3 Reasons Why Eastern Europeans Don’t Smile

It is not a secret that Eastern Europeans (especially Russians) are usually described as “weirdoes that don’t smile”. It is so true but we don’t smile not because we don’t want to smile. It is rather we don’t tend to smile because there are several cultural reasons that have influenced our mentally and behaviour. Let’s see what they are.


So, the catch is:

1. We don’t show emotions. 

You don’t really smile in Eastern Europe walking down the street just because you are in a good mood. Indeed, you need to have an actual reason to smile. As an example, it is fine to smile (but not for long) if you have just heard some good news or someone gave you a compliment (this happens quite rarely, that people compliment each other on the street). Instead of sharing them with the crowd, Eastern Europeans prefer to hide their emotions. We believe that this poker face makes us look strong, invulnerable and invincible.

2. You will be considered being crazy.

What’s more, if people notice you smiling without a reason in Eastern Europe, 99% will think that you are mentally unstable. So, if you ever happen to travel to Eastern Europe, try changing your habits and get rid of the smile. Otherwise, you can easily get in trouble.

3. You will very look suspicious.

As smiling is not a common pursuit in the Eastern part of Europe, doing that might cause some reasonable suspicions. People might think the following, ‘This person has definitely something on this mind! He has a sly smile on his face!’. So don’t ever dare to step into a caffe expressing your high spirits. You might get treated as a thief.

Check the Global 3000 reportage from Moscow about non-smiling Russians:

To compare, the English find the act of not smiling rude and even impolite. They might also presume, that you are having some hard-times if you don’t put this ‘stiff smile’ when you catch someones eyes on the tube, for example. My personal experience has absolutely confirmed this theory.

Here is a story from my life: when I first moved to London, for about first three-four months people kept stopping me on the street almost every morning. Guess what they wanted from me? Diligent Englishmen were offering me help, honestly believing that something must have had happened to me. I presume I must look very unhappy when I’m in my occasional ‘Eastern European mood’. How ironic.

An Eastern European smile is the sincerest one in the world. If you will ever see this nation smiling, know that it comes from the bottom of the heart.

Up to press, I don’t hear “Is everything alright, love?” anymore. Probably because I have adopted to the new culture and my face looks slightly happier then some time ago.

Recently, my English boyfriend has told me, “My first impression of you was that you are a terrible heartless b*tch. You had a face like a slapped arse!”. This is how cultural differences create absolutely wrong assumptions of people. As the saying goes — don’t judge a book by its cover!

18 thoughts on “3 Reasons Why Eastern Europeans Don’t Smile

  1. I’ve certainly met plenty of humourless British men and women over the years, people with faces like smacked arses or bulldogs licking piss off a thistle, but thankfully, they’re in a minority. In my long experience, such people refuse to smile because they think it makes them appear powerful, but to my mind, that demonstrates a woeful inability to otherwise command respect. I hadn’t thought of non-smiling Eastern European women until you posted this , but now you’ve done so, it immediately makes me think of Rosa Klebb from the film From Russia With Love; after I’d first seen it, a long time ago, I thought all Eastern European women were trained assassins working for SMERSH or for SPECTRE, but now I know differently 🙂

  2. My Polish wife is the same, and thinks that people who smile at strangers are crazy or retarded. She’s too young to remember Communism but thinks that it comes from those times, or maybe even further back. I’m used to it, and I like it. There was a time when Brits too were cold and distant and showed little emotion, especially in public – the famous British stiff upper lip. It’s not just smiling, but other emotions also. When we guarded our smiles more carefully, we were also not such cry-babies as people are today.

    1. Ha-ha! Simon, thank you for a wonderful reply.
      It’s very useful to know that we – Eastern Europeans – never break with traditions!
      As they saying goes – British are very reserved! And that’s very true. “The English smile” is even colder than everywhere else in the Western world.

  3. Now I know why the beautiful, Latvian girlfriend of a friend doesn’t smile very often, (but she has a wicked sense of humour), lol.

  4. In Russia a simple smile means love. If I smiled to a stranger – I loved them for a moment. Whatever they did to me – it has most certainly been something sweet and nice. Even if that was just one heartful smile – they shared their love with me.
    Russian people often have this common impression of westerners as liars always wearing their false smiles. If you do not sympathise me – don’t you dare smiling to me. Don’t give me the impression of friendly support and readiness to help and share. It’s disgusting.

    So, this article is actually missing the point about Eastern Europeans relation to the traditional western smile.

    And, yes, the smiling people in poor countries are most certainly ready to share and support. Their smiles look more sincere to me.

  5. I always thought that the trend of not smiling often in Eastern Europe originated in Communist times. I theorised that with the danger of the secret police, people would be wary of strangers who could possibly be informers or officers themselves. With what happened in Stalinist Russia (with the Great Purges) and different methods of terror in the Eastern Bloc, I thought that parents might have encouraged their children to be cautious around strangers. I suppose it could also predate the USSR ( I think the Tzar had his own secret police )

  6. Please note that Eastern Europeans not showing emotions doesnt include Balkans – Croats and Serbs etc. We are known for being very emotional and hot tempered as opposed to our Russian and Polish counterparts. If she is justifying not smiling hardly ever, the author of this article should ask herself why she is dating a British guy as opposed to an ice cold Eastern European. For men a good smile and a bit of emotion can very much help you in the dating game….

  7. I’m Romanian and I smile a lot. No one around thinks I’m crazy, in fact most of the people smile back at me 🙂

  8. I don’t think people in Western Europe smile “in the street”, for no reason, while walking alone. Maybe we have a general “happier” attitude and expression, that you take as a smile, but it’s not. We tend to smile when we talk to other people, but in that case too, it depends on each person and situation. Still, when we talk about Western Europe, we should distinguish north from south, latins from ango-saxons, and so on. Anyway it’s funny that you find British and German “smiling people”. It really is! XD!

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