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Spicing Up Your Life
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The more times I read the Dowd article cited yesterday, the more I wish I had read it 20 years ago.

1. Look at X's friends. Does X have any? How do they bond/share their lives? Or not. Does X understand intimacy is not equivalent to sex, but that intimacy includes a whole relationship?

2. Evaluate how X uses money. Security conscious or spendthrift? Priority driven or impulse driven? Value conscious or jonesing for what the neighbors have?

3. Does she run his life? Or he hers? Either way, it's a bad sign. The give-and-take on a mutually respectful footing is crucial.

4. Is X overly attached to Mother? Does X reflect Mother's influence in every decision X makes? Does X make kneejerk decisions based on reaction away from Mother? Is Mother involved in every family decision/vacation/activity?

5. Does X have a sense of humor? (This ought to be in all caps.) A narcissist cannot empathize and does not have a sense of humor. A sense of humor lightens life and reveals both wit and humility. At bottom, much of life is absurd.

6. How does X handle arguments? Is X willing to engage or just reacts by walking away? A narcissist is too superior to waste his/her time in discussions and negotiations and compromise. A narcissist knows better than anyone else and is always right.

7. So you think X can change, if only X married/partnered with someone like you who can show him/her the error of his/her ways and support the process of change. Don't kid yourself. "People are the same after marriage as before, only more so."

8. Take a clear-eyed look at X's family. You will become one of them, like them, enmeshed in the family ways. Is this what you want? Does X treat strangers and acquaintances with more courtesy and respect than when X deals with family members?

9. And most important, I think, is to ask yourself: does X have the characteristics of a good human being? Does X respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person, including the ones closest to him/her? Does X feel him/herself part of the web of all existence and accept responsibility for his/her actions and choices? Does X tell the truth, to him/herself, to you, to power?

As I said at the start, I wish I had been guided through these questions 20 years ago. However, I have made my choice and I will see it through, wherever it takes me.

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