Posted by: Amy Spencer
Topic: Do you think you can really and truly "feel" chemistry via email?
I've got a short answer for this one: Nope.
Just know that I'm talking specifically about meeting and getting to know someone by email, not about emailing someone you've already felt chemistry with in person. I say this as someone who used to go on lots and lots and lots of online dates. Some were great, some were lame, but what I learned was that the level of chemistry I thought we had on email prior to meeting had virtually nothing in common with the chemistry I felt with them in person.
God, I remember one guy I bantered with for weeks until all hours of the night. We talked like we were in love already, and I was giddy about the late-night conversations I imagined we'd spend our lives having, you know, once we met. And then...we met. What did I feel? Nothing. Nada. In person, we were like two awkward strangers in an elevator that two five-hour dates did nothing to spark.
This is not to say that online dating doesn't work—because it absolutely does. I've seen it work. I have three close friends who married their online mates, and more friends who are relationships with guys they met online. But the way I see it, the emails you share with someone aren't about discovering chemistry, but about making sure your potential dates are at least compatible, and on a similar wavelength. A girl who wants a literary, wine-loving type will find out pretty quickly over email that a potential date prefers Playboy, hockey games and Hooters. Email is a perfect fact-finding tool. But it won't, in my opinion, dig up real chemistry.
It makes me think of Macolm Gladwell's book Blink, and how we don't give our brains enough credit for how receptive and hard-working they really are. Our brains can pick up so much from that instant, 5-second meeting in person that reflects decades of what we know we want or don't want. Sure, it picks up on someone's looks. But it's also about their voice. Their posture. The way they walk. The way they move their hands. The way they laugh. The way they smile, or ask questions or put their hand on your back as you walk through a doorway. I think all these teeny, tiny, little things are like the 0's and 1's in a computer formula for our brains—they're the things that add up to whether we feel there is chemistry there or not. And I think it works best in person.
Email is a fantastic way to find someone you're compatible with. And who knows, that same person may turn out to be someone you feel chemistry with as well. But don't make the mistake I did: Don't confuse email compatibility for real chemistry. Don't spend weeks building up your dates before you meet them in person (and, um, telling all your friends you think you've meet The One because he writes the funniest little haikus...), because you're always going to fill in a question marks left over after email by assuming you'll have fire-hot, smokin' chemistry.
If you like 'em on email, make a date, the sooner the better, before you have a chance to analyze it too much. Then you can discover all those fun question marks in person and let chemistry do its thing the best way—i.e. the human, uncomputerized way— it knows how.