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February 1994 Issue [Article]

How to Correspond with a Boy


By an anonymous teenager, excerpted from the January 1963 issue of Seventeen magazine.

Craftsmanship shown by female letter writers is infinitely superior to that of males, and for a good reason. Girls learn their art through need, the necessity for overcoming boys’ natural dislike of writing letters. Turning a male into a faithful correspondent takes magic—or its equivalent: the ability to be both provocative and demure.

The beginning of your letter—the salutation—is crucial. Although the traditional “Dear George” can’t be faulted; I personally applaud the girl who tries a different approach” such as a breezy, one-word “Hi!” or the boy’s name, followed by an inviting dash. If you’re fortunate enough to have a nickname for your quarry, by all means make use of it.

The boy’s own letter is one guide to the tone you should adopt. If you think you detect admiration or some other such worthy sentiment between the shy lines in his letter, give your letter an air of appreciation and acceptance. On the other hand, if his letter is casual, insouciant, you’ll want to sound carefree, too. Even with this boy, you can let tenderness crop up at an unexpected place to assure him of your vulnerability.

An example of a bad beginning for a letter is: “I’ve just finished studying and decided it was time to write.” That doesn’t make the boy feel nearly important enough. Instead, you might begin: “I’ve got to leave for the movies soon, but it’s such a lovely starry night and it reminds me so much of when we met that I had to write you.”

What’s great about the sentence above is the juxtaposition of romance and reality. Being a male, the recipient will probably notice the romance first. Only at the second reading will he spot the carefully planted clause about the movies and begin to wonder exactly who was taking you.

Telling about a dream you had is an excellent device, allowing you to be both cryptic and tantalizing. Dreams can be left unfinished, and thus open to delicious questioning. Impossible things can happen in dreams, and the mention of them can stir the male imagination. Ambiguous statements that can be interpreted in two ways are also available. A vague mention of the boy you dated last weekend, and how different he is from the boy you are writing, will set your correspondent to wondering. Different? In what way? Better or worse?

Of course, while using strategy you should never lose sight of the boy who’s your target. Be sure to answer all his questions, to comment intelligently on his football exploits and his term paper.

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February 1994

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