Writing a love letter (or billet-doux for you, francophiles) in the form of a blogpost may seem a little contradictory (because it is). But in the interest of publication, let’s suspend logic for the moment. Yes, you can still send your significant other your flirtatious texts – or “flexts,” hashtag until your thumbs hurt, email, update, and all the rest. But after all that, do yourself a favor: bottle some of those creative juices and squeeze them into a fountain pen – or, heck, just use a regular ballpoint – and put it to paper. The art of letter writing is one we should not let wither by the wayside, and I’d like to tell you why.
The Touch, The Feel…
There are those people in our lives whom we wish we could see more often but can’t, because geography or time prohibits it. These are the people we so easily can embrace, or kiss on the cheek (bisous for you, francophiles), or on the mouth, but circumstances make it impossible at the moment. You can send them a longing text or email, but these mediums lack that essential tactile quality of a handshake or a hug.
The consensus in psychology research today is that interpersonal touch is the foundation to cooperative, healthy, and emotionally gratifying relationships. Now, a letter is not a human appendage (unless you happen to include a lock of your hair in the envelope – I won’t judge).
However, if you break down the letter reading / writing process, this is what you’ve got: the writer takes out a piece of paper, scribbles on it, folds it up and seals it all with his or her own hands. Then a bunch of other hands touch it, like those of the Postal Service Men and Women, and finally when the recipient opens the letter, it’s as if he or she is actually touching the writer! Does that make sense? It’s one long chain of touching (but the consensual kind), and according to psychologists, that’s a really good thing.
A Letter Is a Gift, an Email is Scrap Paper
What do I mean by that? I mean, that a letter can be a present. It’s not free: that is, someone’s got to buy the envelope, the pen or quill and inkwell – if you prefer that sort of thing, and the stamp (on which you can save big right now when using Stamps.com). It doesn’t cost a lot, but it does ask the giver something more than a click of the forefinger, even if it’s only $1.99. Just upon receiving a letter, the recipient will feel an immediate sense of gratefulness for not only the thought, but the preparation. Money isn’t cheap these days.
Also, a letter has material value. It takes up space – I mean, space you can see, unlike a fraction of a wavelength that an email does. If it’s a good letter, it can be framed, and if it’s an upsetting one, it can be shredded (see below). It can be hung on a refrigerator, or preserved in a locked safe for years and years and brought out to satisfy nostalgia. The point is, a letter has a physical and emotional weight, and sometimes, the heavier the better. Unless it’s your brother writing to you, in which case, it ain’t heavy, it’s just our brother.
Allow me to wax cynical for just a brief moment. Let’s imagine that your torrid, sexy, blazing romance with your prince or princess charming just took a long walk off a short bridge, went south, and plummeted to the rocky waters below. How in the world are you going to get over that heartbreak? Lots of tissues, lots of double-churned ice cream, and lots of memory purging.
If you’d like to take a ballistic approach to moving past a relationship, you might want to try disposing of their things. For instance, the little gifts they left behind, the articles of clothing they flung on the floor (something that was tolerably cute while you were together but is, in hindsight, just rude and insensitive towards your things), and, above all, their letters.
Now, you can delete those texts, the emails they sent you, de-friend them, and erase those photos of you together, no problem. But those methods won’t ever give you the same satisfaction and sense of resolution that starting a little controlled fire using a stack of all their love, blue, and Dear John letters as kindling will. Sure, you can also burn your hard drive that contained all your digital correspondences, but that is a messy and expensive separation. It’s just another great reason to start your letter writing now: so that you can have something to incinerate when, and if, you have to break up. I hope it doesn’t happen; I’m just saying it might. You can also shred them.
Can you imagine how much more poignant this love letter to letters would have been if I had actually written it in a letter? Probably a lot more. Give it a try. What’s the worst that can happen? A paper cut. That’s about it.