If you are currently in a committed relationship with a narcissist, you may think your life is an enduring hell- or at least purgatory.
You might wonder if you stick it out, will he get better with age, will he mellow out?
Unfortunately, there is not a longitudinal research study with a definitive answer.
Do Narcissists get worse with age? One study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (F.Stinson et al, 2008) suggested that pathological narcissists might mellow out, as the characteristics of NPD were more prevalent among younger adults compared to older ones.
However, if a person reads the overly-abundant blogs available on the internet, they appear to be overwhelming of the opinion that narcissistic traits worsen as the narcissist ages.
There are a few, less common but still published, accounts of narcissists who have indeed tempered their outbursts and learned to control their verbal abuse and constant demands.
It is possible that mild narcissistic traits may decrease over time but pathological narcissism doesn’t.
So Does the narcissist get worse with age?
Generally, narcissists don’t get more flexible, empathic or agreeable with age.
These are personality traits of NPD and they are highly unlikely to change.
Aging is rough on the ego- it increases dependency and vulnerability, usually reduces status (unless you are Donald Trump or Hugh Hefner), triggers regrets, and increases feelings of envy.
Thus, it would make sense that a disorder involving the ego, such as NPD, would become exacerbated as the individual ages.
Over the course of time, “child prodigies lose their magic, lovers exhaust their potency, philanderers waste their allure, and geniuses miss their touch”.
Time brings the narcissist closer and closer to being average as the gulf widens between his grandiose expectations and his actual accomplishments.
Why don’t they get better?
In order to “get better” the narcissist would have to confess that his behavior and treatment of others was wrong or inappropriate.
The narcissist would also need to admit that they need to change into a more compassionate human being. This will not happen for several reasons:
1) The narcissist is never wrong. “Wrong” or “inappropriate” are words that don’t exist in the narcissist’s vocabulary of self-perception. The narcissist firmly holds the belief that they are right, even if others disagree with them.
The Aging Narcissistic Parent
Reading the blogs from children of narcissistic parents, it is clear that pathological parents get meaner with age.
They hold their children hostage through brainwashing about obligation, guilt and fear.
They continue to manipulate and punish. An online example tells of an elderly, malignant mother who after years of wretched care-taking, further punished her children by leaving all her money to charity,
claiming that she would never want to “cripple her children with something as burdensome as an inheritance”. Instead of aging gracefully, the narcissist’s anger increases with time.
They are prone to more narcissistic rages against their adult children. They have no difficulty inexplicably cutting off communication.
Their lack of empathy for their family becomes evident as their children grow older.
When the spouse and children of their current relationship no longer provide reliable Narcissistic Supply, they simply move on to another source to get their fix.
Often they will abruptly abandon the old family and jump into starting a new one.
Children can be a crucial source of Narcissistic Supply; they adore unconditionally, worship their parents and are submissive (when young).
On the other hand, children can take away attention from the narcissist.
They can take too much of what the narcissist wants for himself: time, energy, resources, and attention.
It is not uncommon for narcissists to view their own children as a threat, a nuisance, an unnecessary evil.
All in all, the narcissist makes for a terrible friend, poor lover and appalling parent…no matter what their age.
He or she is likely to divorce many times (if they marry at all) and to end up in a series of monogamous relationships. Narcissists don’t mature with age; they continue to seek revenge for perceived insults, narcissistic injuries, and threats to their superiority.
Redeeming a parent-child relationship later in life is highly unlikely; having a genuine, rewarding relationship with an aging narcissistic parent impossible.
Can aging narcissists return to a normal life?
Sam Vaknin, author of “Malignant Self Love” was asked if aging narcissists could return to a normal life if they were given therapy, counseling, or social support. He answered as follows:
Dr. Vaknin goes on to cite specific behaviors and feelings that an aging narcissist might display: chronic sadness (dysphoria), no longer finds pleasure in anything (including his former pursuits, hobbies, and interests),
violent mood swings (mostly narcissistic rages) attacks) and a compulsive addiction to alcohol, drugs, reckless driving, or shopaholism.
The overall conclusion is that narcissists do get worse with age. Some would say that narcissists just continue ‘being narcissists’ with the exception that they exhibit more depressive symptoms as they age.
Others would argue that they have gotten away with their actions for so long that they up the ante by increasing their narcissistic abuse and demands.
They have lost their looks, their grandiose fantasies were not supported, their old charm no longer works,
they most likely have had several failed marriages and countless failed relationships, their children avoid them… no wonder they are depressed. Some might say that is poetic justice.
Last Updated on June 29, 2022 by Alexander Burgemeester
An Elderly Narcissist Without Narcissistic Supply
This really is the same as a sick narcissist who can’t get narcissistic supply. When they run low or empty, without their primary drug of choice – the attention and significance that self-medicates away the inner pain of being themselves – narcissists can become totally delusional, manic, unreasonable, abusive and, quite frankly, may go insane.
Their mask may drop completely, leaving their disorder front and centre for all to see.
He or she may throw all caution to the wind and attempt frenetically, and even pathetically, to try to get narcissistic supply.
It is a shock when you see an elderly narcissist unravel in this way, and become a shadow of their former fictitious self. And it is when they age that the truth always, eventually, comes out.
I believe we die as we live. A life authentically lived, shows the successful results even in declining years. Whereas a life lived as a False Self, ends up where it was always going to go – a fall from grace that never was real in the first place.
As Narcissists Age Does Karma Pay Them Back?
The answer to this question is ‘yes’. However, despite any acquisition or outer appearances, it is important to know that the narcissist’s karma – the intense emotional disintegration and pain from living a life out of alignment with self, life and others, is ever present.
One’s soul is not durably happy as a result of ‘getting’. Every soul can only reach wholeness as a result of ‘being’. The state of the inner beingness of a narcissist is disastrous; their emotions being ever reliant on the precariousness of obtaining narcissistic supply, are damaged and unstable.
As narcissists age, their out-of-alignment disintegration often extends to health issues as well as emotional and mental delusions. It’s also common for them to have financial disasters, as they lose the ability to hold up the house of cards that their life really was. Family and friends often turn away from them in droves – especially as the mask falls.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard exactly those reports.
Let me just share this true-life story that encapsulates all of this.
A friend of mine had a narcissistic father who was a high roller – throughout his life he owned Sunshine Coast penthouses, fancy cars and married several, much younger, women.
As an old man in his 80’s, he married a young Asian lady. This lady got him to build her a home overseas and then divorced him. She kept the lot.
He returned to Australia with Parkinson’s Disease and dementia, and was under surveillance in the nursing home because of his inappropriate, and often nasty, behaviour toward staff and other patients.
His phone was confiscated because he constantly went on dating and gambling apps.
This narcissistic man ended up with nothing but humiliation, shame, and failure, and his family only visiting him when it was absolutely necessary.
If you know of an ageing narcissist who has fallen from grace, please pause this video and share the information below.
Bringing Our Focus Back to Healing Ourselves Rather Than Focusing on Narcissists
Of course, I understand why you are asking this question about ageing narcissists.
Maybe you have an elderly narcissist in your life, who is driving you crazy.
Or possibly you have been hurt so much by a narcissist in your life, you are wondering how their life will turn out – and dearly hope it won’t be good.
But I really want to invite you to take your focus off the narcissist and firmly on healing yourself. And I’m asking you to do this so that you will not only break free from the terrible affliction of narcissistic abuse, and enter the trajectory of your True Self and True Life, but also so that your life will in no way be conditional on what does or doesn’t happen to the narcissist as he or she ages.
Truly he or she is in emotional hell every second of every day – there is nothing to envy here!
I know that you may be feeling like you too are in a total emotional hurricane, with no way out, and that your life could be horrific, on many levels, as you age. I promise you this doesn’t have to be your reality at all.
Unlike the narcissist, who is not going to turn inwards and start generating his or her only REAL emancipation and healing from emotional trauma, which is achieved regularly in this Community by doing the Quantum Inner Work – you can.
And once you do this, you truly won’t care less about what does or doesn’t happen to the narcissist. You will know that your highest mission is always about honouring your inner being and health.
When you get that part of it right, I promise you that you will no longer be shackled by the guilt, obligation, and pain that may have been allowing a narcissist to suck you dry.
It’s then that your True Self and True Life can begin – no matter what age you are or what you have lost as a result of narcissistic abuse.
To help you truly understand what I’m saying I want to share this resource, which I’d love you to watch: What To Do If You Feel Like You’re Too Old To Recover From Abuse.
Okay, so if it is time to heal, to let go of wondering and claim your resurrection freedom and joy – come join me.
Because I will show you how in time frames and ways that you did not even know were possible. To do this, simply click on this link.
I so hope this video has helped.
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As always I am greatly looking forward to answering your comments and questions below.