A few years ago, Arianna Margulis — a self-described "serial dater" working in fashion in New York — felt she had hit the romantic jackpot. For the first time ever, a new boyfriend invited her home to meet his parents. The visit was picturesque and seemingly perfect... until he blindsided her with a breakup, claiming their relationship interfered with his meditation schedule. Rather than wallow, she channeled her frustrations into doodles on her Instagram account. @butlikemaybe's cartoons about dating ultimately garnered a passionate fan base (more than 230,000 followers) and led to a book, But Like Maybe Don't? What Not to Do When Dating: An Illustrated Guide.
Margulis is like a Carrie Bradshaw for the Instagram age. "I like to joke the book is like Sex and the City, but I can't afford Manolos and my apartment has mice," she tells Elite Daily. But while the iconic HBO series tackled issues that were groundbreaking in the late 1990s and early 2000s, much of @butlikemaybe revolves around a quintessentially 2020 problem: What happens when you're dating someone, but not, like, actually dating anyone?
After experiencing that exact issue herself, Margulis turned to art to process the experience and find community. "I’m not great at dealing with emotion, especially sadness. So this is my way of conquering it," she says. "If I can laugh at myself, I can gain a better perspective about the bigger picture. Especially if people on Instagram are laughing with me."
Aside from the campy graphics and painfully realistic text, the most refreshing part of Margulis' "toons" (as she cheerfully calls them) is their optimism. Even when she's drawing a depressing scenario, her characters remain positive. She believes that dating's highs and lows come with equally important lessons. "Experiences with crushes and heartbreak are so necessary to find out what you want, need, and deserve," she says. "When one relationship ends, you have to think to yourself, 'Well, wow, I can’t wait for the next person I meet to do X differently, or treat me in this different way.' Don’t let someone else take hold of how you live your life. Optimism, baby!"
Optimism is a lot easier when you realize you're not alone in your dating woes. These cartoons will do just that.