How NOT to write a love letter

Unlike my other post on how to write a love letter, this one is from personal experience.

In college, I took a fencing class which was open to the public. I still don’t see how this man managed to see past the awkward doughboy-cross-antique-deep-sea-diver fencing outfits to develop such feelings for me, but somehow he did. Within two weeks, he handed me a letter and told me to read it later.

I cannot describe to you the depths of revulsion I felt when reading it. To be fair, I also found it shocking and hilarious. In retrospect, I see that I should have kept it, if only to amuse you, dear reader, with quotes. What did it say? Well, I seem to recall detailed sexual fantasies wrapped up in a poor attempt at graceful prose. I’m afraid I was much more nude than I’m comfortable being in the thoughts of a tubby, bearded 40-year-old. There was an appalling repetition of the word “cup” — used as a verb. I leave the rest to your imagination.

The other end of the spectrum, where there’s no soft-core porn (thank goodness) can be equally horrifying. Here, I do have an example:

Evan William Hartington*,

 I love you with all my heart, my soul, my being.  To put it simply,
you complete me.  I love you dearly, and miss you terribly.  I hope you
can forgive my silly jealously[sic].  You are the one I think about each
night.  I try not to let my mind wander, because for some reason, it
finds it’s[sic] way to you.  Looking at all the photos on my wall makes me
think of each wonderful thing we’ve experienced together and I know that
I want to build on that and keep experiencing life with you.  I know you
are asleep my dearest, and I hope you are sleeping well.  god, how I
wish that I could propose to you.  I’d do it now.  I love you that much
and wish to devote myself to you, but I think you already suspected it.
Once more I lay my soul bare to you.  Know it is yours my love.  Do what
you will with it, but treat it with care.  I said I’d tell you when I
felt I could fully open myself up to you again, and that time is now.

   Sincerely, with love, hope and joy,
                    Reagan* (your Reagan, my love)

In short:

  • Do not make grammatical or spelling errors. Unless the object of your affection finds stupidity endearing.
  • Do not make illogical statements or contradict yourself.
  • Do not mention souls or marriage unless you’d like to sound crazy or desperate.
  • Do not use trite phrases, especially ones about your heart, your soul, and completeness unrelated to fields.
  • Do not make it sound like a form letter written to anyone with breasts. In fact, try not to mention their breasts or other private parts at all. I beg of you. Please don’t.
  • Do not assume the person likes you romantically, or even at all.
  • Do not assume the person wants to be touched by you. Ever.

If you observe carefully, most people betray themselves. If they’re the least bit vulnerable to you (and they should be, or else this exercise is hopeless), you’ll see just what they want.

Do not talk about what you want. Just give them what they want.**

* Names changed to allow the guilty her anonymity, and to safeguard what dignity the addressee may still have.
** I have devised an ingenious algorithm for determining what a person wants, but it is too long to fit in the margin here.

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