ROTTERDAM – Love letters, according to the Art of Manliness, are the “purview of men”. As an expression of love through the means of writing utensils, the love letter is the instrument of the Modern Man:
It’s not always easy to express our feelings to our significant others. We’d rather show our love through actions. We feel that our love for someone is manifestly obvious, because after all, don’t we vacuum the house, and mow the lawn, and make them their favorite pancakes every Sunday morning? Our actions show that we’re faithful and true, and to us it feels like this should be enough.
Even though the Modern Man is definitely in touch with his emotions and feelings, he still has trouble expressing them at times. The deliberate art of love letter writing therefore allows him to express feelings he cannot express vocally. Because, according to the Art of Manliness, men prefer to express their love and affinity through behaviour rather than language, there exists a discrepancy between the sexes:
But it’s not quite that way for a woman. Women definitely appreciate our acts of love, but their brains are also quite a bit more language oriented than ours. They want to hear the words behind the actions. They want to know exactly what’s in our hearts.
Evidently, the Modern Man is somewhat like Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson: sturdy, non-talkative and he lets his actions speak for him. These actions are consistent and inspired by a set of principles (N.U.T.s). In Ron Swanson’s case, this is mostly the belief that the American government should be disbanded. But that’s a bit besides the point.
Ron talks about lovemaking (preferably on a bear’s rug that he shot and skinned himself). This physical act is for him the momental epitome of expressions concerning his feelings towards the member of the opposite sex in question. Words are really not his forte. And he’s not alone in that:
But it’s hard to not only find the right words to express how we feel about someone, but to also make it flow and sound real purty. It’s especially difficult when you’re sitting down with someone and trying to remember exactly what you wanted to say. Enter the love the letter.
And who wouldn’t want to sound purty?
Writing a fantastically romantic love letter can be a challenge, but that’s what you signed up for with this 30 Days project. So let’s get started.
I previously wrote about how I own a typewriter which I used in several correspondences I had with old friends and lovers (yes, I am borrowing language here from the AoM. See RECONNECT WITH AN OLD FRIEND about the typewriter). Sue me, I’m a romantic. I like typing on the thing while I drink a nice peated whiskey or a nice smooth cognac. I have typed with cigarette smoke circling around me until the small hours, crazed on alcohol and nicotine.
As I said in the above referenced to post, although I most certainly experienced the romantic spirit of foregone ages, my work never really improved noticably. It turned out to be a nice gimmick rather than an investment in my artistic process.
For love letters, however, there may be an exception. Authoring a love letter as an act is not merely the produce of words describing particular feelings you may have for the recipient. The physicality of the letter itself, together with its content, attempts to be much like a forged fond memory.
I say like fond memories because of the associative mechanism with which our brain recalls memories. For every person in our life we have a set of these memories. The moment you think about that person, you immediately recall a particular interaction or an expression, a gesture, a place, a time, an object. You name it. This set of strong associations both colour and interact with your opinion and your feelings towards that person.
You and your beloved share a number of those strong memories: your first kiss, the first time you made love, a romantic anniversary, or that one spontaneous interaction that somehow managed to remain stuck in your brain.
A love letter, in my mind, endeavours to be like those associations. The writer attempts to somehow condense a wide variety of emotions, feelings, experiences, and memories into an object and into words that work somewhat like a summary, a metaphor for a feeling:
The love letters you give your wife or girlfriend are testaments in the history of your love. They constitute a record of your relationship that she’ll hold onto for the rest of her life.
Now, you may be thinking: that makes (no) sense. Regardless, I still wouldn’t know how to write one without sounding a) crazy, b) obsessed, or c) incredibly corny.
Luckily, here are Seven Steps to Write a Love Letter Your Girlfriend Or Boyfriend Will Never Forget.
- Start off by stating the purpose of your letter.You want your love to know right away that this is a love letter and not a note to give her the brush off or to voice some kind of displeasure with the relationship. Begin with something like, “I was thinking today about how very much I love you, and how I really don’t tell you that enough. So I wanted to sit down and let you know how totally in love with you I really am.”
- Recall a romantic memory.What’s special about couplehood is that the two of you have a shared history, a history that is unique to you and your love. Thus the best way to start a love letter is to refer to a shared memory; this conjures up feelings of your history together and scores you points for remembering details of your past. For example, begin by saying, “I still remember clearly the moment when you walked into Rob’s party, wearing that stunning red dress. You were smiling ear to ear and absolutely lit up the room. I knew immediately that I had to meet you. I went to the bathroom to try to summon up my courage and think of what to say. But it was no use; I was totally tongue tied when I approached you. I was smitten from the very start.”
- Now transition to a section about the things you love about her.Move from your memory to the present with a line like, “And here we are more than a decade later, and you still leave me weak in the knees.”
- Tell her all the things you love about her.Before you write this section, make a list on a separate sheet of paper of all the things you that you love about your significant other. Think about her physical characteristics, her personality, her character, and all the wonderful things she does for you. Then, turn the things you listed into sentences. “I truly think you are the most beautiful women in the world. I love the feeling of your legs intertwined with mine and the smell of your hair and skin. Your smile lifts my spirits on even my worst days. I love your laugh and your ability to find humor in every situation. I’m so grateful for everything you do for me, from your delicious dinners to your magnificent backrubs.”
- Tell her how your life has changed since meeting her.“You truly complete me. These last few years have been the happiest of my life. I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to always have my best friend by my side.”
- Reaffirm your love and commitment.“I will always love you, no matter what happens, through thick and thin. I will be absolutely true and faithful to you forever.”
- End with a line that sums up your love.“I can’t wait to grow old with you.” “My love for you will never end.” “You are my best friend and soul mate and I will love you until the end of our lives.”
Now that you know how to write one, here’s a bunch of additional advice:
It’s okay to err on the side of cheesiness.
The most important rule is to be completely authentic.
Write only those things that you truly feel.
So if you’ll follow these seven steps and simultaneously assure that you’ll be adequately cheesy (which will not be a problem) and completely authentic (which might be a problem) whilst being completely honest (don’t write one to your fuck buddy), you’ll be just fine.
In my own experience, writing a love letter can be quite daunting. I’ve written a few, the last always a lot better than ones before. First, I took the act of writing a love letter way too seriously. I attempted to intellectually bemuse, which in hindsight didn’t quite work out.
Anyway, you’re always going to be cheesy, really, trust me. So unless you actually are a soldier who is writing to his love which he may very well never see again, don’t misinterpret my philosophical ramblings about love letters being like romantic memories for you having to write a bona fide Napoleonic love letter.
Man-meter: I like love letters. So that’s manly of me. I get man points!