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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!

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How to Win a Woman, part 1 (1923)

This weekend prior to Valentine’s day, I return to Elinor Glyn’s The Philosophy of Love, which is a wonderful little book from 1923. In this excerpt, from a chapter titled “The Man’s Side,” the author provides advice to the fictional Richard, about the object of his love, Sallie:

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A young man should be very sure that it is the special woman who is drawing him strongly, and that he is not just imagining that she is his heart’s desire because he himself is experiencing the desire to love. Do make your own examination of your emotions, Richard, when you first fall in love with some girl ~ that is, first experience that drawing sensation which makes you desire to be near her, and causes your heart to beat, and gives you a sense of exaltation. Do ask yourself if she is appealing to your mind or your soul ~ whether you feel degraded or uplifted in spirit after you have spent some time with her. Because if it is only the physical she is appealing to, you have not much chance of future happiness with her ~ and you had better crush the feeling before it has gone too far and landed you in a morass….

Men are absolutely idiotic about women once they fall in love. They cannot see their faults; they appear to have no intuition which warns them they are being deceived; they are bamboozled and led by affectations which would not for an instant impose upon women! But because men’s senses are delighted, their reason sleeps, and they court their own unhappiness.

So do try to remain awake, Richard, and strip off the glamour from your emotion for Sallie, and see if there is “anything to it.” We will suppose you do this, and find she is quite a nice girl really, regardless of her attractions; then go ahead!

Show her that you like her, and think of little things to please her ~ she will be greatly touched if you do. Make her feel that you respect as well as love her, but that you do not intend to stand any nonsense, and the first time that she is capricious and unreasonable let her see that you resent it and will not be made a fool of.

If she is fond of you she will not want to lose you, and if she is not, you had better retire in any case ~ the abject lover is such a pitiful creature! But to make her love you in the beginning, when she seems to be indifferent, you must use intelligence.

Nothing pleases a woman so much as a quiet self-confidence in a man and his showing that he is taking trouble about her. If he asks her out to dinner, that he has arranged everything for her comfort; if he is to meet her anywhere, that he is not casual about it.

Any action which suggests to the woman that the man has used thought about her is delightful to her self-love.

Audacity, when it does not develop into impertinence, is also a great charm!

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Curious to see how things turn out for Richard and Sallie? Tune in to my next installment

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