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 get more entitled as they age
The passage of time does not foster humility or wisdom in a narcissist.
Instead, age often serves as a catalyst, fortifying their already ingrained sense of entitlement.
This sense of entitlement is a pervasive trait among narcissists, leading them to believe that they are deserving of the best life has to offer, regardless of the means employed to acquire it.
Narcissists are often prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to satisfy their desires.
They will not hesitate to manipulate family and friends into serving their interests, showing little regard for the consequences that others might face in the process.
This disregard for the welfare of others underscores the self-centered nature of narcissists, making them challenging to interact with.
As narcissists age, their demanding nature tends to intensify.
They grow more insistent on having their needs met, expecting those around them to cater to their every whim.
Their list of demands, often unreasonable, seems to be never-ending.
Failure to meet these expectations is likely to trigger a furious tantrum from the aging narcissist, who will unleash a torrent of abuse on those they blame for denying them what they wanted.
Narcissists become more manipulative as they age
Narcissists, as they age, become masters of the dark arts of manipulation, employing a range of tactics to maintain control and feed their sense of self-importance.
One such tactic is gaslighting, a psychological manipulation technique that makes someone question their own reality or sanity.
Over time, narcissists refine this tactic to sow doubt and confusion in their victims’ minds, thereby solidifying their control.
As they grow older, narcissists can become more self-centered, expecting everyone around them to cater to their needs.
Aging narcissistic parents can be particularly dangerous in this regard.
They will often use a strategy called triangulation to manipulate their children, creating rivalries or divisions among siblings to keep the focus on themselves.
Furthermore, aging narcissists will also exploit their age to gain sympathy and guilt-trip those around them.
They will exaggerate or even fabricate health issues and hardships, using them as leverage to manipulate family members and friends into fulfilling their demands.
Narcissists become more paranoid and controlling as they age
As narcissists age, their paranoia and need for control often become more pronounced, making them increasingly difficult to deal with.
This development is particularly worrying as it further complicates their already complex and toxic behavioral patterns.
Paranoia, a common symptom among narcissists, tends to intensify with age.
This heightened sense of suspicion can lead them to believe that they are constantly under threat or being targeted, even in the absence of any real danger.
They may go to extreme lengths to shield themselves from these imagined threats, often resulting in irrational or overbearing behavior.
In addition to escalating paranoia, aging narcissists also tend to become more sensitive to perceived slights or criticism, regardless of how minor or innocent they may be.
This excessive sensitivity fuels their paranoia, leading to a vicious cycle of suspicion and defensiveness.
Their paranoia may also extend into their personal relationships, where they might develop baseless suspicions about their partner’s fidelity.
Despite the lack of evidence, they may become obsessively convinced of their partner’s infidelity, leading to an escalation in controlling behavior.
Control and Ambient Abuse
This can manifest in various intrusive ways such as spying on their partner’s private communications or dictating their social interactions.
The result of this escalated paranoia and control is an increase in ambient abuse within the home environment.
This ongoing emotional and psychological abuse takes a significant toll on all those who share their living space with the narcissist, further exacerbating the distressing dynamics present in narcissistic relationships.
Narcissists become more self-centred as they age
As they grow older, narcissists become more self-centered. In fact, their narcissistic tendencies will intensify rather than diminish with age.
This increased self-absorption manifests in various ways, making them increasingly challenging to deal with.
The natural process of aging involves changes in our physical strength and beauty.
While most individuals navigate these changes with grace and acceptance, narcissists typically struggle with this reality.
Their need for attention and admiration often increases as they try to compensate for what they perceive as personal deficiencies.
Aging narcissists will obsess over every wrinkle or the emergence of white hair, seeing these natural signs of aging as threats to their self-image.
Their vanity can lead them to go to great lengths to maintain a youthful appearance, and they will invest an inordinate amount of energy trying to hold back the ravages of time.
Loss of Professional Status
Retirement can also exacerbate a narcissist’s self-centeredness, particularly if they derived a significant part of their identity from their career.
Their fragile egos struggle with the reality of being past their prime, leading to increased bitterness and resentment.
The loss of their professional status can be deeply unsettling for them, leading to an intensified focus on themselves as they struggle to redefine their self-worth.
Unfortunately, this negativity is often projected onto those around them, resulting in a toxic environment.
Jealousy is another trait that can become more prominent in narcissists as they age.
They may become envious of their partner’s success or the achievements of friends and family members.
Younger individuals can also become targets of their jealousy as they see in them reminders of their own youth and what they perceive to have lost.
Narcissists become more bigoted and close-minded as they get older
Sadly, as narcissists age, they become more bigoted and close-minded, a shift that makes their behavior even more challenging.
Their mindset often becomes rigid, clinging to antiquated views and stubbornly resisting new information or perspectives.
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.
For instance, an aging male narcissist might project his frustrations onto women, blaming them for his problems.
He could become consumed by a misogynistic worldview, with any woman who dares to challenge him becoming a target for his rage.
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.
This behavior explains why many aging narcissists exhibit sexist, racist, or homophobic attitudes.
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 more critical and difficult to please in their old age
As narcissists age, their heightened sense of self-importance often becomes more pronounced, leading to increased criticism and a tendency to be difficult to please.
Their interactions with others are characterized by a heightened scrutiny that leaves little room for error or imperfection.
From minor habits to major life choices, nothing escapes the critical eye of an aging narcissist.
Their expectations from others also tend to become increasingly unrealistic as they age.
They demand perfection and adherence to their standards, often without considering the feasibility or fairness of their expectations.
This can result in them finding fault even with the smallest of things, making it exceedingly difficult for those around them to meet their ever-rising standards.
As a consequence of this escalating criticism and unrealistic expectations, aging narcissists become almost impossible to please.
Their dissatisfaction becomes a constant presence, casting a shadow over their interactions with others.
Even the most earnest efforts to please them often fall short of their inflated expectations, leading to a cycle of disappointment and criticism.
Narcissists become more isolated as they age
As narcissists age, they often become increasingly isolated.
This isolation can manifest in various ways, including withdrawing from family and friends or even distancing themselves from their own children.
One key reason for this isolation is the narcissist’s inability to accept that others lead lives that do not revolve around them.
Narcissists have a deeply ingrained need for attention and validation, and when others fail to meet these demands, they often respond by pulling away.
Moreover, as narcissists age, their charm and attractiveness – tools they’ve often used to manipulate others – may diminish.
This loss can result in a decreased ability to secure the ‘narcissistic supply‘ they crave, pushing them further into isolation.
Black and White Thinking
Additionally, narcissists often struggle with accepting differing viewpoints or values.
They tend to see things in black and white, assigning people or situations as either good or bad based on how well they align with their own beliefs or needs.
As they age, this rigid thinking pattern can become more entrenched, further driving their isolation.
The aging process also threatens the narcissist’s inflated self-image, making them even more sensitive to perceived slights or criticisms.
As a result, they might isolate themselves pre-emptively to avoid potential disappointments or confrontations.
Narcissists become more dependent on others when they are old
Contrary to the image of strength and independence they want to project, narcissists tend to grow more dependent on others as they age.
As they get older they may find it challenging to manage basic tasks such as cooking, cleaning, or managing their finances.
This need for assistance, however, clashes with their inherent desire for control and autonomy, leading to a great deal of frustration.
This frustration can manifest in various ways.
Narcissists may lash out at those attempting to help them, reflecting their discomfort with their increasing dependence.
They may resist aid, berate their helpers, or express dissatisfaction with the support they receive, making the situation even more difficult for those trying to assist them.
To make things worse, the mood swings and volatile emotions that are characteristic of narcissists can become more pronounced as they age.
Their demands may become increasingly unreasonable, and their emotional state can fluctuate wildly, adding to the challenges faced by those around them.
Dealing with an Aging Narcissist
Dealing with an aging narcissist can be a challenging endeavor, requiring a blend of understanding, patience, and firm boundaries.
As one navigates through this complex terrain, it’s essential to keep in mind that the core of the narcissist’s behavior is often rooted in deep-seated insecurities and self-absorption, rather than a reflection of your own actions or worth.
Outlined below are some strategies that can offer assistance when interacting with an aging narcissist:
Here are some strategies that may help.
Establish and Enforce Clear Boundaries
Narcissists are notorious for their ability to test limits and push boundaries, often seeking to manipulate situations and people to their advantage.
In dealing with narcissists, it becomes crucial to set clear, firm boundaries about what constitutes acceptable behavior.
Here’s how you can effectively establish and enforce these boundaries.
1. Define Your Boundaries
Start by identifying what your personal boundaries are.
These are the limits that define where your rights begin and end, and can pertain to various aspects of your life – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
For instance, you might decide that you won’t tolerate being shouted at or being belittled.
2. Communicate Effectively
Once you’ve defined your boundaries, communicate them clearly and assertively to the narcissist.
Use simple, direct language and avoid getting emotional or defensive.
Remember, you’re not asking for permission – you’re informing them of a decision you’ve made.
3. Stay Consistent
Consistency is key when enforcing boundaries.
Narcissists may attempt to push your boundaries or manipulate you into bending the rules. When this happens, stay firm and consistent.
Remind them of the boundary and the consequences of crossing it.
4. Implement Consequences
If a boundary is crossed, ensure there are consequences.
This could be as simple as ending a conversation or as significant as reconsidering the nature of your relationship.
The goal is not to punish, but to protect your well-being and demonstrate that your boundaries are non-negotiable.
Remember, establishing clear boundaries is not about controlling the narcissist’s behavior, but about taking control of how you respond and what you tolerate. It’s about respecting and valifying your own needs and well-being.
Practice Emotional Detachment
Emotional detachment can be a powerful tool when dealing with aging narcissists.
This does not mean you have to be aloof or cold, but rather that you maintain an emotional distance to protect your own mental and emotional health.
1. Understand Their Behavior
Narcissists often project their insecurities onto others.
Their actions and words are usually more about their own issues than about you.
Understanding this can help you view their behavior objectively and lessen its impact on you.
2. Avoid Personalization
One of the key steps in practicing emotional detachment is to stop taking things personally.
When a narcissist criticizes or belittles you, it’s likely not about you at all.
Try to view these comments as reflections of their own self-esteem issues rather than as assessments of your worth.
3. Maintain Your Self-Esteem
It’s important to maintain your self-esteem and self-worth, regardless of how a narcissist may try to undermine them.
Remember, you do not need their validation to feel good about yourself.
4. Control Your Reactions
Narcissists often seek to elicit strong reactions in others, as it makes them feel powerful.
Practice controlling your reactions to their behavior.
This can involve taking deep breaths, counting to ten before responding, or even walking away from the situation if necessary.
5. Set Emotional Boundaries
Just as you would set physical or behavioral boundaries, it’s important to set emotional boundaries as well.
This could involve deciding not to engage in arguments, refusing to respond to provocative comments, or choosing not to share personal information that they could potentially use against you.
Focus on Your Wellbeing
When interacting with a narcissist, it’s easy to get caught up in their world and neglect your own needs.
However, prioritizing your wellbeing is crucial not only for your health, but also for maintaining the strength and resilience needed to deal with such challenging situations.
1. Cultivate Healthy Habits
Physical health has a significant impact on emotional and mental well-being.
2. Engage in Enjoyable Activities
Doing what you love is an excellent way to boost your mood and reduce stress.
Whether it’s painting, hiking, reading, or simply watching your favorite movie, make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
3. Nurture Positive Relationships
Spending time with supportive and empathetic friends and family can provide a much-needed reprieve from the challenges of dealing with a narcissist.
These relationships can offer comfort, perspective, and the reassurance that you’re not alone.
4. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness and meditation can help you stay centered and calm, reducing anxiety and promoting mental clarity.
By focusing on the present moment, you can create a sense of peace and space that allows you to better manage interactions with the narcissist.
5. Seek Professional Help
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
Therapists, counselors, and support groups can provide valuable tools and strategies to handle your situation, as well as the space to express your feelings without judgment.
6. Prioritize Self-Care
Self-care isn’t just about bubble baths and spa days.
It’s about doing whatever is necessary to take care of your physical, emotional, and mental health.
This can involve setting boundaries, saying no when necessary, and taking time for rest and relaxation.
7. Cultivate Self-Compassion
Be kind to yourself. Dealing with a narcissist can be tough, and it’s okay to feel upset, frustrated, or confused.
Treat yourself with the same compassion and understanding you would offer a friend in a similar situation
Educate Yourself About Narcissism
To effectively navigate interactions with an aging narcissist, it’s important to first understand what narcissism is.
Remember, knowledge is power.
The more you understand about narcissism, the better equipped you’ll be to protect your own interests and emotional well-being while dealing with a narcissist.
Learn About Common Traits and Behaviors: Narcissists often exhibit specific patterns of behavior, such as manipulation, gaslighting, and a constant need for validation.
Recognizing these traits can help you anticipate potential issues and formulate strategies to handle them.
Read Books and Articles: There is a wealth of information available in books and online articles that delve into the complexities of narcissism.
Listen to Podcasts or Watch Videos: In today’s digital age, podcasts and videos are fantastic resources. Experts in the field often host these, offering insights into the mind of a narcissist and tips for dealing with them.
Understand Aging and Narcissism: As narcissists age, their behaviors can change and even intensify. Understanding how aging impacts narcissism can prepare you for potential shifts in behavior.
Keep Realistic Expectations
Change is unlikely, especially in older narcissists.
Accepting this can be difficult, but it’s essential for your own peace of mind. Instead of hoping for change, focus on managing the situation as best as you can.
Here’s how you can manage your expectations effectively:
Understand the Nature of Narcissism: Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is deeply ingrained and notoriously difficult to treat. As such, significant change in a narcissist’s behavior or attitude is unlikely. Acknowledging this reality can help you avoid disappointment and frustration.
Focus on What You Can Control: While you can’t control a narcissist’s behavior, you can control your reactions to it. Concentrate on developing coping strategies, setting boundaries, and protecting your emotional well-being.
Avoid “Fixer” Mentality: You are not responsible for fixing or healing the narcissist. This responsibility lies with them and potentially a mental health professional. Trying to play therapist can lead to emotional exhaustion and may enable their behavior.
Set Low Expectations: This does not mean expecting the worst at all times, but rather not expecting the narcissist to behave as a non-narcissistic individual would. This can help prevent feelings of disappointment when they act in ways that are hurtful or self-centered.
Practice Acceptance: Accepting the narcissist as they are doesn’t mean condoning their behavior. It means acknowledging the reality of the situation, which can be a powerful tool in managing your interactions with them.
Remember Your Worth: A narcissist’s behavior or comments do not define your worth. Maintain your self-esteem and remember that their actions often reflect their own insecurities and issues, not your value
Final Thoughts on The Aging Narcissist
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 may become more isolated, more dependent, and more rigid in their thinking.
Their need for attention and validation may intensify, and they are likely to react with heightened frustration and paranoia 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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Whether Narcissists Get Worse With Age
How do narcissists change as they age?
As narcissists age, they tend to become more demanding and less patient.
Their entitled behavior escalates, and they expect the people around them to cater to their needs.
Their lack of empathy also become more pronounced.
Do narcissists get worse with age?
Yes, narcissists get worse with age.
As their physical beauty or influence wanes, they struggle to maintain the admiration and attention they crave.
This can lead to an intensification of their narcissistic behaviors, such as manipulation, gaslighting, and emotional abuse.
Do narcissists fear aging?
Yes, narcissists dread getting older.
This is because aging represents a loss of control, something that narcissists desperately cling to.
Aging can also result in a decline in physical attractiveness, social status, or power, which are all sources of narcissistic supply.
How to deal with an aging narcissist?
Dealing with an aging narcissist can be challenging.
It’s important to set firm boundaries, seek support from trusted friends, family, or mental health professionals, and prioritize your own mental and physical health.
It might also be helpful to learn about narcissistic personality disorder to better understand their behavior.
Can aging itself be a factor in the worsening of narcissism?
While aging alone is not a direct cause of narcissism, it can exacerbate existing narcissistic tendencies.
As individuals age, they may become more set in their ways, less open to feedback or criticism, and more resistant to personal growth or change.