I am probably showing my age here, but I can recall when relationships started as a result of face to face meetings. If those relationships came to an end, they ended the same way as a rule. OK, a few cowardly types might have resorted to a 'Dear John' letter or even a phone call, but only a few. Now, a new survey suggests, more and more people are both finding and dumping lovers by email.

This should come as no great surprise, of course, after all research suggests that people are far more likely to tell lies using email than they would do if they were writing on pen and paper or talking face to face.

These are some of the findings of a nationwide survey commissioned by an email security specialist which seems to conclude that as far as the British are concerned (for it was they who were questioned) flirting and deserting by email is now commonplace.

The survey revealed that 41 percent broke bad news by email rather than doing it face to face, while 36 percent were happy to apply for a new job using email from their current one. When it comes to relationships, 26 percent admitted that they had broken off a relationship by email and a further 32 percent had used email to send 'saucy messages' to lover or prospective lover during working hours.

David Stanley, managing director EMEA at Proofpoint which commissioned the survey told us that "It’s staggering to see the degree to which email has become the norm for people breaking bad news or dumping their partner. It does seem a little cowardly! Brits certainly take a few liberties with their email but companies should expect this, as they ask staff to work longer hours at their desks. However, they companies need to ensure staff don’t get them into trouble if email abuses escalate. Staff could very quickly land an employer in legal hot water by sending or opening the wrong email."