Dear John...

Life and human nature being what it is, not all relationships will last until the end of time. And that’s okay. It can be sad, especially if you have written to a person for a decade or more, if you get to the point that you want to end the relationship.

Be courteous in ending. I cannot tell you how many penpals have dropped me and never said a word. I notice when I do not receive a letter, but in the spirit of not crowding a person, I don’t always write the first month. I think: well, maybe they are just extra busy with the kids or their job. Or maybe they just want a break from letter writing. No harm, no foul.

But usually after three months I will send a test letter to say, Hey, I notice you haven’t written in a while. Is it that you’re busy? Or do you want to end our correspondence? I always try to say that I don’t want them to feel pressured to be my penpal, but it would be nice to know definitively if they want to end.

Some might say: well, if they haven’t written you, then (duh!) they don’t want to be your penpal anymore.

Not necessarily. Last year, I had two penpals who had not written me since March or so. I sent them both Christmas greetings. (That was my test letter.) One wrote back to say that she had been battling cancer, but she was glad to hear from me and would enjoy continuing our correspondence. Another wrote back to say that she had had some health issues and just felt a bit overwhelmed by the number of penpal letters she had been receiving but was glad I had reached out and “please, let’s continue writing.”

I wish I could say that all of my test letters come back so positively. Of course, that’s not the case.

If I get to the point where I don’t feel the correspondence is growing or maybe I am overwhelmed and don’t wish to write, I send a letter to the person. I’m sure some people have felt surprised to get my “Dear John” letter, but at least they aren’t wondering if I’m going to continue being their penpal.

Be courteous and communicate your intentions.

Keep calm and write on!