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!


Posts Tagged ‘asking out’

I’d Like to Make a Date With You

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

I'd Like to Make a Date with You

The first card in our Lover’s Fun Card Set suggests an easy way to express interest in a girl or guy that you’ve got your eye on. Why not print up a stack of these and carry them with you? Of course if you strike out and he/she hands the card back to you, you might not need a whole lot of them.

If the card doesn’t work, I’ve got a number of tips for asking someone out on this site. Girls who are afraid to make the first move might be inspired by Ellen Peck’s advice. A Miss Abigail classic is this one, which instructs you on how to ask someone out by telephone. And boys, here are some more tips for you to help you get up the nerve to ask a cute girl out.

Good luck!

How Do I Get Him to Ask Me Out?

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

I'm available. Advance.Q Dear Miss Abigail:

I like a man who acts very aloof and distant. However, I know he likes me as well. I’ve tried giving hints to show my feelings. He seems to respond with mutual flirting but nothing ever comes of it. What do you suggest I do to get him to ask me out?


A Dear Elizabeth:

You sound a bit older than the average teen, but I think this advice from Ellen Peck’s book How to Get a Teen-Age Boy and What to Do When You Get Him could work for all ages. Ms. Peck’s motto: girls should stop waiting to be asked out, and to take action themselves. So go out there and get him, Elizabeth! (Even if it involves some manipulation and mind games.)

1969: How to Date a Teen-Age Boy

You should make the first move with a boy. You should take the initiative in showing interest. You should arrange conversations. In, short, as we pointed out in Chapter 3, you should be a bit aggressive. But all this aggressiveness is still basically feminine. All you’re getting across to the boy is, ‘Here I am. I’m a girl. I like you. Why not ask me out?’ You are saying, in effect, ‘I’m available. Advance.’

But you must stop short of actually suggesting that the two of you go out together. When you do this, you are no longer being really feminine. You are crossing the line into male territory. It is still the prerogative of the male to ask for dates. Once you’ve taken over this prerogative, he will not assume it. You’ve, in effect, switched roles. The boy will ask out some other girl who hasn’t been quite so aggressive!

What if Irene is having a party and she says ‘Invite one of the guys.’ Do this. Get him to ask you out. There are three ways.

One. ‘Barb, do you think Greg would like to take me to Irene’s? Would you tell him ~ I’d like it if he suggested it?’ This will work if you choose the right girl to act as liaison, but it has to be a girl who knows Greg pretty well.

Two. Do you know one of the guys who has already been asked by a girl? Do you know himwell? Tell him you’d like to go with Greg and he’ll set it up. (In fact, you’ll end up double-dating.) P.S. It is a good idea to clear this with the other girl involved.

Three. Arrange it so that your date with Greg is just kind of ‘understood,’ but without your ever asking him. First, get word to him that you’d like to go with him. Affirmative response from Greg? Fine. Next step. When the crowd’s sitting around at lunch, Barb can look at the two of you and say ‘You two are going to Irene’s Saturday, aren’t you? (THEN BARB IMMEDIATELY ADDS SOME OTHER COMMENT!) . . . What are you going to wear?’

Or, ‘You two are going to Irene’s Saturday, aren’t you? What time are you going? Do you think we should go somewhere afterwards?’ Et cetera.

I’m sure you get the idea. Some see-sawing or even a bit of confusion may result. But it’s better than the formality of you-actually-asking Greg.

Source: Peck, Ellen. How to Get a Teen-Age Boy and What To Do With Him When You Get Him. New York: Bernard Geis Associates, 1969.
~ pp. 239-40 ~

Could You Ask Me Out, Already?

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

you're in control of the situationQ Dear Miss Abigail:

Okay, I like this guy. And we flirt a lot and all that. I know he likes me, and I know he knows I like him. But he will not ask me out! I just don’t understand. And I’m way to chicken to ask him out myself. I want him to ask me out. Please, tell me what to do.


A Dear Catherine:

Personally, I think you should just go for it and ask this boy out. But knowing how difficult that can be for girls, I dug up some advice fromHow to Get a Teen-Age Boy and What to Do With Him When You Get Him, written by Ellen Peck in 1969. Hopefully it will give you a few ideas. Now go forth, and perch on that beach chair of his with confidence!

1969: Turning Group Dates Into Single Dates

How do you turn group dates into single dates? Usually, happily enough, absolutely no effort from you is needed. If the guy lags, though, the spur you use is this: let him know you want him to ask you out.

Talk to him after a film. (Also hold out your popcorn box toward him at intermission.) Perch onhis beach chair when you’re swimming. Talk to him before English class on Tuesdays. Ask him what science-fiction book to get your uncle for his birthday. Soon he’ll be asking you out.

Let’s take it from there.

Something to keep in mind is this. A boy who asks you out is not in love with you. He does not dream about you at night. He is only mildly fascinated by you, if at all. He has asked you outbecause he thinks you will say ‘yes.’ He considers you a reachable dating target.

A lot of boys, especially in the early teen years, won’t ask out the girl they most want to. Where the attraction is greatest, so is the anxiety they feel. And anxiety often wins, and they ask out somebody else.

I’m not saying that a boy who asks you out doesn’t like you. He may think you’re the sharpest girl he knows. He may be wildly attracted to you. But ~ he may not be. So don’t react romantically. It’s such a common mistake. And it’s such a mistake! The only thing you can assume about a boy who asks you out is that he thinks you’ll accept. (And he thinks you’ll accept, of course, because you’ve deliberately given him that idea.) So, you’re in control of the situation. The boy has behaved according to plan. Just don’t lose control of the situation by thinking in over-romantic terms.

Source: Peck, Ellen. How to Get a Teen-Age Boy and What To Do With Him When You Get Him. New York: Bernard Geis Associates, 1969.
~ p. 241 ~

Making the First Move

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

He's got problems. You haven't.Q Dear Miss Abigail:

I really like this guy and I want him to ask me out. I think he like me because he flirts with me in our class. Is there anything I can do?


A Dear Jane:

Take charge, young lady. It’s time to once again follow Ellen Peck’s girl-positive advice from the fabulous How to Get a Teen-Age Boy and What To Do With Him When You Get Him. Apparently, if you don’t make it easy for them it’ll never happen. Those silly boys.

1969: Make That First Move Yourself!

It will . . . be easier to become more outgoing if you stop worrying about whether people (boys) are going to respond or not. Forget any possible consequences of rebuff ~ or gossip ~ and make that first move yourself!

You smile first. You wave first. You talk first. If you stand around like a statue waiting for him to make the first move, you could collect a lot of dust! You should be down off your pedestal making contacts and saying ‘Hi’s.’ And it’s up to you, not him. The worst advice ever is ‘Be ladylike. Don’t be forward. Wait for him to speak to you. He will when he’s ready.’

Ridiculous. We need to get rid of the ‘ladylike’ myth if it means standing around like a stone. Get rid of the idea that making the first move with a boy is unfeminine. It’s very feminine. It ought to be fairly obvious that women, as a sex, at all ages, all over this planet, have one similar job: to make things easy for men. Women type men’s letters, cook their meals, keep their houses, plan their parties, iron their shirts, and in general make their life pleasant. Why, then, leave the strain of starting a conversation to a guy? It just doesn’t make sense. Especially since you are more ready than he is to talk and know more about how to talk. . . .

You could be rebuffed. Sure, this does happen. Once in many, many times, though. Recently, I talked with about a dozen popular girls from a Baltimore high school. They recalled dozens of times that had taken the initiative in getting to know guys. Only two girls recalled ever having their efforts put down. Both times, they thought (and I agree) it was a case of the boys beingso insecure that they couldn’t believe what was happening and lacked confidence that they could handle it. So, they responded negatively. Their loss.

When and if this happens, of course, cover with this one-liner: ‘Oh, really?’

Deliver those two words with a chin-up, so-what smile and walk away. This little phrase is magic. It answers any comment ~ no matter what the comment was ~ and leaves the boy trying to figure out just what you meant and how he should interpret it. In other words: you walked away with the upper hand.

Keep in mind that it’s the guy who’s ill at ease with girls who may put you off, sometimes without meaning to. The ‘Oh, really?’ is especially perfect for him. It hasn’t completely closed the door (as a rude remark would have) and so, in case this guy grows up later, you might end up getting to know him yet.

Even if ~ and just for the heck of it, let’s imagine the very worst ghost in anybody’s closet ~ a guy says ‘Hey, get lost. Leave me alone.’ Deliver your ‘Oh, really?’ line and walk off to some friends and say, ‘Hey, what a grouch I just ran across!’

Which he is. He’s got problems. You haven’t.

Source: Peck, Ellen. How to Get a Teen-Age Boy and What To Do With Him When You Get Him. New York: Bernard Geis Associates, 1969.
~ pp. 66-67, 68-69 ~

Should Girls Ask Boys for Dates?

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

he has given signsShipley the Sheep, Dave the Gator, elk hunters in orange caps, and our favorite park ranger at Great Sand Dunes National Park. My, did I have fun while on vacation with my friends Molly and Liz. Our little “hen party” discussed many important topics while covering 1,700 miles of Western terrain. Among those: boys, sex, love, sex, lust, sex, boys… well, you get the point. Here’s one subject we touched upon, brought to you by Tom McGinnis’s 1968 A Girl’s Guide to Dating and Going Steady.

1968: Should Girls Ask Boys for Dates?

Fifteen, twenty or more years ago, there was one answer to this question ~ a resounding no. Most people believed that boys should always take the first step so that they could feel that they were choosing the girl. Probably boys still want to be the pursuers, although there is much evidence that they do not seem to be as firm about it today as they seemed to be in earlier times.

I say this mainly because of the telephone. At one time, a girl would not phone a boy for any reason, except perhaps to say she could not keep her date with him because of a serious emergency. Now, however, girls call boys for all kinds of reasons ~ to get her homework assignments, to find out a football schedule, to learn when the next glee club practice is. Such calls usually are not considered out of order.

Nor, in these times, should there be anything wrong with a girl asking a boy on a date if he has given signs that he likes her. However, in many places the custom of a girl’s coming right out and asking a boy for a date is still frowned upon deeply.

A main reason for feeling that the boy should ask the girl is that when a boy asks, he puts her in the position of doing him a favor if she accepts. That means that he is more likely to feel that he must behave toward her in a way which meets her approval. But when he instead of you makes the decision to say yes or no to a date, he is in a stronger position and may become bolder about necking than you consider desirable. If you tell him to stop, he may tell you that he will not do you the favor of accepting you the next time you want a date.

It is possible for girls to suggest dates without seeming to do so. In a way, you can have your cake (a date with a boy) while eating it too (being able to stop him if he tries to go to far). Some girls often ‘just happen’ to have tickets or invitations handy which they invite a boy to share with them. A friend may be giving a party and a girl asks a boy if he would care to go. She has some tickets for a movie or a football game and she wonders if he would like to attend with her. She knows that he is interested in rock and roll records and she and friends pool their new records and invite him and other boys to a listening party at her home. In all these cases, she invites the boy to do something he enjoys which she has just run across and wants to share with him. To ask a boy for a date in this indirect way does not seem to be difficult. Girls seem to be more and more successful at it.

Source: McGinnis, Tom. A Girl’s Guide to Dating and Going Steady. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Company, 1968.
~ pp. 107-108 ~

Be Courteous

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Hey kids, trying to figure out how to ask that cute girl out on a date? Follow this script and you’re sure to have success.she likes this invite

1967: Be Courteous

As you ask a girl for a date, you should indicate that you really want to go out with her. Courtesy is very important when asking, for if the girl finds you are not too courteous on the phone, she may assume you’re also discourteous on dates. A typical phone call for a date might be something like this:

MARY: Hello.

JIM: Hi, Mary, this is Jim Jones.

MARY: Hi, Jim, how are you?

JIM: Fine, thanks. Say, did you understand that problem in math today? I found it rather confusing.

MARY: I did too, but I eventually figured it out.

JIM: So did I. Say, Mary, Bob and Larry are taking Jean and Jane to the White Kar roller skating rink this Saturday ~ about seven o’clock. I’d like very much to take you, and we’d be home by ten. Would you like to go?

MARY: It sounds like fun! I’d love to go skating with you, Jim. I’ll expect you Saturday about seven.

JIM: Fine, see you then. Good-by, Mary.

MARY: Good-by.

This conversation was a great help to Mary. She knows everything she needs to know. Mary knows that Jim really wants to take her skating. She knows that she should dress casually, and that she should be ready by seven. She can tell her parents that she will be home by ten. This is the kind of invitation she likes to receive, because nothing is left up in the air. He told her who he was at once, instead of playing childish “Guess-who-this-is” games. No girl likes to admit that she doesn’t recognize a boy’s voice, yet many voices sound similar over the phone.

Mary’s parents like this approach too. They know just what they can expect without having to quiz Jim when he comes to pick her up for the date. They like to know where their daughter is going and with whom, but they hate to give a boy the third degree before a date ~ just as much as a boy hates to get it.

Jim also feels happy about this conversation. He knows that Mary will be dressed for skating, and that her parents understand about the arrangements. He can also tell his parents when to expect him home. Dates with arrangements agreed on ahead of time are more fun. You can look forward to your plans, rather than wonder what you’re going to do and whether you’ll be dressed appropriately.

Source: Duvall, Evelyn Millis. The Art of Dating. New York: Association Press, 1967.
~ pp. 76-77 ~

Take Him Out to a Ball Game

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

everyone tries to help the batter

Q Dear Miss Abigail:

I broke up with my boyfriend last week, and I regret it. I want to ask him out again, but I want it to be really special and romantic. What is a really romantic thing I could do? Keep in mind I am fifteen.


A Dear Confused:

Hmm… let me think. Something special. Well, from what I hear, most boys don’t have any interest in silly romantic stuff. But hey ~ I bet he’d find a little trip to a baseball game awfully wonderful! Since we all know that girls know nothing about sports (ha) here’s some advice from a book called Boys and Other Beasts, written by Barbara Lang. It should help us gals understand this mysterious game, and at the same time it may just help get your boyfriend back.

1965: Sports Illustrated

The day will come when you want to please some young man who passionately loves one of several dozen evocatively named teams ~ Red Sox, White Sox ~ they all make you think of Sweat Sox. To prepare you for those incomparable afternoons of sitting on hard benches eating cold hot dogs and warm ice cream, here are some pointers on the first game of the land ~ baseball.

1. Men use baseball as a means of proving that women are inferior and cannot understand a man’s world. They therefore speak about the game in code and try to make it sound as complicated as possible. Actually, it’s quite simple.

2. Baseball is a game played by a team of nice grown men who take turns swinging a club and trying to hit a ball out of an enclosed field. The club is called a bat, the team is called a club, and the field is called a park. Once you know that, the game is self-evident.

3. The key to baseball is that it’s a friendly game which the men play for relaxation when they’re not working in television commercials. In order to start things off, one man tosses the ball to another man at bat. A third man squats (so the spectators can see what’s going on) behind him to catch it and throw it back to the pitcher. Everyone tries to help the batter. When he doesn’t notice the ball go by, a fatherly type clad in dignified navy calls his attention to it by screaming ‘BALL.’ Sometimes this gentleman encourages a shy batter by urging ‘STRIKE, STRIKE.’

4. Sooner or later, the batter takes his advice and strikes the ball. Then the men stationed around the field fetch it while the batter runs around getting congratulated. It gives you a warm feeling all over.

5. Baseball is not only friendly, it’s a restful game, suitable for men of all ages. Frequently the men out in the field don’t do anything all afternoon except chew gum.

6. To be sure, there are a few other nuances to baseball, but you needn’t bother with them as long as you remember a few key things not to do at a ball game:

A. Do not take your knitting.
B. Do not ask where the bulls in the bull pen are.
C. Do not suggest the outfielders carry paperback novels.
D. Do not ask why the men in the stands are getting so excited.
E. Do not go home by mistake at the seventh inning stretch.

Source: Lang, Barbara. Boys and Other Beasts. New York: Pocket Books, 1965.
~ pp. 88-89 ~

How Do I Ask Her Out?

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

he looks at her with a smileQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I like this girl in my class. I want to go to the movies with her. How do I ask her out?


A Dear Kevin:

Certainly everyone is aware of how terrifying (yet exciting) it can be to ask someone out. I found much more advice about acceptingdates, however, because most of the books in my collection were written for girls rather than boys, in a time when it was not proper for a girl to ask a boy out.

Never fear, though ~ I did locate a few tips that should help you out. You should also read “Be Courteous”. Good luck!

1956: How to Ask a Girl for a Date

When a boy wants to ask a girl for a date, there are several rules to follow and pitfalls to avoid. First of all, he invites her specifically for a particular occasion, giving her the time, the place, and the nature of the affair. He says, for example, “May I take you to the game in Hometown Gym at two next Saturday afternoon?” Knowing all the relevant facts, she has a basis upon which to refuse or accept. In the second place, he is friendly and shows that he really wants her to accept his invitation. He looks at her with a smile while he waits for her reply. If she accepts, he is pleased and arranges definitely for the time at which he will call for her. If she refuses, he says that he is sorry and suggests that perhaps another time she will go with him.

Source: Duvall, Evelyn Millis. Facts of Life and Love for Teen-Agers. New York: Association Press, 1956.
~ p. 144 ~

1961: Cool Ways to Ask for a Date

If you’ve met a girl who interests you, don’t brood about it and spend weeks getting up the courage to ask for a date. By the time you’re ready, she may have forgotton how delightful you are. Ask when the urge hits you. That’s now.

Call her up, ask her how she is, etc., and before more than one minute has elapsed in idle conversation, pop the question you called about: “Would you like to go to movies with me on Saturday night?” You’ll get a quick yes or no, and you’ll avoid all that tentative beating around the bush which often proves to be so nerve-wracking. Sure, there’ll be some rejections. And also some unexpected acceptances. In the long run, you’ll find they balance out and you’ll be a lot calmer in your dating life. And more natural.

Dash over to her, grab her by the hair and say: “Honey, you’re coming to the show with me tonight!” Better have a twinkle in your eye . . . and be prepared for a fist in the same spot.

If you can bear it, chances are that she can, too.

[Miss Abigail just couldn’t resist giving you the following bonus tip!]

Cool Things to Do on a Date Besides Neck

NECK . . . And say you didn’t.

Source: Unger, Art. The Cool Book: A Teen-Ager’s Guide to Survival in a Square Society. New York: Monarch Books, 1961.
~ pp. 25, 32-33, 35 ~

A Gentle “No,” “No,” and “No”

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

refuse his attentions courteouslyQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I have this best friend in school and he is like a best mate to me, but he asked me out and I don’t feel the same way about him. I felt guilty refusing him, and every time we see each other we tried to avoid each other. I just wanted to go back as we use to be. After about three months of this we finally started talking but then he asked me out again. I don’t know how I can gently say no without starting this silent treatment all over again. Can you help me?

Yours faithfully,
G. I.

A Dear G.I.:

Some boys just don’t get the hint, do they? Sometimes a plain and simple “no” said over and over again is all you can do. Here are some thoughts on the topic from Evelyn Millis Duvall’sFacts of Life and Love for Teen-Agers. We can only hope he’ll eventually see the light.

1956: When You Don’t Want to Date

It is discourteous for a boy to ask why when a girl tells him that she cannot do something that he asks. When a boy pushes for explanation of a girl’s refusal, she is justified in kidding him about his persistence, or in simply changing the subject.

If a girl does not ever want to date a particular boy, she does him a kindness when she gives him no encouragement whatsoever. To lead a boy on, when she never intends to go out with him, does him an injustice and unnecessarily prolongs the refusals. There are many reasons that a girl may refuse to consider dating a particular boy. He may drink, or run around with a fast set, or have a bad reputation, or be the kind of person whom for other reasons she does not feel she can associate with. If he is not datable from her point of view, she will be wise to refuse his attentions courteously but with firmness and finality.

Source: Duvall, Evelyn Millis. Facts of Life and Love for Teen-Agers. New York: Association Press, 1956.
~ p. 307 ~

Does She Mean Yes? No? Maybe So?

Monday, July 12th, 2010

act as though you were proud of himQ Dear Miss Abigail:

What does a girl mean when a guy asks her out and she says “let’s talk about it tomorrow ” or (on the phone) “call me up another time, then we can discuss this.” Does it mean “yes, I want to go out with you, but I can’t obviously say yes the first time you ask me and look easy to get,” or is it just a polite way of saying NO.


A Dear Rojet:

This girl, whoever she is, has obviously not followed the advice below. Had she read this and believed in it, she would have recognized her horrible ways and would have given you a clearer answer of “no way, buster” from the start.

1939: The Boy You Like

Not only do you let a boy know by words that you like him. Your actions and your consideration of him are revealing. You graciously accept his invitations ~ ‘Yes, I’d like you go. Thank you for asking me.’ You do not take it as a matter of fact that on Saturday night he will provide entertainment for you. You are ready when he calls for you. When you are with him, you let him know that the evening is enjoyable ~ ‘It’s a good picture, isn’t it?’ or, ‘I’m glad we came to the party.’ You act as though you were proud of him; you introduce him to your friends; you create opportunities for him to display to advantage whatever talents he has; you talk with him as though his conversation really interested you. Nothing more quickly blasts a friendship than a matter-of-course attitude, rudeness, or lack of sincerity; accepting invitations and gifts as though they were your due; being bored or looking around for other conquests during a boy’s conversation; leaving him flat for several dances because you have found a better dancer; ‘handing him a line.’ but not meaning what you say.

Source: Ruth Fedder. A Girl Grows Up. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1939.
~ p. 164 ~