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If there’s one thing I’ve learned through dating in the middle of a pandemic, it’s the importance and power of love letters. 2020 has left no relationship immune to the strains of distance and uncertainty. If you’ve experienced the displeasure of crushing on someone during COVID, I’m sure you understand: how do you show someone you like them if they’re watching your facial expressions through a mask? How do you take them to dinner and a movie if the restaurants and theaters are closed or out of the question? It may prove difficult to get behind such an archaic form of expression as a way of navigating such modern and unprecedented waters, but love letters are the exact remedy for the question of how to show affection from six feet away.

However, nothing about love letters has to be archaic. In fact, you don’t even need to be a strong writer to take advantage of them. The first love letter I ever received from my now-girlfriend was a Lucy & Leo’s cupcake, with a note card holding just a few words attached. I dropped vegan cookies and a poem I pulled out of a book for her in her mailbox before she drove back to her dorm at USF. My best friend’s crush gifted them a DIY crocheted Scrump doll—and you’re telling me that’s not a proclamation of love? Paragraph texts and pen-to-paper envelope masterpieces are just as powerful, but that’s the point: the writing itself is never what makes a love letter. It’s the sentiment behind anything you give to a crush or significant other, and the way that effort makes them feel. 

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My girlfriend attests that she is a terrible writer. Give her a calculus test and she’ll ace it with flying colors, but give her a psychology essay and she’ll overthink the very first word. The thing is, she writes the best letters I’ve ever read. Just like most things that are worth doing, starting a love letter is scary and it can feel like an overwhelming task to get your abstract feelings into readable words. But my favorite sentences of hers don’t exactly “compare thee to a summer’s day”—they just speak her mind. “You make the world such a better place, you make my life such a better place,” is frank and from the heart. “I have never had a feeling this strong and true before” is genuine and vulnerable. If writing is not your go-to skill like it’s not hers, don’t fret. It’s the effort and care that make me smile every time I get a letter from my girlfriend. That’s all you can ask for from a partner or a crush: sincerity and effort.

Love letters aren’t about writing eloquent metaphors or using your favorite stationery, but they can be if you want them to be. Love letters are purely about doing or giving something kind to the person you love most. The best ones are in a medium you enjoy most—whether that’s a crocheted creation, written romance or pastry proposal, anything made or brought from your heart will find its way into your loved one’s heart as well.

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Maddie Stults is a first year psychology student at Florida State University. She is passionate about mental health and volunteers for NAMI Tallahassee in her free time. When she's not writing or studying, she loves playing guitar, tennis, listening to music, and re-watching Parks and Rec on Netflix.
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