Welcome to CNET's Love Syncs, where we answer your questions about online dating. I'm Erin Carson, staff reporter, resident young-enough person, refrigerdating correspondent, curator of odd stuff on the internet, most likely to leave you on "read."
This week, a married reader wants to know how to be supportive to her friends trudging through the world of online dating.
Hope you packed a pair of knee-high rubber boots.
Q: I'm happily married to someone I met on a dating site in the pre-Tinder days, so I'm a believer in online dating. However, I have friends who are on the apps and understandably frustrated with the whole situation. How do I remain an encouraging and supportive friend without coming off as a Smug Married Person?
A: Married people! They're everywhere. You might even be one of them. You know who else is everywhere? Single people! Somehow we all have to get along, without rubbing each other's faces in our respective marital bliss or freedom to bulk-purchase cheese without consulting anyone else in the household.
At times, though, even bulk-purchased cheese isn't enough to soothe the frustrations of online dating. So what do you do if you're married and your single friend is contemplating setting fire to his or her phone in the middle of a field under a full moon? (Note: Love Syncs does not endorse setting fires in the middle of a field under a full moon.)
Rule No. 1 is very important and often stomped on. HEAR ME MARRIED PEOPLE: NEVER ever Ever EVER say: "Hooo, boy. Sure glad I'm not out there anymore."
Who does that comment serve, exactly? It's a jerk move and a great way to make your friend feel like they've set out for Everest without a tent.
Next: Let your friend vent. You can't go wrong giving your friend the space to air their grievances with whatever weird, annoying thing just happened to them courtesy of The Apps. In fact, venting might be all they actually want to do.
That brings me to the next point: Don't assume they're coming to you for advice or for your critique of their strategies. Bombarding someone with advice they're not seeking is a waste of everyone's time.
The way you respond to your friend is going to depend somewhat on your relationship and what you know about their personality. Maybe they do want want your help swiping through profiles. They might even want to hear assurances that everything is going to work out. Or not. You know them better than I do, which is to say quite a bit because I keep inviting them to Bunko night and I get zero response.
Anyway. If anything, the fact that you've got experience with online dating, even if it's from a few years back, probably makes you a pretty appealing person to chat with about the travails of dating in the digital world. And if it seems like your friend is in the right kind of mood, you can always offer up your own bad date stories in solidarity. So, when you hand them a beer (or effervescent cold compress juice!) and honestly and empathetically offer them a, "dude, that sucks," they know that you know how they're feeling.
CNET's Love Syncs is an advice column focusing on online dating. If you've got a question about finding love via app, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.