Esther Gwinnell, a psychiatrist who practices in Portland, Oregon, described the pitfalls in her book, Online Seductions.
But the anonymity of the Internet, Gwinnell says, “breaks down ordinary barriers to intimacy.” In short, you feel like you can spill your guts in e-mails to a stranger.
Rather than intruding, e-mail communication gives you a sense of control, Gwinnell says.
Meeting people on the Internet has moved mainstream. Browsing a site such as is like browsing a catalog of potential love interests. Like at a masked ball, people can act in ways that they normally wouldn’t.
Online dating is faster, cheaper and more efficient than going out night after night, hoping Mr. This doesn’t mean that every e-mail is filled with sexual innuendo, although there’s plenty of that.
“Most individuals involved in these relationships have a closeness and connectedness with their correspondent that is painfully missing from ordinary life.” Although intimacy is usually slow to develop in face-to-face relationships, Gwinell says, it’s often the first component of an online dating relationship.
Writing your deepest thoughts to your e-buddy is like writing in a diary.
An e-mail relationship, however, happens at your convenience.
The process of putting your feelings into words deepens introspection and increases self-awareness, Gwinnell says. “The simple act of writing allows for greater self-exploration,” Gwinnell says, “while presenting yourself in the best possible light increases the likelihood that you will experience your e-mail relationship as positive by comparison with other relationships.” Gwinnell points out that, unlike a real-world relationship, e-mail is not intrusive.
Someone who is part of your physical world demands attention, either by being together or talking on the phone.