Dealing with a narcissist is never pleasant, no matter how old they are. Normal people usually become wiser as they age. They come to appreciate family and friends more than ever before, and their life experience makes them more able to empathize with others. But narcissists? Narcissists get worse with age.
In this blog post I will discuss the eight ways that narcissists get worse with age, making them more difficult to deal with.
Narcissists Become More Manipulative as They Get Older
At the heart of narcissism lies a relentless need for control. As the narcissist ages, their manipulative tactics become honed to a sharp edge.
They’ve had a lifetime to study human behavior, learning which strings to pull to get their desired outcome. It’s no longer about the thrill of the chase; it’s about the certainty of the catch.
These manipulation techniques can include gaslighting, passive-aggressive behaviors, and the careful curation of emotional states within their victims. Their tactics only get stealthier and more insidious with time.
Aging narcissistic parents can be particularly dangerous in this regard. As they become even more manipulative and controlling, they can strain familial relationships to their breaking points.
Their children find themselves facing a complex web of emotional guilting and psychological traps.
This escalation can lead to a harmful cycle of emotional caretaking, where the adult child feels an overwhelming responsibility to appease their aging parent, while simultaneously trying to establish their own boundaries and emotional health.
Aging Narcissists Become More Entitled
The older narcissist often shifts into a mindset where they truly believe that their age and experiences entitle them to certain privileges and rights above others.
This deepened entitlement inevitably leads to a lack of consideration for the boundaries and needs of those around them. They come to expect constant admiration and attention, becoming impatient or angry if these are not immediately provided.
Relationships sufer as a result, because the narcissist views others chiefly as vessels for affirmation rather than as individuals with their own independent thoughts and feelings.
Narcissists Become Paranoid As They Age
As the aging narcissist faces the slow deterioration of their physical and cognitive abilities, paranoia often begins to take root, triggered by their deep-seated fear of becoming irrelevant or being usurped.
They become hypervigilant for signs of disrespect, interpreting innocent comments as veiled threats or misconstruing gestures of help as attempts to undermine them.
They view every action through a lens of suspicion, leading them to isolate themselves further from potential support networks.
Family, friends, and even caregivers are kept at arm’s length, as the narcissist doubles down on their efforts to maintain control and battle against imagined slights.
This can make caring for them a complicated challenge, as the paranoia undermines efforts to provide assistance and creates an environment strained by tension and mistrust.
Aging Narcissists Become Increasingly Self-Centred
Aging narcissists becoming even more focused on themselves. Their heightened self-centeredness manifests as a more pronounced dismissal of the needs of the people around them, and a tunnel-vision dedication to pursuing their desires and preserving their ego.
Their conversations become even more focused on their achievements, interests, and well-being, while the aspirations and struggles of others are relegated to mere afterthoughts, if acknowledged at all.
As a result, they demand more time, attention, and resources from their family and peers, insisting on the centrality of their presence and importance.
This relentless self-absorption further exacerbates their detachment from social circles. Thus the aging narcissist’s personal world narrows further as they become engrossed in their narrative, eliminating spaces for shared experiences and mutual understanding.
Narcissists Become Bigoted and Close-minded As They Get Older
As narcissists advance in age, there is a tendency for them to become more entrenched in their beliefs, leading to an increase in bigoted behavior and close-minded attitudes.
They become increasingly intolerant of evolving social norms and diverse perspectives. This resistance to accept or even consider alternate viewpoints solidifies their prejudices, creating a cycle of increasing insularity.
With a lifetime spent asserting dominance and superiority, older narcissists will reject any notion of equality or acceptance that runs counter to their long-held convictions.
They are quick to disparage groups and ideologies they do not understand or agree with, often using their age as a shield to justify their archaic and sometimes offensive beliefs.
The combination of growing fear of obsolescence and investment in their ego-centric perspectives makes it nearly impossible for them to adapt to a progressively inclusive society, often making them appear more bigoted and close-minded with each passing year.
Their increasing close-mindedness is often accompanied by an obsessive fixation on specific topics or beliefs. They develop a tunnel vision of sorts, refusing to entertain any opinion that contradicts theirs.
This behavior can make open, constructive dialogue nearly impossible, further isolating them in their self-centered world. This increased bigotry and close-mindedness are closely tied to the narcissist’s growing awareness of their declining influence and power.
As they grapple with the reality of aging and the associated loss of control, they desperately search for scapegoats to blame for their perceived failures. This behavior explains why many aging narcissists exhibit sexist, racist, or homophobic attitudes.
At the core of a narcissist’s behavior is a constant need to feel superior to others. To bolster this sense of superiority, they often resort to belittling or marginalizing certain groups of people.
Their misguided belief is that by degrading others, they can elevate themselves and feel better about their own shortcomings. However, this approach inevitably fails to bring them the satisfaction they crave, leading to even more bitterness and hostility.
Narcissists Become Increasingly Critical and Ungrateful with Age
With the passing of years, narcissists become more even more critical and their capacity to derive joy from relationships and experiences noticeably diminishes.
Zealously attached to their high standards, they develop a laser focus on the perceived flaws and shortcomings of the people around them, becoming impossible to please.
The aging narcissist thus morphs into a dispenser of disapproval and disappointment.
Their criticism extends not only to those around them but also to broader society. They will reminisce endlessly about ‘better days’ and ‘better ways,’ which, in their view, align with their personal glory days.
Caretakers and family members inevitably bear the brunt of the aging narcissist’s increased criticism and ingratitude. Their efforts are rarely acknowledged, let alone appreciated.
Such an environment makes it exceedingly difficult to establish a compassionate caregiving relationship. The incessant negativity and thanklessness chip away at the emotional resilience of caregivers, slowly leading to burnout and disillusionment.
The Aging Narcissist Has an Intensified Need for Admiration
The older narcissist is like a diva past the twilight of their career. Their need for admiration is almost desperate. They gorge on praise and squeeze the people around them for a constant stream of narcissistic supply.
Every image is carefully cultivated, every piece of news is tailored to present them in the best possible light, even if it means twisting the facts within an inch of their veracity.
This insatiable hunger for admiration is utterly draining for those in their proximity.
Friends, family members, and colleagues find themselves in a perpetual state of performance, providing the necessary audience for the narcissist’s self-aggrandizing monologues.
The burden of this never-ending demand for applause and recognition takes a toll, as it leaves little room for genuine interaction or mutual support.
Relationships become lopsided, with the narcissist taking center stage, totally neglecting the emotional and psychological well-being of those around them, who are reduced to mere satellites orbiting a self-absorbed sun.
Deterioration of the Aging Narcissist’s Interpersonal Relationships
One might argue that aging is a time to focus on the relationships that matter, yet for the aging narcissist, relationships often deteriorate.
Their increasingly controling behavior, diminished empathy, and heightened need for admiration create a toxic concoction that poisons their interactions with the people around them.
Family members grow weary, friendships dwindle, and romantic partners find themselves squeezed dry by the unquenchable need at the heart of the narcissist.
These deteriorating relationships can leave the aging narcissist in a state of abject loneliness, though you’d be hard-pressed to hear them admit it. The isolation becomes a prison of their making.
The Impact of an Aging Narcissist Family Members and Caretakers
The profound effects of interacting with an aging narcissist can have a dramatic effect on the lives of family members and caretakers.
As the narcissist’s behaviors intensify, the people around them become subjected to substantial emotional and psychological stress. They end up trapped in a cycle of trying to appease and support someone who seems incapable of empathy or appreciation.
In the long term this corrosive dynamic leads to frustration, guilt, and burnout, particularly as family members struggle with the moral dilemma of caring for a relative who may have been emotionally neglectful or abusive in the past.
This is why it is essential for individuals who are dealing with an aging narcissist to navigate the situation with understanding and patience while prioritizing their own well-being.
Implementing strict boundaries is a critical step. These can include setting clear limits on time spent with the narcissist and the types of behaviors that are acceptable.
It is equally important for caretakers to cultivate a support system, whether through friends, therapy, or support groups, which can provide a space for respite and validation of their experiences.
Final Thoughts on How Narcissists Get Worse With Age
Aging narcissists present a unique set of challenges. As they grow older, their already complex behaviors can become even more pronounced, making interactions with them increasingly difficult. They become more isolated, more dependent, and more rigid in their thinking.
Their need for attention and validation intensifies, and they become frustrated and paranoid when their needs aren’t met.
However, understanding these behavioral shifts can provide valuable insight for those dealing with aging narcissists.
Recognizing the root causes of their actions – their fear of losing control, their need for validation, their struggle with dependence – can help in navigating interactions with them.
It’s also important to remember that despite their difficult behavior, aging narcissists are dealing with their own fears and insecurities. They are grappling with the loss of their youth, power, and influence, and their behaviors are often a reflection of these struggles.
Dealing with an aging narcissist is thus a journey that can teach valuable lessons about human nature, compassion, and the complexities of the human psyche. Despite the challenges, with the right strategies and support, it’s possible to navigate these difficult waters with grace, resilience, and compassion.
Posts About Narcissistic Behaviors
Carla Corelli is an author, advocate, and survivor of narcissistic abuse. Having grown up with a narcissistic father, Carla experienced firsthand the profound impact of psychological and emotional abuse. Fueled by her personal journey, she pursued a degree in psychology and has dedicated herself to shedding light on the complexities of narcissistic abuse.
With over fifteen years of experience in writing and advocating for survivors, Carla is deeply committed to providing support, education, and empowerment to those who have endured similar trauma. Through her insightful articles and resources, Carla endeavors to offer a compassionate space for healing and growth, while advocating for greater awareness and understanding of narcissistic abuse.
More info about Carla
Our editorial policy