Why We Should All Be Sending Platonic Valentines (Especially This Year)

There has never been a better reason to tell your friends how much you love them. On paper. In their literal mailboxes.

Why We Should All Be Sending Platonic Valentine’s
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I have always loved writing letters and cards. That doesn't mean I do it very often, mind you — as with yoga class, a Peloton ride, or baking a pan of cinnamon rolls for my nephews, my epistolary hobby is more often theoretical than real. But while my ideals don't always match my behavior, I've decided to devote my Valentine's Day this year to showing my friends how much I love them. And I'm going to say it the old fashioned way: on paper, with goofy stickers and sparkly gel pens. This is the year to unleash a flood of platonic Valentines — or Palentines.

Thanks to the gone-but-not-forgotten TV series Parks and Rec, plenty of people are aware of Galentine's Day (I promise to stop rhyming things with "Valentine" soon.) In the world of Leslie Knope, February 13th is an important day to celebrate one's woman friends. But anybody can use the week of Valentine's Day to show anyone how much they are loved, even if the "gal pal" of it all makes you cringe the tiniest bit. In fact, sending and receiving letters can promote intimacy and healing, particularly during this era of pandemic-induced high stress.

"People keep boxes of handwritten notes and cards for a reason," says Charna Cassell, LMFT, a trauma-trained sex and relationship therapist based in the Bay Area. "Their essence and love for you is captured for you to revisit and remember who you are when your own self-perception waivers." And she knows from experience: "One of my best friends died exactly a year ago, and I immediately regretted having thrown away any card she'd written me. We look to written documents as proof of the quality of a connection. Being vulnerable enough to share your heart through written word is a gift."

Charna Cassell, LMFT

We look to written documents as proof of the quality of a connection. Being vulnerable enough to share your heart through written word is a gift.

— Charna Cassell, LMFT

Cassell, who hosts the sex therapy podcast Laid Open, describes a recent phenomenon she calls "the COVID-reconnect," in which ex-partners and old friends began getting in touch again throughout their time in quarantine. She talks about the pain of isolation, especially for people who live (and work) alone or are retired, and explains that friendships have been more important than ever. "Some of us are highly self-reliant due to trauma and may not even realize how touch- or contact-deprived we are," she says.

Perhaps as proof of her point, my friend Sabrina and I are going to do a long-distance viewing of the Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock film The Lake House to celebrate a Galentine's day. Sabrina loves the movie, and I… know it involves two hot people writing letters to each other across time, through a magic mailbox. It feels appropriate, especially given my own mission to write platonic love notes this year.

I wish I had some sort of a time machine that could send sincere and loving missives to friends and relatives who are gone, or with whom I've lost touch, but I know that's just a fantasy. Also, I am not as hot as Sandra Bullock or Keanu Reeves. (I do have the modern ability to livetweet my movie-viewings, though, so that's something to look forward to.)

Still, the thought reminds me to be grateful that my dearest friends are still around, and I'm lucky to be able to express how much I enjoy them via a wacky, sarcastic bird postcard or heartfelt prose delivered to their actual, physical mailbox.

Like me, Cassell describes herself as a "big believer in writing as a healing tool." I have found that writing in a journal helps me release stress and I've also found that writing letters of friendly or familial love can help me remember exactly what's so great about having that person in my life. It's not getting to hug them IRL, but it's not a bad substitute for these times.

Also like Cassell, I experienced the loss of a dear friend a year ago. I'm so happy to have some of our electronic messages, but I really wish I had kept the few material items we exchanged over the years. I wish I had written him a friend Valentine. But his death reaffirmed my commitment to telling the people I love why I love them, while they're alive, and that's why I'm doing platonic Valentines this year. Plus, I have a bunch of colorful markers and art supplies and can think of no better reason to use them.

If nothing else, handwritten cards are a neat little throwback, and all things analog are in this year. For a real blast-from-the-past experience, you can even spray yours with your signature scent, like Victorian ladies did with their billets-doux back in the day. If all you need is the right stationery, I've got a couple suggestions for you below.

I do hope you give it a try. A handwritten note, in 2022? Imagine that.

Blow Your Mind Postcards (set of 12)

Blow Your Mind Bird Postcard
Courtesy

Grattitude Overflows Card

Grattitude Card
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