How to Write a Love Letter to Your Sweetie
Looking for a way to do something romantic during the pandemic and beyond? Try writing a love letter to your beloved.
Samantha Vérant remembers the first time she set eyes on her husband, Jean-Luc, at a café in Paris in the summer of 1989. Their eyes locked from across the room and they both felt the pull of a strong connection. It was love at first sight. But, alas, the next day she left him standing on a train platform in Paris. At 19 years old, she hadn’t sorted her life out enough to pursue a relationship but her Frenchman had other ideas.
“He wrote me seven love letters in an attempt to keep the spark between us lit,” says Vérant, who later wrote about her experience in Seven Letters from Paris: A Memoir. “Afraid to follow my heart, I didn’t write him back until twenty years later — in May of 2009. We married exactly one year later in May of 2010.”
At the age of forty, she was finally able to open her heart, again with the help of the written word. “For three months we communicated through letters,” she recalls.
While not all of us will be swept up into a long distance love affair, and while hopefully we will not have to wait so long for true love to be realized, any couple can bring the art of the love letter to their relationships.
“I write love letters to my wife, often in the form of poems, but also in personal reflections,” says Drew Farnsworth, an author of books for young adults. “Romance is even more important as children come along. It’s important to remind us of love for each other despite our uncompromising schedules. I believe that it’s more important to give handwritten letters, and to surprise her.”
A while ago, I reached out to writers and connoisseurs on the art of penning a true love letter. Here are their tips:
- Send a hand-written letter. In a pinch, an e-mail can be sent, but it is not as special. “My preference and recommendation is a handwritten note, letter, or card,” says Misha Granado, MPH, MS, an author of inspirational books about love. “So much of our life transpires online — social media, emails, media, and videos — and the only mail we receive are either advertisements or bills. Therefore, receiving a handwritten love letter in the mail, especially if you live together, is a beautiful gesture.”
- What the letter can contain. It’s a chance to speak from the heart without the challenge of trying to get the words out of your mouth. “What you have a hard time saying in person should go in the letter,” says Dana Lin, a stress management professional who also writes on romance. “Here, you are able to really express yourself without holding back.”
- No need to be a pro writer. Don’t feel you must mimic the famous love sonnets and letters of Shakespeare, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, or Jane Austen. “Sincerity is the most important factor,” says writer and translator Lori Straus. “If you stick to concrete points, such as a specific memory or recent event – or maybe physical characteristics that you love or personality traits―writing skill is irrelevant. A love letter doesn’t have to be a ten-page essay on the subject. Four or five sentences will suffice.” Of course, it can be longer if you like.
- When to send a love letter. Although it is nice to express your feelings in daily life a love letter is especially sweet on special occasions, and sweeter still when unexpected. “Special occasions include when something out of the ordinary happened — like promotion at work, or having gone through surgery,” says Lin. “[Or when] something has shaken your life a bit and a love letter can be very reassuring.”
- Reveal true feelings. Anthony Dallmann–Jones PhD, Professor of Education at Marian University in Wisconsin, says it is important to be real. “A love letter is about intimacy which is also about being vulnerable,” he says. “So a real love letter portrays that, also.”
- Be unpredictable. Dare to be different. “The phrase ‘I love you’ is worn out and tossed around like an old salad,” says Dallmann–Jones says. “Better phrases are: “I adore the way you…” or “I care for you so much I…” Also, give the recipient something they did not know. “A love letter should say something surprising,” he says. “Surprise is the better part of romance.”
In Vérant’s case, love letters brought her closer to her true love. Though her story is dramatic, it illustrates how love letters can connect people who feel distant, and can also put some pizazz into your relationship.
“Finally, in August of 2010, Jean-Luc and I reconnected in France,” she says. “Through letters, we’d established a strong emotional connection. When we finally saw one another, lightning struck again.”
These feelings can be evoked if you and your beloved are in an ordinary love slump or having a rough time dealing with a crisis. This is because a letter makes you feel so special and so adored. As Granado points out: “A handwritten love letter says, ‘I see you. You are important to me. I took time out to handwrite my sentiments. You inspire me. I love you. I am honored to have you in my life.’”
Have you ever received or written a love letter?