Why a Narcissist Prefers to be Admired by Many than Loved by One

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.

Feb 22 - 11PM
fierflie's picture

my x husband said in the

my x husband said in the beggining of our relationship that 'unconditional love is unhealthy'
Dec 25 - 10AM
justicejones's picture

Thanks Lisa

This really helps, Lisa. Sometimes when they choose another person...it feels like its personal. You are so right about them panicking about being abandoned. This last time after not having any contact for years, the N was extradited back to here for not paying child support and spousal support. When he got out of jail, he tried to contact me. He started the same old stuff,"I love you, dont love her, never have, I need you, you are my soul mate" etc. Now, 4 years ago he abandoned us, I got a divorce two years ago,since he met someone right after he left us, and had twins with her. He really was trying to play the sympathy card so that he could get emotional support, free money, food, transportation etc from me while promising me the moon. Of course, he never even really asked about our children and when I told him one of our children had been hospitalized with a serious illness, all he said was..."I am really bummed my backpack got stolen from the bus stop and now I don't have a coat or any money." I was floored. I actually stood up to him for once, and told him what he really was. He freaked out and asked me why I was so mean to him. When I told him I was getting off the phone he said, "Wait, I love you, I don't want you to go...we have to work through this, I thought you were my friend!" I ended up changing my phone number...but later felt bad wondering if I had been too mean. What a pushover I am.
Dec 3 - 12AM
Susan32's picture

Not all attention is the same

The ex-Psych professor HATED ridicule. He liked being admired, he even liked being hated and compared to Jack Nicholson's character in "The Shining"... but he could NOT countenance mockery. If he was being mocked, or was afraid of being mocked, he'd beat a hasty retreat. He characterized himself as humorless, and that he didn't mock himself because he "took himself seriously."
Nov 25 - 10AM
truetotruth's picture


This was exactly my ex. He cared so much what others thought of him. He was terried that I would meet people he knew. I think because if they met me, they would begin to unravel his lies. Reading this confirmed what I felt. He said he lied to me about spending time with a girl at school - Because if I spoke to her ,it wasnt because he was intimate with her it was because she would spread around school that I was suspicious and it would make him look bad. I was floored that 1. he called her a friend if she was capable of that 2. that this girl he just met meant more to him than four years of devotion and loyalty. It still makes me a little bit sick.
Nov 23 - 7PM
Disillusionedx2's picture

eye~opening Lisa!

Despite reading any and everything I could get my mitts on about Ns, reading the postings here seem to make things clearer for me, perhaps because everyone around me know exactly what I/we are going through, there is no doubt you deliver some of the best material I have come across, thanks! stay~striving


Nov 22 - 5PM
onwithmylife's picture

wonderful article, Lisa

summed up to a T my EXnarc fear of abandonment, he once wrote that down on some paper, fear of being "foundout", he ended us for good when he felt I was on to his horrible treatment of me, and obsession with always being in control, once i teased him about" easing up on the reigns", he saw nothing funny in that statement, makes me more aware how pathetic and fragile to the pint of non existence these people are............
Nov 22 - 9AM
aysha's picture

I have been reading all your

I have been reading all your comments for some time now but this is the first time i'm leaving a comment,i cant believe how nearly every experience is so similar. I was with my narcissist for 4yrs, we've been 'apart' for 3yrs but I still cant move on+have a new relationship as he's never let me go+i've never wanted him too. We have a son together who is now 4+he doesnt have any contact with him at all, we split up because I had found out what a disgusting liar he was, when my son was 4months old I found out he had been living a double life, he was still married(i thought he was divorced)he was living with me+i've worked it out now that when his wife was working nights he would get his mother to babysit his 2children+he would then be at 'home' with me, when his wife wasnt working he would then tell me that he had to stay at her house to look after the children as she was working, I cant believe I believed him for so long, but even when I used to get gut feelings that it wasnt adding up I would never keep on to him as I idolized him. When I found out about his lies, I went to see his wife to see if it was true, she was devestated about it, although she has came to see me since+told me that she knows how clever he is+that she could believe I was in the dark, after I had gone to see her when I first found out about his double life he rang me up+told me that I had turned his world upside down, I said to him, "you told me that everyone knew about us", he just said "well they do now+know that you have ruined my life please just get on with yours". I just couldnt believe what I was hearing, I asked him what about our son+he said i'll pay for him+nothing else. Even after him saying those things to me I still loved him+thought I couldnt breathe without him, I didnt see him for 3months after that, but he would always phone+text, his new lines were that he couldnt tell me he was married cos he'd lose me+he couldnt leave his wife cos he wouldnt be able to see his children, so he was trying to keep everyone happy, after 3months we started seeing each other again, he told me he was now going through a divorce+because of what had happened he had to be very careful or he could lose everything, I went along with everything he told me for the next year, which I spent most of it crying,as time was getting on+he kept saying the same things about his divorce+how hard it was for him, he blamed his wife for it all, but I would've waited forever for him, then one day I had a phonecall from my friend(this is 16months after I had found out about his double life) my friend had found out that he had been seeing someone for a year, she was pregnant+was due in 2wks, he denied it, kept saying he wanted me, the next few months were more of the same, him playing victim+me lapping it up, it eventually errupted on a night out when my friends ripped into him in front of everyone+shouted as loud as they could what he was+what he's done, he didnt speak to me for ages after that, this happened 2yrs ago, he still kept coming back to me over the months+I still let him, but then I found the strengh from somewhere to ignore him,he hasnt seen our son for 2yrs, over the last 2yrs he has still rung me+last year he told me all the usual crap, he actually said to me that he cant read me anymore, I pretended I was in a relationship cos I knew he wouldnt come near me then, he's a coward+wouldnt want to confront a man. I think I've worked through all my feelings for him now+know exactly what he is, but what I cant ever get over is the way he's dismissed our son, he has contact with his children from his marriage+he is living with the mother of his youngest son, although they live with her parents, I know he's only with her as its easy for him+they all accept him+think he's great,They dont know about me or our son, or if they do, he'll have made it sound as though we had a 1 night stand or something sordid like that, I really want to expose him+for them all to know about my son, the last month i've told him that i'm on my own now+he's started back being nice+i've been nice back, if i've ever been nasty to him he always says that i'm listening to other people, he doesnt think I have my own mind. Last week I actually let him come to the house after a night out(we had both been to the same place)I was acting exactly as I was when we first met+I knew he loved it, I dont know how far to go with it tho+whether I could expose him, I hate the fact that my son is a secret, I know if I turned on the charm+acted a little dumb I could reel him back in, I honestly dont want him back, I used to, but all I want know is for people to know he's the type of person who has turned his back on his child, I have proof that we have been in contact+he pays for him, he's the type of person who would say that its me who wouldnt allow contact+he would make out when our son is older that he didnt know where we lived+it has destroyed him not seeing him grow up, I just want him exposed for what he is, I know i've written a lot+its been theraputic doing so, but if anyone can give me some advice I would be really grateful, thank you.
Dec 25 - 10AM (Reply to #10)
justicejones's picture


Hi, I can really relate to your story. My N has been away for 4 years and we were married for almost nine years. We are now divorced and I am in a relationship with a perfectly wonderful man, but I still am dealing with the N leaving me and choosing someone else, even having children with her. He has no contact with our children either. It is so hare. You are not alone. I want to expose him to the OW too. Even the fact that he has contacted me here lately and tried to get me to take him back with all his flattery. Be strong.
Nov 22 - 10PM (Reply to #8)
Lisa E. Scott
Lisa E. Scott's picture


I'm so sorry for what you have endured with this horrible man! He is sick. Leading a double-life just proves he is psychotic. You are best to stay far away! Do not test him, please. You asked this: "I read on another site that if you manipulate a narcissist then its self healing because you can really see how shallow+empty they are then." No, please whatever you do, do not try to enter into a game of manipulation with him! That is far too dangerous and you will not find it healing whatsoever. Quite the opposite. Be glad you dodged a bullet with this one and move on. Please don't do anything to bait him and focus on taking care of yourself and your baby boy right now. You are so much better off without this crazy man in your life! xoxo
Nov 23 - 6AM (Reply to #9)
aysha's picture

Thank you to everyone who

Thank you to everyone who replied to what I wrote, i've never ever known anyone like this in my life before, I have 2 older children(20=16)+have been through a divorce, which was painful but we had closure in that relationship, I knew why it ended(it was mutual-we were both 2young)if I ever have to ring up my ex husband(father of my 2 older children) I know he'll respond in an adult way. but with a narcissist its unreal isnt it? I really appreciate what your all telling me to do have complete NC, I have done this on many occasions but he always comes back into my life. I know very well that the person he's with now is just a convenience for him, but he's got a good set up which means he can go out+continue his low life ways while ignoring our son, he'll do anything to stop me from going to where he lives to expose him(he's not violent tho)he likes to give the impression that he is the best father thats ever lived, so to be exposed as someone who has treated his son like crap would really really hurt him, I've tried to manipulate him before but up until now i've always hoped we'd end up together properly again so I didnt follow it through, I dont feel that way anymore. What do you think if I just went to where he lives(he lives with his partner+her parents)+told them his son is asking about his father, that way I wouldnt be harming anyone eg by having an affair with him but he would still be exposed, I understand why you all say STAY AWAY from him, but I think because i've never confronted him thats why he thinks he can always come back to me, he has all the people in his life in little boxes, I honestly dont think I can ever have peace of mind until i've done this, if I could meet someone who I wanted to have a relationship with I know that would get to him because he hates the fact that I get attention from men+i'm talking about now,but I will never trust a man again, i'm a very happy funny bubbly person, i've got lots of friends+they get frustrated with me cos i'm still hung up on him+havent moved on. I feel as tho I have a disorder myself like being co-dependant as i'm very understanding+sympathetic with everyone+I genuinely like helping people especially if they are down on their luck, I'm really sorry for writing so much+keeping on its just I want so much to be free of this man in my head. I've gone back to college+am doing a degree so I am doing things with my life, my kids are happy+are doing well, everyone tells me I can do so much better than him+I have lots of offers, so why is he still dominating my thoughts?
Nov 22 - 5PM (Reply to #7)
onwithmylife's picture


what a creep of a human being and I am being too nice to call him that, my heart goes out to you as well.. I have heard of women talking about men leading double lives, but this is something for the books. Not to see his own child, what type of monster is he, but we all know. You can only hope that he will get what is coming to him on day..My gut tells me you should let the man go,no contact,do not invite him over, the only contact would be if he wants to see his own son, that is my feeling.You have got to get on with your life and if he does not want to be a a apart of his son's life, then so be it, and one day he may know what he missed................
Nov 22 - 9AM (Reply to #4)
helldweller's picture


Your response to Lisa's blog entry made me cry. I just recently discovered that my narc had been having a serious, supposedly committed relationship with another woman the entire time we were together, and the things you wrote about broke my heart all over again. Stay away from him is all I can say. You are obviously a beautiful person, and you and your son don't deserve the torture you have been through, and certainly don't deserve any more. Please. I know how it feels, believe me, but please realize that you will never get the justice you are looking for. Never. Only more pain.
Nov 22 - 11AM (Reply to #5)
aysha's picture

Hi helldweller, thanks for

Hi helldweller, thanks for your reply, i'm not sure how this blog works, i'll learn as I go along I suppose. I'm so sorry reading what I wrote upset you, its so terrible what they do to people, the suffering they cause, I really hope you are doing ok in your life now, although I dont think you ever totally recover,but hope things are good for you xx I know you are right that I should leave well alone and I usually do, theres been months when I would ignore his calls, we live in the same community so we are always going to bump into each other, I feel numb to him now, I read back what I wrote+cant believe I lived through it, there was lots more as you could imagine, the amount of women he's been with is unbelievable, I just think he needs to be exposed, not so much for being a womaniser as he's got that reputation already, I'm just wondering what his current partner would say to him if she knew he was in contact with his ex+they have a child together, I have no sympathy for her as when he met her she knew he was married+didnt care at all, in fact she bragged on a certain social site that she had pulled a married man, I was in the dark to everything, he really must think i'm stupid, I know i'll never beat him+he'll probably never end up sad+lonely like I wish, but if I could cause him some upset I think I would feel as tho I had closure, I also know that he doesnt treat his partner very well+she moans about him a lot, I really just want him to suffer, i'm immune to him now, he cant hurt me anymore, what makes me laugh tho is that he acts so moral, if his partner+her family+friends knew about me+my son, also the fact that he chooses not to see him+that he still cheats, and they accept him like that,then I can handle that+move on, I suppose truth+justice are really important to me. The only way I can do all this to him tho is to get close to him again+flatter him, I read on another site that if you manipulate a narcissist then its self healing because you can really see how shallow+empty they are then. I must be stupid to even think about trying to 'play' him...
Nov 22 - 12PM (Reply to #6)
ShaynasMommy's picture


I am very, very sorry for what you have been through. And so sorry for your child. Its really hard to swallow the idea that someone would just walk away from their own child, and then only pretend to care about them when it suits their purposes, isn't it? My heart breaks for you. You musn't obsess over the why's and wherefores, and if he's going to end up "happy" or not. Plenty of women on this site have come close to emotional ruin because of that. All I can say to you honey is that you need to take a leap of faith with me, sweetheart, and know that KARMA is a raving, mouth-foaming bitch that looks out for the innocent and punishes the wicked, one way or another. It really sounds like he's not in control of his life (much less his loins) and that will be his ultimate undoing. Truth and justice are really important to me, as well, but take it from me....you don't have to be the one to put that weight on your shoulders and worry about when truth and justice will show up. It will, without your help. He's already screwed himself big time, and if you don't think others can see what he is up to, think again. It ALL comes out in the wash, and in the word's of the Late great Bob Marley ( I think its in one of his songs; "Stand up for your Rights")you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. My prayers are with you and your little one right now.
Nov 21 - 6PM
Susan32's picture

As a friend always asked...

I had a friend who'd always ask me "Is he ever going to see you as an equal? Are you content with worshiping him from afar?" Turns out it was NO to both. The ex-Psych professor STILL expected me to admire him, even after all he had done to publicly humiliate me and destroy whatever trust there had been between us. He sabotaged what could've been a friendship. Romantic rejection is disappointing... but the ex-P made sure that even simple friendship was impossible. After the D&D, he said coldly "I was NEVER your friend." I was the one who had been written off as delusional because I was a student-how could I think of him as my equal and my friend? The ex-P couldn't even stand being admired. He complained when he had to make 14 copies(!) of his lecture on Wittgenstein. He really didn't like admiration.... his eyes sparkled when, after the final D&D, I told him that some of my classmates hated him for what he had done. He craved hatred and fear as opposed to the usual Narc trait of craving admiration. He expected me to hate and admire him simultaneously. When he admitted that he preferred admiration to being respected as a person... I told him that was HIS PROBLEM. As another friend said during the D&D "he'd rather be hated by many than loved by one."
Nov 22 - 1AM (Reply to #1)
M's picture

though my xhn wanted

though my xhn wanted praise..he never won an award. Ever. And myself, who just did helped her customers, did assignmnets, etc---I have several sales awards, writing awards, accolades. Must have driven him mad.
Nov 22 - 7AM (Reply to #2)
Susan32's picture

Ahhh, the irony....

The ex-Psych professor discouraged me from writing about religion.. well, because he wrote about religion and philosophy. Is it any wonder he D&D'd me for a curator, who wouldn't challenge him on his territory? When I was a college student, I was POTENTIAL. I was potential... like him. In a weird way, he and I were equals. I was smitten with his potential;he saw that I was merely potential at the time. In the past 7 years, I've been continuously published on the subject of.... *drumroll please* religion and philosophy. The ex-P isn't famous for his writing;he wanted praise. The irony is that his father is quite famous;his father has been in the Boston Globe, NPR, DISCOVER, published a textbook and a book on organic gardening.