If it's not a perfect, happily-ever-after kind of love, then it has no value. The narcissist believes the problem must lie in the other person, of course; someone better will be able to keep the flames of romantic love forever burning. And so he dumps you. She puts you on the trash heap and looks for ideal love elsewhere.
Over a lifetime, the narcissist will have many partners in love and perhaps many marriages, some lasting a few weeks, others a few years. You may know such people yourselves, but if you don't, look to the realm of celebrity for examples. Because stardom offers the possibility of endless "love" and admiration from fans, that world beckons powerfully to the narcissist. If he achieves fame and then falls in love with another star, he may feel as if he's got it all. She may believe she has achieved the pinnacle of her existence, with celebrity, admiration from fans and a perfect, enviable marriage ... at least until reality begins to intrude and it all falls apart. Then comes infidelity, estrangement and an ugly public divorce. How many times have you seen that very cycle unfold on the covers of People magazine or tabloids in the supermarket check-out line?
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Over the years, Charlie Sheen has given us the most visible and tragic example of the narcissist in love. In 1995, he married model Brittany Ashland and divorced only a year later. On the set of the movie Good Alice, he later met and fell in love with fellow actor Denise Richards; when they married, he appeared to have it all. They divorced three years later, and his third marriage to Brooke Mueller lasted only two years. Now, he lives in a menage-a-trois with two women, one a former porn star, the other a model. He calls them the "goddesses"; if you listen to his interviews, it's clear he desperately wants to believe and to convince us that he lives an enviable existence we mere mortals can't begin to comprehend. I'm not drowning in shame over the mess of my life and all the damage I've caused -- I've got it all!
When romantic loves fails, the narcissist may try to "buy" love instead or turn to prostitution for a shallow and short-lived boost to his ego. Charlie Sheen's preference for the company of prostitutes is well known; Tiger Woods may struggle with a similar kind of narcissism, given his notorious history with call girls. If you pay a woman for her company, she's unlikely to find fault with your behavior. It's her line of work to make you feel good, and with a celebrity like Charlie Sheen or Tiger Woods, the job description no doubt includes feeding his narcissistic need for admiration.
The celebrity realm includes many serial divorcers, and while we don't have the same access to all the painful details as we do with Charlie Sheen, many of them no doubt struggle with the same relentless need for love and uncritical admiration. Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Billy Bob Thornton, Larry King -- these celebrities top the lists for most failed marriages. While their press agents and the tabloid journals may sell us stories of idyllic courtship, fantasy weddings and perfect married bliss, the divorce courts tell the true story.
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The narcissist can't sustain a realistic, enduring kind of love because it depends upon an authentic relationship with him- or herself ... and that is the very last thing a true narcissist wants.