In the old days, there were several standard indicators that romance had chilled. Flowers and candy would slow to an annual trickle.

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In the old days, there were several standard indicators that romance had chilled. Flowers and candy would slow to an annual trickle. Midmorning meetings for a kiss on the cheek just never happened. And they closed the door when they went into the bathroom.

New technology brings lifestyle improvements. Today, if you want to find out exactly when the rose is debloomed, you can examine the respective e-mail threads. If you pay attention, it can be narrowed down to the actual minute.

New romance is a wonderful thing to watch. Boy meets girl, and they spend endless hours exploring each other’s tastes and preferences, expressing delight as they get to each new layer. This is, after all, what they have sought all their lives.

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Now that young (or even old) lovers can use e-mail to get to know each other, these hours are endless. They can tap away at home, at work, even from Starbucks or the ferry.

It is natural for those in love’s first blush to rush in like fools when the time seems right. People in this state can never get information quickly enough, and technology is only too happy to oblige.

Like any real-world relationship, you soon pass into a more pragmatic sphere. The messages evolve from gleeful declarations to grocery requests. And several times daily, thousands of people probably send the same bone-chilling message: “Not tonight. I have a headache.”

So here at Inbox Central, we can dispense some relationship advice. Whenever you embark on a new personal adventure, don’t rush in like a fool. Set expectations with your correspondent as to how often you will write them.

It is always better to keep the estimate low. If you promise to write someone three times a day and peter out quickly, the relationship won’t last even one Internet year.

It may not be wise to take dating advice from someone who was last on the scene when Reagan was president. But there is one area where the old guy is definitely right. All these romantic little messages are forever. So when your future squeeze becomes your ex, all these terms of endearment can become terms of embarrassment.

How unromantic, you say. But romance, reality and e-mail all intersect on a common-sense plane. It makes sense to set your correspondent’s expectations on a reasonable level. And you can’t ever forget that everything you send becomes part of a permanent record.

If you have questions or suggestions for Charles Bermant, you can contact him by e-mail at Type Inbox in the subject field. More columns at