mercredi, août 16, 2006

Email relationships: are they possible?

Let me say right off the bat that approaching this whole subject fills me with anxiety and a disquieting feeling that I don't really know where I am going to land. That's because I am a graduate of the email pain and heartache school-or perhaps we should call it the company of those who rush in where angels fear to tread. I am a veteran of some email relationships that rapidly approached deep water-and sometimes seemed about to take me out past where it felt safe to swim. I'm not just talking about relationships between men and women-but I have to admit that it is in that arena that I am must prone to exercise my theatrical (or shadow) side. Anyone who is a decently skilled writer is capable of indulging in emails that are provocative while loaded with ambiguity, superficially intimate, baroquely fantastic and commitment free, and generally guaranteed to muddy the waters of a relationship that is not already shored up by face to face contact. My own guideline, after having had a couple of close calls, is that the only things I say in emails are items I would discuss face to face over a glass of wine. Good thing most of you haven't seen my emails- you would either shun me or ply me with liquour! The fact is, though, that when I go overboard I almost always feel bad in the morning. Perhaps it is because I am displaying a hunger for realtime intimacy that I am sublimating in the more facile hit that an intriguing respondent offers. I must admit that I am prejudiced in this regard, however-in the abstract, I can imagine email friendships in which two people engage in conversation that is truthful, and respectful, intimate without being intrusive, intellectually provocative without being tantalizing for the hell of it. There are some situations, also, where the miles separating soul mates make email the viable alternative-then there are people who email one another for years and end up marrying one another. I would love to hear from other email vets-have you been able to maintain healthy relationships with friends, lovers and spouses online? Maybe you will convert me from penitent skeptic to daydream believer yet!!!!

2 commentaires:

Catherine + a dit…

Hello Elizabeth+

Yes, I have had some interesting email relationships, most of which turned out to be positive and life-affirming. There has only been one that has been excruciatingly painful, and as luck would have it, it was with a person I considered a soulfriend. After emailing, it evolved into occasional phone calls until we were talking for a few hours a night--she on the east coast and I on the west. And we were only friends but we connected on many levels: priests, feminists, me an INFP, she an INFJ. But regardless of how much you come to know someone, it only takes one misunderstanding to blow it out of the water and that is exactly what happened.

On the brighter side, I have a wonderful friend in Virginia I met through a mutual friend, and she is also a Christian. She tells me I am the best friend she has because I am consistant and constant. We have been email friends for over three years now.

I met my best friend here in town in a reading group online. When we realized we lived in the same town, we met at a Starbucks connected to a Barnes and Nobles store...can't be the location! She has remained my best friend locally now for more than four years.

If the written relationship is augmented by a IM program with video capability, I can see the relationship developing further.

I hope that helps in understanding how others manage this new way to make and keep friends, as well as lose them.


Dating Goddess a dit…

Hello Elizabeth:

After your comment on my blog Adventures in Dating After 40 (, I decided to come visit your blog.

Yes, I've had some great relationships by email. I have friends all over the world who I've never met but become fond of over email.

But for a potential romantic relationship, there needs to be a face-to-face, and preferably reasonably soon. I've connected with people online, then when we met there was no physical chemistry. If we both agreed, we continued as friends, but somehow our enthusiasm cooled.

It is easy, I think, to say your deepest secrets and fears with someone you haven't met. But then when you meet, you find out he doesn't look you in the eye, oggles other women, is inconsiderate, etc.

One gal pal communicated daily with a man in Scottland while she lived in KS. After a year, he came to visit her, even bringing a promise ring. But his behaviors were so odious to her in his week-long stay, that she didn't accept the ring and broke off contact.

So remember, it's easy to be charming on email. As that famous New Yorker cartoon said, "On the Intenet, no one knows you're a dog."