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The Emotional Benefits of Pen Pal-ing

By Fran Braga Meininger January 27, 2024 Lifestyle

I remember passing notes to my bestie in grade school and waiting with exhilaration for her return message. It was all great fun even though we were sitting just a few rows apart in the same classroom and would spend our entire recess engrossed in conversation about what fifth grade girls find most interesting – fifth grade boys.

But now, decades later, having traded that primary form of written correspondence for abbreviated, less intimate Facebook and Instagram posts and texts, I’ve discovered that personal notes can hold some of the same delightful anticipation and emotional satisfaction.

I’m a writer, so it seems rather obvious that writing would offer me a feeling of deeper personal expression, but I am pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy and look forward to the return message.

It all started a few years ago, when a woman from Canada read one of my essays on Sixty and Me and sent me a message through my website. We began chatting via email and found we had much to talk about. So, periodically, when she crosses my mind, I drop her a line, and I’m always happy to hear from her.

Over the past years, it’s happened several more times, the exact same way, and again a few months ago, and now only a day ago. Women I don’t know, who I probably will never meet in person, since we live in different states, countries and continents, are now part of my life through an occasional, but strikingly candid series of messages.

The second and even more delightful surprise is the depth of our intimacy through these communiques. We’ve learned about our lifestyles, our loves and losses, our worries, and how much we have in common as women navigating this era of our lives. It’s truly wonderful and has added a new dimension to my life, for which I am immensely grateful.

I don’t think I am unique, nor special, but I do think this happened because I am open to it and welcome the opportunity. So, I believe anyone who wishes to can begin a pen pal relationship that suits their lifestyle, interest and needs.

How to Connect with a Potential Pen Pal

There are various Pen Pal Match Up sites online. Travel and Leisure published a list in 2022, some of which focus on special interests, like women travelers. I also found an online article on Martha Stewart’s site that offers links.

For those who enjoys taking a pen in hand, there is Snail Mail Pen Pals Ladies Only

If you’d like to brighten the day of an elder person, there are several Facebook pages, like Pen Pals for Seniors, where people post their requests.

A More Personal Approach

You might also consider being a pen pal to someone in your family. A friend of mine, who actually inspired this article, is pen pals with her 11-year-old granddaughter.

Even though they still talk on the phone, zoom and visit in person often, she says her granddaughter loves receiving actual written letters in the mail. My friend makes homemade cards, sends photos and writes special memories that will one day be this child’s tangible and lasting mementos of her grandmother’s love.

We are all eager, it seems, especially now, for a sense of purpose, connection and honest communication. Becoming a modern day pen pal has offered me all of that. I hope you will consider it as an opportunity to enrich your life as well.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Did you have a pen pal back when you were in school? What do you remember about them and the experience of corresponding? Have you considered looking for a pen pal? What would that correspondence look like?

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I made a friend Corinne at summer camp. I lived in the west end of Toronto and she lived in the east end of Toronto. Just the same it was fun to be pen pals for several years.


I loved having pen pals when I was growing up! What fun to receive a letter in the mail.
Now my only pen pal is a young Amish girl. I love hearing about her life.
Until she was 96, my mother wrote weekly letters to her grandchildren. She started writing to each of them when they went to college. She continued to write to those who didn’t return to our state to live after college. They all cherished her letters and looked forward to receiving them.
I would love a pen pal again but worry whether the person would be who they say they are—there is so much dishonesty out there.

Shawn Anderson

I would be interested if you’d like to take a chance at me. Michigan woman.


This article brings back wonderful memories. I attended a SDA school and Church and in church in the youth meetings they invited you to choose a name of someone to start writing too. I was always very shy, but this sounded like a nice idea and I ended up writing to about 6 people in the USA and the Caribbean and 2 became very good friends.
We wrote each other often and they were like my family. I even went to Boston and to Oregon to visit them over the years. One was older like a grandmother to me and the other was my age and we were such good friends that we were Godmothers to our sons.
Sadly they both have passed away now, but I will always remember them with love. I think they knew more about me than my own family. At present I have no penpals, but may give it another try as yes, it gives you something to look forward to when the mailmen comes.

Fran Meininger

I’m so pleased my article brought back sweet memories. Thank you for your touching comment. Fran

Lisa Giering

I used to have many penpals when I was younger. I actually still communicate with one penpal. We connected when we were in high school through a pen pal match up with Teen Magazine. We’ve never met, but still stay in touch after 45 years.

Fran Meininger

How amazing that a connection made so long ago still remains strong and enduring. It’s wonderful, really.


I Have been writing to pen pals for about eight years. It has been a great experience making friends from many parts of the country and the globe via snail mail.

Fran Meininger

I love your comment, Rohini. I agree. Writing to others far away, finding our commonalities, seems to melt the miles between us. Thank you for sharing your experience. Fran

The Author

Fran Braga Meininger writes personal narratives about the years beyond youth, a time in a woman’s life that can be vibrant, fulfilling, and wonderful, despite – or perhaps because of – all that comes with age. She lives in northern California where she hikes, bikes and lives life in big bites. You can visit her website at

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