I was first notified of my Resting Dick Face in 2012, while quietly reading a book in the living room of my New York City apartment. Apparently my reading face makes me look like an unapproachable asshole, and one of my roommates, who was an insufferable killjoy herself, felt compelled to tell me about it.
It probably didn’t help that I was also too broke to address my eyesight issues, so I had to squint more or less all the time, putting my face in a semi-permanent scowl. Regardless, it was the first time I had to confront the fact that I’m prone to Resting Dick Face, and that I’d been unintentionally upsetting my nightmare roommate.
But as I’ve aged, I’ve come to realize that there’s more harm to Resting Dick Face than just poor roommate relations. Resting Dick Face, the lesser-known male equivalent to Resting Bitch Face, occurs when a man’s natural facial expression makes him seem unpleasant and off-putting. And it’s a silent career and relationships killer.
Everyone experiences moments of frustration when their face signals they don’t want to be bothered, and their fellow humans pick up on these facial cues and give the annoyed person the proper amount of physical and emotional space. RDF occurs subconsciously and constantly, though. Sufferers go through their entire lives projecting negative energy and giving off the false impression they’re disagreeable jerkoffs. And that’s bound to hurt them in life. Humans are social creatures, man!
To combat the RDF menace, I consulted a slew of smiling and body-language experts about how a man may rid himself of the condition.
Executive Coach: RDF Can Kill Your Career
“You lead with your face,” L.A.-based executive coach Sean Carney tells me. He means this both literally and figuratively. Your face is the first thing people recognize, and therefore, it sets the tone for your initial impression. But facial expressions are also instrumental in managing other people. A boss’ face communicates satisfaction and disappointment, and sets the tone for their entire department.
As such, RDF has a hugely detrimental effect on your career, according to Carney. After years of working in management consulting, Carney struck out on his own last year to start Loocidity, a firm that advises other organizations and individual executives on how to better collaborate with their colleagues. And one of the most common pieces of advice he gives his male clients is to put a dang smile on their grumpy asshole faces.
“If you’re that guy that just has a face that says ‘don’t come near me,’ you’re going to have problems,” he says. “Let’s say you’re a manager, and you have an affect that makes me uncomfortable approaching you. I have a problem, but I don’t want to bother you with it. The problem inevitably gets worse, and what was a small, addressable issue is now a bigger one.”
For those not in management, RDF can mean colleagues not involving you in important projects or even getting passed over for promotions. “If I have to choose between someone who is pleasant to approach and someone who isn’t, I’m much more likely to go with the former. Especially if the job has a lot of client-facing responsibilities.”
His main advice for someone suffering from RDF is “fake it, ’til you make it.” Go into that morning meeting with a fake plastic smile on your face, and maybe over time, you’ll learn to not come off like such a crotchety neighborhood grandpa.
Or if you want a more drastic, immediate solution, he suggests Botox.
Pick-up Artists: Smile! Or Don’t! We Can’t Decide!
One of the most indelible pieces of advice from Neil Strauss’ controversial 2005 book The Game, about the then-unexplored underworld of pick-up artistry, is that if you want to get laid more, you need to smile more. Smiling makes you charming, more approachable, more magnetic. Smiling makes people want to fuck you.
You’d think, then, that the self-proclaimed seduction experts at r/seduction, Reddit’s premier PUA community, would be united in the fight against RDF. But while many of the seducers say smiling is essential to picking up women, others say smiling can make you appear too nice, and thus, it’s a one-way ticket to the Friend Zone.
Smiling proponents, though, generally heed Carney’s guidance and force themselves to smile, regardless of how dead they are inside — and to excellent results. “I used to (and still occasionally do) have a Resting Depressed Face,” writes r/seduction member BozoCardozo. “I try to keep a smile on my face when I’m out approaching women. It took a lot of conscious effort at first and my face would get tired from smiling so much, but it’s pretty much natural now!”
He adds that forcing a grin actually cheered him up, and that shooting a woman a sly grin made it that much easier to attract them.
Congrats on the sex, my dude.
Face Yoga Instructor: Smile More, and You’ll Trick Your Brain Into Happiness
The feedback loop Cardozo describes is legitimate, says face yoga instructor Koko Hayashi. You can indeed train yourself into a happier face and a cheerier mindset, she explains. “A grumpy face doesn’t mean the person is grumpy; it means their skin is sagging. Sagging causes shadows, and makes the person seem depressed or angry.”
Hayashi suggests conducting a series of corrective face-stretching exercises during the workday, such as trying moving your lips all the way to the side of your face, like you were making a funny look at a baby or something, and then doing the same thing on the other side. Or to make a bunch of tiny little smiles at the corner of your lips a bunch of times a day. These will tighten your face and make you look like less of a grouch.
Clown: Your Face Is Contagious
Speaking of Bozo, who better to discuss smiling with than a clown, a performer whose smile is literally painted on. “When I used to train other clowns, I always told them to keep smiling,” says Nick “Mr. Nick” Kane, a 36-year-old professional clown in L.A.
Smiling, whether it’s while performing, or during a strenuous deadline at work, signals a sense of control and ease, he says, and will make you seem like a powerful leader. “People in chaos look to other people for social cues,” Mr. Nick says. “They want to know, ‘Are things running okay?’ If they see other people smiling, they’ll know, ‘Things are okay. Carry on.’”
This goes against the stereotype that men need to be stoic leaders. But Mr. Nick believes that’s a gross misperception anyway. “That’s why RDF can be such a negative,” he says. “Faces are contagious. People see someone with a RDF and think they have put on a tough face, too. What you should do is lead by smiling.”