3 Reasons Not to Email When Dating

An MIT professor of technology has suggestions about when to avoid emailing or texting with someone you've just started seeing.

woman with laptop
(Image credit: Justin Horrocks)

You know how when you first start dating someone, the emailing can be the best — and worst — part of the whole thing? He writes such funny, smart, adorable notes that you forward them to half a dozen of your friends (and your wacky Aunt Nell in Minnesota because, hey, you've owed her a phone call for months and you want to throw the poor woman a bone). But then there are those days — and days and days — when you don't hear from him at all, which make you want to type out a memorable note of your own, along the lines of: "Either SAY SOMETHING SOON or I will write your mother (I friended her on Facebook after our second date) to make sure you're still alive. Dammit."

Yes, well, anyway … the other day, I picked up my mail to find a copy of a new book called Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, by Sherry Turkle, a psychologist and MIT professor. The book discusses the ways that technology has enabled us to do anything anywhere — and in the process has helped to make our bosses expect us to do everything, all the time, no matter where we might be. What's more, being constantly "connected" to the Internet often means we're disconnected from our real lives: It's easy to feel like we're in touch with plenty of friends through social networking sites, and at the same time to feel a deep emotional void because commenting on someone's status update is not the same as enjoying a good conversation with them over dinner — and giving an electronic thumbs-up is nothing like a proper hug.

So does Dr. Turkle have any tips about when we shouldn't e-mail or text to communicate with a guy we've recently started seeing? Here's what she had to say:

Don't communicate electronically if...

1. You're writing out of need or desperation.

In other words, don't send an email about some news article you thought was interesting, or asking some irrelevant question, when what you're really doing is trying to ask: Hey, why haven't I heard from you? Do you like me? Can you give me a better clue about what you're thinking?

2. You're not positive that the guy you're dating will be happy to receive your email or text.

Wait until you reach a point when you are positive he'll be happy to hear from you. Till then, try to keep the communication to a minimum. It'll help you feel more in control and less on edge.)

3. You have something important to mention or discuss, and you know that it would be better for the relationship (or for your own well-being) if you could see your partner's emotional response to what you are saying.

E-mailing or texting works well when things are going smoothly in a relationship. But that stuff can get us into trouble when things are less positive, because the chance for miscommunication is much greater. What's more, emails are often ambiguous, and an ambiguous email from someone with whom you are having an ambiguous relationship can cause anxiety. Having eye contact, or at least hearing the voice of the person can give you information about your partners' feelings that will enable you to make realistic decisions.

Here's my question for you all: How do you keep yourself from emailing a guy you're dating, especially when you feel anxious or uncertain about the relationship?