これが私の手紙に対する彼の返事だ。 This is his answer to my letter.
自分の中の彼に対する気持ちをどう表現していいのか分からないの。I don’t know how to express how I really feel to him.
彼に対して、彼を好きという私の気持ちを、どう表せばいいか、わからない。 I don't know how to express to him that I like him.
Often when I run into 対する in colloquial sentences like these, its meaning appears somewhat extraneous. It seems to emphasize the direction of the action in an obvious way. I am tempted (mistakenly?) to think that in these kind of sentences, the meaning expressed could be sufficiently communicated with just に. Is 対する just adding extra emphasis, or I am I misunderstanding some of its meaning or grammatical purpose? How does it add to what is being communicated? Does it add a measure of gravity to the statement?
For instance, if I was to remove the 対する, would these sentences become grammatically incorrect, or would the meaning drastically change? Perhaps they just start to sound unnatural or poorly constructed...
If you see any mistakes in translation feel free to point them out. Thank you.