The Difference Between Shallow & Deep Friendships

Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness.” (Euripides)

Friendship may sometimes feel complicated, but it turns out that recognizing your true friends can be surprisingly simple. There are some fundamental elements that every close bond — including those with family and romantic partners — shares: To call someone a friend, the relationship must be long-lasting, it must be positive, and it must involve cooperation. That’s the three-legged stool that friendship rests on.

Remove a leg of that stool, though, and your “friend” may not be there for you when you need them — and being able to count on someone in a crisis, say the researchers, is the whole reason we have friends in the first place.

How can we tell the difference between shallow vs deep friendships?

There are some common pattern that we can identify in both types of friendships.

Shallow Friendships:

  1. A lack of communication
  2. A lack of attention being payed to one another
  3. Not being there when each individual needs social support
  4. Constant criticism
  5. Constantly arguing
  6. A lack of understanding

Deep Friendships:

  1. Constant/Frequent Communication
  2. Paying full and undivided attention to one another
  3. Being there when each individual needs social support
  4. Praise & constructive criticism
  5. Conversing to find a solution to a problem or issue
  6. Full understanding of the other person’s emotions and needs
One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)

Deep friendships have a powerful quality to them because there are very few contexts in which more than one individual has such a deep and intimate relationship with one another. These deep friendships are the one’s that stay with you for the majority of your life. These are the people whom you are unbelievably comfortable being around and talking about whatever is on your mind requires no effort. These are the people that make you feel good after you hang out with them for a day or night because you know that these individuals are essentially like family.

Personal struggles with friendship

My own struggles with friendship have been numerous but let me describe one of the toughest struggles. I have had friends who I grew up with all through my formative years and as time went on, I found us drifting farther and farther away from each other.

You will or have most likely experienced this same thing. At first, it is tough to come to terms with but that’s part of the experience of life. Some old friends turn into acquaintances and new friends take their place. They are still friends of course, but there isn’t the same quality of friendship that used to be there.

I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.” (Jon Katz)

How can we start to develop more deep friendships?

  1. Be Honest — Honesty is vulnerability but this vulnerability is ironically a strength in the eyes of other people. Many people think of vulnerability as a weakness but in this context that is false. Tell the truth or at least don’t lie and you know exactly how to do that.
  2. Meet People — In my experience, you will click with some people that you come across in your life. These people just have that spark that you can intuitively sense.
  3. Take On An Investor Mentality — A friendship is an investment. Both individuals must invest the resources into each other. By following this mentality, you will gain a return on investment that is priceless.