How to write a love letter

| Junior Forum Editor

Illustration by Tuesday Hadden

This Valentine’s Day, it’s time to brush up on your love letter writing game. Embrace your inner Shakespeare and write your sweetheart a letter they definitely won’t forget. 

1. Your letter should be on paper. No exceptions. 

If you have terrible handwriting, type it and print. If you’re in a long-distance relationship, plan ahead and mail it. Nobody wants a love letter in their inbox signed Paperless Post in the bottom right-hand corner. Or in their Instagram DMs.

2. Choose your audience wisely.

There are so many people in your life that deserve a love letter. Dear friends, partners, and crushes are all great options. Not on the list are exes, professors, and people who have already rejected your affection.

3. Stay away from slang.

Writing a love letter is a sweet, personal gesture drawing on tradition from millions of romantics over thousands of years. Please don’t say things like “ily,” “simp,” or “iykyk.” If you’re going to do that, you may as well send your message on Snapchat over a selfie of your jawline. 

4. ChatGPT is not your friend.

Not only will it likely not be much help, but your beloved probably wouldn’t be thrilled if they ever found out that a meaningful token of your love was written by a robot. Not to mention, they probably know you can’t use the word “pulchritudinous” in a sentence without some serious help.   

5. No need to stress over not finding the right words.

If you’re not into the romantic writing thing, there is no shame in borrowing someone else’s words. Feel free to look to and quote some of the greats. Browse the work of Pablo Neruda, Rainer Maria Rilke, or Emily Dickinson for inspiration. Alternatively, you could find another solution. The key is that you create a physical representation of how you feel about another person, something tangible that they can keep and look to in the future. If you don’t feel like words can do that for you, then don’t use them. Try making a Victorian puzzle purse. Or check out early 20th century cartoonist Alfred Joseph Freuh who created a miniature art gallery for his wife or these modern interpretations of his craft. Nothing says “I love you” like a miniature rendition of Brancusi’s “The Kiss.” (I’m not kidding.)


Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening at Washington University and beyond.