I've got a couple of relationships in my life with geeks who can't go any deeper than "geek". By that I mean that every time you hang with them you can sit and talk with them for two hours without ever getting out of geek topics like opinions on movies, tv, comics, etc.
I have an out-of-state friend who I talk to about once every week or two, and can be exhaustive in his fixation about all things to do with anime. It made me reflect on my own obsessions, and I work at restraining that impulse.
It impacted on a recent visit with another friend, with whom we also go into geek topics at length. I wondered on my way to see him if we would do any kind of activity like play a game or video game, or watch a movie. I resolved to myself that if we engaged in conversation, I would do something different. So I proceeded to share with him my experiences in social dancing settings, because I was excited about some of the new types of dancing that I've been trying out.
Because this friend who I visited with doesn't have experience with dancing, I tried to keep it relatable, in the sense of how different dancing scenes have different types of personalities (on and individual and collective basis), and what kind of challenges I experienced entering into each new dance scene, going through being a new face at each one. I wanted to talk about some of the challenges I've overcome, or the people I've had to learn how to interact with when there are mild personality clashes. In the end, I smiled when I noticed that it was my friend who eventually direct the conversation towards more geeky stuff (Ha Ha!!). Later on I redirected and shared with him how I was try to help my out-of-state friend with the difficulties that I myself have, but are more pronounced in him.
Try to bring up anything below surface-level geek topics and they quickly find a way to steer things back to safe geekery.
These relationships are important to me, because they are usually friends that have been hurt, are not believers, or are in a season of running from God and anything to do with him.
It sounds like these friends are not ready for conversations along those lines, or maybe not comfortable enough with you. They may even be on high alert for if you are going to try and delve into certain subjects that they know preoccupy your mind. Non-believers may even be paranoid about it; this is tricky ground because they can be put off even more from that kind of thing. Sorry if that sounds discouraging. :shrug:
Despite my love for geek topics, I can only stay on them for so long before they lead me to thinking and talking about deeper things (as probably evidenced by what I'm doing with my life). So hanging out with geeks who can't ever go deeper with me is tough. My hope is that over time their comfort level with me will grow so that we can eventually talk about something that... y'know, matters. But that return on my investment isn't guaranteed, which makes the time spent trapped in inconsequential geekery that much more difficult.
Come at it from this perspective, and you'll enhance inside yourself that sense that it's inconsequential. As you say, there is no way to know if the investment is guaranteed. There is also no way of knowing how much what you regard as trivial does matter, as a stepping stone towards deeper conversation and a more meaningful relationship. But if you can't avoid the feeling that your trapped in a pattern, then one option is to change your mentality when you are going in to your hanging out time with these friends...otherwise, I can only see that mentality getting worse, and subsequently making the situation worse. In which case, the only thing left is to letting it go of that person; set that relationship aside. Alternatively, you can end the relationship before the thought “This doesn't have enough meaning for me” and evolves into a mentality that is counterproductive.
I don't mean to belabor the point, by I'm going to take this and run with it a little further, and touch on your topic about Yahweh's patience. That and this topic (as well as the Relational Discomfort topic feel to me like they are emerging from the same source, or sequence of events.
It seems already highly problematic that you're close to the point of regarding friendships or aspects of friendships as a chore, if you aren't already there. I'm sensing similarities with your pragmatism in how you go about selecting entertainment that you take the time to watch, read or play through. In other life circumstances, you are gravitating toward situations that allow you to focus your attention and efforts most efficiently. And your time is clearly limited.
My own experience makes me personally hyper-conscious of any sense that someone else might be trying to operate person-to-person interactions to a schedule. My own instinctive gut reaction of late is wariness, and my first hand evaluation of such things is that it seems like a cynical approach. That's just my own perspective.
I suppose it's still done anyway. Thinking about it now, it occurs to me to wonder how much any one person has a schedule in mind for what they think or hope or want to be the next step in a relationship and what the timetable for that is. If we reflect on to what degree we are doing that, I suppose it is useful to keep in mind that the other person may very well have a different schedule that is dramatically different from what we're thinking it should be.