14 Ways Narcissists Become More Toxic as They Age
Getting older doesn’t cause a narcissist to be mellow out.
We were almost there — my mother’s house, 300 miles away from our house when outside of Stockton, we were rear-ended on the highway. Our packed car was totaled, but we were shaken, but okay.
The plan had been to stay with my mother for 10 days and help her out. She’s 95, too cranky for a caregiver, and lives alone. But because of the accident and the starting of California’s Safer at Home protocols, we could only stay for a couple of days.
My mother wasn’t happy.
As a clear but undiagnosed narcissist, she managed to make our accident all about her. I’d have thought she'd at least have a little empathy for us because of her phobia of being driven on the freeway.
Instead of understanding, my mother was angry, consumed with only her needs. Before the visit was over, she managed to tell me I was a horrible writer, had no discernable personality, and that I wasn’t a good person.
Unlike fine wine or cheese, narcissists don’t get better with age.
They don’t mellow, become wise, or develop late-onset self-awareness. Their personalities intensify, and without their ability to control others, they become bitter, defensive, and bossy.
When we age, anything masking our true selves fades away, which is certainly true with narcissists. They can no longer use their beauty or charm to seduce people into doing their bidding, so they have to develop other ways.
Aging isn’t easy for anyone, but narcissists never seem to make peace with it.
On the Narcissist Family Files blog, journalist, Julie L. Hall writes, “Since narcissists nearly always refuse to take responsibility for their actions or circumstances, they grow bitter and feel victimized by life, blaming others for their disappointments.”
Like any older adult, a narcissist may have an untreated mental illness or dementia affecting their mental state and behavior. Since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of dementia, red flags can be overlooked when dealing with a narcissist.
If you have an aging narcissist in your life, here are some behaviors that can manifest or worsen.
When we age, our true personalities seem to intensify. If you were a sweet person when you were young, you’d tend to get even kinder as you get older.
However, if you were mean, intolerant, or unpleasant, those traits will overshadow your other kinder characteristics.
Older narcissists become increasingly closed-minded.
Narcissists aren’t known for taking responsibility for anything going wrong in their lives. They have an inner urgency to blame somewhere for the loss of their personal power or their inability to get the attention they feel they deserve.
Narcissists tend to dump all their animosity on scapegoats. It’s not the narcissist's fault that their life sucks; it’s women, young people, liberals, gender-nonconforming people, followers of other religions, or people of different ethnic groups who are to blame — anyone other than themselves.
Since narcissists have little to no self-awareness, they don’t see the absurdity in blaming others for their own mistakes.
Aging narcissists can become more self-centered.
It may be difficult to imagine, but the older a narcissist gets, the more self-involved they become. If a narcissist isn’t getting the amount of attention they’re used to receive for their looks, money, or smarts, they’ll make up the difference by using the energy they once used on others and putting it on themselves.
Invisibility tends to happen to all of us as we get older, and we learn how to either make peace with it or come up with our own coping mechanisms. Narcissists do neither and focus on themselves — the one person they love and sometimes hate the most.
Aging narcissists become needier.
Along with less attention, older narcissists feel a loss of power, and their natural reaction is to become more demanding of others' energy. They feel as if they’ve been robbed of all the riches they had when they were young, and it’s all they can do to hold on to whomever still is in their life.
Although narcissists have little to no sympathy or empathy for others, they expect other people to be fully sympathetic and empathetic.
Narcissists are entitled and will throw their weight around when others don’t snap to and fulfill the narcissist’s every need.
Rather than growing wiser with age, they’re more immature.
Narcissists are not into growing old gracefully — they fight against it with everything they’ve got. Any lessons or wisdom that might be gained from the aging process is lost on the narcissist.
Older narcissists tend to act as if they were children, complete with tantrums when they don’t get their way. They want instant gratification and have no patience when it comes to waiting.
Aging narcissists are alienating.
Remember, narcissists have very little empathy — if any at all, and they’re not interested in seeing things from another person’s perspective. Narcissists don’t hold back on their opinions or ideas even if they’ll cause pain in expressing them.
It’s prevalent for a narcissist to burn bridges and destroy their relationships to find themselves alone at the end of their lives.
The older narcissist may develop higher levels of paranoia.
A paranoid person tends to believe that others are out to get them, steal what’s theirs, or is staking out their house without having any evidence to back up their theories.
Aging narcissists tend to be inflexible.
When one feels as if they’re losing their control, they tend to hang on to their thoughts and behaviors even tighter. The older the narcissist, the more defensive they get and the more likely they are to strike out when they feel their status quo isn’t being adhered to or threatened.
Older narcissists are always angry.
The fuse of a narcissist gets shorter as they age, and their emotions become more erratic and changeable. Even when a narcissist seems pleasant enough on the surface, their rage is simmering under the surface, and the smallest thing can set them off.
More often than not, when a narcissist gets old, they no longer have the resources they once had and are unable to get the admiration and attention they once commanded.
Rules don’t apply, especially to the aging narcissist.
Narcissists believe 100 % that they’re special, and because of this belief, they’re entitled to do whatever they want. Rules are for other people — people too stupid to question them, at least that’s the narcissist’s mindset.
Older narcissists think nothing of being abusive to others.
It’s as if their advanced age gives them a license to treat others poorly and without respect. When they were younger, the narcissist knew enough to hide the toxic parts of their personality.
They’re comfortable playing the victim.
If a narcissist feels that they can no longer depend on their previous ways to manipulate people, so they’ll play on other people’s sympathies to get attention.
Older narcissists have a trail of unsuccessful relationships behind them.
Narcissists have never had give and take relationships. Their relationships don’t get better when there’s more time behind them than in front of them.
No one can have a healthy or successful relationship if they have no empathy or interest in their partner’s life. All the narcissist cares about is having someone attend to their needs and give them the adoration and attention they need.
Narcissists aren’t interested in being told how they fail or in changing. Without any growth and compassion, a relationship can’t survive. Most narcissists would rather be lonely than look at themselves with a critical eye.
If you have a parent, relative, or anyone in your life who is an older narcissist, you need to decide what you’re willing to tolerate. If you can’t distance yourself to the degree you don’t have to interact with them regularly, you need to set boundaries.
Older narcissists may not have the strength or charisma they once had, but they still have the capability of being a damaging presence in your life.