Some would say that writing a love letter is a dead form of communication, a relic from olden days that’s irrelevant in the era of instant gratification where we find ourselves today. At a time when we are separated by visible and invisible barriers, forced apart by social distancing, and almost completely reliant on more impersonal forms of communication like email, social media, and video chatting, a love letter is a particularly meaningful and romantic gesture because it’s slow, intentional, and deeply personal. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write a love letter to a partner, a crush, or just about anyone.
1. Be ready to get vulnerable.
Writing a love letter to a long-term partner such as a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse can be a great way to affirm or even rekindle your love for each other. Mental health counselor Chaute Thomson, LMHC, points out that couples can often forget to keep connecting with each other as they get swept up in the hustle and bustle of daily life. So, a love letter can be a moment to step back, get in touch with your emotions, and show some serious affection to your partner—particularly if it’s not something you often do with each other.
“Allow yourself to be vulnerable and share your heart,” she recommends. “Many times, we are scared to truly share ourselves out of fear of rejection or misunderstanding, but writing a love letter creates a genuine opportunity to connect with one another.”
Really lean into your emotions—that’s what’s going to really make your love letter sing.
2. Start out the letter with a personal greeting.
The greeting is important because it will set the tone for your entire letter, so you want to make sure you start off with something that will catch their attention and keep them reading. Don’t just start with “Dear [name]”—instead, greet them with something more romantic or personalized. Pet names and inside jokes work great.
To my best friend…
To my darling…
To my soul mate…
To my forever love…
Baby, sweetie, bae, etc.
Dear [pet name]…
3. Say why you’re writing the letter.
Is it an anniversary or another special occasion? Did your partner come through for you in a big way and you want to show appreciation? Have you just been feeling a lot of love for your partner and wanting to show your affection? Whatever it is, say why you are writing the letter to give your letter some context.
4. Tell them why you love them and/or being with them.
The body of the letter is where you will really pour out your heart. For a longtime love, you want to talk about memories, overcoming obstacles together, what made you fall in love initially, why you still love them today, and what you see in the future.
Examples and ideas:
Tell them why you love them. In some cases, this can literally be a list of the things you love about them and more importantly why you love these qualities or attributes.
Literally “count the ways” you love them, and list some of the reasons for your love.
Talk about how your life has changed since they became a part of it and why you are grateful for that.
Talk about the future, where your relationship will be going next, how you will be there to support and “show up” for each other. Talk about why the future together is exciting.
Reaffirm your love and commitment to them and how you will hold up your side of the relationship/partnership.
5. Use storytelling.
Recall a romantic memory—the first date, the first time you saw them, your wedding day, an anniversary, a special vacation, the first time you laughed together or cried together, etc. The point is to make it meaningful.
When I first saw you…
The first time I heard your voice…
When we first met, I immediately knew you were special because…
I knew you were the one when…
6. Close the letter warmly.
Closing or wrapping up the letter is important because it is where you sum up all the things you have just laid out in your letter. This section shouldn’t be that long since you’ve put the meat of the letter into the body.
I look forward to loving you for a lifetime.
I am so lucky to be with my best friend and soul mate.
These years with you have been the happiest of my life.
My love for you will never end.
Till death do us part—I said it then and I still mean it now.
How to write a love letter to your crush.
Writing a letter for a crush is a lot different from writing a love letter to a partner. For starters, writing for a crush can be really scary because there is a risk in putting yourself out there if you have no clue if the feelings are mutual. However, there is no way to know how they will respond if you don’t open yourself up.
Many of the tips given in the previous section of writing a letter for a longtime love or partner apply to writing a letter to crush, though obviously the difference is you don’t know them as well. Here are some general tips for letter writing for a crush:
1. Consider whether it’s the right gesture.
Love letters can be a really romantic way to let someone know you like them, but they can also come off strong and can veer into “creepy” territory if you’re not careful.
Before writing a full-throttle love letter to a crush, you should have some sense of where they stand—some inclination that they might feel the same way about you. If you know that you’re both crushing on each other, a love letter can be a great gesture. Alternatively, you can write someone a love letter simply with the intention of making them feel loved, without making it about trying to start a relationship with them.
Sending an extremely affectionate love letter to someone who has no clue that you like them or who doesn’t view your relationship romantically might be overwhelming and can make some people uncomfortable. Consider whether you’re writing this letter for their benefit or for your own; if the latter, it may make more sense to write the letter without sending it. This can still be a very therapeutic process for you!
2. Start with an attention grabber.
It can be powerful to hear someone describe shared memories and interactions from their point of view. Consider describing how you’ve experienced your time together:
When I first saw you, you took my breath away…
When I heard you speak, it really impressed me or caught my attention…
You are captivating and make me feel things I haven’t felt before…
The time we spend together is so precious to me…
The first time I spoke to you, I knew you were someone special…
3. Compliment them.
Many people love receiving compliments that make them feel good about themselves; if nothing else, most people are interested in hearing how other people see them. Without going over the top, describe the little things that make this person special to you. Don’t just focus on their outward appearance—talk about their inner qualities, such as their strength, resilience, playfulness, passion for their work, etc.
4. Pay attention to the details.
Don’t be too general in your letter. Don’t just say that you like them or that they caught your interest. Tell them why you like them and how they make you feel.
You make me happy because…
I always look forward to seeing you because…
I find you captivating because…
If you’re feeling stuck, find inspiration. Look for examples of love letters that say things similar to what you want to say. Look at the great poets and writers and find inspiration in their words. You can even quote them if it feels appropriate.
5. Drop in a cheesy line.
There is nothing wrong with a little cheese if it captures how you really feel.
When I think about you, I end up with a stupid grin on my face.
Since I met you, I’ve been feeling like I’m living the best dream of my life.
We’re all special, but you raised the bar on that.
6. Be clear about your intentions.
Make sure they know why you’re writing this letter. Are you just wanting to make them feel good? Are you telling them how you feel because you’re hoping they might feel the same way?
If you’re not sure where the recipient stands, it is important to let them know that there isn’t any pressure on them to do anything, to respond to the letter in any specific way, or to feel the same way you do.
7. Talk about the future, if appropriate.
If you and the recipient are already in a process of courtship (i.e., you both already know you like each other), it can be really romantic to daydream about the future. When closing your letter, consider imagining what the relationship might look like:
Talk about the fun dates you could go on.
Talk about the silly arguments you might have.
Talk about watching your favorite movies in an evening of Netflix and chill.
Talk about the upcoming good days and the bad days.
Talk about how awesome it will be dating each other!
General tips for writing a creative love letter:
1. Set the mood.
Before you even put pen to pad, you need to get yourself in a letter-writing state of mind. According to Laura Louis, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist at Atlanta Couple Therapy, your “state of mind is so important when preparing yourself to write a love letter. To get yourself into a mindset of creativity and inspiration, you need to manage your environment.”
Tapping into your five senses can help you get into the right head space. For example:
If possible, go to a place you find inspiring, creative, and romantic to write your letter. Alternatively, you can find a good photo of the location in mind (e.g., a photo of a beach at sunset) and place it in your work area where you can easily see it and draw motivation from it.
“Music can be incredible for getting into that creative space,” says Louis. If you are motivated by music, make a playlist that taps into that creative part of yourself and brings up positive feelings that you associate with the person you are writing the letter for.
Don’t discount aromatherapy to help get you into a love-letter-writing mood. “Certain scents can affect your mood. In particular lavender and eucalyptus are powerful in affecting your mood” and inspiring creativity, says Louis. Alternatively, you can use a scent that you love that reminds you of your loved one.
2. Think before you write.
You don’t need to be an expert writer to get your point across, but you should take the time to think about what you want to say before you start writing. It’s OK if you have to write and rewrite the letter a few times before you get to a version that you are ready to send.
Practice makes perfect. If you don’t like what you’ve written, don’t settle. Keep at it until you end up with something you love, which will ensure your recipient loves it too.
At the same time, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. The recipient will most likely appreciate your efforts, and their focus will be on the sentiments shared in the letter and not on how “well” the letter was written.
3. Consider how you want the recipient to feel.
A good love letter will make the recipient feel loved, cherished, accepted, desired, special, and important. As you’re writing, think about not just what you want to say but also how you want the person to feel as they read your words.
Thompson suggests thinking about the five love languages as you write—aka touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, and quality time. Which of these ways does this person enjoy receiving love? “Be sure to touch on what your partner’s love language is when you are writing to tell them what you love about them,” Thompson says.
4. Get the delivery right.
The way you deliver your letter is almost as exciting as the letter itself. This is where you can get really creative and have some fun with it.
Examples and ideas:
Go direct and hand it to them in person.
Use good ol’-fashioned “snail mail” and mail it to them with an envelope and stamp for a real treat. Who doesn’t love getting mail that isn’t a billing statement or promotional item?
Break it up into little bits and send your love on a “scavenger hunt” with clues leading them to the places they can find the different pieces of the letter until they have the whole thing—which leads them back to you.
Leave it in a place they will least expect, such as on the front seat of their car before they are about to leave the house or on the bedside table for them to find while you’re out of town. Or if they take their lunch to work, tuck it away in their lunch so they have a surprise waiting for them when they open it up at work.
Use Post-it notes and leave short excerpts or key parts of your love letter on the Post-its, placed in strategic places throughout the house. Or you can even cover an entire wall in your words of love for them if you’re feeling ambitious.
Why writing a love letter is so romantic.
We live in a “microwave society” where people want things “quick, fast, and in a hurry,” Louis says. But that’s what makes letter writing so special. It takes time to put together and is a permanent testament to your love that doesn’t disappear in a long thread of text messages.
Lover letters are one of the greatest exemplars of true romance. The letter isn’t even the romantic part but rather the idea that your lover is thinking of you even when they are not physically in your presence. Writing a love letter lets them know their importance in your life, captures what makes your relationship special, and demonstrates what makes the person you are with amazing to you. Finally, a love letter allows your partner to see themselves through your eyes, which is, in itself, a gift.