It is totally a symptom of my age that when first faced with this topic, I drew an absolute blank. Just for the sake of reader enlightenment, members of my generation did not grow up with the internet. We communicated by sending messages through friends or family, writing notes or letters and speaking on the telephone. So my first thought was, why wouldn’t they phone? There is now an entire generation of young people from preteen to their late twenties who have never known a time without the information highway. Most young adults today text, tweet, Facebook, Face Time and Skype with friends more than they speak with them on the phone. Email is only a letter with instant delivery and to people who have grown up in a world of virtual friends and instant communications, emailing a person from their “real world” is just an extension of their online world. And those of us from earlier generations are catching up quickly. However, using email to communicate with a person you have just begun to date can have negative consequences or give the entirely wrong impression.
1) You can appear insecure, needy and clingy. I spoke with a woman who had some very revealing insights regarding new relationships and sending emails. When a relationship was going well, she felt relaxed and willing to wait for the guy to make the next move. If there was something she needed to speak to him about, she would send a short email asking him to phone regarding a change in plans, etc. However, when a relationship was uncertain or she felt vulnerable, a series of four or five unanswered emails ensued, with the purpose of making the guy declare his intentions or give his assurance. Not good. Sort of like “blowing up” someone’s phone. Suffice to say those particular relationships were short lived.
2) There is more chance of a misunderstanding when communicating in writing. On the one hand, when writing you can take your time and choose your words carefully. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that however well-written, the recipient of the email will completely understand the message or the writer’s intent. A miscommunication could easily result in hurt feelings, an angry response that results in an argument or such confusion that the guy may begin to rethink the relationship altogether.
3) Never email when you have something really important to say. It is essential that you deliver any important information in person. In the first place, it gives the message the proper gravity and lets the person know that this is a serious subject. Secondly, it allows you to evaluate the listener’s response by viewing their facial expressions and body language. This way you have a better idea of what they are thinking and feeling, as well as whether or not they fully understand what you are saying. It also gives you the chance to clarify the information and ask or answer questions if it becomes clear to you that they do not understand.