WITH VALENTINE’S DAY fast approaching, it seems like a good time to talk about the art of writing a love letter — an art that is in danger of becoming extinct, as is all letter writing, lost to the new communication norms of texting and email and social media messaging.
On the plus side, in this time of electronic everything, an old-fashioned handwritten love letter will be all the more meaningful and treasured.
Why write a love letter?
At its core, a love letter is simply an expression of appreciation for someone and not limited to a romantic partner. You can also write love letters to anyone you adore — your children, your parents, a best friend — anyone you appreciate and who makes a positive impact on your life.
A love letter gives you an opportunity to communicate thoughts and feelings that might be difficult to say in person or express in a text or email.
And, of course, love letters do not need to be confined to romantic holidays. You can write one any time — when things are great, when they’re not great, on an anniversary of a special date, or on any day, just because.
No matter what else you have to give, a love letter is always heartwarming and can mean more than any material gift. Written from the heart and with authenticity, a love letter will be cherished for years to come.
One of the great things about this gift is that it doesn’t matter what it’s written on — you don’t need fancy stationery to write the perfect love letter. Beautiful stationery or a card is nice, but whatever you choose, I recommend writing a draft on plain paper first. Then rewriting your final copy on the nicer stationery.
Before you start, think about your intention. What is it you most want to express? And what do you hope your recipient will get from your letter?
Things to include:
- The date — This might seem a little mundane, but your loved one will want to save and reread the letter in the future, and it will help to know when you wrote it.
- Next is your salutation. Ideas include, My darling, To my wonderful (man/woman/sister/friend), Hello gorgeous/handsome, Sweetheart, My Dearest, and Darling. If you have a nickname or pet name for the person, use that.
- Start with why you’re writing — is it because of the holiday, or are they away and you miss them, or maybe you just happened to be thinking about them?
- Let them know how much they mean to you. Use a memory from the past as an example or as a springboard to talk about your feelings. What do you appreciate and love about them? Why are they an important person in your life? Compliment them on a physical or personality feature. If this is a romantic love letter, go ahead and be sensual.
- Talk about the future. When do you hope to see this person again? What do you look forward to sharing together in the future?
- Include a quote if so inclined and the quote helps you express your feelings.
- Finally, sign it with a warm and heartfelt closing, such as, With all my love, Yours always, and Holding you in my heart.
For inspiration, here are excerpts of a few famous love letters:
From Winston Churchill to his wife Clementine Churchill
“Time passes swiftly, but is it not joyous to see how great and growing is the treasure we have gathered together, amid the storms and stresses of so many eventful and, to millions, tragic and terrible years?”
From Napoleon Bonaparte to Joséphine de Beauharnais
“Since I left you, I have been constantly depressed. My happiness is to be near you. Incessantly I live over in my memory your caresses, your tears, your affectionate solicitude. The charms of the incomparable Joséphine kindle continually a burning and a glowing flame in my heart.”
From Abigail Adams to John Adams
“I look back to the early days of our acquaintance; and Friendship, as to the days of Love and Innocence; and with an indescribable pleasure I have seen near a score of years roll over our Heads, with an affection heightened and improved by time — nor have the dreary years of absence in the smallest degree effaced from my mind the Image of the dear untitled man to whom I gave my Heart.”
From John Keats to Fanny Brawne
“My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you — I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again — my Life seems to stop there — I see no further. You have absorb’d me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving — I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you.”
As you can see, there is no right or wrong way to express your love. The point is to just do it.