Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Archive for June, 2010

Does His Flirting Mean He’s Interested?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

a playful expression in the beginning of loveQ Dear Miss Abigail:

If a guy flirts with you does that mean he’s interested?


A Dear Cathy:

Cathy, Cathy, Cathy. My dear, sweet Cathy. Of course he likes you! Flirting is the tool of choice for letting someone know you are interested in them. Some people are better than others at using that tool, but that’s another story. To get a better sense of the power of flirtation, let’s read a bit from Maurice Chideckel’s informative bookThe Single, The Engaged, and The Married.

1936: Courtship

Courtship is the fantasy, the dreaming period of life. It is the Song of Songs of youth. Turbulent, stormy, enveloped in anxieties at times, it is nevertheless a road strewn with flowers. It is the period of planning, building, hoping and expecting. In courtship there is the expectation for the greatest of all human experiences, marriage. It is the period of exploration of souls. In those months is laid the foundation for soul mating, for future contentment, security and trust.

In courtship there is the poetry of cooperative spirit. Only during that period does attachment develop to a degree that forges a common, unbroken bond. Man and woman learn to know each other mentally. The physical attraction that drew them together matures into mental harmony and mental companionship. The very tension for discovery makes courtship man’s hopeful days. Marriage is looked forward to as the event of the greatest magnitude, which in reality it is. A great deal of the period of courtship is spent in emotional fantasy. The lovers become conscious of the approach of reality. Courtship is a yielding to natural inclinations and awareness of the other’s ability to supply what is needed for contentment. They become convinced that their union is essential to their happiness.

‘Courtship,’ says Professor Morgan, ‘is the strong and steady bending of the bow that the arrow may find its mark in a biological end of the highest importance, so that there be a survival of a healthy and vigorous race.’

Coquetry (flirtation) is a natural preliminary to normal courtship. It has a deep biological and psychological significance. It is instinctive in the female. Unconsciously it is practiced to be aroused and stimulated by her lover. It is a playful expression in the beginning of love. ‘But,’ says Herbert, ‘if this flirtation becomes an end in itself, it is a perversion on true love.’ Abnormal psychology calls it ‘filtrage’ and it is a phenomenon of degeneration. A short courtship means a brief period of experience. Facts, the temper of each, the depths of personalities, the likes and dislikes, the mental attitude, all these cannot be observed and analyzed in a few days.

Source: Chideckel, Maurice. The Single, The Engaged, and The Married. New York: Eugenics Publishing Company, 1936.
~ pp. 69-70 ~

SWM ISO Strange Woman to Love Me. Write to Box 67237.

Monday, June 21st, 2010

a haughty exterior hides an empty head and heartQ Dear Miss Abigail:

How can I find a woman strange enough to love someone like me?

Seeking Strange

A Dear Seeking:

I’m a bit worried that you don’t believe that a “normal” woman could love you, and that saddens me. But then again, I know quite a few people that think anyone crazy enough to love them would have to be strange.

The following excerpt discusss those who are unapproachable, which I sense you feel you are. You might want to either seek out a similarly so-called “deep” woman and work from there, or change your ways and start believing in yourself and others. Someone, strange or not-so-strange, will come to love you. Hang in there!

1897: Unapproachable People

There is a prevalent idea that people who are distant and unapproachable in demeanor are immensely valuable when their intimacy is once obtained.

Hard to get acquainted with, is supposed by many to be synonymous with “deep,” “cultivated” and “worthy,” when applied to character.

So far as personal observation and experience goes, I have proven this idea to be utterly without foundation.

A haughty exterior more frequently hides an empty head and heart than any profound quality.

“She is very deep; you will find her worth cultivating,” was said to me once of an “unapproachable” woman whose “keep-off-the-grass” attitude had repelled me at first meeting.

I devoted myself to a search for her hidden worth; but after many months I found her to be like one of those sterile New England farmlets where a fresh crop of stones appears as soon as the old ones are uprooted.

Who does not recall a pounded thumb and wasted temper in his youth, trying to break the shell of a tough walnut, only to find a dried and shriveled meat within?

As we advance in life we save our thumbs, and our tempers by choosing the yielding almond and pecan and letting the doubtful walnut alone.

Life is too short to waste it in such a difficult and often disappointing achievement. . . .

Buried worth may well lie for a time beneath a disagreeable and repellant exterior with the very young; but when people have jolted over the rought road of life a goodly number of years, the ore of worth comes to the surface, if it exists; for true worth is always mixed with unselfishness, and does not permit us to thoughtlessly wound or repel one another. There is an extreme diffidence or shyness which frequently afflicts worthy people, but this is easily distinguished for the “unapproachable” quality.

Nothing delights the “distant woman” more than to hear herself spoken of as “very hard to get acquainted with.”

She knows that her nature is meagre, and she is delighted to think she is hiding her own barrenness so successfully from observers behind a haughty exterior.

Oysters steamed in their shells are a great delicacy; but when one shell remains persistently closed it is a foolish waste of time and appetite to struggle with it. Toss it aside with the empty shells, and satisfy hunger with those which readily yield to the warm steam. Were there but one bivalve to be had it would be different, and the stubborn shell may only hold a shriveled oyster at best.

The inaccessible man says he does not wish to waste his affability on people he may never meet a second time. He wants to find out that people are worth while before he meets them half-way.

Is human kindness, then, a matter of bargain and sale? Are we never to be agreeable to people until we learn that they can repay us in some way?

Source: Wilcox, Ella Wheeler. Men, Women and Emotions. Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1897.
~ pp. 205-8 ~