It’s an age old tradition. As long as writing has been around, so have love letters. If there is a more touching gift than the articulation of one’s amorous feelings in a form that can be held and kept as proof, it would be hard to find. And it would cost a lot of money. So save yourself a few bucks and write a love letter. It could very well be an item your beloved will cherish for years to come.
Here’s how in twelve easy steps:
It starts as all things should start – with the “why” of it. State the purpose of the letter so you can set up an accurate expectation of what is to come.
Example: Dear Jean,
I’m writing you this letter because I’ve gotten to a place where I can’t imagine my life without you in it.
Example: Dear Avery,
This letter is to tell you my feelings have changed. I can’t be just friends with you.
Example: Dear Taylor,
The reason I’m writing is because you’ve made me so happy in these last few weeks and I thought maybe you’d like to know that.
Set the scene. Be specific.
Example: I was eating sour dough toast for breakfast yesterday and I realized that the thing I was most looking forward to was seeing you later in the day.
Example: I drove by your freeway exit and it almost made me cry.
Example: You left your sweater at my house and I was happy because I knew you’d be back for it.
This is the “what I notice about you” part. Easing into it here…
Example: I notice you have three kinds of laughs – one for when I’m really funny, one for when you’re really funny, one for when you’re just being nice. All glorious.
Example: You look better in blue than anyone I’ve ever seen in blue.
Example: I like how you avoid all the bad topics because you’re such a positive person.
History. Give a little back story, or tell the story of the relationship thus far.
Example: I’ve really not been the same since we met in math class. I now know about variables, coefficients and the really terrible distraction of how shiny your hair is when you sit next to the window.
Example: I never expected that I’d meet anyone special on a city bus.
Example: When Janet set us up, I was really skeptical, so it was pretty cool to learn that she has excellent taste in people.
The change. What happened to make it go deeper?
Example: I figured when my cat jumped on your head and you didn’t even get mad that you were like a Zen master or something.
Example: It was that boring day at work. Something about your smile made me want to linger at a soul-crushing job. How do you do that?
Example: Honestly, yesterday’s traffic was the breaking point. I’m sick of commuting to your house. We should live closer/together.
The list of compliments. All the things you see. All the things you like. All the things.
Example: You smell like sandlewood and soap. Dogs love you. You’re hilariously bad at chess. You spend more money than you have just to take me out. You can dead lift a refrigerator. You’re the top score on dragon ball, no one can beat you. You have the cutest feet. You’re ambitious. You’re weird, in a good way. You drive too fast. You’re cuddly. You love the number eleven just like me.
Get it all down, even the cringe-worthy, ridiculous things. You’ll edit later.
What’s in it for you? What are your feelings? What do you want?
Example: I’ve been a mess thinking that you might move to Rhode Island. I want you to stay in Oregon. If you stayed I would make it so worth your while. I’d tell you every day how beautiful you are.
Example: The thought of you is so electric, I feel like my brain’s going to blow a fuse.
Example: I want to hold your hand through the scary parts of the movie. I want to hold your hand through the scary parts of life.
Wrap it up.
Example: What I’m trying to say is… if you move to Rhode Island, I’m going to have to move with you.
Example: I know now that we can’t be friends, unless we’re the kind of friends who are married.
Example: I just want you to know my feelings. Also, we should date.
The sign off. Not to be taken lightly.
Example: Your fan,
Example: As ever,
Example: Always and forever,
Although, is there something more creative you can think of? This part’s significance far outweighs its word count.
The post script is an opportunity -- often it’s the very best part of the whole letter. Unless there’s a P.P.S. Those are usually a zinger.
P.S. No pressure.
Example: P.S. Or not.
P.P.S. JK! ;)
Example: Fluffy the cat wants to know when you’re coming back with more of that sweet cat nip stuffed mouse action.
Example: Rhode Island. Really?
Edit. Yes, the essence of good writing is re-writing. If you have the time, you might want to wait a day or two before you do your edits because you’ll see it differently after 24 hours.
Handwritten is the best. Something printed is the next best. Cool paper is a plus. Do yourself a favor – don’t put your heart into something and then send it digitally. Love letters aren’t for emails. They aren’t for texting. Love letters are a gift from the heart, worthy of a physical embodiment. Give ‘em something to hold and keep. And blackmail you with later.