"Strap yourself in, this is going to be embarrassing" - a guide to writing a love letter
There is no doubt that receiving any kind of letter is a wonderful thing, especially if it's a love filled one. Writing one can be just as rewarding as it fills you up with all the love you're sending, so here's a guide to writing a love letter this Valentine's Day.
Don’t be put off if you’re poetically challenged. There will be no love letter police turning up and taking you in for saying, "You're a bit of alright" in your opening paragraph. If writing is really not your forte, you could borrow someone else’s words. Write out quotes from songs, poems, films etc., that express how you feel. The mere act of thinking of someone, selecting some words and then sitting down to write them will feel priceless to the recipient. If music is your food of love, then a mix tape is surely up there with love letters, and these days it only takes a few minutes to create and send a playlist.
Write on whatever you have to hand
Don’t let having the perfect paper or notecard get in your way. Better that the message gets through on the back of a used envelope than not at all – and you get brownie points from Mother Nature for recycling. You can always splash a plain piece of paper with perfume/aftershave like they did in times of war, or give it a big kiss - don't forget the lipstick.
Send it however you can
Yes a lovely hand written letter is hard to beat, but if you don’t have a postal address (or time to write and post it in time), email/Whatsapp voice message/carrier pigeon/Zoom graffiti (create in your background) etc. is of course, perfectly fine. If you live with your loved one, you could even turn your letter into a paper aeroplane (remember that it will arrive anywhere but the place you aim for - it's a paper plane rule).
So on to content. Mills and Boon is fine if that's your thing, but don't be afraid to use every day language and just tell it like it is. Most importantly, get into the detail.
"You're looking gorgeous today!" - the Salutation
Dear so and so is OK, but it can come across as a bit formal. You could just use someone's name on it's own for more impact. In my opinion you can't beat a "Hey you" for a more romantic tone. Or how about "Aloha!", or a 'state the bleeding obvious' approach: "It’s me! Saying hello in a letter!" Be playful, "You're looking gorgeous today!" Or go full on slushy, "Words can’t convey how I feel about you, but I’ll give it a go…"
"Strap yourself in, this is going to be embarrassing" - the Beginning
Start by setting out your intention. "I wanted to let you know..." or just jump straight in. "Do you know how much you mean to me/I appreciate you? Well, let me tell you..." Or, "Strap yourself in, this is going to be embarrassing!"
"I love the way you laugh at your own jokes" - the Middle
Then, get specific. Don't just say, "You’re lovely" (though who doesn’t want to hear that?), say how someone is lovely. Focus on foibles, quirks and mannerisms as well as more obvious charms. Letting someone know they're seen - warts and all - is the greatest gift and act of love there is in my opinion.
Is it the way they always make your tea slightly wrong, the way they laugh at their own jokes or the way they get flustered when sorting out their car tax? Their thoughtfulness, shyness, humour - give examples. The person inside is of course important, but don't forget the external. Find me a woman who doesn't crumple when being told she's pretty (even if she knows it's her personality that people talk about). Of course men enjoy compliments too so don't leave all the complimenting up to them.
What makes you think of them? Seeing a red Honda, hearing 'Don't stop me now' on the radio, smelling curry, passing an old haunt you used to go drinking in? Recall memories in as much detail as you can. Talk about the hugs they've?given you, the times they've made you laugh so hard you showered them in beer. Or the quieter, shared moments.
"Hide the evidence" - The end
Lastly, you can tell them how writing this letter made you feel and how you hope it will be received. Or just sign off with a message. It could be, "I can’t wait until we meet again so I can give you a big hug." Or, "Please hide this evidence of mushiness and never speak of it."
Love isn't just for lovers
Why not write a love letter to a friend, a parent or child? Lockdown has removed some of the distance between us so whilst we have each other's attention, let's really make the most of it.
Don't let reality stand in your way either. Write to pets, people who have passed away, the love of your life you've not met yet. Write to yourself from your future self about how wonderful you are. Love letters are as much for you and the joy they bring by writing them. So give yourself permission to write a letter that may never be read.
With an 'unsent' letter, you could just keep it, or read it out loud to the person it was written for (sounds weird, but this is a powerful thing to do). Or just let it go, you've written it, felt it and honoured your feelings by doing so, so the work is done.
Whether you have a romantic someone or not, Happy Valentine's Day everyone - let there be love!
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Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash