Narcissists may hope for love and caring, but feel very uncomfortable if they seem to find it. Being in love makes them feel vulnerable and this terrifies them. They doubt the authenticity of real love and devalue anyone who loves them because they believe that person, like themselves, can never live up to their expectations of perfection.
Narcissists cannot grasp the concept of unconditional love that includes the acceptance of flaws. Love does not sustain them. Instead it feels unsafe. Admiration feels safer because it can be earned through achievements and credentials. Since these are things the narcissist can control, they feel much safer being admired, rather than loved.
As a result, narcissists seek attention and admiration from as many people as possible. They would rather be admired by many than loved by one. Those who profess their love for the narcissist are eventually discarded and devalued. For this reason, trying to love a narcissist is a maddening and precarious way to live. It can drive anyone to the edge of their sanity.
Narcissists live in a world of fear. They are afraid of being exposed, afraid of being abandoned and afraid of losing control. Living in a state of fear like this causes them to always be in a fight or flight mode. They are always on the defense and unable to let their guard down. As a result, they do not attach to others in a healthy way and inevitably destroy any trust that once existed in the relationship. The demise of a healthy relationship is unavoidable.