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!

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Posts Tagged ‘single’

To Live Without Sex

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

don't let me become bitterQ Dear Miss Abigail:

The prospects for men are not good in my life ~ I fear I’ll ever have sex again. How does a woman in my situation cope?

Signed,
Flo

A Dear Flo:

With such a horrific situation like yours, it only seems appropriate to refer to the writings of a housewife who carried on conversations with God about “just about anything a woman thinks about during her day in the home or at work.” Lucky for you, she likes to share these prayers. Now repeat after me…

1969: To Live Without Sex

If I must live without sex, Lord, help me do so gracefully. Don’t let me become bitter and resentful, blaming you, the world, or anyone else.

Instead of self-pity, give me the strength and the cheerful acceptance that comes from self-respect.

Above all, give me the understanding; the wisdom to sort out complexities of this common human condition. It’s so easy to confuse what the body thinks it needs and wants with what the mind and the world dictate. Protect me from this confusion, Lord, don’t let me be misled.

Help me to remember, Lord, that many people endure afflictions and deprivations far worse. And that a great many people live happy, purposeful, inspiring lives that are devoid of sex.

Give me their secrets of acceptance, give me their grace.

If I am to live without sex, Lord, allow me to express and use this great force you have given me for some significant end.

Source: Marjorie Holmes, I’ve Got to Talk to Somebody, God. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1969.
~ pp. 48-49 ~

Why Aren’t You Married?

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

i'm frightened mommyQ Dear Miss Abigail:

What are some good responses for a single woman to use when she is constantly hassled about her non-marital status, for example, “You are so young, and beautiful, why aren’t you married?” I have found that my own personal response of “I like my independence, dammit!” has proven inadequate. Please help!

Signed,
Independent and Proud of It

A Dear Independent:

I’m there with you, baby! It is hard to imagine, in this day and age, that one would have to explain to rude inquisitors why one’s life is the way it is. But sadly, single men and women are frequently forced into such a conversation.

Most of my books only discuss the normal path ~ teens start dating, and that leads to marriage. Easy as pie, right? So I don’t have an easy response for you, sweetie. But maybe these words will help you realize that you are not alone. I find the “marriage is absurd” observation quite charming.

1965: Absurdity

Marriage is a paradox second only to life itself. That at the age of twenty or so, with little knowledge of each other and a dangerous overdose of self-confidence, two human beings should undertake to commit themselves for life ~ and that church and state should receive their vows with a straight face ~ all this is absurd indeed. And it is tolerable only if it is reveled in as such. A pox on all the neat little explanations as to why it is reasonable that two teenagers should be bound to each other until death. It is not reasonable. It happens to be true to life, but it remains absurd. Down with the books that moralize reasonably on the subject of why divorce is wrong. Divorce is not a wrong; it is a metaphysical impossibility. It is an attempt to do something about life rather than with it ~ to work out the square root of –I rather than to use it.

Source: Capon, Robert Farrar. Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1965.
~ p.16 ~

1971: Why is it that some women never marry?

The answer isn’t easy. Among the sweetest words any woman ever hears are, “Will you marry me, darling?” Yet there are more than nine million American women, who have never heard these words at all ~ or if they have, weren’t listening. The vast majority of them are healthy, intelligent, attractive human beings who are directing the course of their lives stubbornly against the tide of society. To do something as drastic and as difficult as that, they must have some pretty good reasons.

Our American way of life is designed, like Noah’s Art, for those who march two-by-two. Nearly every form of entertainment from sports cars to king-sized beds is designed for the mutual enjoyment of a man and a woman. At parties, at clubs, at bars, at virtually every pleasurable activity in this land of supreme pleasures, a woman alone feels and is made to feel out of tune with the rest of the world. . . .

What effect does this have on a single woman?

In this country every woman who is not married by the age of twenty-one is treated as if she were suffering from a progressive disease that makes the bubonic plaque seem like a bad cold. Until the age of thirty, the chances of recovery are considered favorable and the victim is allowed to mingle freely with the rest of society. As the years slip by the outlook dims and the period of quarantine begins. Those of her friends who are engaged or going steady, and the natural elite who are already married, slowly withdraw to avoid becoming contaminated.

After the age of thirty she is the topic of hushed conversation. “Did you know that Ellen is thirty-one and doesn’t even have a steady boyfriend?” This is the equivalent of saying, “I just heard from Ellen’s doctor ~ the poor dear has only a few months to live!”

Souce: Reuben, David. Any Woman Can. New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1971.
~ pp. 86-87 ~

None of the Guys Like Me!

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

boys and girls like yourselfQ Dear Miss Abigail:

I really haven’t had a boyfriend and my best friend gets a new one every time she breaks up with one. I was told it’s because I look like I beat guys up but I don’t. None of the guys like me. What do I do?

Signed,
Seeking Love

A Dear Seeking:

You would feel so much better if I told you my pitiful dating history, which in the early years was made up of just one “affair” with my best friend Donny in junior high. He bugged me after three days, however, and I had to end it abruptly. Luckily he forgave me and we remained friends. Not until after college did I begin to sort of date, and only recently have I started to really get the hang of it. And I’m in my thirties!

My point is, everyone feels the way you do at one point in their lives or another. Here’s a little reminder from the textbook Living for Young Moderns, written in 1956 by Irene E. McDermott and Florence Williams Nicholas.

1956: If You Don’t Date, Don’t Think You Are Different

Would it surprise you to know that most high school students do not date regularly? And that great numbers graduate without having had a single date? If you seldom date, or not at all, you are not different from the majority of your classmates. There is no need to feel that you are socially a failure if you do not date. This does not mean that you should not date or try to get dates if you want them. It means simply that there are lots of other boys and girls like yourself who do not date, either because they are not interested or because they do not know how to get dates. Remember that there are many years ahead after you graduate from high school.

Source: McDermott, Irene E. and Florence Nicholas. Living For Young Moderns. Chicago: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1956.
~ pp. 104-105 ~

A Morning Revelation About Dating

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

In all your sex life take Christ with youQ Dear Miss Abigail:

Being an aged person of fifteen, I had thought I had a great deal of experience with relationships. However, this morning I realized that I had NEVER HAD A BOYFRIEND! NOBODY asks me out. I am really desperate to know why ~ I am pretty okay looking if I do say so myself, I smell ok. I am not too painfully shy, and I am not a tomboy. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!! Is there something I’m not noticing that is turning guys off? Or am I just a late starter? Most of my friends have boyfriends.

Signed,
Sophie, Desperate and Dateless

A Dear Sophie:

You poor girl! You might as well give up. I mean, if you haven’t had a boyfriend yet, I doubt you’ll ever get one.

You know I’m kidding, right?

Thank you. Now let’s get down to business. If you just relax and think about this period in your life as a good thing, a time to focus on you, I’m sure you’ll find true love and happiness when you’re, like, sixteen or seventeen. Here are some tips from a book called Christian Girl’s Problems. The advice of author Bertrand Williams, according to the flap copy, is “based upon the Word of God and the power of Christ’s blood to cleanse the heart which accepts Him by faith,” so I’m sure he can help.

1943: Dating the Boys

‘How early shall I date the boys?’ you ask. Well, let me tell you about Sandra, the cutest little thirteen-year-old you ever laid eyes on. She had dark olive skin, bold brown eyes, blue-black curly hair that hung in ringlets, and had a flair for wearing the smart clothes her parents provided. Sandra attracted the boys when she was thirteen and these boys ~ some of whom were eighteen or more ~ wanted dates, but Sandra’s Sunday school teacher had been her confidante and they talked it over.

‘If you save your dates until you are older, won’t you get a grander thrill out of the first experience?’ asked Sandra’s teacher. And together they arrived at the conclusion that if she waited until sixteen for her first date, and made herself attractive by building a beautiful body and becoming glamorous in the truly Christian sense, she would build a better foundation for young womanhood.

True enough, when she was sixteen, a neighbor boy saw her, loved her deeply, dated her, and for the next two years, until he was out of college, they were true lovers. The first and only boy Sandra ever kissed, outside of her family, was this lad she married last spring just before he went to the army camp.

She said, ‘I never played around with all the boys in town, and I might have missed something, but you would have a hard time convincing me that I am not better off for having loved only my Dirk.’

Don’t date too early, and don’t become serious in your girlhood. By all means keep the boys at their distance, and when you finally date, keep your kisses as a sacred trust. Pawing and petting are out for the Christian girl who would hold her body in readiness as a gift to the lad she is to marry.

Treat your sex urges rightly while you are young, and they will be a great source of pleasure throughout life, but debase them while you are young, and they will collect a toll of tragedy for every day you live. In all your sex life take Christ with you. He alone will help you meet these problems, control the urge, and prepare you to be a future wife and mother.

Source: Williams, Bertrand. Christian Girl’s Problems. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1943.
~ pp. 58-59 ~

Forever Lonely ~ Or Not?

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

no fish rising to her baitQ Dear Miss Abigail:

Will I stay lonely forever?

Signed,
Maris

A Dear Maris:

I cannot say whether you shall remain lonely forever, my dear, for I do not know you or your situation. But Dorothy Dix’s words on the dateless girl (from a chapter in How To Win And Hold A Husband) offers some things to think about. This excerpt is kind of long, but I just had to share. Dorothy certainly doesn’t sound to keen on marriage, does she? Tee hee.

1939: The Girl Who Has No Dates

The plight of the girls who have a natural feminine yearning for the attentions of men and love and romance and marriage but who are denied these is truly a sad one. What makes this situation still more pathetic is that they exaggerate their value and the happiness they would bring them. The girl who has no dates pictures every party as a wild orgy of joy. She imagines every man is a Prince Charming and she has never a doubt but that if she did marry her husband would be an ideal mate and her home an earthly paradise.

It never seems to occur to these girls that most of the parties are dull, stupid affairs where the guests yawn in each other’s faces; that the boy friend, too, is often a bore who reduces a girl to tears and with whom she goes out only in the hope of meeting some more entertaining companion. Nor does she suspect that on their wedding days most wives do not enter into an Elysium but get life sentences at hard work.

If the business girl will look around at her married friends she will see that most of them look older than she does; that few of them are as well-dressed or can afford the amusements she enjoys. And she will discover that the husband who remains a gallant lover after three or four years of married life is about as rare as hens’ teeth.

For most women marriage is doing without pretty clothes and is hard work and childbearing and walking colicky babies and putting up with the temper and crotchets of a man who generally is disallusioned with matrimony himself. So the average engaged girl who thinks she is going to miss all the trials and tribulations of matrimony and draw the capital prize is simply fooling herself.

Still all of this does not keep girls from wanting to marry or their mothers from wanting to see them married. That is nature, with which we cannot argue, and the pity of it is that there is not some way by which a miracle could be wrought to provide proper bridegrooms for all these nice girls who would make such good wives. . . .

It seems to me there are only two things these matrimony-minded girls can do, especially after they have reached the age of thirty when time becomes a great factor in success. One is boldy to take the initiative and do the courting themselves; pick out the particular men they desire to have for husbands and go in for a whirlwind campaign. Virtually any woman can marry any man if she will just go after him hard enough, provided she never lets him suspect that she is being the aggressor. . . .

[What] can the girl do whom boys never date up of their own volition, whose partners have to be conscripted for her at dances and who knows herself to be an undesired addition to any party she wishes herself upon?

Before succumbing to the inevitable she might give herself one more chance by making a change in her environment. Many a girl who is a social failure at home is a success abroad. Many a girl whom the boys on Main Street couldn’t see becomes one whom strange men behold with admiration, as is witnessed by the number of girls who marry away from home. If, however, a girl finds that threshing in different water brings no fish rising to her bait, then she saves herself mortification and wear and tear on her soul and body if she accepts the situation, gives up the struggle to attract men and fills her life with other interests.

Source: Dix, Dorothy. How to Win and Hold a Husband. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1939.
~ pp. 105-107 ~

Those Who May Not Marry

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

it is always to avoid self-pityThis week’s selection is from a book published by Dr. Warren Bowman, who was, at the time, pastor of a church in Miss Abigail’s home base, Washington, D.C. You’ll be relieved to find out that Home Builders of America (as I read in the introduction) “wholly avoids ‘pornographic paragraphs,'” and that “no one, indeed, would have any reason to hesitate to leave this book lying around . . . for any child or adult to read when and where he wished.” We wouldn’t want to deprive anyone from discovering the following passage. Let’s “face reality” together, now, shall we?

1938: Those Who May Not Marry

It would be unfair to conduct courses in marriage and home life without taking into account that there may be some in the group who will never marry. It is necessary for them to study how to make the most effective adjustment to single life as well as for the married to make their adjustment to married life.

Causes for remaining single. Causes for remaining single fall under several general heads: those who deliberately choose the single life, those who do not have the opportunity of marrying, and those who have the opportunity but do not feel that the available one is the right person. Some choose to remain single because of hereditary defects in themselves or in their family which they think make the risk too great for them to marry and have children. Others are too disappointed in love and the memory of the former person prevents them from falling in love with someone else. One of the most pathetic cases that ever came within the writer’s experience was that of a young college girl who during her early life had fallen in love with a married man and, because of this experience, could not give her love to other worthy young men who sought her hand. Then some have dependent parents or other obligations which they feel prevent them from marrying. Some put a career ahead of marriage, which is especially true of women of the professional class who go in for higher degrees. Finally, there are a few who have never had a suitable love affair. For some reason or other they have been deprived of the company of desirable persons of the opposite sex during their marriageable years. The majority in this group are young women, many of whom have keenly desired marriage and were well fitted to assume its obligations, but our standard, which gives the men the right to take the initiative in wooing, has left them out. Then, the fact that there is an uneven distribution of the sexes, more women than men and vice versa, in certain areas of the country, would naturally leave some without a mate.

In spite of the fact that some are left out, we must not forget that most men and women have the opportunity of choosing whether they will marry or not. Almost every man can find some mate if he so desires, and many women who are single today have chosen to remain so. . . . Many who have remained single might have been married if they had placed themselves in a more favorable environment for meeting suitable men.

Face reality. Those who find the years passing with no promising opportunity to marry should face the problem frankly and plan their lives accordingly. It would appear wise for them to study the biographies and autobiographies of single men and women who have lived satisfying and abundant lives. One might especially profit from studying the lives of those in the field of his interests who have turned single life into an asset. Single women would find it interesting to study the lives of Jane Addams, Florence Nightingale, and many other brave women who have given their lives to such professions as teaching, nursing, missionary activities, and social uplift. Many single women have made notable contributions to human betterment, far greater contributions perhaps than they would have made had they married. The same is true of some single men. Some of the outstanding men of history have remained single.

Find a desirable outlet. The severest stress on the single person comes from the blocking of emotional outlets. Thus it behooves those who remain single to take special care that their personalities are not warped by single life. This is just as true of the men as the women, for bachelors often develop peculiar habits and traits. Single people need a desirable emotional outlet which can often be found in social service. Thousands of single women today are doubtless sublimating their maternal tendency in such vocations as teaching, nursing, and social work. These fields are often blessed by having women in them who have strong maternal tendency, since they are likely to be more sympathetic toward the unfortunate. Some of the greatest contributions to human welfare have come from men and women who have converted their disappointments and suffering into a force for social betterment.

In making one’s adjustment to single life it is always wise to avoid self-pity. It is far better to find others who are more unfortunate than one’s self and make life pleasant for them. It is also healthy to take a vital interest in the life around one.

It is perhaps wise for young women especially to think of what they may do in case they do not marry. They may plan two careers, marriage, in case the right person comes along, and another career which they may follow in case they do not marry. The mentally healthy person who has planned for years in this dual manner will not likely be so disappointed if she never marries, but will be able to make a happy adjustment in some worthy vocation.

It is well to recognize that there are some who, because of peculiar temperament, would find the adjustments of marriage too difficult and should perhaps be advised to remain single. They would not only be unhappy in marriage, but would ruin the happiness of a mate.

Source: Bowman, Warren D. Home Builders of Tomorrow. Elgin, Ill.: The Elgin Press, 1938.
~ pp. 51-54 ~

Pleasures of a Single Bed

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

plenty of pillows and your best nightgownThis selection comes from Live Alone and Like It: A Guide for the Extra Woman, written by Marjorie Hillis. I think I need to do a bit more reading about the “extra woman,” don’t you agree?

1936: Pleasures of a Single Bed

It is probably true that most people have more fun in bed than anywhere else, and we are not being vulgar. Even going to bed alone can be alluring. There are many times, in fact, when it’s by far the most alluring way to go.

Whether you agree with this or not, you have to go to bed at least once every twenty-four hours, and you will have to keep right on going as long as you live. If you read the statistics, you will find that you spend such a large proportion of your life lying down that it scarcely seems worth the trouble to get up at all. All of which makes it pretty obvious that you might as well make an art of going to bed.

We are all for as much glamour as possible in the bedroom. The single bedroom, as well as the double one. If even the most respectable spinsters would regard their bedrooms as places where anything might happen, the resulting effects would be extremely beneficial.

You may have a small bedroom, or a not very elegant one, but you must have a bed. Make it as good a bed as you can possibly afford. Make it, also, as beautiful as possible. If you can’t go in for a modern mirrored bed, or an old mahogany four-poster, or a good reproduction of some other type ~ then take the bed you have and have the head and foot cut off and a really charming cover made to fit it. With plenty of pillows and your best nightgown, you can be as seductive in this as in any other.

The chief other properties for a successful bedroom scene are a bedside table with a good light for reading, a clock, and a telephone within reach. And it’s not a bad idea to have the dressing-table mirror, or some other mirror, hanging directly opposite the foot of the bed, so that you can see yourself when you sit up. This is sometimes depressing, but it acts as a prompter when you feel yourself slipping.

Every woman should work out her own special ritual to be performed religiously every night before getting into bed. And every night does not except those nights when you are dead-tired. Even then, at least a few good strokes with a hair-brush stiff enough to start up circulation, a bit of cuticle oil and a lotion on the hands, cleansing cream and whatever other cream does the most for your face, are just as important as brushing your teeth. On nights when you’re home and not so tired, give yourself all the other little personal touches that you need. This is particularly advisable if you don’t want to keep on going to bed alone for the rest of your life, but you’d better do it, anyway. . . .

If all this sounds a little dreary, think of the things that you, all alone, don’t have to do. You don’t have to turn out your light when you want to read, because somebody else wants to sleep. You don’t have to have the light on when you want to sleep, because somebody else wants to read. You don’t have to get up in the night to fix somebody else’s hot-water bottle, or lie awake listening to snores, or be vivacious when you’re tired, or cheerful when you’re blue, or sympathetic when you’re bored. You probably have your bathroom all to yourself, too, which is unquestionably one of Life’s Great Blessings. You don’t have to wait till someone finishes shaving, when you are all set for a cold-cream session. You have no one complaining about your pet bottles, no one to drop wet towels on the floor, no one occupying the bathtub when you have just time to take a shower. From dusk until dawn, you can do exactly as you please, which, after all, is a pretty good allotment in this world where a lot of conforming is expected of everyone.

Source: Hillis, Marjorie. Live Alone and Like It: A Guide for the Extra Woman. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1936.
~ pp. 81-83, 87-88 ~

Is She an Old Maid?

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

her amibitions have full swayQ Dear Miss Abigail:

My sister is thirty-two years old and unmarried. Is she an old maid? Is there any hope or should we give up?

Signed,
Antoine

A Dear Antoine:

Give up? Thirty-two is certainly not dead. Besides, she might be perfectly happy with her singleness. I bet she’s absolutely joyous!

Even though it is not wartime, I believe Bernarr Macfadden’s words in Womanhood and Marriage can offer some appropriate thoughts. Apparently it’s not the lack of men that keep woman “unhappy,” it’s the lack of children. Hmmm, interesting…do you think dogs count?

1923: The Old Maid

Some few years ago the phrase, “bachelor girl,” was a popular one, and we still have her with us, though the name is less used. The bachelor girl is an unmarried woman, of almost any age, who has gone out into the world of business and is leading her own independent, and generally very efficient, life. She carries with her no suggestion of failure. No one could ever think of her as a remnant on life’s bargain counter. She has remained unmarried because no man came into her circle of friends who possessed enough attractions to woo her from a life of “single blessedness.” It would sometimes seem to be something of a reflection upon the men of the present time, when one looks over the women who would have made such splendid mothers, but who have persistently remained outside of the bonds of matrimony. The bachelor girl has managed to escape the narrow life and weazened existence of the traditional old maid; but has she after all nothing to regret?

There are many allurements in the single life. There is, for example, the greater freedom which comes to one who has no one’s needs or desires to consider but her own. She can live her own life, which is what so many of us clamor for in the early years of adolescence. She is free to let her amibitions have full sway, and she may, therefore, achieve success ~ in some instances a noteworthy one. Yet we may ask ourselves, Is she always satisfied?

While she is young and everything comes her way, she is too busy climbing from one point to the next on life’s ladder to ask herself this question. When she reaches middle life and finds that she has achieved all that she dreamed of, and possibly more, there is little room for this question. But as the shadows of life begin to gather around her, and she finds herself left more and more alone because those of her own generation are silently departing to other shores, more and more frequently must the question return to her, “Is this all? Has it been worth while?”…

Although they may never know the intimate joys of marriage, there is no reason why they should be deprived of the deep and lasting happiness of motherhood. Without any doubt, the greatest, the most lasting, most satisfying happiness that comes to woman, comes through the gratification of her maternal instinct, and it need not necessarily be her own children who bring to her this satisfaction. There are today thousands of little children left orphans because of war, and no woman need ever be without little children in her home…. There will be no drying up of the fountain of life as the years go by, but rather will it grow richer and fuller from year to year. Thus may the bachelor girl insure herself against the dreaded fate of ever becoming that pitiful creature, the traditional old maid.

Source: Macfadden, Bernarr. Womanhood and Marriage. New York: Macfadden Book Company, Inc.,1923.
~ pp. 19-20, 21-23 ~

A Girl’s Best Friend

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

the whoops and the jangles

Here’s something for the fabulous (and plentiful) singles out there. Ladies, get ready to “contemplate” those Ex-Men! This is from a 1949 book titled How to Be Happy While Single, and goes out to my partners in crime one memorable Valentine’s weekend oh-so-long ago: Liz, Molly, and Sarah.

1949: A Girl’s Best Friend

A young single woman in an ‘island’ period in her life is prone to become morose over her lot and is self-pity’s easiest pushover. Her whole life, she decides, had been one of frustration, disappointment, and sacrifice, though just where sacrifice fits in she might not be able to say specifically. Over the whole pitiful picture hangs the brooding conviction that if she were ‘married and settled down’ in a ‘home of her own’ all her troubles would melt away as quickly as pounds in advertisements for reducing pills. . . .

Nothing cheers up a girl faster, when she has the whoops and the jangles, than contemplating the Ex-Men of Her Life. Think over your departed admirers. Would you really want to be fighting over the bills with the tightwad who walked you eleven blocks in the rain one night rather than take a taxi? How pleasant would life be with the Gloomy Gus whose disposition resembled that of a discontented chow dog? The D. T.’s finally caught up with the otherwise top-notch chap you were seriously considering marrying several years ago, hesitating only because you doubted his ability to control his drinking. Others flit across your mind: the irresponsible spirit who put on the women’s hats at a party and pulled chairs out from under people, the hypochondriac who carried his thermometer with him and took his temperature, publicly or privately, every hour, and others who were just plain dull, never thinking an interesting thought or expressing an original idea. If you’d married one of them at least you wouldn’t be ‘lonely’ as you now think you are ~ and what a heavenly state loneliness would seem. Most of these men eventually married other women, so you realize that no man is so hopeless that some woman won’t marry him. Now you are paying the price for being discriminating, but actually you are solitary, not lonely. Always remember that solitude is voluntary, loneliness is involuntary.

Probably these ruminations over the past have put you in a state of mind to do something constructive about the present. How do you go about filling the vacuum? There are many ways, and the wonderful part of the ‘cure’ is that it will enrich every phase of your life, whether lonely, solitary or full. If you ever become an ‘island’ again, as you probably will, married or single, you won’t have to start from scratch learning how to be your own best friend.

Source: Van Evera, Jean. How to be Happy While Single. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1949.
~ pp. 135-37 ~

Plunging In

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

With all my books on the subject of love, marriage, and happy ever after, it’s sometimes refreshing to flip through the few in my collection devoted to the fine art of being single, something my friends and I have had a lot of experience with. Here’s a tidbit from one of these books ~ How To Be Happy While Single, authored by Jean Van Evera. And to all you “adventurous” young ladies of America ~ make sure you consider those angles very, very carefully.

1949: Plunging In

The subject of sex has a revolving fascination for everyone. Any way you turn it, it’s still interesting. Probably nobody finds it more so than the young woman who is anxiously pressing her face against the fence of the Maidens’ Reservation as she tries to make up her mind whether to leap over or staying where it’s safe.

There are times, of course, when sex sneaks up ~ even on ‘nice’ people ~ very unexpectedly. Healthy exuberance, which may or may not have been heightened by alchohol, physical chemistry and a warm spring (or summer) night (or cool autumn night, or cold winter night) may conspire to work together to produce surprising and unforseen results. The only excuse either or both can think of when they face themselves sheepishly the next day are those classic, all-embracing words: ‘It seemed the thing to do at the time.’

It is hard to determine how many girls allow this exuberance to trip them. And furthermore, heart-to-heart talks with them seldom if ever do any good because they never intend to be tripped anyway. Probably not many approach sex in this manner. It is too Serious a Business to most women who feel that they have to get their thoughts on the matter all sorted out before proceeding. . . .

The adventurous young woman who is wondering whether to plunge in, even though she is not in love (or at least not yet), has many angles to consider. She is fond of the chap and there is certainly sizzling attraction between them, even though she does not feel he would be ideal to have around for the rest of her life. She has no yearnings to keep his shirt buttons anchored or pick up his wet bathtowels. But she is intensely curious about sex and all the superlatives which have been expended on it ever since she can remember. If her background has been strict, it was the Ultimate Sin. If her reading has been of wide scope and her imagination sensitive, she has come to feel that it is Life’s Great Experience and who is she to pass up anything so earthshaking? Besides, our society is artificial anyway, and our sex mores have arisen out of economic exigencies. The Samoans ~ or one of those tribes ~ go for free love and everybody’s happy. Who is to say that we are right and they are wrong and isn’t it all relative? She has heard about frustrations and how dangerous they are and heaven knows she feels plenty frustrated. Doesn’t she owe it to herself to take the cure, when the cure is so simple?

Source: Van Evera, Jean. How to be Happy While Single. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1949.
~ pp. 122-26, 126 ~