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Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
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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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Posts Tagged ‘rules’

“Don’ts” Every Girl Should Know

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Reading Cosmo (once a sick vacation pleasure of mine) and those Rules books inspired presentation of this excerpt. Here are some older “rules” ~ or in this case “don’ts” ~ from Dorothy Dix’s How to Win and Hold a Husband (1939). I chose the most entertaining from a somewhat longer list. Are you taking notes? You will be quizzed later.

1939: “Don’ts” Every Girl Should Know

A discerning young man of my acquaintance has compiled a list of Don’ts for girls who want to be popular with men. . . .

Don’t look overjoyed when a man dates you up. Take it as a matter of course. A man thinks he must be a sap if he is the only one who ever notices you. Act as if you could take ’em or leave ’em and it didn’t matter which to you.

Don’t be too easy. No man wants the peach that threatens to fall in his mouth whether he desires it or not. The one he craves is the one that he has to climb a little for, but not too much nor too high. So calculate your distance and don’t really get beyond arm’s reach.

Don’t overdress. A man likes a girl to wear pretty clothes, but she scares him off when she decks herself out in what looks like a million dollars’ worth of finery. He begins to figure the upkeep of a wife who is addicted to Parisian gowns and hats, and then he decides that he can’t afford her.

Don’t make your flattery too obvious. All men are vain and like to be complimented but they want it done artistically.

Don’t be sentimental in public. If you want to get a line on how men really feel about this watch those couples in automobiles where the girl has her arms around a boy and her head on his shoulder and is looking up soulfully in his face, while he is sitting up as rigid as a ramrod, with “damn” written all over him.

Don’t accept every invitation a boy offers you. Stay at home now and then. The harder it is to get a date with a girl, the more eager a boy is for it. Men always want some other man’s O.K. on a woman.

Don’t brag about your conquests and tell how many men you could have married. It gives a boy cold feet because he feels that he will be Exhibit X in your collection of scalps, and you will be giving some other boy all the gory details of how you slew him.

Don’t call a boy up over the telephone during business hours. He will hate you for it, because you are jeopardizing his job. Don’t call a boy up at any time and reproach him for not having been to see you or inquire why he doesn’t take you out somewhere. He has your number and knows how to communicate with you if he so desires. There is no surer way for a girl to make herself unpopular with men than to be a telephone hound.

Don’t talk too much and, above all, don’t talk about yourself, ever. Men have a horror of girls who babble on forever and ever like a brook. Men like to talk about themselves and what they want is an intelligent listener.

Don’t think that you can get by with just a pretty face. That’s all to the good, of course, but if a girl wants to make a hit with men she has to have a lot of parlor tricks besides. She has to know how to be entertaining and amusing; how to dance and play a good game of bridge; how to fit in any company. Only senile grandpas fall for the beautiful but dumb, and Venus herself would be a wallflower if she had to be towed around a ballroom floor or trumped her partner’s ace.

Don’t be too ready to tell a man you love him. Keep him guessing ~ and keep him interested.

Source: Dix, Dorothy. How to Win and Hold a Husband. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1939.
~ pp. 118-23 ~