A Letter to Beatrice

My Beloved Beatrice,

I have recently learned something that has required me to put our relationship in a new perspective and I can only relate this to you in a written form, due to the emotions it elicits. Before I reach the main purpose of this letter, I would like to revisit and relate what I have come to love so deeply about you. In these paragraphs I will take Aristotle’s classification, if for no other reason then to impress those who are so impressed, on friends: those of interest, of love, and of contemplation. This division is not always perfect, and thus many components could easily be rearranged, but how many books are in the Bible is much less important than their complete message–so I press onward.

As the epitome of perfection in a companion, you have excelled more than any other in these ways. I will attempt to reach a similar degree of accomplishment in describing your personality.


An essential realization that must occur in any relationship is that a person need not only be charming, beautiful, funny, or any other adjective that appears in a personal ad, but also someone with whom one can share the responsibilities of life and parenting with. I see these traits as those pertaining to my personal interest in the kind of life I would like to lead and provide for my children.

In order to minimize the number of important disagreements over what kind of life we’d lead, it would be necessary for my partner and I to share the same basic moral foundations. While our hairs may be split slightly differently, you and I always agree on what sort of actions were good and sorts were evil; what traits are virtues or vices. And equally as important, we both work hard to meet this self-set expectation and requirement.

This hard work of yours that I write of is not only executed in the domain of morality and personal honor, but in all aspects of your life. One cannot watch you work at home or hear of your effort at work without recalling how you quoted about the sin of sloth. But like a hand that would be deformed if it was always open _or_ always closed, you are not an obsessive worker and can leave for tomorrow what should wait for tomorrow. For these reasons I would never have to worry about our family feeling neglected or unprovided for.

Above all, you are a role model for myself and would be for our children. You are trust worthy, moral, dedicated to all your responsibilities, and an honor to the memory of the thousands who made our life possible.


By describing the way you exemplify the necessity of love, I cannot enumerate the things that make me love you, or that I find essential in a future lover; nor would I enumerate such things even if I could. The creator of love hides his materials from our eyes and has placed the secret of one from of happiness beyond a curtain. Suffice it to say that the magical spark of interest in love is present in our relationship and that this is essential quality of the ideal woman, you.

Instead of describing these indescribable causes, I will describe what makes the embodiment of our love–the pleasure and romance we share–the best it can be.

Firstly, our mutual satisfaction is more easily satiated by the basic interests that we share. When a man is still a boy he often wishes to find a girl just like himself so he can have the perfect partner, but this feeling soon fades with the realization that a repeated task becomes tedious and a constantly evolving lifestyle is enriching and exciting. For you and I, we have chosen the second lifestyle. On occasion we will entertain each other with a new idea of our individual making, but if those situations don’t work out, our basic interests provide us with many options.

Secondly, I love that you are naturally upbeat and cheery person. This makes even the most mundane activities with you a spring of enjoyment. Related to this is your important lack of a quality that can only be described as ‘clingy-ness.’ I have dated women who are constantly searching for happiness and completeness outside themselves, whether in new consumables or relationships, rather than being internally happy. Often times, this conception of happiness as emanating from an external source manifests itself in an overly protective and clingy attitude towards people and possessions, while preventing the realization of true happiness. It is admirable and delightful that you do not succumb to this common problem and are truly happy.

And finally, you espouse the virtue of confidence. A confident woman is always beautiful because she has reason to be and believe in her self. A confident woman is never unnecessarily shy, which aides in interesting activities. A confident woman is an active partner, rather than a passive fellow traveler. These maxims and more apply as equally to you as to any woman with a similar state of mind.


The noblest form of pleasure is that of contemplation and the gradual attainment of a more perfect understanding of truth, in all its forms. For this reason, the attributes that you possess with regards to aiding contemplation are among the greatest that exist.

The central activity that enables contemplation is debate or discussion. For this reason, your skills and qualities, as they relate to being an operative debater, are those that caused Aphrodite to tremble.

Firstly, you and I share a similar basic philosophy. Again, like with interests, is it not the best situation to find a replicate, but instead someone with similar sorts of beliefs and axioms so that disagreements are not severe, yet exist. Your earlier mentioned quality of confidence provides these disagreements fresh air, where we can both learn from each other in the impending discussion.

Secondly, you possess a desire to learn and teach that pushes you to be engaged and create these discussions at any opportunity. This is further evidenced by your desire to read about my work, even though you are not employed in the same area. This is evidenced by the encouragement I receive from you to do the same. This is evidenced by the same spark being detected in the eyes of our children who are voracious readers and thinkers.

And finally, you know how to debate in a mild manner that is to the benefit of yourself and your sparing partner. Too often a person seems to think that the purpose of debate is not to grow and to mutually persuade, but to crush an ‘opponent’ to the ground and reap the rewards of victory. You and I do not let our occasional philosophical disputes get in the way of our general happiness and good regard for one another, but see them as an opportunity to return to study with some additional persuasive material.


I have catalogued with my broadest strokes the way you uplift my imagination with possibilities at every thought of our future together, but such platitudes of your greatness cannot capture the true essence that must be experienced. And with this I have reached my closing, upon which I will describe the dreadful realization that provided the impetus for this letter.

You do not exist.

How could I have been so foolish to suppose that Earth contained the perfection only possible within the plane of the angels? For the majority of my life I had been in one relationship after another, some for short stretches of time, some for long, moving ever closer to what I imagined and thought was realized in you. Naturally there were a few back steps because of the inability to predict many things about a person before you are thoroughly involved, but the trajectory was ever upwards as like so many stairs.

I now understand that the pursuit of perfection in this way is nonsensical and can only leave one tired and alone. One can never be truly satisfied with an imperfect partner if one is constantly evaluating the degree of perfection of every possible candidate. I have resolved that instead of conquering new shores, I must find someone like you by some approximation and we must cultivate our gardens, slowly _becoming_ the ideal, rather than seeking a short-cut.

I am truly writing this letter to end the love affair we’ve had over these last few years. It was a great time to wonder together what could be if we ever found each other, but it turns out to be a time fraught with foreshadows of failure.

With best regards,

Jay McCarthy