How to Write a Proper Love Letter

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Love letter with lipstick impression and heart-shaped bow. Andrew Bret Wallis/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Lovers and the lovelorn have written love letters for centuries, and there's no indication this will ever stop. Whether your note is for an anniversary, Valentine's Day, other special occasion, or just because you have a burning desire to express your feelings, stop and think before you begin.

One of my favorite love letters is actually a poem written in the 19th Century by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

She sent the famous "How Do I Love Thee (Sonnet 43)" to her beloved before they married against her father's will. I have to admit that every time I hear it and actually think about the heart that she put into it, I swoon. This is what a love letter is supposed to do.

Before you start writing your letter, consider these things:

  • Who will see your letter? When you put something in writing, you may hope that only the object of your affection will see it, but that's not always the case. She may want to share your sentiments with her closest friends, or her mother may find it in the shoebox under her bed. Keep this in mind so you won't say anything you don't want others to see or that might come back and hurt you later.
  • What is your relationship? If you're writing a letter to your husband, you can say anything you want without worrying about someone else seeing it. After all, you're expected to have a special intimacy reserved for married couples. So write whatever sentiment you feel, and you should be safe.
  • What do you want to convey? If this is someone you've never expressed your feelings to, you'll want to start with a slow build-up. If you are already in a romantic relationship with the person, it will be easier to start with the mushy stuff early in the letter. If this is a letter to let someone down gently, you'll want to start out letting him or her know what you love before gradually getting to the more difficult part.

    How to write a love letter:

    • On a separate piece of paper, jot some notes before you actually start writing the letter.
    • Choose special paper and a good pen that adds value to your letter. You don't want to use everyday lined notebook paper and a ballpoint pen to express beautiful words of love.
    • If your handwriting is legible, write it by hand. If not, use a pretty font in your word processing program.
    • End the letter with loving words, like, "Love forever" or "Lovingly yours."
    • Send it in the mail with adequate postage.
    • For an extra touch of flourish, seal it with wax and emboss it with a heart-shaped stamp.

    What not to do:

    • If you are a teenager writing a love letter to another teenager, keep the language appropriate for someone your age. Remember that friends or even parents might pick this up and read it. You don't want your words of love to make you a laughingstock or put you on the bad list.
    • Don't douse the letter in heavy perfume. You don't want to make him sneeze or associate you with itchy eyes.
    • Don't make promises you can't keep.
    • Don't send a letter before its time. In other words, if you have only had two dates with the person, and you're not sure how she feels about you, a letter stating that you're madly in love with her might scare her away.
    • Never give someone a love letter in front of his boss or teacher.