It’s time to tell them how you really feel. All too often, we assume people know just how much they mean to us. Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to be brave and open your heart, letting those around you know how much you love them. Penning a love letter isn’t just for romance – relationships of all forms deserve to be celebrated. Take a look at who you truly love – the brother who makes you feel cared for, the colleague who makes work fun, the neighbour who always gives you a smile.
Whether you’re showing appreciation for your favourite person or confessing your feelings to a secret crush, writing a letter allows you to express things you may struggle to say out loud. Here’s how to craft an honest, authentic love-filled letter that will make them feel truly adored.
The art of the love letter
Putting your love into a letter is a time-honoured tradition. For centuries, the art of the love letter has been a common practice. Writers Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West had a famous love affair that flourished through words such as, “I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia.” The married duo of designers Charles and Ray Eames crafted colourful letters filled with secret symbols and illustrations. Famous figures such as Frida Kahlo, Beethoven and Marilyn Monroe all wrote iconic love letters.
But you don’t have to be an artist or a writer to put your feelings on paper. The reason those pieces of correspondence are so revered is that people related to the feelings they expressed. A good love letter is one that is honest and heartfelt. So feel free to take inspiration from famous writers and poets, but also let go of the pressure to be perfect. If you can connect with your emotions and be brave with what you write, anything you create will become your own little work of art, ready to transform the day of whoever you love.
Start with a plan
Each letter should be as individual as the loved one you’re writing to. Begin by thinking of the person you want to write to, and the special connection you have with them. Once you’ve connected with your feelings, plot out a brief structure in a notebook. It could be a broad overview of things you want to write about, or more detailed with headings for paragraphs, special quotes and dot points of ideas. If you’re stuck, try making a mind-map with words or images that you associate with them. Don’t forget to consider if you’d like it to be a lengthy ode to love, or a sweet and short note. And don’t feel like you have to wait for Valentine’s Day – it’s never a bad time to spread a little love.
Take a trip down memory lane
A simple way to tap into your feelings is to bring to mind a treasured memory that the two of you have shared. Think about any special occasions you’ve spent together, such as a holiday, birthday or lovely long dinner. Or describe a mundane moment that they made shine with their presence – a laughter-filled trip to the supermarket, a time they held your hand before a doctor’s appointment, or when they brought you soup when you were ill. What makes these moments special is your connection, so make sure you focus on your bond and how these memories wouldn’t be possible without them.
Paint a portrait with your words
There’s nothing better than seeing yourself through a loved one’s eyes. A simple way of telling someone you love them is to describe them. You could pretend you’re introducing them to someone, and write down everything that makes them special. The more specific, the better. To love someone is to really know them and celebrate their every quirk – the way they scrunch their face when they concentrate, the particular way they like their eggs in the morning, the lovely little birthmark near their ear. Love is in the details.
There are many ways to express love. Like the love letters of Charles and Ray Eames, love letters can be visual delights too. This approach is especially useful if you feel like the written word isn’t your strong suit. Try incorporating their favourite colours, or decorate with drawings or paintings. Scribble and sketch your favourite things to do together, their favourite foods or flowers, or an animal that captures their spirit. Paste in a photo of them or you together, giving them a visual memory. Or try your hand at poetry or creative writing – describe your ideal day with them, or a possible future scenario. There’s no limit to how you put your love on paper.
Think about time together
The people who truly mean the most often change us for the better. Think about the two of you together, and write about the ways they enrich your life. Perhaps they’re incredibly emotional, and they’ve taught you to get into touch with your feelings. Or maybe they’ve encouraged you to always chase your dreams by setting practical goals. Imagine you’re about to spend the day with that person – why would you be looking forward to it? Do you have fascinating conversations? Can they turn any outing into a fun-filled adventure? Do they always make you feel loved and cared for? Remember that together, you’ve already created something beautiful – the bond that you share. Now it’s time to tell them about it.
Describing your plans for the future demonstrates your love and commitment to them. Tell this person what you’re looking forward to doing together, or an experience you’d like to share with them. Or imagine your life together in 5, 10 or 15 years. These could be grand plans like travelling the world together or starting a family. Or maybe your future is more simple – shared cups of tea, long phone calls, and the knowledge that you’ll always be there for one another.
All you need is love
A love letter deserves a big finale – finish up by telling them exactly how you feel. It’s your opportunity to make it clear that they’re important to you. Speak from the heart and never hesitate to say “I love you.” If you’re not comfortable using that language, “I truly appreciate you” or “I love our friendship” work too. If it’s a risk, take it. Being vulnerable and open can be scary, but it’s always worth it. You never know what they’ll say back, but even if the feelings aren’t reciprocated, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve put a little extra love into the world.