An All-Purpose Love Letter

Sara Benincasa
7 min readFeb 20, 2024
“The Love Letter” by Jean Honore Fragonard, depicting a young woman at her writing table looking up at the viewer while holding a letter

I wanted to write you an all-purpose love letter, because I love you and I thought you should know it. It is also for you to send to a friend or other loved one, but we will get to that.

Let’s first focus on the idea that I love you.

I promise I haven’t gone totally mad with delusion. I promise I don’t need or even necessarily WANT to talk to you in person, much less write you shitty poetry in my cat’s saliva. I am sure that is somebody’s idea of true love. It is not mine, DO NOT FRET.

The one who loves you is a specific I, not the person whose name is in the byline above — not entirely, anyway. The “I” who has a name and a date of birth and a place of residence — she does not love you, not necessarily. She may like you if she knows you. She may love you if she REALLY knows you, or she may very much not love you, for the same reason. She may have no desire to engage with the part of you that she knows.

And she really does only know a part, no matter her reaction, no matter how she might describe you. Someone who does not wish to bother with you must be respected, but it can be understood by all parties that there are certain qualities you possess that nobody can ever know.

To truly know a person is still a limited act.



Sara Benincasa

Author, REAL ARTISTS HAVE DAY JOBS & other books. Writer of scripts. Host of WELL, THIS ISN’T NORMAL podcast.