Writing letters has become a romanticized idea in literature, an idea that we view as a bygone. After all, why send a letter which will arrive days later in the mail when you can send a text in seconds? I think the idea of letters may have stuck around because of how they uniquely relate to the five love languages.
The five love languages were introduced by Gary Chapman. They describe how people give and receive love. Basically, the different "languages" are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. The idea is that each person feels loved through different ways, and understanding how people feel loved can help us to better express our love to them, whether that is romantically or as friends. If you're interested in figuring out what your love language is, you can read the book, or search online for a quiz.
Written letters are interesting because they can fill a piece of each of the love languages despite distances.
Perhaps the most obvious love language present in a letter is words of affirmation. It is not uncommon to compliment or encourage someone through writing. One of the sweet things about letters is that those encouragements can be reread later on, continuing the feeling of being loved and appreciated.
While writing a letter may not exactly be acts of service, the idea is the same; going out of your way to let someone know you care about them. In the same way writing a thank you card is considered more meaningful than just verbally expressing appreciation, writing a letter takes time. That time in-person could have been an action, such as doing chores for someone or taking care of a task you knew they were dreading, but when distance prevents direct actions, a letter shows effort and a desire to brighten the recipient's day.
Each letter is a little gift of time, thought and effort. Opening up the mailbox to see a handwritten letter can make you feel like an elementary schooler on Christmas morning. Receiving gifts doesn't necessarily have to be large items. Oftentimes, love is expressed in this way through small tokens. Letters are a very affordable way to give a gift that can be packed with meaning.
While the quality time may not be in person, writing each letter takes time and reading the letter does as well. When we get to take time out of our day to read what someone we care about has written to us, it's a tiny sliver of time that we get to spend with them in our mind. The slower nature of the postal system means there's a delay between the times spent on the letter, but perhaps that leads to more meaningful correspondence since the trivial things don't seem to matter as much after a few days.
Physical touch may be a bit more of a stretch, but if the letters are written from a distance, we get something tangible from our loved one to hang on to. Holding a letter in our hands might not as good as getting to give the writer a bear hug, but in my opinion, it's far better than simply holding a phone and looking at the screen.
While it certainly takes time and discipline, consider writing letters to far-off friends or loved ones. The extra effort can really show through in making someone feel loved and appreciated.