Forget the hastily purchased peonies or last-minute chocolates – the best Valentine you can give this year is a handwritten love letter.
When I was 18, my now husband went on holidays with his brother. We were in that ‘spend every spare moment gooing and cooing and generally making normal people feel ill’ stage of the relationship, and a week apart was just the worst.
It was also pre-mobile phones, and almost pre-internet. When he got home, he handed me a folder filled with papers, which turned out to be a several pages long love letter he wrote for me while he was away.
Few things have made me feel more special – that he’d thought of me even while he was off having fun with his family, and knowing exactly what he loved about me and why. And yes, I still have it, and read it from time to time.
Why the love letter needs to make a comeback
As well as giving the recipient a clear and tangible token of your feelings, the love letter needs to come back into vogue for many reasons. A survey of more than 1260 Australians, conducted by RSVP, suggests writing down your feelings by hand can help resolve arguments, strengthen your relationships and could even score you a date.
The expert take? “Taking the time to reflect inwardly and then picking up a pen to write your feelings down can be incredibly powerful for yourself and your relationships, helping you move through difficulties onto better times,” said Mr John Aiken, psychologist and dating and relationship expert.
He adds, that the beauty of a hand written love letter is that it can be kept and cherished to maintain long lasting, heart-warming memories of your love that can be re-visited for many years to come. And in a time of texts and swipes, you’ll certainly stand out as a romantic!
It seems Aussies are up for a resurgence in writing and receiving hand written love letters. Key results from the survey?
• 85 per cent of people said writing down their feelings helps them feel clearer and calmer, with 55 per cent saying it helped them kiss and make up after an argument.
• 80 per cent said that they had hand written a love letter, while an overwhelming 90 per cent said they believed there was still a place for the love letter today.
• 45 per cent of respondents had kept love letters from previous partners.
• 45 per cent said that love letters are romantic, with just 6 per cent saying they were ‘ancient history’.
• 54 per cent said that writing a love letter shows that you have taken the time to think about your loved one with 25 per cent saying it was a lovely way to communicate your feelings.
• 83 per cent of survey respondents said that a hand written invitation would be the most romantic way to be asked out on a date, compared to a text message (15 per cent).
“Communication is essential for a great relationship and from here, everything follows, including romance.
This Valentine’s Day, it might be worth picking up a pen and expressing how much you care – you never know where it might lead,” Aiken says.
Mastering the love letter
Keen to commit to paper, only not sure where to start? I may be no expert on all things relationships, but here’s what I know as a writer (and hoarder of my own love letter)
Speak from the heart.It doesn’t have to be a work of art, just a declaration of why your significant other is special to you. Go with what traits you love, and maybe throw in some anecdotes about times that were special to you, and why.
Talk about your intentions.Think you might want to be married one day, or even share children? There’s no harm in saying so, think of it as a paper version of the promise ring! Maybe you’re not quite there yet, but can see yourselves travelling the world and having many adventures together?
Draft.If you’re not the world’s most confident wordsmith, write a few drafts until you have it right, and take your time, going back to add to your letter over a couple of days.
Make it pretty.Your words may not be up to the Greats in literature, but your presentation can be (though resist the urge to go for a printer and stick to pen, even if your handwriting is not all that). Pick out lovely stationary and use a nice ink pen.
Would you love a love letter this Valentines Day?