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 ‘attraction’

Retaining the Sweetness of Love (1923)

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Here wraps up the tale of Richard and Sallie (featured recently in how to win a woman, from Elinor Glyn’s The Philosophy of Love. Glyn summarizes how this couple should work to keep their love going:


To keep love it requires the united effort of Richard and Sallie! It cannot be a one-sided affair!

To put the matter concisely:

(1) Love is caused by some attracting vibrations emanating from the two participants which draw each to each.

(2) Thus love depends, not upon the will of the individual, but upon what attracting power is in the other person.

(3) Thus obviously it lies with each to cultivate and continue to project the emanation if either desire to retain the love emotion of the other.

(4) When these points are clearly understood, intelligence can suggest the most suitable methods to use to accomplish the desired end, namely, the retaining of the power to draw love mutually.

So, as in everything we do in life, is it not well to use some intelligence and though over the great matters of Love?

For cynics may say what they please ~ Love is the supreme and only perfect happiness on earth. Everything else is second best ~ often a very good second, but nowhere near the real thing.

So why, when love is bound to come to us all sooner or later, not try to retain its sweetness?


How to Tell Whether You Are in Love

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

the gold and silver spangles of her imaginationThis week I focus on a topic very dear to me and my some of friends. Is it lust? Is it love? Or is it just a silly old crush? How about you and I ponder these questions, with the help of Dorothy Dix, in this excerpt from her book titled How to Win and Hold a Husband.

1939: How to Tell Whether You Are in Love

A girl does well to look into her emotions and try to determine whether they are the real, genuine, blown-in-the-bottle love or a spurious imitation. The first thing, of course, is for her to find out whether she is in love with some particular youth, or just in love with love, and this requires her to be not only a first-class psychoanalyst but a good guesser as well.

For from her cradle up every girl is on a still hunt for her Prince and so eager is she to find him that only too often she shuts her eyes and grabs the first boy who comes along. Over him she throws the magic cloak that she has embroidered with the gold and silver spangles of her imagination, and she is so enraptured with the result that she doesn’t know that it is her own handiwork she is adoring and not the thing in it. . . .

A man may have a physical attraction for a girl that makes her think that she is in love with him as long as he is with her. His touch thrills her. His kisses lay a spell upon her. His love-making hypnotizes her so completely that her mind and her judgement cease functioning. In his presence she does not notice that he does not belong to her class, that he is perhaps highly undesirable as a husband, that they have not the same interests, nor habits, nor ideals, nothing that will keep love alive after the physical appeal is gone. . . .

If you never weary of a man’s company, even when he talks about himself by the hour; if you can play games together without quarreling; if you can spend a rainy week end in the country without talking yourselves out and getting on each other’s nerves, then you may be sure that you have the love that is foolproof and will stand the wear and tear of matrimony.

Then if you are still in doubt whether or not you are in love with a man, concentrate on his faults and magnify them and see whether they outweigh his virtues as far as you are concerned. Consider whether or not his little personal peculiarities irritate you. Could you stand listening to his pet stories over and over again for the remainder of your life? Do you feel that you could take a never-ending heart-interest in the grocery trade? How about having to live with a man who carries his small change in a purse with a lock on it and who is a little closefisted? You like books and symphony concerts, while he never reads anything but the headlines in the newspapers and the comic strip and has a jazz taste in music. What about it?

If he bores you at times until you feel like screaming, and if you think that the first thing you will do after you marry him is going to be on the reformation side, you don’t really love him. There is no truer test of love than to love the faults of a dear one, and to think of them tenderly as being just amusing traits of individuality because they are his.

Source: Dix, Dorothy. How to Win and Hold a Husband. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1939.
~ pp. 8-13 ~

Courtship: Immediate Attraction

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

red hair may appear exciting and delightfulI must admit, I am drawn to the brutal honesty of this selection, and how quickly the authors ~ Esther Tietz and Charles Weichert ~ smash all hopes of love at first site. Makes me feel so…what’s the word… oh, I’ve got it ~ depressed. Or maybe not. Maybe everything will work out just fine and that true love is possible. Damn, I’m confused! I think I need some alcohol to “blur my perception” of the situation.

1938: Courtship: Immediate Attraction

When a man and woman meet, they may be immediately attracted to each other. Usually this is because the appearance, voice, and behavior of the one so please the senses of the other that they arouse interest and admiration. It may be, too, that the condition of the participants is such that any member of the opposite sex would be pleasing at the time. For instance, the surroundings might be romantic; either might not have seen anyone of the opposite sex for a long time; or one might have had some alcohol or other drug which would blur perception.

The pleasure arising from the person or situation, however, actually comes for the most part from the associations which they recall. If such associations have been pleasurable, they become pleasure invoking themselves. Thus, red hair may appear exciting and delightful to one person, because it recalls early associations with a favorite playmate; white, smooth shoulders might be identified with early memories of a mother; a deep resonant voice may instantly afford the sense of security associated with one’s father. Such influences may be so great that the person feels he has “fallen in love at first sight.” Many persons actually believe that when this occurs, it signifies that the individuals are sexually attracted or ideally suited as mates. Nothing could be more untrue. The voice that recalls the father may come from a shiftless drunkard, unable to afford security even for himself, and personally lacking all the attributes his voice promises. The smooth, white shoulders may belong to a selfish, tantrum-throwing woman, quite unlike the mother whose image she assumes. Many a man has been disappointed by the uninteresting and colorless girl whose flaming hair he had associated with excitement and fun. Therefore, it is wise to consider carefully such immediate attachments, lest the unconscious associations lead one to accept what is later to be a sorry disappointment.

Source: Tietz, Esther B. and Charles K. Weichert. The Art and Science of Marriage. New York: Whittlesey House/McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1938.
~ pp. 12-13 ~