Friday, 8 April 2011
11:43:06 AM (GMT)
A "Dear John letter" is a letter written to a husband or boyfriend by his wife or
girlfriend to inform him their relationship is over, usually because the author has
found another lover. Dear John Letters are often written out of an inability or
unwillingness to inform the person face to face. The reverse situation, in which
someone writes to his wife or girlfriend to break off the relationship, is referred
to as a "Dear Jane letter."
While the exact origins of the phrase are unknown, it is commonly believed to have
been coined by Americans during World War II. Large numbers of American troops were
stationed overseas for many months or years, and as time passed many of their wives
or girlfriends decided to begin a relationship with a new man rather than wait for
their old one to return.
As letters to servicemen from wives or girlfriends back home would typically contain
affectionate language (such as "Dear Johnny", "My dearest John", or simply
"Darling"), a serviceman receiving a note beginning with a curt "Dear John" would
instantly be aware of the letter's purpose.
A writer in the Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, NY, summed it up in August
"Dear John," the letter began. "I have found someone else whom I think the world of.
I think the only way out is for us to get a divorce," it said. They usually began
like that, those letters that told of infidelity on the part of the wives of
servicemen... The men called them "Dear Johns".
An early reference to Dear John letters was made in a United Press article of March
There are a number of theories on why the name John is used rather than any other.
John was a common name in America at the time the term was coined. John is also the
name used in many other terms that refer to an anonymous man or men, such as "John
Doe" or "John Smith". Another possible source for the term is the "Dear John" soap
opera which was on the radio from 1933 to 1944.
The phrase "that's all she wrote" is believed to have originated from Dear John
letters. These letters would contain either the words "Dear John" and abruptly
terminate, or only contain the words "Dear John, goodbye." The phrase "that's all she
wrote" is used to indicate the end of story or an abrupt end of story, especially
when the reader has a desire to know more, but the writer does not want to fulfill
Example of a Dear John letter
The name and dates have been changed to perserve the identity of the individuals.
I just want to start by saying how much I still love and care for you but the truth
is the moment your plane took off I ran into Elder Stevens. He was just returning
from his mission in England. He asked me for my number and suggested that we meet up.
I did and we started seeing more of each other. Occassionally, my mind would drift to
you, but I figured that you were having fun with your companion and I needed some fun
too. You need to concentrate on your mission thats why I'm only telling you a week
before you come home so its not a shock.
I'm engaged, Adam, and I've never been happier! I was wondering, seeing how David is
your best friend, he wants you to be a part of the wedding and be his best man. It is
understandable of course if you can't bear it and see me with him when we said as you
left "see you in white!". I know this may seem harsh but I'm way too good for you.
You need some-one a little bit more in your league. David is out of my league but he
still loves me. Anyway, I'm babbling, but we'll meet you at the airport when you come
home! I'll look forward to showing you the wedding plans and the ring David bought me
(sorry, it's the one you were going to buy me, but couldn't afford it)!
Hope this hasn't ruined your day!
All my love, forever, Christine
I sadly recieved a form of a Dear John Letter upon graduating bootcamp. It's
something that rips a person to shreds and it belittles the person. These things are
real and they do happen.