Dear Aunt Hill,
Why can't a narcissist appreciate that you really love him, doesn't he feel it?
- So Sad, So Confused
We all tend to believe that others see the world from our perspective. This is an absolute fallacy in all cases, since it is impossible for two people to perceive anything, tangible or abstract, in exactly the same way. So far, humans have failed to create a form of expression that leaves no room for interpretation. This is evidenced by the exponential growth of laws, rules, and protocols we invent to distribute a sense of fairness and balance throughout our communities.
The variation between two perspectives on any random issue can be small enough to allow for the pair to bond (“You like Sheep Dogs, too? Man, you have good taste in music!"), or divided by an obvious gap without affecting mutual affection ("She likes good music, but my grandmother is too old to go to rock concerts”). We calibrate our relationships with the people we meet by measuring what we perceive as their “values” (this is a hodgepodge of individual standards, superstitions, and so on) against our own. A decent relationship is one in which there are so many "direct matches" that there is even agreement on how to disagree (sports, paper-rock-scissors, speeches, debates, trials, etc.). Great relationships adhere to an “unto you/unto me” pattern and thereby (counter-intuitively) allow for all of the participants to be themselves without restraint. This is due to the fact that diversity is the better part of a unified whole.
Those who bear the burden of a narcissistic personality disorder live in a state of absolutes, so a "good" relationship would be one in which the other person is an exact mirror of his or herself. The narcissist believes, ”to love me, you must be exactly like me.” The narcissist completely misses the point that the deepest love bridges the greatest differences.
Loving someone who seems completely different from you (for example, a grandmother of any size who loves a grandchild of any size) for who they are, and not for how that reflects on anyone else, is something neurotypicals do in every breath. This is incomprehensible to a narcissist. They live in such a persistent state of internal misery that they imagine that everyone else is a) experiencing it too — but being liars about it and hiding it, or b) have been magically and wrongly lifted out of disgrace by the grace of a foolish god, and therefore deserve punishment.
In short, the narcissist cannot understand that another will love him, because the narcissist does not love himself. Although the narcissist can identify and act out the values of partners and community members at large, the gap between those values and his own self-image is too abysmal to contemplate bridges.
The "cure" for the condition of narcissism would be to admit fault. When someone does that, they find themselves embraced in a warm sense of responsibility and self-confidence. Self-confidence is the leverage to overcome any challenge.