- The most important purpose of a love letter is to express strong feelings.
- Passionate love letters and poems can be born out of separation.
- When writing a love letter, it can help to keep a photo nearby of the letter recipient.
Considering February is the month of love, what better time could there be to write a love letter or poem to a beloved? To be loved and nurtured is a universal need. Being loved creates feelings of acceptance and harmony.
What Is Love?
In preparing this post, I cracked open two classic books about love: Rollo May’s , and by Erich Fromm. May emphasizes how we all yearn to have a love relationship greater than ourselves, and most do this to overcome a sense of loneliness. Sometimes, these relationships are long-lived and other times, the relationship is short-lived. In his book, Fromm also highlights the importance of love as the answer to the problems of human existence. The fact is that to love another person, you must love yourself first, and Fromm supports this premise.
Love can be thought of as a higher power or a state you fall in and out of. Whatever your stance or belief, the concept of love most often elicits positive emotions and connotations. Ever since receiving my first love letter from my grade school sweetheart, I knew that falling and being in love can be life-changing, eliciting powerful emotions such as joy and elation. There is a wonderfully indescribable feeling and sense of glow that emanates from those who are in love.
Love is an emotion that we seem to have little control over. It is either there or it is not. Yet love is perhaps the most profound, wondrous, and complex word in the human language suggesting desire and interconnectedness. Love and compassion are at the heart of the world’s great spiritual traditions. Love is often said to be synonymous with the divine essence of existence and wellspring of all life—or whatever name each religion gives to its highest truth. I believe that love is my higher power.
Writing Love Letters
Passionate love letters are born out of separation. Sometimes it’s easier to jot down our feelings about others without being distracted by looking at them. Also, receiving a passionate love letter allows the recipient to enter into the drama and emotions of the writer. Every love letter is different and expresses the emotions unique to the relationship between two people.
Passionate love letters have been around for centuries; but, as a literary form, some scholars believe they probably originated during the Renaissance period as a way to keep the ambers hot between lovers when they were separated. Women of the Victorian era wrote love letters as a way of intimately expressing themselves.
Sometimes lovers don’t even have the opportunity to become intimate, so they find that their relationship revolves around letter writing. For example, this was the case with writer and philosopher Khalil Gibran, who was best known for his book, The Prophet. He had a 27-year love-letter affair with a schoolteacher. When I met my husband back in the 1970s, there was no internet, and since we lived in different countries, we enjoyed the exchange of love letters for the first two years of our relationship.
The purpose of a love letter is to inform, instruct, entertain, amuse, explore, keep in touch, and most important, to express strong feelings. Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of letter writing is the opportunity to communicate exactly what’s on your mind. With the emergence of email correspondence, there seems to be a resurgence of the age-old art of letter writing. But truly, there’s nothing better than sitting down with a pen and paper and writing a letter. It’s also fun to buy special stationery for this purpose.
How to Begin
The best way to start writing is to make believe the person you’re writing to is seated across from you. Sometimes keeping a photo of the person nearby is helpful. The goal of writing a passionate love letter is to write honestly and sincerely—from your heart. Begin by making a list of all the person’s qualities that you love. Like a good book or article, you’ll want to immediately get your lover’s attention, so your first sentence or paragraph should be captivating. Say exactly what you want in the most forthright way possible.
Some possible openings:
“I’m writing to express my love and this is how I feel about you.”
“I am so grateful for you.”
“You’ve changed my life.”
“Having you in my life means…”
“When I think of you I’m filled with…”
Reading published love letters of famous people can give you an idea of various styles. Those shared between Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller are some of the best. There’s an entire collection of their letters called . In one letter, Nin reminisces about falling in love with Miller: “It seems to me that from the very first, when you opened the door and held out your hand, smiling, I was taken in, I was yours.”
Writing Love Poems
Two of the most common inspirations for writing poetry are love and death. The main reason is that poetry is the voice of both the heart and the soul. The subject of love most often elicits strong feelings that are well expressed in poetic form. Poetry uses an economy of language, and sometimes the words that make it onto the page surprise us with their clarity and sincerity.
When writing a love poem, begin with a feeling or an image. Next, think about specific details about the person or the relationship. Consider writing about the firsts you experienced together. It’s better to be more concrete than abstract. Sometimes paying attention to the little things that you love about the person helps highlight what’s really important to you. Remember to make the poem sincere and personal. Similar to writing letters, it’s a good idea to read love poems to get an idea of different styles. To be a better poet, you need to read a lot of poetry.
Whatever form you choose—poem or a letter—be sure you write a draft and then put it away for a few days. Later, look at your writing again with fresh eyes to ensure that it conveys what you want to say. Consider reading it out loud in front of a mirror to see how it sounds. Writers usually share their work only after they’ve reread it and revised it a number of times, so there’s no need to share your letters or poems in haste.
Enjoy the writing journey, and remember, writing love letters and poems brings joy to both the writer and the recipient, so why not start yours now?
Anaïs Nin, Miller, H., & Stuhlmann, G. (1989). A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller, 1932-1953 (First Edition). Mariner Books.
Fromm, E. (2006). The Art of Loving. Harper Perennial Modern Classics.
May, R. (2007). Love and Will. W.W. Norton Co.