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How Quickly Should I Reply To My Pen Pal?

How quickly should I reply to my pen pal? This was a question I was asked recently (thanks for the question, Jen!) so today I wanted to answer this one. As best as it can be answered.

The answer to this one is really ‘it depends’. As there are lots of different variances, and of course, there are no rules around this so it’s up to you to figure out the answer each time.

I would say that there are a few things to take into consideration when choosing when to write back to your pen pal, so I will share them here and hopefully they will help you to make up your own best practices around this one.

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Take into consideration how far the letter has travelled.

This one is the first thing to think about, when would your pen pal have actually sat down and written to you?

Postage times can vary hugely from nation to nation and post can often get held up coming from overseas. 

You might have only received the letter today, but it might have been sent a month ago, so it’s perfectly reasonable to sit down and write back straightway.

If it was sent domestically, it might have only travelled for a day or two, so you might want to leave that one for a little longer. 

Think about how long you have been writing to this pen pal.

If it’s a new pen pal, the first letter from them maybe, I would suggest replying quickly. They will be enthusiastic and hoping you are going to write back, so don’t keep them on tenterhooks! 

If you’re concerned that this will set a precedent you might not be able to maintain, feel free to let them know in your letter. 

If it’s a pen pal you have been writing to for a few years, you will probably already have a good feel for their turnaround time on letters, so go with a similar pattern.

happy mail

What do you have to say?

Sometimes when you reply will have much to do with what you have to say.

It might be that your pen pal is asking you about a certain event or holiday, so you might wait until that’s taken place to share it with them.

Perhaps you have had a lot going on lately and would love to tell them all about it, if so, you’re probably going to reply quite swiftly. 

What I will say is, you will always have something to say, don’t doubt yourself on that score. Even if you feel you’ve not been up to much lately, your pen pal will be interested to hear from you. 

You might want to check out what to write to your pen pal for ideas. 

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It needs to fit in with your life

If you are looking for a more definitive answer, then the time you have available to sit down and write a letter is going to be the right time to reply. It needs to fit in with your life.

We might not have hours free to write each week, and this can change from month to month depending on what we have going on at the time. 

Your pen pals will understand this, particularly those that you have been writing to for a while and have built up a relationship with. 

Personally, I have been writing to pen pals for several years now and I usually reply whenever I have a gap in my diary to do so and the mood takes me. I want to enjoy replying, not see it as a chore in anyway, this is my happy me-time. 

It’s never too late to reply

If you’ve had a lot going on and feel that it’s been an absolute age since you received that last letter from your pen pal, don’t let ‘lateness’ put you off responding. 

It’s never too late to reply.

Yes, I am sure they would have loved to hear from you sooner, but everyone understands that life can get busy or you might just go off wanting to sit and write for a while. It’s OK.

If you still want to write back and keep the friendship going, do so. Just apologise for the delay and then jump up in with your latest news. 

Every pen pal is different

You will soon settle into rhythms of replying and receiving your snail mail. And every pen pal is different in this way.

You might have some people you hear from a handful of times a year, some every couple of months, others every couple of weeks. 

The relationship and speed of response you have with one friend might be completely different to the one you have with another friend. And that’s absolutely fine!

Take into account their reply times as time goes on and you will soon get a feel for when the right time to reply is.

I hope this has helped you to work out when is the right time to reply. As I say, it can be different in different cases, and we all go through periods of being able to reply relatively swiftly, or having to leave it a while. 

The important thing is to reply when you can and enjoy your pen pal friendship.

If you are interested in taking up this hobby, do check out where to find pen pals and the easy way to pen pal.

What are your thoughts around this?

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2 thoughts on “How Quickly Should I Reply To My Pen Pal?”

  1. Rebecca McCormick

    I didn’t write ANY letters last year. I was ill and the pandemic was hitting me hard. I’ve worked very hard this year to get caught up, and I’m getting replies that say, yes of course I still want to hear from you, take as much time as you need

    1. That’s wonderful, most people do completely understand and it’s never too late to write. I’m glad you’re managing to get caught up and are enjoying it again.

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