The power of spelling

NYSharon brought it up in a comment the other day. I and others have mentioned it before. During a TV interview about online dating a 50-something single woman said it was a pet peeve.


Or more accurately, misspellings. (Spell check told me that “misspellings” was wrong, but says it’s okay.)

On one hand, you can say this is nitpicking. As shallow as complaints about table manners and wrinkled clothing.

On the other you can say multiple email or profile typos show carelessness and cluelessness about early impressions.

email iconSpell check has become so commonplace we can’t imagine someone not employing it. However, some dating sites don’t have it available in their compose-message boxes. Some email software allows you to enable or disable it. Or some people are in such a hurry, they don’t notice those red-underlined words.

It seems the meticulous spellers have little tolerance for the “creative” spellers. And the latter think the former are a tad bit anal retentive. I am on the fence. I am not naturally a good speller, although ironically I always got an A on my spelling tests. Seems I learned for the test, but then promptly forgot. And I’m not good at remembering the rules of grammar, either. But as an author and publisher and yes, even editor, I’ve had to sear in my mind some common grammar mistakes that are easily overlooked.

Does this mean my dating emails are flawless? Heavens no! In fact, even though I spell check each blog posting, a dear friend kindly emails my errors on many postings. So I should give my potential suitors a bit more slack since I am afflicted with the same malady.

This has taught me to compose any dating-site email in Word and spell check it before copying and pasting into the site’s message box. Of course, this is much easier when the site emails come through your own email box, but not all do.

text messageCuriously, we allow people more leeway in IMs and text messages. The challenge comes when someone employs text message shortcuts (e.g., “u” for “you,” “2” for “to,” “R” for “are,” “8” for “ate”) in regular emails. Most of us midlifers don’t find that acceptable, although younger people think it’s fine. In fact, I’ve heard some use those shortcuts in business emails as well!

So what to do? I think it’s common sense: Be on your best behavior at first until you’ve built up a “slack bank” — you’ve shown you are intelligent, conscientious, and educated. Then if you slip now and then, he will know it was an anomaly. Also, be conscious of the recipient. If careful spelling and grammar is important to him, then reread your emails before hitting send. And it couldn’t hurt to ask about his spelling sensitivity level — maybe he doesn’t really notice your slips. Unless they are black lace and silk. 🙂

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