I had the same realization after I had done it a few times already. I find myself using email much less since I realized this too :)
Feel like G+ is missing the 'Send a Message' feature? I did, too. Then I realized, that's the same as sharing a post with only one person. When you share with people by name, they receive an email alerting them to the post. (Unlike when you share with a circle.) The post still appears in your stream, which takes some getting used to. Once I did, I appreciated not having to switch to a separate Messages page with completely different UI to manage communications with particular people.
I think there is a "Send Message" icon/button that you can display on your profile for private messsaging.
Ah yes, there is "send email" button under the picture. May not be enabled by default, and only sends email, it looks like.
I didn't change mine (I don't think) and it has it so anyone on the internet can send me a "message" and my email address is hidden from them. I think that's a pretty good compromise.
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