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 ‘Kissing’

Same-Sex Etiquette: The Same?

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

mary, when was the last time you thanked your date?Q Dear Miss Abigail:

One of the difficulties of same-sex relationships is figuring out the etiquette of dating. Do I open the door or does she? Do I offer to pay half the check, even if she has asked me out to dinner? Who decides when it is time for the end of the evening smooch? I know in this era everyone seems to be confused about gender roles, but if you could give me some advice to help make my dates a little smoother, I would be extremely appreciative.

Shelly, a Sister

A Dear Sister:

Unfortunately, the majority of my books (ok, maybe ALL of my books) do not discuss same-sex relationships in a positive light. But Miss Abigail does not discriminate, and feels that dating advice for boy-girl relationships should work equally as well for girl-girl or boy-boy relationships.

So put your imagination caps on and let’s all pretend that the references to “boy,” “he,” “him,” and “his” in the following paragraphs are actually “girl,” “she,” “her” and “hers.” Oh, and don’t forget to ignore the comment claiming that clinging “too closely to members of your own sex” is a bad idea.

If you can do all of that and not lose your mind, then I think you’re ready for same-sex dating!

1963: Is It Wrong to Kiss a Boy on the First Date?

There is nothing wrong about a brief, affectionate goodnight kiss which will not arouse passion. Do not feel, however, that he won’t ask you out again unless you kiss him the first night or that you must repay him for the coke and hamburger he bought you. This is too high a price to pay, even if you had a large coke.

When You Approach a Door with Another Person

Stand aside and indicate by word or gesture that you would like her to go first. Should it entail less effort for you to go first (perhaps to open the door or to turn on a light switch), excuse yourself and precede. Your reason for such an action should be quite obvious to her.

Source: Culkin, Anne. Charm for Young Women. New York: Deus Books, 1963.
~ pp. 107, 127 ~

1967: Enjoying a Date

You and your date have mutually decided where you are going. You have taken care to be dressed appropriately. You have taken pains to be clean and neat. But even these precautions don’t insure success on a date. A date is wholly satisfying only when each person is considerate of the other. Dating is not fun if either of you:

~~ flirts conspicuously with others
~~ brags about previous conquests
~~ gossips about other dates
~~ clings too closely to members of your own sex
~~ avoids participation in the activities
~~ makes an issue over minor mishaps

Such behavior is essentially a lack of courtesy, and it can really keep you from enjoying each other. Often one or more of these breaches of etiquette can lose you a second date with your escort.

Courtesy Is More Than Manners

If may seem out of place to bring up courtesy here. You may feel that, of course, you are naturally courteous to all your acquaintances. But it might be a good idea to take stock of yourself to see just how courteous you really are. Mary, when was the last time you thanked your date as he held the door for you? John, when was the last time you helped your date out of the car instead of leaving her to fend for herself? Do you always remember to thank your date’s parents for “that wonderful dinner”? How often do you tell your date how much you enjoyed the evening? All of these things are just common courtesy. It seems, however, that the more we date a particular person, the more we take him or her for granted.

A fellow may say to himself, “Of course I enjoyed the date; she knows that.” Yet think how good it would make her feel if he told her once in a while. How much more her parents would think of him if the boy stuck his head in the door and told them how much he enjoyed this evening. Such courtesies go a long way toward making a boy a good date and a pleasant companion.

Source: Duvall, Evelyn Millis. The Art of Dating. New York: Association Press, 1967.
~ pp. 125-26 ~

Help! It’s My First Passionate Kiss

Monday, July 19th, 2010

don't drool as you kiss herQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I have recently met this girl who I’m very fond off. Things have got far enough for us to start kissing passionately. I have never kissed anyone before, however. Could you please tell me the ins and outs of my first passionate kiss?


A Dear James:

I don’t know what’s going on out there, but I’ve had a few questions from boys and girls recently about “passionate kissing.” For the answers, I have checked with the companion books The Sensuous Woman (by “J”) ~ the first excerpt ~ and The Sensuous Man (by “M”) ~ the second one. Too bad those authors remained anonymous. I was hoping they might be available to offer private lessons.

1969: The Kiss

The secret of good kissing is a relaxed mouth. Nevernever pucker your lips, or kiss with the lips and teeth sealed firmly shut. How would you like to kiss someone who feels like he’s in the early stages of lockjaw? Well, he won’t like it either. Let your lips go almost limp. Ease the tension from your chin. Automatically your teeth will part slightly and you will be able to slip that teasing tongue of yours into his mouth as the pressure of the kiss (and your passion) mounts.

Naturally you will follow his lead while kissing, but there is a great deal you can do that he can’t regard as “taking over.” The trick is to slip in an embellishment here and there of your own in response to him. For instance, when you are coming up for air after one of those long, hungry soul kisses, lightly and quickly kiss him on the eyes, the nose, the forehead, hair, chin and then the mough again, pulling the right side of the upper lip into into your mouth and then the whole lower lip with a gentle sucking motion, releasing and then running your tongue silkily across his front teeth, gums and around and down inside his lips and then let yourself be swept into a deep keep again. Uhmmm. How delicious.

Source: “J.” The Sensuous Woman, New York: L. Stuart, 1969.
~ pp. 111-12 ~

1971: The Mouth

The mouth is the most beautiful, the most sensitive, the most active organ you can reach while she’s still dressed. The kiss is probably the single most important move toward the bedroom. It’s the key! It turns her on ~ or off ~ and, since life is a lot better when you turn her on, you can hardly do too much homework in this lesson of love.

1. Don’t crush her lips against her teeth to show your passion.

2. Don’t squeeze the breath out of her as you’re kissing her.

3. Don’t try to ram your tongue down her throat in order to stimulate her.

4. Don’t bite her lips.

5. Don’t use a dry, birdlike, pecking kiss with no pressure at all.

6. Don’t kiss with your mouth wide open and slobber all over her.

7. Don’t drool as you kiss her.

8. Don’t hold a kiss so long that she can’t breathe.

9. Don’t don’tdon’t have bad breath.

Source: M.” The Sensuous Man. New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1971.
~ pp. 75-76 ~

Kiss Me, You Fool

Monday, July 19th, 2010

keep looking at his lipsQ Dear Miss Abigail:

OK, first off I am writing from an email address I just made so that I can have lots of assured privacy. But my question is: I really like this guy that goes to my school (I am twelve and he is sixteen) and I know he likes me. I want to kiss him. I don’t mean just a regular kiss, but a French kiss. I don’t know what I should do, though. What do you think I should do?


A Dear daebyrd:

Wow. I think I was just realizing I had lips when I was twelve, and food was the only thing that touched them until embarrassingly later in life for me. So I’ll sternly say ~ and you’ll probably think me terribly old-fashioned ~ that I think you should maybe find someone your own age to practice kissing with. Or, you know, like wait until you are like fourteen or fifteen to start smooching with boys?

Now onto the kissing problem, because even if you do wait, I’m sure you’ll still be wondering. Here’s some advice from Barbara Lang’s Boys and Other Beasts, published in 1965.

1965: Yes Please

Once in a great while, you might want your date to kiss you good night even though the idea has not occurred to him. Now if there is a paucity of literature on how exactly to avoidbeing kissed good night, there is not a word anywhere on just what you can do to get kissed. In fact, the only people who will tackle the question at all are the soap, deodorant, and mouthwash companies, and their approach is really rather a negative one. It’s also pretty eerie. If I ever saw my romance fade, fade, fade away and dissolve into thin air, I wouldn’t reach for a toothpaste, I’d apply for the booby hatch.

But to go back to the problem of what to do on those rare occasions when you would like your date to kiss you good night. The people who know how apparently aren’t talking. The most you get from them is a suggestion that you lean toward him and look up expectantly. I did that once and my date offered me a cigarette. A dreamy, yearning look is apt to provoke a comment such as, ‘You okay?’ or ‘Hey, do you wear contact lenses?’

I can think of only one thing to suggest, and I can’t tell you why it has worked once or twice for me. The thing to do is to look at his lips ~ not from across the room, but standing fairly close to him. This seems to remind him that they’re there and may provoke him into touching them to yours. On the other hand, a self-conscious boy is apt to take out a handkerchief because he guesses he has mustard on his mouth from the hot dog he ate at the game. Even if he does that, keep looking at his lips. He may still give in and kiss you. (On the other hand, he may break out in fever sores.)

That’s really the only slightly subtle approach I can suggest for this problem. There are of course other more obvious moves you can make. You might, for example, ask him, ‘Do you like this perfume?’ and then collapse against him so he can smell your neck. Be prepared for him to wrinkle up his nose and reply that it smells like A-1 Sauce. Boys are not too bright at times like this. At least mine never have been, but I wish you the very best of luck.

Source: Lang, Barbara. Boys and Other Beasts. New York: Pocket Books, 1965.
~ pp. 181-82 ~

I Think My Crush is Using Me

Monday, July 19th, 2010

a kiss is a beautiful expressionQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I recently went to this party. My crush asked me to dance and we then sat alone together for a little while. Then he asked me if I wanted to go make-out. I said no because I wasn’t sure if he was using me or not. Was he?


A Dear Sarah:

Oh, what a thrill! Your crush asked you to make-out. How I would give anything for that simple pleasure in life. But I think you have valid concerns. You need to decide what you want to do. Maybe Pat Boone’s advice from his fabulous book ‘Twixt Twelve and Twenty: Pat talks to Teenagers will help. I think we all have a lot to learn from Mr. Boone, don’t you?

1958: Rules for a Beginner

Now, I believe that kissing is here to stay and I’m glad of it! I understand that the inhabitants of the Lapland Alps rub noses; the Andaman Islanders say “I love you” by blowing into one another’s hands with a cooing murmur; the Fuegians pat and slap in affection. But we kiss. Starting in the early teens. Not that it should, but it does. I know. I was there. Now that I’m the father of four little girls I could wish that there were less kissing and more scrabble and parchesi. Do you know why?

Not for the usual negative reasons, although I go along with those. We all know that indiscriminate kissing, dancing in the dark, hanging around in cars, late dates at this early stage can lead to trouble. And that you miss a lot of fun with the nicer play-by-the-rules crowd. There is absolutely no need to rush clumsily into things that will have such beautiful meaning later on.

But I recommend the moderate course for another very positive reason. Kissing is not a game. Believe me! It means a lot more than just a pleasant pastime, a forfeit, or a test of popularity. I can tell you for sure that if you get to thinking of it that way, you’re dead wrong. A kiss is a beautiful expression of love ~ real love. Not only that, it is a powerful stimulus of emotion. Kissing for fun is like playing with a beautiful candle in a roomful of dynamite! And it’s like any other beautiful thing ~ when it ceases to be rare, it loses its value and much of its beauty. I really think it’s better to amuse ourselves in some other way. For your own future enjoyment I say go bowling, or to a basketball game, or watch a good TV program (like the Pat Boone Chevy show!), at least for a while.

Take it easy. Keep to the middle course. No extremes.

Source: Boone, Pat. ‘Twixt Twelve and Twenty: Pat talks to Teenagers. Engelwood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1958.
~ pp. 60-61 ~

The First Kiss

Monday, July 19th, 2010

enjoyable to both boys and girlsQ Dear Miss Abigail:

When is the right time for the first kiss?


A Dear Larrisa:

Ah, kissing. Certainly one of my favorite things to do. But your question is a serious one. When is the right time, when the time always seems to feel right? Hopefully this advice from Evelyn Millis Duvall’s 1956 Facts of Life and Love for Teen-Agers will help answer this question.

1956: That Goodnight Kiss

In many communities, a goodnight kiss is expected as the customary way of ending a date. It is usually enjoyable to both boys and girls, especially if they both know what it signifies. A goodnight kiss can mean any number of things. It may be the way a girl says ‘Thank you’ to the boy for giving her a good time. It may be a way of saying, ‘I like you.’ It may signify their special awareness of each other as dating boy and girl friends. It might just be a way of saying, ‘Come again.’ Or it may be a very special token of genuine affection. What it means depends upon the two persons and their definition of their relationship and of themselves.

Most girls, and boys too, agree that the first date is too soon for a goodnight kiss. Girls say that it seems too easy when it closes the very first date. Boys sometimes confess that they will try to kiss a girl the first time they take her out but that they really do not expect her to allow it, especially if she is the kind of girl they respect. Both boys and girls generally feel that a couple should have seen each other long enough to have become somewhat better acquainted than is possible after just one date, before they kiss each other.

How many dates before the first kiss? This is a good question, but hard to answer precisely. It depends upon the persons involved, how they feel about each other, how well they know each other, and what kissing means to them. Some couples date for a long while and never are particularly interested in kissing. They may enjoy each other’s companionship but do not feel the need of expressing their interest that way. Kathy liked Tom a lot. They had great fun together on bike trips on Saturday afternoons and playing together in the school band. Yet she never thought of him as a kissing partner, somehow. Not that he was repulsive; just that he was a pal, a friend, a comrade, whose contact with her was such that kissing him never entered her head. Perry on the other hand had swept her off her feet and she was ready to kiss him goodnight long before he took the initiative.

Source: Duvall, Evelyn Millis. Facts of Life and Love for Teen-Agers. New York: Association Press, 1956.
~ p. 169-70 ~

Kissing is Fun

Monday, July 19th, 2010

that affection which they needQ Dear Miss Abigail:

How do I know if he’s serious about me or just kissing me for fun? He has not expressed his feelings in words.


A Dear Carina:

Ever heard of “petting”? No, I’m not talking about your dog or cat. You know ~ making out, snogging ~ whatever kids these days are calling it. If he’s not displaying affection in any way other than a hot-and-heavy petting session than I think you know what the answer is.

1956: What is Petting?

Petting is love-making between members of the opposite sex. It produces sexual excitement. The ways of petting are many. Any combination of kissing, caressing and bodily nearness is commonly called petting. . .

One might think people pet because they are deeply in love. In reality, there are many other reasons boys and girls make petting a part of their dates. Some think petting is an expected part of dating, and they are afraid of being different ~ afraid of not doing the expected thing. Some young people receive very little love from their own family, so petting offers that affection which they need and want, sometimes unconsciously. Boys and girls who have gotten into the habit of petting from some former dating experiences, feel it is the only pattern for dating behavior. Some young people have found the sexual excitement of petting so tempting that they have become absolutely irresponsible and play at petting as a game ~ a game to be played with any partner available.

Source: Narramore, Clyde M. Life and Love: A Christian View of Sex. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1956.
~ p. 41 ~

Kissing Tips

Monday, July 19th, 2010

don't sit idly by and watch them quiveringQ Dear Miss Abigail:

Do you have any tips on kissing?


A Dear Mike:

But, of course! And although I’ve provided other tips in the past, I’d like to share this fun bit of kissing advice. It’s from a 1987 reprint of Hugh Morris’s informative How to Make Love: The Secret of Wooing and Winning the One You Love. A friend gave me a copy for my birthday in 1990. Inside he wrote,

“I hope this wonderful book will answer some important questions for you . . . I must caution you however to treat the information you receive here with the utmost respect ~ THIS IS NOT A TOY! Do not use this information unjustly!”

I think he would approve of using it here.

1936: The Technique of Kissing

Now is your chance! The moment you feel the tip of your nose touch her scalp, purse your lips and kiss her, the while you inhale a deep breath of air that is redolent with the exquisite odor of her hair. It is then but a few inches to her ear. Touch the rim of her ear with your lips in a sort of brushing motion. Breathe gently into the delicate shell. Some women react passionately to this subtle act. Brush past her here in this way again and note her reaction. If she draws her head away, return to the hair and sniff luxuriously of it. Then settle back to her ear, the while you murmer ‘sweet, airy nothings’ into it. From the ear to her neck is but another few inches. Let your lips traverse this distance quickly and then dart into the nape of the neck and, with your lips well pursed, nip the skin there, using the same gentleness as would a cat lifting her precious kittens.

Then, with a series of little nips, bring your lips around from the nape of her neck to the curving, swerve of her jaw, close to the ear. Gently kiss the lobe of her ear. But be sure to return to the tender softness of her jaw. From then on, the way should be clear to you. Nuzzle your lips along the soft, downy expanse until you reach the corner of her lips. You will know when this happens because, suddenly, you will feel a strange stiffening of her shoulders under your arm. The reason for this is that the lips constitute one of the main erogenous zones of the body.

All right. You have subtly kissed the corner of her mouth. Don’t hesitate. Push on further to more pleasurable spots. Ahead of you lies that which had been promised in your dreams, the tender, luscious lips of the girl you love. But don’t sit idly by and watch them quivering.


Lift your lips away slightly, center them so that when you make contact there will be a perfect union. Notice, only momentarily, the picture of her teeth in her lips, and, then, like a seagull swooping gracefully down through the air, bring your lips down firmly onto the lips of the girl who is quivering in your arms.

Kiss her!

Kiss her as though, at that moment, nothing else exists in the world. Kiss her as though your entire life is wrapped up into the period of the kiss. Kiss her as though there is nothing else that you would rather be doing. Kiss her!

Source: Morris, Hugh. How to Make Love: The Secret of Wooing and Winning the One You Love1936 (reprinted 1987).
~ pp. 16-17 ~

Hot Kissing Tips from the 1930s

Monday, July 19th, 2010

a blending, melting softnessQ Dear Miss Abigail:

There is this boy I like, and I want to kiss him. How do I do it?

Question Asker

A Dear Readers:

OK, everyone. I have a confession to make ~ I made this question up. But I had a horrible day today, and in my own stupidity I accidentally deleted all of my email. So if you’ve submitted a question and feel like sending it again, go ahead and do it and I’ll put it in the new database. Until then, this generic question (though one that is often asked), must do. The answer is from The Torch of Life, written in 1932 by Dr. F. M. Rossiter. I think it works well for Valentine’s Day, don’t you?

1932: Kissing

A kiss is not just a touch of the lips ~ there must be warmth and tenderness that convey the thought back of the lips to make it a clinging caress, a desire to return for more ~ just as the bee returns to the blossom. This is what must be found in the love union to make it sweet and beautiful, for it is just as truly a kiss of more intense warmth and tenderness ~ an infinitely more clinging caress.

There is as much difference between kisses as between light and darkness. Some men and women are natural-born kissers; and there are others that could not excel if they should live to be a thousand years old. Kissing itself is an art, and it takes experience to be a good kisser. Some women just ‘peck’ in their kissing. Some women draw their lips tightly over the teeth; indicating too much rigidity, particularly in a woman with thin lips. Naturally, full, rounded lips furnish the most alluring, intriguing mouth for a kiss, but, in any event, whether the lips are full or thin, in kissing for the real pleasure of the act, the mouth should be held softly, with lips curled slightly out, with teeth slightly separated. The man should put his lips to those of his partner with a blending, melting softness. Avoid overmoist kisses; they are not esthetic.

Source: Rossiter, Frederick M. The Torch of Life: A Key to Sex Harmony. New York: Eugenics Publishing Co., 1932.
~ p. 94 ~