Not too long ago in my English class, I had a group project. Our assignment was to creatively demonstrate how to write better. One group chose to show how to write a winning resume, the other group did a skit on how to write a letter of resignation. Our group did a presentation on “How to write an 18th Century love letter.”
My task in the group was to write a demo letter and to briefly discuss the relevance of a love letter’s place in the 18th century, and in today’s setting. Three tips I learned about writing love letters:
1. Speak (with) your mind, but speak from your heart. This means be authentic and open about your feelings, but don’t dumb yourself down to be liked. Both intellect and emotion have their roles in making you a healthy human being. Intellect outlines the shape of the picture, giving reasons for what to say. Emotion colours the picture, fueling why you are writing a love letter. Through the utilization of both intellectual and emotional centres, you can write a letter communicating how you really feel inside, in a way visible outside.
2. Understand her and tell her (how) you understand her. Though in the project I assumed the role of a man writing a love letter to a woman, the same principle applies to any relationship whether it is man to man, woman to woman, woman to man, man to woman: to expect someone to listen, you must first let them know that you listen and have listened. No one in a relationship is ever wrong for being who they are or the way they are, although they reserve the right to be. For someone to say they would love another if that other person changed is to negate the very essence of love itself. Love is understanding – both noun and verb. Like with any writing, consider who your audience is.
3. Expect replies, but not answers. Although you deserve to be heard, the person you decide to send the love letter to still reserves the right of how to act or react. A love letter should be sent as an intention of love, honour, and respect, with the expectation that it may be reciprocated, but also of the knowledge and understanding that a response may result for reasons to respect. You may not like your partner’s decision, but by learning to accept it you will make your life a lot more enjoyable and limitless, instead of limiting. Your partner’s decision is only what your partner decided, not who your partner is.
Though you can’t choose how the person – partner, friend, lover, crush – will take the letter, you can still choose how to most clearly present yourself. They may not understand, even if you understand them, but this is the work of the relationship: that with trust and patience, you can learn from your differences. In any relationship, you have to trust your partner and yourself, and having patience with both will only serve you the greatest good (which can feel like the greatest bad at times, but sometimes a current bad is really a later good in disguise).
After all, you may not even decide to send the letter; perhaps there was some insight through writing the letter that led you to see where you could change. Don’t be too proud to not accept that you have aspects you can change yourself, but don’t be too hard on yourself either. Get writing and find out.