Lessons for Lovers: Anatomy of a Love Letter

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What with Valentine's Day coming up, I thought this would be as good a time as any to give you all a little tutorial on how to write a truly romantic love letter. Not only have my past dalliances in the wild world of romance blessed me with some pretty fine letters* I plan on showing to my kids one day (yes, kids, your mom was hot and everyone wanted her.  No, really!), but I'm one of the last people in the world under 65 years old who actually puts pen to paper, has addresses saved in a little black book, and actually takes the time to put stamps on things.  So basically everything I say on the subject is sacrosanct.  Remember that.

This lesson is directed towards writing a love letter to a woman, but really with some minor tweaking, the possibilities are endless.

In order to start, let's take a look at one of the most famous love letters out there, that of Ludwig von Beethoven's love letter to Josephine Brunswik:

"My angel, my all, my very self
We shall surely see each other soon; moreover, today I cannot share with you the thoughts I have had during these last few days touching my own life -
If our hearts were always close together, I would have none of these.
My heart is full of so many things to say to you - ah - there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all.
Cheer up - remain my true, my only treasure, my all as I am yours.
Ah, wherever I am, there you are also
Much as you love me - I love you more
Oh God - so near! so far!
Is not our love truly a heavenly structure, and also as firm as the vault of heaven?
my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us -
I can live only wholly with you or not at all
No one else can ever possess my heart - never - never -
Oh God, why must one be parted from one whom one so loves.
Be calm, only by a calm consideration of our existence can we achieve our purpose to live together -
Be calm - love me - today - yesterday - what tearful longings for you - you - you - my life - my all - farewell.
Oh continue to love me - never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved.
ever thine
ever mine
ever ours
Your faithful Ludwig"

Ok, that letter's all right considering it was written before autocorrect.  Really, though, let's see if we can't make this even better, shall we?

First off, the greeting.  "My angel, my all, my very self."  Really?  Is that what you've got?  You don't want to make anyone more narcissistic than they already are.  Especially if she's a countess.

Better off changing it to "Hey, gurl."  Succinct, to the point, and you're acknowledging that you're perfectly aware she's got female anatomy, but in a unique way because you're switching out the "i" for a "u".  No one's ever done that before.  It will be your signature opening line.

Ok, now we have that taken care of, onto the next:

"We shall surely see each other soon; moreover, today I cannot share with you the thoughts I have had
during these last few days touching my own life -
If our hearts were always close together, I would have none of these."

Ok, everyone.  Ever heard the line, "Brevity is the soul of wit?"  Shakespeare said that, apparently.  Which is ironic because his plays last for days.  But the sentiment is still true.  Why use 20 words, when three words will do?  That being said, here's what Beethoven should have written:

"We haven't seen each other in a hot minute.  I've got a lot to tell you.  If you came over more, we wouldn't have this problem."

Lookin' good so far, ladies and gentleman.

"My heart is full of so many things to say to you - ah - there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all."

Ok, didn't he already cover the fact that he's got lots he wants to tell her?  This is just repetition, and your lover has got things to do.  Here's what this part should look like:

My heart is full of so many things to say to you - ah - there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all .

Much better.

"Cheer up Don't be sadz - remain my true, my only treasure, my all as I am yours. You're not seeing anyone else, are you?  Because I'm not.
Ah, wherever I am, there you are also
Much as you love me - I love you more."

Ladies love the lolcatz speak, so it's always good to sprinkle a little in here and there, hence the "Don't be sadz."  Adorable.  And now you've got her thinking of a cute, fuzzy kitten.  Two birds.  One stone.  Someone's getting lucky tonight.

You could finish the letter right here, but if you're really going for gold (in the spirit of the Olympics), you can subtly hint that you'd like to be "exclusive."  That's gonna be music to her ears.

But you don't want to make her think you're too into her.  I mean, got to keep her guessing, amiright?  Best leave out that you're thinking about her all the time.  Don't want to pile it on too heavy.  But the whole "I love you!" "I love you more!" theme seems to be a healthy competition between mature adults that's survived the centuries.  You can leave that in there.

"Oh God - so near! so far!
Is not our love truly a heavenly structure, and also as firm as the vault of heaven? 
my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us - "

Religion's a tricky business.  I mean, she could be atheist, or Buddhist, or polytheist.  And if you bring up religion now, it's only a matter of time before she's asking you whether or not you'll baptize the kids as Catholics, only you didn't even know she ever went to church.  Best leave the God stuff out of it.  Ditto anything to do with immortality.  Safer for everyone that way.  In the spirit of political correctness, at the very least.

I can live only wholly with you or not at all
No one else can ever possess my heart - never - never -"

Ok, Beethoven, calm yourself.  No one ever believes the sappy "if you leave me, I'll kill myself!" line.  Really, that sentiment warrants intense therapy, when what you really want is to lure her to the bedroom.  Best go with the more subtle - yet true - "Out of all the girls I saw on OkCupid, you're the one who stood out the most.  And not just because of your hot pics, but because of your personality profile, too."

She'll appreciate your unbridled honesty.  Trust me.

"Oh God, why must one be parted from one whom one so loves.
Be calm, only by a calm consideration of our existence can we achieve our purpose to live together -"

Again with the God stuff?  Leave that for the Thanksgiving table, where it belongs.  Deleted.

"Be calm - love me - today - yesterday - what tearful longings for you - you - you - my life - my all - farewell."

Ah-ha!  So now we're getting down to the pit of it.  Not only is this a love letter, it's a goodbye letter.  Good to know.  Then again, this day and age things are always a bit up in the air.  Best never to say goodbye, because who knows, maybe you'll want to hit her up again sometime.  Keep your options open with something more like this:

"I'm going to be pretty busy, and there's not much cell service where I'll be.  Don't freak out, though.  I'll text you when I can."

Nailed it.

"Oh continue to love me - never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved.
ever thine
ever mine
ever ours"

Begging to be loved?  Where are your cajones, man?  Best tone it down a notch:

Don't be mad if you don't hear from me, ok?  You know I'm thinking of you.
Because you're
my
boo."

Poetic enough without going overboard.  And you've added her pet name in there.  She'll love that.

Now, for your signature send-off:

"Your faithful Ludwig"

Seems even back in the day, men liked to remind women they had never been untrue.  Commendable, but faithful can be an ambivalent sort of word.  Better make it clear.  And no one uses their real name anymore.  Who has time to write out all those letters?  Best to come up with a catchy nickname, and for a musician with a name like Beethoven, I can't think of anything more clever than "Beets".  Don't ask why, but this nickname makes you sound sexier.

"I've never cheated on you,
Beets"

And now, to tie it all together:

Hey, gurl,

We haven't seen each other in a hot minute.  I've got a lot to tell you.  If you came over more, we wouldn't have this problem. Don't be sadz.  You're not seeing anyone else, are you?  Because I'm not.

Much as you love me - I love you more. Out of all the girls I saw on OkCupid, you're the one who stood out the most.  And not just because of your hot pics, but because of your personality profile, too.

I'm going to be pretty busy, and there's not much cell service where I'll be.  Don't freak out, though.  I'll text you when I can. So please don't be mad if you don't hear from me, ok? 

You know I'm thinking of you. 

You know I'm thinking of you.
Because you're
my
boo.
I've never cheated on you,
Beets"

Now that's poetry.  And with that, we've written the most romantic letter you're going to see this side of the 21st century.  Feel free to copy and distribute at-will.  You don't even have to give me credit.

Happy Valentine's Day, lovers!

 

Leith Mahoney-Maver is the author of The San Franciscan, an autobiographical blog about a girl clearly disillusioned with life, love and penises in general. 

 

*All of my letters, thank you men in my life, have been a billion times more romantic than this.  Trust me.  I'm just poking a little fun.