we meet a lot of people with whom we don’t deepen our friendship, that’s not necessarily bad in most cases, it is what it is as long as you have real friends as well besides those surface-level friendships.

What is surface-level friendship?

A surface-level friendship is the type of friendship that doesn’t become very personal but instead stays on polite and “safe” topics to talk about, like weather, work, etc.

Most people have this type of surface-level friendship, and many times they are also circumstantial friendships. Friends you meet with them in a specific circle like work, school, or a hobby.

Usually, when we hang out with those types of friends, we feel like we completed a task,”I had to meet this friend” not like we really enjoyed the time with them and had a meaningful conversation. I mean, you can enjoy a low-commitment conversation from time to time, but it is not something that will make you jump from bed to meet with them again.

Read Also: Do Friendships Last Forever?

Should you go from surface-level friendship to real friendship?

There are situations when a surface-level friendship becomes a real friendship with time. For that to happen, you need to be much more open with those friends and start talking more openly and personally with them.

real friendship

You don’t have to do that with all the friends that you consider just surface-level friends, but you can do it in certain situations.

One of those situations is when you don’t really have close or intimate friends to hang out with and spend quality time, and you are actively trying to make new friends.

Another situation is when you feel like you would really want to know more about those friends and think you will get along pretty well.

And the last situation that comes to my mind is when you are very sociable, and you would like to get to know better most of your friends and acquaintances better.

The last one is me, I usually open up to people easily and see if it’s reciprocated and if I like the person when it opens up to me. I’m not known for my patience, that’s my wife. I want to know who I’m talking to and draw a conclusion fast enough not to spend more time getting to know them. It’s not the best way, but it is how I’ve done things all the time, and it’s the way that comes naturally to me.

That doesn’t mean that my conclusion is white or black like I would never talk again with that person, or I would want to be a close friend with them. Sometimes the conclusion is that they are surface-level friends that I can joke with and talk about silly things, but nothing more serious than that.

Do not take things personally, if someone isn’t opening up to you, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t like you, maybe they don’t want new friends, maybe they are afraid, maybe they don’t trust you in the beginning, there can be a lot of reason for someone wanting to remain a surface-level friend with you.

Does the time you spend with a person impact what type of friendship you have?

The amount of time you spend with a person or how long you have known them doesn’t necessarily remove them from the surface-level friends’ list.

Yea, it’s kind of weird to think that you have known people for years and spend a lot of time with them, but you don’t really open up to them and talk about personal things, but it happens, and I bet most of us have this type of friendship.

It can be their fault, I know people that don’t open up to anyone other than their spouse, and I’m not sure even about that, but you still can have a good enough time with them to keep the friendship going.

My wife and I have this type of friends, and we meet with them to play board games, and have a drink or dinner at a restaurant, but then we get home and realize that we still don’t know much about them and what they like.

At the same time, there are people you talk with once a few months and feel like you know them better with every conversation you have. This might be a situation where your friends are far away and pretty busy, but this proves that the amount of time you spend with a friend can be irrelevant to the friendship type.

What is the reason for that surface-level discussion?

If you have surface-level friends and want them to become real friends, you must see why you are just surface-level friends in the first place.

If it’s a circumstantial friendship and you think it can be more than that, and only that is the reason for surface-level discussions, sure, you try to strengthen the friendship.

But if those people never open up to you despite you trying because they have personal reasons for that, trying to get the friendship to the next level is nearly impossible. You will never know their exact reason since they are not open to you and let you know why they don’t want to become your friends, but that’s fine, you should not push things further and keep them as surface-level friends might be the best you can do.

Make sure you do your best to understand why a friendship is a surface-level one and what you can do about it, and also if you should do something in the first place.

Read also: How To Keep In Touch With Former Coworkers?


Surface-level friendships are quite common, and they have their place in our life, so don’t get rid of them. Also, don’t try to force those types of friendships to become real friendships all the time. Sometimes it might be a great idea, but sometimes you might end up in an awkward situation, so think carefully before trying this.

As I said, most of the time, we don’t really want to spend time with those friends, but from time to time, a chill, non-comital hang out might be all we need to take a break from daily life.