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The Idealist: Love is Like a Game of Pac-Man

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Pac Man

After many years on this earth, and a bit too much self-exploration, I have come to the realization that there is no better analogy for love than the hit ‘80s arcade game, Pac-Man.

Both Pac-Man and love are – at their base – highly addictive games. When you start out, having never played before, you are immediately intrigued… there are so many options… the path is yours to choose. You make it all up as you go; it is simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating. In time, you find a strategy that works, and you stop trying out new tactics. You get a bit cockier. Why switch from a strategy with proven results? There is no looking back now. You get sucked in.

As you advance, there is less excitement or heartbreak, soon failure begins to make you angry. No more fun and games – you are ready to move onward and upward. You no longer take the time to enjoy the early levels. You want to rush past the courting. No longer open to other options, you hold steady to your path with tunnel vision. This isn’t about enjoyment anymore; this is about getting to the next level. You forget it’s all just a game.

Then, something completely outside your control happens – you get distracted with an itch or your “joystick” gets stuck. Whether you are at fault or not, you lose your momentum… and it’s not always fair. Sometimes your regular path fails to deliver the results it used to. You may get discouraged and want to give up mid-game, but where would that leave you?

Similar to love, you have to constantly get back to the basics and explore new paths. Failure is all part of the game. It teaches us new strategies, it humbles us, it makes us stronger. (Click to Tweet that!) And when it comes to the point when you run out of quarters, you might just wish you had been more present while playing, and had a bit more fun while doing it.

No matter what advice the other people at the arcade are screaming at you, you truly do choose your own adventure. In the end, there is no “right” path, and you are the only one with the controller. The most important thing is to never stop enjoying the early levels, and NEVER give up. Do whatever it takes to get yourself more quarters – you never know which one will lead you to the bonus round.

Kevin Seldon is a writer and branding strategist. He is also the founder of LA-based activation agency KELDOF Marketing, which recently launched a seminar series providing resources for individuals looking to launch their own brand. He loves the color orange and his wife.
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