What is a “Deep and Meaningful” Conversation in Friendships?

My friendships have become more satisfying over the years.  In my childhood and teens, my friendships were rather surface level, where we just had fun, hung out, and kept each other company to stave off our loneliness.  But in my adulthood, my friendships became happier, more profound, and more fulfilling.  We have deeper conversations, and enjoy a greater emotional and sometimes intellectual connection.

Yet, what is a “deep and meaningful” conversation?  And what is a “great emotional or intellectual connection”?  What does a great or satisfying relationship entail?  Related to this, what is emotional closeness, and why do many people fear becoming close?  For the questions on emotional and intellectual connection, great relationship satisfaction, and emotional closeness, I will talk about them another time, as they are rich topics that deserve their own separate post.  Today, I’m just going to talk about what a “deep” conversation may mean.

Different people have different definitions for what a “deep” conversation is.    Some think that you have to talk about very emotional and personal things, perhaps about your closest relationships as well.  For me, I see depth in a conversation if we can talk about intellectual, scientific, philosophical, psychological (theories and ideas about people), artistic, literary, or writing topics; or if we chat about a subject that you’re passionate about, which can include anime, books, video games, movies, and the like.  What would be a “superficial” conversation, then?  Some folks consider telling jokes as superficial.  I myself tend to think any talk about food, travel, or clothing as surface conversation.

Am I being snobby in my definitions of “deep” versus “shallow” conversation topics?  Well, again, the discussion doesn’t have to revolve around philosophical, intellectual, or academic things if you are not interested in those areas.  However, some consider talking about the arts as snobbish…which is a bit harsh; art should be for everyone, not just for artists and art critics.  As well, I want to clarify that you can talk about superficial things sometimes.  For instance, if you’re not close to someone, or you don’t trust or feel comfortable with the person, you may not want to engage more deeply with them, whether emotionally or intellectually.

For deep intellectual engagement, you may ask whether discussing current affairs, politics, or religion would be “deep.”  I would say that as long as you sincerely care about these issues, and are not simply using them to make small talk, then yes, they can be meaningful and engaging topics.

But on the topics that I listed earlier as shallower and less meaningful, namely, food, travel, and clothing, what if somebody is very interested in these aspects of life?  What if they are passionate chefs, fashionistas, fashion designers, people who love to travel, or dedicated writers of travelogues?  In this case, I would not call these “shallow” topics, since they are intrinsically meaningful and fascinating to these folks.  However, I would not be the target audience of these talks, since I am unfortunately not too passionate about these things.

Another example of something I find superficial, would be school.  Meeting deadlines, doing assignments, writing exams, applying to programs, are all important tasks in themselves, but they feel shallow, procedural, logistical, and are simply what you are expected to do as a student and citizen.  School talk doesn’t reveal much to me about how you are like as a person, what you love and value.  What topics do you find your heart drawn towards?  As I like to ask, where are your heart affinities?

Some years ago, at a party, the people around me kept talking about school, and I was bored out of my mind.  I think so much about school already in my daily life!  In contrast, a group of people sitting a little farther away, were talking about parallel universes, artificial intelligence, and video games.  But at that time, I was too polite to switch seats with anyone to join the conversation I actually wanted to partake in.

At a more recent party, I had learned my lesson.  Don’t be so polite.  If the conversation around you is boring you to tears, get up and move to a table with a much more stimulating discussion.  Otherwise, you’ll just end up feeling bitter and resentful that you had to endure topics that you don’t enjoy or care about.  When I left that table at this party (they were talking about food and travel), I felt a little guilty at first, but ultimately, I was much happier after making the switch.

Here, I want to clarify that whether I find a group’s conversation interesting or not, has nothing to do with my relationship with the people.  In fact, I often like the people in the first group I’m in, and in normal settings, I do find my conversations with these people interesting.  Yet, there is something about parties that can make even the most intriguing of people talk about the dullest of things, which makes me both sad and bewildered.  It’s one reason why I would rather avoid parties.  They tend to make me feel so intellectually unstimulated, though there were some exceptions in the past.

Even now, I feel some guilt over dismissing some conversations as “superficial” and “unstimulating,” but it’s good to be honest about what you like and dislike sometimes.

However, to throw in a counter-argument against my point, what if one values communication for its own sake?  What if the quantity rather than the quality of conversations you have with a person matters more?  For instance, you can get to know a friend through the seemingly trivial things they tell you about their life.  And maybe these things are unimportant in your eyes, but they are important to your friend.

My response to this counter-argument, is that a relationship would likely feel more rewarding if you both find the topics of discussion interesting.  It’s okay to talk about more mundane things like school and daily life from time to time.  But if you never, or rarely, talk about something you both find meaningful, then how would you be able to connect on a deeper level?  Friendship is a two-way street, so there must be enough times where the two friends converse on a topic that is riveting and worthwhile to both people, not just to one person.

What about you?  What counts as a “deep and meaningful” conversation?  What would count as “shallow” or “superficial”?  Do you have any other thoughts on connecting with friends through conversations?

8 thoughts on “What is a “Deep and Meaningful” Conversation in Friendships?

    1. I think we were talking about “deep” conversation topics or something like that. But I don’t quite remember what we said exactly… Haidan, our conversations tend to be the deeper kind. ^_^ That’s why I enjoy
      talking to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hello Sieran!
    These are good points that you mention here. I do believe there are different levels of conversation. There are superficial topics that we can talk about with anyone and don’t reveal anything personal about ourselves, like weather, sports, school, work, etc. Then there are more “deeper” topics about our true feelings, ideas and opinions that we don’t share with everyone. I agree that the difference is that deep conversations are more personal to us. In talking about things that we are passionate about, we reveal who we are and we gain insight into who the other person is, and this is what makes us closer to the other person.
    I think there is value in superficial conversations, however. Firstly, when we first meet someone, it is easier to talk superficially and save the deeper conversations for when we get to know them better. Secondly, there are some people who we likely won’t ever know on a deeper level. In this case a shallow conversation is better than no conversation. I read somewhere that the act of talking to someone (no matter what topic it is about) makes you feel closer to them, compared to not talking at all.
    These are my two cents 🙂 Great discussion topic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, definitely, I think talking to someone on any topic, will make you feel closer to them than if you don’t talk to them at all!

      Lol, I think I tend to go deep too early with people XD, which may be astonishing to some folks, haha. But then, my definition of “deep” includes topics that I feel comfortable talking about even with strangers, e.g. writing, art, philosophy, psychology, LGBT+ issues, etc., as long as I know they’re interested in those topics. Even if they are online strangers who I will probably never see again! And in parties, even if I will likely never see the people again, I would really rather not talk about food, travel, or clothing, lol, and would want to talk about things I actually find interesting, like the topics I mentioned in the post. I do get bored easily. :/

      But I know that in real life as well, I tend to be very open about my opinions and feelings (though I avoid politics and religion), which my mom and some others would say is unwise. XD However, from personal experience, being open and honest has led to many good things happening to me, haha. There are times when I think I shared too much, but most of the time, I’m happy talking about many personal things—I think my bar of what is “too personal” to share is higher than most folks, which, again, my mom thinks is unwise. ^_^” I believe there are both pros and cons to being very open, though!

      I love our discussion here. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes absolutely. It’s much more interesting to talk about topics that matter to us rather than the regular cliches. I love finding a stranger that I can click with- sometimes it is easier than a person that I’ve known for a while 🙂

        I think it is great to be open about your opinions and your feelings, which means that it is easier for people to know who you are. People who do not accept us for who we are aren’t meant to be our friends anyway right? I am more reserved but wish I could be more talkative 🙂

        Yes! Great discussion!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That might be a reason why I come out so quickly to people. XD Well, I usually only come out in spaces or to people who are LIKELY TO BE trans-friendly. I’m not always right, unfortunately, but most of the time, because I’m fairly selective in who I disclose to, people are supportive. ^_^

    Haha, whether I’m talkative or not in front of someone I just met, depends on the situation. If the other person is talkative enough or likes to ask questions, then it’s fairly easy for me to talk. But if the other person doesn’t say much, and my (feeble) attempts at eliciting conversation aren’t working, then I’m stuck. XD But sometimes I just cannot be bothered to talk, due to whatever reason. ^_^” I really ought to make a long list of questions you can ask a stranger to encourage conversation, lol, because that is not currently my strong suit! (Though I suspect such a list already exists somewhere on the internet…)

    Like

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