Ah, GChat! Perfect for chatting with friends and making the work day fly by; bad for relationships.
Despite the fact that it's a relatively recent innovation, it's amazing how much of an integral part of the workday GChat has become. Can you imagine going to work without it?
But GChat has a nastier side which targets couples in new relationships: GChat fights, GChat veiled comments that need immediate analysis, GChat-related fatigue.
So here's the revolutionary solution: if you just started dating someone, you shouldn't GChat at all.
"But what about if we need to make plans?"
"But what if there's an article I really want to send them?"
"But what if I need to rant about a coworker/fully describe what I just had for lunch?"
Don't. Or, use your best friend.
The problem with GChat is that while an email chain will usually have a conclusive end ("Great, see you then!" "HA, hilarious, thanks for sending!" "Reservation under 'Smith'"), a GChat box stays open long after you've finished saying what you need to say. And, when there's an empty box on your screen all day, most people are compelled by a completely human urge to fill it.
After all, it's hard to end a GChat conversation without signing off -- and most people, at work anyway, won't sign off until the end of the day. So how do you say "Ok, great, I'm done talking to you now, even though I'm still sitting here" to someone you're dating? It's very difficult. The other option is the fade-out, but most people (girls? people?) panic at the thought of letting a conversation just peter out, as if it's an indication of boredom or disinterest.
So the GChat keeps going, and going, and going, peppered with mundane observations and half-hearted "lol"s. Even the best GChats, the ones that are flirty and witty and exciting, lose their charm at some point. It's hard to sustain!
And of course, it's nearly impossible to really gauge the other person's reaction. At the beginning of a relationship, couples don't know each other well enough to interpret tone from a few lines of possibly misleading text: jocular? sarcastic? offended? Or worse, bored?
And when two people don't know each other and try to interpret each other using Helvectica instead of body language, facial expression and tone, miscommunications are bound to happen. Was she being serious? Is he actually offended? What does she mean by that? What does HE mean by THAT?