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 ‘shyness’

The Nerve!

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

denies any thought of failureQ Dear Miss Abigail:

What do I say to a girl to make her like me cause I am very shy and I don’t know what to say to a girl if I like her and how do I know if a girl likes me or not? Please help.


A Dear Vensky:

“Open up that mind, son, and snap into things,” says author Louis Le Claire Jones in his Birthday Chats with Tomorrow’s Man, published in 1940. You better listen to him. Any words I tell you to say won’t help without a little bit of confidence. Work on that, and then get back to me.

1940: Nerve vs. Confidence

You may have a girl friend who you admire from a distance. It’s ‘from a distance’ because you haven’t the courage to treat her as a friend, much as you would like to. To tell the truth she may be quite anxious to know you better, but your timidity is mistaken for coolness, and perhaps the chance for a fine friendship is lost because of it. It may surprise you to discover how cordially you would be received if you would turn down that inferiority idea for a while, and ignore its existence by denying it to yourself.

There is a difference between ‘nerve’ and ‘confidence.’ Nerve is something you use to force a situation ~ while confidence comes by honestly and fairly acquiring, through experiment and experience, the courage to accomplish what you set out to do. When a fellow acts on his nerve it is with the feeling that he is attempting something beyond him, but hopes he will succeed. When you do a similar thing in confidence, you approach the problem with a calm, serene feeling of assurance which denies any thought of failure. Son, if you don’t meet that girl, maybe you lack a little of both, and because of a certain ‘complex’ which has you ‘buffaloed!’

Source: Jones, Louis LeClaire. Birthday Chats with Tomorrow’s Man. Chicago: Charles E. Tench Printing Co., 1940.
~ pp. 97-98 ~

He’s So Shy and So Am I

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

the perpetual, ever-present perception of selfQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I’ve liked this guy for almost three years now. Last year he started to like my friend. I wasn’t really friends with her at the time, but now I am. I’m not invited to anything with him around, but he knows that I used to like him. I am super shy and so is he. What can I do to get to know him better, without coming on too strong?


A Dear Ikkatut:

Step One. Confront your shyness (tip: read this advice from Elinor Glyn).

Step Two. Confront your man (tip: read “How Do I Get Him to Ask Me Out?” and others).

Step Three. Prepare to date!

1925: Frank Advice to Unmarried Girls (Shyness)

Another defect girls often have which drives desirable men away is shyness, and very few people stop to analyze its cause. Shyness, when we have got down to the bedrock of it, is pure personal egotism. People are shy because they fancy others are observing them. If they were not so conscious of themselves they would not be obsessed with this idea; they would realize that they are probably not really very interesting, and may never have struck others’ consciousness at all. But no ~ the perpetual, ever-present perception of self makes them awkward, makes them wonder what effect they are producing, makes them nervous and the prey of every foolishness. Whereas, if they were not so sensitively occupied with their own feelings, they would do natural things without a tremor. I have no patience when I hear a woman being excused for stiffness and brusqueness by the plea of, “Oh, she is so dreadfully shy!” It is not real humility ~ real humility would not be conscious of self at all. It is vanity and egotism; and when seen in a grown woman casts a very poor reflection upon those who had the charge of her bringing-up from earliest childhood. If you are shy, take yourself sternly to task, analyze what makes you so, and overcome it. Bashfulness and shyness are as great faults as boldness, and perhaps cause more unhappiness. The antithesis of shyness is bumptiousness, and this also comes from egotism; it is a different expression of the same fundamental fault. Try to eradicate the root if you have a tendency to either of its demonstrations.

Source: Glyn, Elinor. This Passion Called Love. Auburn, N.Y.: The Authors’ Press, 1925.
~ pp. 82-83 ~