A Narcissist Would Rather be Admired by Many than Loved by One

Narcissists 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 anyone who will bestow it. Those who profess their love 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 are completely unaware that they vacillate between idealizing and devaluing others and would rather be admired by many than loved by one.

Mar 29 - 9PM
angela0714's picture

Lot's of merit here

My Ex N had deep rooted animosity towards his mother and does till this day. She was a hard working immigrant with 5 kids and had minimal help with a functioning but alcholic spouse. He talked repeatedly how she didn't give him enough attention. The baggage he holds against his mother has followed him throughout all relationships with women. HE WANTS TO MAKE THEM FEEL HOW HE FELT. At the same time, he wants someone to mother him and be his cheerleading squad. I sincerely believe he compensates for the early trauma by boasting, and treating women as a means to an end. Feelings??? I think he wants to have real love, but doesn't believe it exists. He never believed I loved him, though I showed him every day in many ways. He was planning for disaster way before it happened. Don't get me wrong. He hurt me so badly and down deep is a very sick and delusional person who has caused tremendous pain to my self esteem. I'd never take him back. He is toxic and though he attended therapy it was solely to justify that his past actions and self love is acceptable.
Mar 29 - 4PM
lisarudi's picture


An extraordinarily accurate picture of a high-achieving N. I was married to one for 21 years. Every detail of this article/blog is right on the money. Thanks so much for giving me a "hard copy" of my ExNh's relational brain (or lack thereof). It makes so much more sense when I see it in black and white.
Mar 29 - 11AM
foolmeonce's picture

I agree with the article

I agree with the article. I do think that admiration is something they understand so therefore they can control. I think N's admire people - but to them it means that person has something I want and I am going to take it. They don't understand love so they don't believe in it. My exN did not believe I really loved him, he said the same thing about his wife. He didn't believe it because he never experienced it. I think admiration (really envy in disguise) is something they experience so it feels more comfortable for them.
Aug 14 - 6PM (Reply to #1)
Susan32's picture

Admiration and envy

After the D&D, I remember talking to my ex-Psych professor. He waffled between his desire to be admired and/or hated. I asked him "How do you expect me to admire, respect and hate you at the same time?" He was in word salad land at that point. At the beginning, he said he admired me because I was a narcissist... from his perspective. "My ex-N did not believe I really loved him"-Same here. He chalked up my feelings for him to stress, it being my senior year, me projecting my good qualities onto him, my low self-esteem, etc. He didn't believe that I cared about him. He was kind of shocked when I told him he struck me as a profoundly unhappy person. My ex-P strikes me as the most envious person I've known. And, for some reason, he targeted me.