Very Good Ideas

8 Reasons Old-Fashioned Love Letters Are the Best

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My parents first met at a wedding in 1986, long before either of them had access to the Internet, much less their own email accounts. At the time, my mother was living in Los Angeles and my dad was in New York, and so they embarked on a long-distance relationship by necessity. My dad would go on to send my mother dozens of real, old-fashioned love letters, written in pen on paper and sent across the country via the U.S. Postal Service. She’s kept every one, and today they’re no worse for the wear than when she first got them in the mail nearly 30 years ago. Because the thought of a 30-year-old email isn’t nearly as romantic, here are eight reasons why you should abandon your love emails, love texts, love Snapchats, and lovestagrams in favor of the old-fashioned love letter.

You get to see what someone’s handwriting looks like

In an age when all our correspondence is typed out, it’s becoming increasingly rare to see someone’s own words in their own handwriting, on real paper (and not just a scribbled signature on a restaurant check). I don’t know what half my friends’ handwriting looks like. This is sad. Extra credit if you write your love letters in cursive. Everything is sexier in cursive.

Getting non-junk mail is the best

The best and worst part of my day is checking my mail and the subsequent realization that I have to throw away all of my mail, because it is all Valpak coupons addressed to “Current Resident” and takeout menus addressed to “Current Resident” and electric bills addressed to me (!), which is only exciting until I realize it is, in fact, an electric bill. Among the few pieces of mail that outrank money-laden birthday cards from my grandparents, love letters are aces. They don’t even have to contain money.

You can’t delete a love letter

There’s something incredibly romantic about the enduring permanence of a physical love letter. I don’t want our love to live in some forgotten corner of my email inbox, or float off into the Internet ether. I want it to live in something I can hold in my hands and pore over and stow in my nightstand.

Love letters don’t demand immediate responses

You know how you send off those carefully written texts that strike the perfect balance of flirt and wit, then spend the next four hours checking all your devices for a response? There’s none of that with an old-fashioned love letter. By definition, the most nerve-wracking part of sending a love letter is praying the post office doesn’t lose it before it gets to your intended recipient.

You can make them smell really, really good

Maybe you wear a scent he loves, or you know she loves the smell of fresh pine. Imbuing your letter with some kind of scent before sending it off is a simple but incredibly intimate way of making your love letter uniquely yours — not to mention it’s impossible to send in an email attachment.

They provide endless possibilities beyond emojis

We love emoji. (No, really. We love emoji.) But the expanse of a blank sheet of paper provides endless possibilities that extend beyond the realm of Japanese tiki masks, engorged eggplants, and a smiling turd. From doodles to photos to magazine clippings to anything else you couldn’t quite put into words (or emoji), there’s a lot of room to get creative.

They demand your full attention

It’s hard to ever fully devote your attention to just one email, or just one text, no matter how carefully written or heartfelt it is. There will always be another email, or another text, or a cat video that are all simultaneously vying for your limited attention. Not so with the humble love letter, whose only ask is that you sit down to read it in its entirety with no distractions, and away from screens. Remember — this person put a lot of time, deep thought, and care into that letter. The least you can do is give it your wholehearted attention — and, perhaps, a response of your own.

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