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Christian Friendship - Why Shallowness is Poison to Your Relationships

Updated on March 31, 2015

Cultivating and nurturing good Christian friendship is an important part of Catholic spiritual growth. But there are some influences in our lives that make it difficult for us to keep our friendships healthy. Shallowness is slow poison to any friendship.

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The Art of Being a Good Friend: How to Bring Out the Best in Your Friends and in Yourself
The Art of Being a Good Friend: How to Bring Out the Best in Your Friends and in Yourself

This classic work takes a deep look at friendship from a Christian perspective. It talks a lot about what it takes to be a good friend.


What Do We Mean by "Shallow"?

What is shallowness? We’ve all heard the word - and probably used it - regarding relationships or describing certain people. We have a sense of it. But can we define it?

Well, human nature is both physical and spiritual. Analogously, we often talk about the physical part of human nature as being on the outermost part of the body. We say things like “Beauty is only skin deep.” The spiritual part of human nature is associated with the heart. So when we call someone shallow, we mean that they are only interested in the physical. A materialist is shallow. The hedonist is shallow.

Let's Be Honest With Ourselves

We ARE Shallow!

You and I are shallow too, if we’re honest with ourselves. Why? Because being deep is lots of work! It requires us to develop an inner life, to be introspective and honest with ourselves, to be in touch with God on a regular basis in prayer. It’s so much easier to stay on the surface, to pamper the body and to ignore the spirit.

At least we’re struggling against our shallowness. That is why you’re reading these articles, isn’t it? It’s why I did the research that led me to write them. And that struggle to become deeper people is good for our friendship. Why?

Why Is Shallowness So Toxic?

There are four stages necessary for any human relationship to flourish. We need to build trust, intimacy, commitment, and love. These elements build on each other, and each one requires a greater depth of spirit to accomplish. Intimacy requires us to know ourselves - to share ourselves so our friends will share themselves with us. Commitment requires willpower. And love requires the depth of heart necessary to make ourselves a gift for others. The more we indulge in the purely physical dimension of our nature, the more difficult it becomes for us to give ourselves to anyone in a true relationship. But the deeper we become as people, the better our relationships become.

Am I Shallow?

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Being shallow means focusing only on the physicalBeing shallow destroys trust and intimacy, two vital parts of any human relationshipSelfishness is a form of shallowness
Being shallow means focusing only on the physical
Being shallow means focusing only on the physical
Being shallow destroys trust and intimacy, two vital parts of any human relationship
Being shallow destroys trust and intimacy, two vital parts of any human relationship
Selfishness is a form of shallowness
Selfishness is a form of shallowness

Friendship Skills Can Keep the Poison Away!

Fortunately for us, the love of friendship is a skill that we can learn - and learning that skill opens us to the grace of Charity that in turn empowers us to love even more completely. That’s called cooperating with grace.

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