Has anyone ever asked you why you’re so serious? Or maybe they thought you were angry when you were happily daydreaming. Chances are they were confused by what I call your “introvert resting b*tch face”.
The pain of having a resting b*tch face
Introverts get a lot of flack for our resting b*tch face. People make all kinds of assumptions about what we’re thinking and feeling when our expression slips into its default grimace. They assume we’re silently judging them and the verdict is not good.
They might also think that we hate them and we’re having a horrible time. This assumption can be the most frustrating, especially when we’re with outgoing people-pleaser types who feel responsible for everyone’s happiness.
“Turn that frown upside down!”
Ironically, these kinds of people will make you feel insanely uncomfortable with their efforts to make you feel comfortable. They will launch into a desperate frenzy, trying harder and harder to turn your frown upside down.
They try to force you into having fun because they’ll be damned if they let one person have a mediocre time under their watch. Meanwhile, you were content to just observe the scene or wander off into your own fantasy world. Now you feel put on the spot, singled out for something so integral to who you are: your face.
Oops, I forgot I had a face
Even though the introvert resting b*tch face tends to be our default expression, we don’t always have a perma-grimace. We smile, too. It’s just that often we get so absorbed in our thoughts we forget we have a face, or a body for that matter. At this point we are a walking brain and we have no interest in slapping on a fake smile.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against smiling. I know that it puts people at ease and makes us more approachable. But sometimes—especially when I’ve done too much peopling—I don’t have the energy to put up any kind of front. I’m done with small talk, and smiling, and pleasing. I just want to let my face do its thing and for that to be okay. Because here’s the thing.
You need to give your face a break
It is okay to have a resting b*tch face. By now you’ve probably mastered your happy and polite face. You have to wear it all day at work and every time you encounter someone new. Sometimes you just need to drop the facade and let your face and body relax.
Sure, it would be nice if your default face was more zen and inviting, like one of those happy Buddha statues. But you’re not a statue. You’re a human with real emotions, so your facial expressions should be real and authentic, too.
So, the next time someone asks why you’re upset because you’re not smiling, tell them, “I’m not angry, this is just my face”. Wear your introvert resting b*tch face quiet and proud and don’t apologize for it.
Lots of love,
The story of my life! (Thank you so much for writing this.) I’m in my 30’s and am only beginning to embrace and accept, and stop apologizing for, my introversion. I owe a great deal of this liberated mindset to your book and blog posts like this one. Thank you!
You’re very welcome Anzan! 🙂
How many times I heard “You look mad” (or sad); or
“What’s wrong? You can tell me.”
Really, nothing was the matter. It was just the way I looked.
This is hilarious, I love it.
Yes, yes and yes !!! Finally people who get me!
🙂 🙂 🙂
My default face gets me in trouble sometimes. I am in network marketing and you are to always have a happy face. Like you said Michaela, sometimes you forget you have a face. Even when I remember and try to put on a happy face, it feels phoney and I wonder if people can see through it. It’s not that I’m not happy, it’s just one of those, “I am smiling”, deals. I appreciate your writings. In my business so many people are sanguine, and with being a melancholy/phlegmatic I get a lot of exactly what you are talking about. Hey sanguine… Please at least try to show shown for one minute and “get me”. ?
Thanks for sharing that, Chris! 😉
Who are you?
Love the comic?. So true! I have this resting bitch face and am regularly subjected to ‘commands’ (that’s how they feel) to cheer up or smile or something similar. No matter how many times I insist otherwise, the commands are always the same old thing…sigh!
Thanks Carol. Yes, I know what you mean. The comments can be really frustrating! 🙂
The worst was when I volunteered to work the information desk at a national convention. I was thrilled to have a chance to help people from all over find good restaurants, navigate the convention site, whatever. I’m sure I smiled when greeting people. But by the end, the constant admonitions from the info desk supervisor to “Smile, people! Look like you’re happy to be here!” had me imagining acts of assault and battery against him instead of enjoyable encounters with visitors.
Thanks for this!!
I’ve especially had problems with people complaining about my resting b*tch face… And I always think: “Why does everyone want me to smile when I don’t have anything to smile about?”…. So it’s been pretty annoying. Also, people find me intimidating just because of my face… which leads to not making some certain friends. But you’ve given me the confidence to rock my resting b*tch face. I don’t care anymore! ☺
This is so true….and frustrating. I’m right there with you.
Thanks for that post! Such a good point- it can be just one more thing to beat myself up about but I’m letting that go. The comic is priceless!
Once again another great article that hits the nail on the head. We introverts are more than o.k.!!! Thank you!!!
I’m an introvert and the resting face is a good wrinkle preventer, too. I’m 58 years old and the smile and laughter lines are starting to show.
It’s true, we’re all sometimes like that. Some people are worse — take a look at some older people and see the permanent frowns. I don’t want to end up like that…… Whenever I can, I try to cultivate the “ANA approved nursing face” which is a slight smile. Even the Taoists have a smiling practice…… Hard for us, but important to try if we don’t want our faces to freeze like that!
Spot on as always Michaela….Loved the cartoon too!
This is so true. I was at my computer recently doing routine work and a coworker asked what I was mad about. My reply was that I was probably just concentrating but I couldn’t help but to visualize what my face must have looked like. I just don’t think it’s necessary to smile while I’m typing.
What you write is so very true, but instead of the murdering, I would be the escape artist trying to find the Exit from this over extroverted Existenz. Always trying to find the peaceful spot or way out, would be my mantra.
My spiritual side is always searching, as my sensitive side gets energy sucked by the many energy Vampyres, but things are changing. i am getting spiritually freer and The Vampyres Are Not Able To Steal As Easily Anymore.
Everything is changing, as Dark and lite separate, in unimaginable ways. ?
Yup! I am constantly being asked “What’s wrong?” Although some close to me now simply ask “What are you thinking?” LOL
Me in a nutshell. Thanks for this. Love this page.
Haha…Michaela, that’s so me. Sometimes I’m caught in a radar trap and later I’m always deeply shocked & scared by the photo myself! LOL
I came a few weeks ago to this site as a High Functioning Autistic. While I was researching some of these articles, I was remembering some ideas I previously thought of in the past.
I once had the feeling that there are aspects of the HFA experience that aren’t unique to this type. Others have told me this, but I didn’t really need anyone to tell me, because I was perceptive enough to notice this on my own, but never talked about it. I wanted to see it, and this doesn’t seem to be the case with some HFA individuals (although there are exceptions to this rule).
I cannot express how much of a relief to see that some of the things some usually consider part of “Asperger’s” or “HFA” aren’t unique to it, but are part of a wider range of introvert personalites.
Of course there are few differences, such as my brain’s use of logic to obtain social information instead depending on the amygdala and other systems connected to it as often, but other than that, looking past the differences have helped confirm some of my past conclusions that certain aspects (if not all) of Asperger’s are part of the wider range of personalities described above.
Generally, I’ve kept the diagnosis in case if it’s ever needed, but have desired now to stop associating with it until that moment the diagnosis is needed, because I wanted to focus on the wider “introvert” community I’m part of instead on Asperger’s itself. I have felt focusing on it too much blurred my brain’s awareness of the bigger temperament that I’m part of, even if differences exist.
Plus, I’m just tired of being tired like I am seperated from the other introverts. I want to acknowledge my nature as an “introvert” instead of Autism or Asperger’s. (Mentioning Asperger’s just makes others act differently around me, when I am simply an introvert that processes social skills in a different way
Sadly, it’s starting to get annoying so I deliberately connect with being an “introvert” instead for my sanities sake.)
I’m very grateful a site like this exists. Unlike some autistic people, I don’t really desire to proudly the autistic identity and preferred to be seen as an introvert with similarities and differences from the “usual” (if there is one) introvert. I’m also glad the RBF doesn’t just happen to my type! When I get sucked into my thoughts, I forget my own face as well, and some have asked me what’s wrong. My response varied depending on whether I had time to actually generate a response. Most of the time, I never considered saying “it’s just my face”. That’s a good idea. Thanks!
Some of my family and friends have not understood my reasons for dissassociting with Asperger’s. For me, the label is too distracting. I cannot focus on how much I have in common with other introverts if I identify with it too deeply, and too often that clouds my judgement. Other than that, I don’t except everyone to agree with my reasons. 🙁
Thanks for sharing your perspective on this Austin!
I just tell people I am smiling on the inside.
Good answer, Scot! 🙂
This was sooo funny had to show this comic to my husband who is always asking, what s wrong or why are you looking so serious? He crackrd up !!! Thanks for this!!!
Hehehe, glad you and your husband got a laugh out of it, Trina! 🙂
My husband is always asking, “Why are you looking at me like that?”
As an extrovert, this article makes me remember NOT to ask people why they aren’t smiling. I don’t think I do that very much with colleagues, etc. but I do find myself doing it sometimes with my boyfriend (he’s an introvert) – I just have to make sure he’s okay.
Interestingly, I’m the opposite: People tell me I always look “happy” – even when I’m literally depressed and seeing a therapist. I think it’s because I like people, so I do smile during the brief interactions with a friendly face. Then, when they go away, I can get depressed again.
Thanks for sharing the extrovert’s perspective on this, Karen! 🙂
Wow! That is an interesting perspective from an extrovert. I’m known for my RBF and if anyone ever asks about how I feel, it’s always “Whats wrong? etc.” I thought about that not long ago and assumed, in my little bubble, that it’s completely normal because no one asks people why they’re happy; right? Not true, they just don’t ask me! Thank you for that post, very insightful.
I wish this girl who said i was always angry cos of my face could read this. I’m tired of explaining to people all the time.
Thank you, thank you, Michaela! Lately, I’ve been worrying about my face since friends and even my husband always tell me that I look angry or depressed when in fact I’m not. They say that it makes them uncomfortable because they think that something’s wrong, so I was trying to have a relaxed face all the time! It was draining me, but when I read your post, I started to cheer (in my head, obviously). There’s nothing wrong with me, I’m just a normal introvert with a normal resting b*tch face!
One ‘benefit’ I’ve discovered by having a b*tch face: Fundraisers (religious, etc) at airports steer clear of me. They’ll approach people around me, but guess they think I’m either mean or angry and will avoid me like the plague! Always makes me chuckle.
Thank you, Michaela, for understanding me. I have always felt like an outsider and that I don’t fit with people (I’m in my late 50s). You are helping me to finally begin to understand myself. You are a blessing, Michaela!
Agreed Brian. You’re clearly an optimist! LOL
My default RBF was always a negative to me for that same reason. I never get approached in public, not ever! When I’d be out with girlfriends, all just as attractive, I was never the one approached. However, if a guy did come over, I’d often end up the one he ends up talking to!
My father’s best friend was the first person to call me out, at Thanksgiving in front of my family (including my “we’re all perfect” grandparents)! My family was generally offended by his comment, particularly my grandmother who had plenty to say in response!
On the other hand, I remember being so happy he said that. It was one of the rare times I felt someone actually “got me.”
Now I can’t read enough about INFJs. I grew up thinking I was strange and I should just smile and act like everyone else. Now knowing I have “a tribe” is so comforting!
Micheala, thank you for this blog. It made me LOL relating to the resting b-face. All my life people would ask why I was mad, serious, unhappy ect. When in fact I wasn’t. It wasn’t till recently I caught a look at my reflection and thought wth? Why do I look so mean today? lol
Seeing that reflection made me think of the cashiers who aren’t as friendly to me as the people in front of me, I use to think, hmmph whats their problem? When they were probably thinking what an old bit.. LOL So now when I encounter cashiers I start with a big smile and my exchanges have become so much more pleasant. BTW I’m an INFJ and serious introvert. 🙂
To be fair, we should use the term “Resting A**hole Face” for male intrvorts ?.
That cartoon needs to be on a T-Shirt! I’d buy it and wear it proudly!
“RBF”, one of the reasons complete neurotic and narcissistic strangers seemingly feel the need to “get even” by slighting or insulting an INTJ, even though not a word was shared previously.
I’ve noticed that feeling the need to keep my face smiling during social or networking events can be as tiring as the small talk that can accompany it.
It’s just not a natural thing for me to be smiling so much. But I’m a happy person, so there’s often some explaining.
“I really am having a good time. I swear!”
Thanks for the article!
My RBF would get me in trouble all.the.time when I was in the military lol. My superiors always thought I was basically looking at them with “ready to fight” eyes or something lol.
“No Sergeant. This is just my face!”
I used to be called ‘Ice Queen’ at work, because my manager would always assume that i was either in a bad mood, and that i seemed angry. Absolutely annoying. And yes, I’ve gotten the you should smile more. Here’s the thing, if I don’t feel like smiling. Then that’s it. I just don’t feel like smiling. I’m sure as hell not going to fake it.
Wow thanks. I had no idea that other people experienced this same problem. I think I have probably “improved“ over the years, because I was tired of being accused of anger I didn’t feel. Glad to see that I am not quite as alone anymore.
Thanks! I really relate. lol
I am an INFP and I get told ALL THE TIME to cheer up…I have actually had aching cheek bones and mouth from forcing myself to smile!! I put myself through PAIN to ‘fit in’ and I am 52 years old!! How sad is that lololol
Actually, I don’t try to fit in too much these days, but if I have to feign interest and attention, I will end up with an aching face, quite literally. I am so glad I am not the only one with a RBF 🙂
I wonder what the male equivalent is–Resting Bastard Face? I have this almost all the time.
This is a great post. I am in my 50s, but when I was younger I was called a snob (behind my back) also, ” Are you alright.” Of course I am alright.
Thankyou Michaela for all your good and useful advice.