All posts by Steven Zawila

How I stopped being socially awkward

It’s been a while since my last newsletter, huh? Life’s been absolutely hectic these last few months. I’ve just moved from Milwaukee, WI to Chicago, IL to be closer to my family. It took several weeks of packing, cleaning, loading, unpacking, and cleaning again, but it’s finally done…mostly. There’s still several boxes of stuff sitting by the front door and I’ll get to it eventually.

Well, that’s still not a good excuse for missing so many weeks of newsletters. As per Quietly Romantic tradition, if I go too long without releasing a new blog post or newsletter then my next one needs to include an embarrassing story.

Here we go.

MFW I get to share something embarrassing about myself on the internet.

A few years ago, I was at a conference and I had the opportunity to meet one of my personal heroes in person. He was a huge source of writing inspiration for me and was someone that I really looked up to. Think along the lines of…meeting Stan Lee, if you’re a fan of the Marvel superhero movies…or meeting George R.R. Martin, if you’re a fan of the Game of Thrones series. Yeah, that huge.

He’s an intelligent person, and there are so many things I want to learn from him.

  • How does he write so well?
  • How did he attract so many fans?
  • How does he come up with such amazing topics to write about?

He arrives at the conference, gives a presentation, and afterwards starts interacting with some of the guests. I wait in line, fidgeting all the while. Finally, it’s my turn to talk to him. I stagger up to him and shake his hand.

“Hey, I’m Steven. I’m a huge fan of your work! It’s good to meet you”, I exclaim.

“It’s good to meet you too,” he replied. “What do you like to do?”

“Umm…I like…video games?” I mumble. He replies with a deafening silence. “…And I also like reading?” I continue.

His feet start to shuffle away from me. “Well, it’s good to meet you Steven. Best of luck.”

“Yeah…good to meet you too,” I reply, hiding behind a smile of feigned pleasure.

Welp. Something went wrong, but I didn’t understand why at the time. I paid a lot to attend this conference just so I could meet him in person. And this is what I get? For weeks after this encounter, I just told myself that I never should have met my hero in person because he was a jerk.

But now I’m older and wiser, and I realized that I was the awkward one in that conversation.

Oh Steve, you were so young and dumb back then

If I could go back in time, there are three ways I’d change the past:

  1. Kill baby Hitler. This is a given for time travel, right?
  2. I’d stop myself from watching the Chicago episode from Stranger Things season 2. I mean…I love Stranger Things, but what even was the point of that episode??
  3. I’d tell myself what I’m going to share with you in this newsletter today:

Here’s what I know now that I wish I knew before.

Continue reading How I stopped being socially awkward

Socially weird or awkward? You better read this!

Today, I’d like to share with you four social blunders that I used to make with women all the time. I’ve had women not want to go on dates with me specifically because I was doing these.

The worst part about being socially awkward is that when you’re making a social blunder, people tend not to tell you. It’s considered rude or impolite to let someone know that their behavior is coming off as weird. Instead, people will do their best to act like nothing is out of the ordinary and secretly continue to let you come off as weird.

That’s why for a long time, I didn’t even know that I was being socially awkward or weird! Ah, well.

Continue reading Socially weird or awkward? You better read this!

Not a fan of cold approaches? Me neither. Try this instead!

I’ve never been a fan of cold approaches. Back when I was single, I always worried that I needed to “get good” at doing cold approaches in the same way that James Bond or Han Solo was if I ever wanted to find love. And I never liked that idea. I never wanted to be that guy who approaches every woman he sees in public places.

Cold approaches can work for those people who are more extroverted or who frequently hang out at bars and clubs. But for introverts, I don’t believe it’s the best way to get a date.

Usually when we think of flirting, we think of innuendos and playful touches with plausible deniability. You know, the kind of things people do when they’re trying to take home someone that they just met for the first time at the club or bar. And that’s fine, but it’s never been my cup of tea.

Instead, I propose my new HSP approach. This is good if you’re an introvert or a Highly Sensitive Person (see what I did there??) It’s inspired by Jeffrey Hall’s book, The Five Flirting Styles. In his book, Hall identifies Sincerity and Politeness as two perfectly valid forms of flirting—especially suited for introverts.

Continue reading Not a fan of cold approaches? Me neither. Try this instead!

Worried that nice guys finish last? Here’s why they don’t!

Back when I was first looking for love, I often heard a lot of dating advice that made me feel uncomfortable. I always heard that “nice guys finish last” and that in order to be attractive you needed to act like a jerk or an “alpha”. Supposedly, women secretly love men who mistreat them even if they tell you otherwise. To get her attention, you should “neg” her by giving her an insult disguised as a compliment. And then after the first date you should wait…um, how long was it…three days before you call her? That way she won’t think you’re needy and she’ll start to miss you. Or something like that.

Hearing this really terrified me. I did not want to act that way in order to make myself more attractive. I could never intentionally act in a way to hurt someone else. And I was scared because I was afraid that that was the type of person I would have to become if I wanted to find love.

It’s not true, is it? Do women really prefer to date jerks? Do nice guys finish last?

Continue reading Worried that nice guys finish last? Here’s why they don’t!

Real confidence vs fake, “nice guy” confidence

Let’s talk about the difference between real confidence and fake confidence.

Fake confidence is about pretending to be indifferent. It’s about going up to a woman and just acting like you don’t care. Like she doesn’t even matter to you. This is what a lot of “nice guys” do. I’m not talking about guys who are genuinely kind and wholesome. I’m talking about guys who strut and act as if they’re so cool while they talk to her, pretending to be indifferent…and then suddenly becoming all angry if they get turned down for sex.

Just like a petulant toddler who’s sad because he can’t eat ice cream for dinner.

That’s what fake confidence looks like.

Real confidence is different. It isn’t about “not caring” or being indifferent when you talk to her. It’s about knowing that getting turned down by a woman sucks—and being okay with that! Sure, getting rejected stings. A lot. But you know that even if you get rejected, everything is going to be just fine.

There isn’t a magic switch that you flip to create this type of confidence overnight.

Instead, you develop this confidence over time by filling your cup of life. With fulfilling hobbies. With good friends. With something that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning.

What if you don’t have these things?

Then, just get started. I certainly don’t have a lot of those things. Sure, I could have a bigger social group. Or more hobbies. But as I’ve always told myself, life is a work in progress. There’s never truly an “end” to filling the cup of life. Find something you would like to fill it with and just get started.

After all, women don’t want a man whose cup of life is half-empty and that she has to fill. Instead, she wants to find someone who’s also working on filling their cup so the two of you can go down the journey of life so you both have two full cups to share with each other.

What I’m reading now: The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

Well, the bad news is that Netflix has officially run out of Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero flicks for me to watch. The good news is that while I’m waiting for Avengers Endgame to finally hit theaters next month, I’ve had some time to catch up on my reading.

When “Netflix & chill” meets “Kindle & cuddle”

You ever have that moment when you’re playing a video game and suddenly you’re like “I bet the next room has like 50 enemies/a boss so I better stock up on items and/or save”? Maybe it wasn’t immediately obvious at the time why you were feeling that way…but in hindsight it was probably the random save point or the lack of music or that random stash of ammo that tipped you off?

That’s the power of listening to your intuition.

Recently, I finished reading The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker, a security specialist who did a lot of cool stuff including designing a system to screen threats to US Supreme Court Justices! He writes that your intuition is a tool that is often overlooked in today’s world but is also invaluable when you learn to listen to it.

Continue reading What I’m reading now: The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

Struggling with a problem? Why “trying harder” isn’t the answer.

A little while ago, I was talking to a friend of mine and he told me about a problem he was struggling with. I asked him,

“Okay, so what do you think you could try doing?”

And his response was simply…

“…well, I guess I could try harder?”

At this point, alarm bells started going off in my head. I’ve often heard people say that they just need to “try harder” when they have a problem they’re struggling to solve. Heck, I’ve even said it myself!

  • I’m having trouble writing? I’ll try harder!
  • I can’t seem to get in shape? I’ll try harder!
  • I’m not getting enough work done? Looks like I have to try harder!

I mean, it sounds logical, right? If I’m trying to solve a problem and I have an issue that I can’t seem to get past, then shouldn’t trying…harder…make a difference? Over time, I’ve come to realize that…

Continue reading Struggling with a problem? Why “trying harder” isn’t the answer.

Dating hacks: How I easily improved my appearance in 30 min or less

Once upon a time, I used to look like this:

Oh my God, did I really think this was cool??

That was in high school, back when I was too dumb to realize how dumb I looked. I mean, jeez! Did I seriously go outside looking like this??

Give me a second to bury my face in my hands until I get that picture out of my head…

…okay, I’m back.

Here’s what I look like now:

Hey, that’s a lot better!

So, how do you go from having hair that looks like a helmet, to looking presentable in public? I have absolutely zero fashion sense and, honestly, I just have someone do it for me. It’s easy! Just find a good hair salon or barbershop near you and let them know you’d like their professional judgment in getting a haircut.

This is the important part: if you’re like me and don’t know what makes a good haircut, just let them cut it for you! Don’t tell them how you would like your hair done if you have no idea what looks good on you. Leave it to the professionals.

Of course, it helps if you check the reviews beforehand and make sure it’s a good place. It also helps if you research the barbers and pick a good one. Personally, I have the owner of my local hair salon do my hair because I know he’s skilled. It’s easy to tell who the owner is because his own name is in the name of the salon.

After getting a haircut, how do you know if it looks good? By the way your friends react. Do they say things such as, “Nice haircut! It suits you.” Or are they like “Hey…you got a haircut.” If your haircut turned out less-than-stellar, try getting a different barber or going to a different salon altogether.

Getting a professional haircut is a quick and simple way that I improved my appearance (and boosted my confidence) with little to no effort!

The best places to take her on a first date

Let’s talk about where to go on a first date. You want to leave a good first impression, and the venue you choose sets the stage for the rest of the evening. I’m going to share a few guidelines I always used whenever I was trying to decide where to take her on a first date, then I’m going to give you my personal favorite places to go on a date.

Continue reading The best places to take her on a first date