Real Men Write Love Letters. Embrace It.

Six missives from iconic dudes, and what they can teach you

By The Editors

Real Men Write Love Letters. Embrace It.
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12 February 2016

In case you missed the deluge of gift-giving advice for ladies I was charged with writing over the last couple weeks, a confession:

I’m a lady.

And guess what? I like getting love letters. We all do.

Consider the time, in 2008, when I received a letter via snail mail. It had a picture sketched of the Eiffel Tower and read, 'Never shall I attempt to construct monuments reminiscent of our love. xo, ML.'

It literally floored me. Dropped me right to my knees on the ground where I stood. It’s that easy.

And while the mere mention of love letters is enough to make some cringe, myself included, it’s in your best interest to put on your best writing hat once a year in the interest of making your better half smile.

You don’t have to be Lord Byron (though that doesn't hurt). We figured it might help, though, to take a few cues from the greats to get you started.

Step One: Attend to the details

That is, don’t write it on a cocktail napkin. While message trumps format, do yourself a solid and pick up some stationery and decent ink. Get a few sheets. You’re bound to make mistakes out of the gates.

Rockwell Kent to his wife Frances

Frances! I am so lonely I can hardly bear it. As one needs happiness so have I needed love; that is the deepest need of the human spirit. And as I love you utterly, so have you now become the whole world of my spirit. It is beside and beyond anything that you can ever do for me; it lies in what you are, dear love — to me so infinitely lovely that to be near you, to see you, hear you, is now the only happiness, the only life, I know. How long these hours are alone!

Yet is good for me to know the measure of my love and need, that I may at least be brought to so govern myself as never to lose the love and trust that you have given me.

Dear Frances, let us make and keep our love more beautiful than any love has ever been before.

Forever, dearest one.



Step two: Practice your penmanship

Failing that, find a typewriter.

Step three: Nail the salutation

She already knows what her name is. Start strong. Be endearing.  

Marlon Brando to a flight attendant

Dear Lady —

There is something not quite definable in your face — something lovely, not pretty in a conventionally thought of way. You have something graceful and tender and feminine (sp). You seem to be a woman who has been loved in her childhood, or else, somehow by the mystery of genetic phenomena you have been visited by the gifts of refinement, dignity and poise. Perhaps you cannot be accredited with all that.

Irrespective of your gothic aspects, you have passed something on in terms of your expression, mien and general comportment that is unusual and rewarding.

It's been a pleasant if brief encounter and I wish you well and I hope we shall have occasion to cross eyes again sometime.

Best wishes

Marlon Brando


Step four: Start writing

Don’t think, just go. Be prepared to crumple a few sheets; you’ll get there eventually. Write one thing about your past, one thing about your present and one thing about your future. Write one thing vaguely resembling a feeling.

Johnny Cash to his wife June Carter Cash

Happy Birthday Princess,

We get old and get used to each other. We think alike. We read each others minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted.

But once in awhile, like today, I meditate on it and realise how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met. You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. You’re the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much.

Step five: Be yourself

It doesn’t need to sound like a love letter so long as it sounds sincere. Opt for the specific over the generic, the seductive over the sexual. Allure is born of restraint.

Richard Burton to Elizabeth Taylor  

My blind eyes are desperately waiting for the sight of you. You don’t realize of course, E.B., how fascinatingly beautiful you have always been, and how strangely you have acquired an added and special and dangerous loveliness.

Step six: Use your resources

Quotes are okay, but you can do better. Read some quotes and then put the same sentiment in your own words. And remember that the best metaphors are often the simplest.

Ernest Hemingway to Marlene Dietrich

‘I can’t say how every time I ever put my arms around you I felt that I was home.’

Step seven: Delivery

Timing is everything. You know her best.

Oh, and don’t do this.

– Shari Gab

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