Reading this book and thinking about my own dumb experiences I realized that there’s a particular kind of grammar and structure for these types of correspondences that I’ve always kind of twigged to without necessarily knowing what I was doing, and it’s built out of that split between your physical body-self and your internet brain-self. Over email, you get to build a narrative; you get to reveal yourself and your interests and your source texts at a pace that is entirely up to you, you get to curate and arrange yourself and your life in a way that feels at once very sincere and very false. On the one hand, it feels like you’re giving this person the purest form of you, just your thoughts and the things you want to show/tell them unencumbered by the awkwardness of physical presence or circumstance or context. But false because you’re probably not that cool or linear IRL, because nobody is.
Either way, email (this is the thing that comes through clearest in I’m Very Into You, in all kinds of ways) lets you talk wide circles around the things you mean without ever having to be bad-vulnerable, the dangerous or uncomfortable kind that pokes holes in soaring romance. But the thing that gets real evident as the book progresses and also as anyone who’s ever been engaged in a prolonged correspondence like this can attest to is that the split starts to complicate things—eventually the details you’re leaving out start to overpower the things that you’re leaving in. High-flown romance needs to be anchored by at least a few kinds of certainty; it needs detail and physical presence and uncomfortable, un-romantic shit to weigh it down. So the lack of physical presence, the lack of having to deal with detail you don’t want, is what kind of ends up being the fatal flaw both in this book and also in a lot of relationships that get built up this way, I think. The split between your internet and IRL-selves always catches up with you somehow.
– Emma Healey in Blood and Guts in Emails, in the Hairpin