In a recent article in Psychology Today (see references) Marina Krakovsky, cites work by Janice Nadler, a social psychologist and law professor at Northwestern University, that demonstrated that when people communicate solely through email, breakdowns, misunderstandings and mistrust we nearly four times more likely than when face to face communications were made, or even communications over the telephone.
Nadler suggests that because of the absence of both facial cues and changes in tone and inflection in the human voice, people who communicate via e-mail, or by texting one another, miss out on the subtle clues that people give one another without every really knowing it, and that these little cues are what people use to gauge how a conversation is going.
Consider the following example: One person receives a text message from another asking if they would like to go see a movie together. With just the text there is no way for the recipient to gauge if the request is for a date, or if the other person is hoping the other will say yers, or even whether the request is meant seriously. If the request is made in person, on the other hand, the recipient can see if the first person is smiling, or smug or angry or bored, or whatever, which means they have more information to go on.
Nadler suggests that in the absence of facial or vocal cues, people tend to over-analyze what is being said or asked, and then to take offense more quickly due to the fact that there is no instant response from the other person to nullify a first impression. Krokovsky postulates that because people tend to engage in what she says therapists call transference, or a tendency to transfer our fears or desires onto someone else, there is natural leaning towards people reading things into e-mail messages that were never intended, and then allowing themselves to create little fantasy stories about what the circumstances surrounding the message might have been, leading the reader even farther from the reality of what was originally meant.
The bottom line is, it appears that trying to use e-mail, or texting to maintain a relationship is doomed to failure simply because the two participants are so likely to misinterpret what the other is trying to say, and then to project even worse things onto the other when they are not even there to clarify things. Which means, the relationship is likely far more likely to fail than if the two people were to simple talk to one another in person.