The Aging Narcissist: What To Expect From Narcissistic People As They Age

What happens to narcissists as they get older? Will karma eventually catch up with them? Or are they slowly realizing how they abused others? Let’s take a look at the fate of an aging narcissist.

The aging narcissist

Aging is a natural part of life and we all have to go through the developmental stages of life. With age comes a new maturity and wisdom that allows us to better cope with life’s experiences. But what happens to the narcissist? Can they wriggle out of old age with lies, manipulation and deceit?

No, they can’t. No matter how manipulative they may have been when they were young, narcissists grow old like all of us. And coming to terms with age can be a real challenge for the aging narcissist.

Why? Because a narcissist only gets worse with age.

Narcissists want to be the center of attention. They desperately crave praise, approval, validation, and admiration from others. But over the years the stream of praise seems to dry up.

With our society’s obsession with beauty and youth, life can get really bad for older narcissists. They begin to question their own worth, feel vulnerable, and tend to give in to their insecurities.

So what happens to narcissists as they age?

The aging of a narcissist comes with many challenges. Their tendency to think they are better than others leads to a lot of self-image problems as they age.

What they believed in the prime of their youth turns out to be wrong when reality hits them. When they struggle with age, their social standing weakens and things go downhill for them.

You become less narcissistic

Finally, what happens to an aging narcissist? Luckily for most narcissists, toxic traits diminish with age. However, this may not apply to all narcissists.

According to a recent 2019 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, certain personal relationships and career choices can cause narcissism to decline in certain middle-aged individuals.

The study, which spanned a 23-year period from young adulthood to midlife, found “Narcissists become less narcissistic over time , ” writes author Kyle Schnitzer.

In particular, the researchers focused on 3 key aspects of narcissism in an aging narcissist:

  • entitlement
  • leadership skills
  • vanity

The study looked at around 500 participants with narcissism aged before entering college at the University of California Berkeley until the narcissists were 41 years old. The researchers assessed the participants’ narcissistic characteristics using survey questions.

The study states, “Participants who were in senior positions showed less decreases in leadership skills, and participants who had more unstable relationships and were more physically healthy showed less decreases in vanity from young adulthood to middle age.”

An aging narcissist who experienced higher levels of vanity in his youth ended up in toxic, unstable relationships. Before they reached middle age, they were more likely to divorce and have fewer children. However, they generally enjoyed good health.

Narcissists with high aspiration levels at age 18 were less satisfied with their lives and experienced a lot of negative events in middle age. The researchers cleared only 3% of the participants from a higher level of narcissism during this time.

The study concludes, “The results suggest that people tend to become less narcissistic from young adulthood through middle age, and the magnitude of this decline is related to the particular professional and family pathways that a person at this stage of life may have should seek life.”

Less narcissism, more loneliness

Another 2018 study made it clear that “levels of narcissism can decline throughout life.” Lead researchers Gregory L. Carter and Melanie D. Douglass freed an aging narcissist from their narcissism and found that the age decreases significantly.

However, compared to middle-aged participants, they experienced high levels of loneliness. They found that the level of narcissism determines the association between loneliness and age.

The study explains that narcissism tends to be lower in older narcissists than in middle-aged narcissists. Age has been found to negatively correlate with narcissism and also negatively predicts this personality trait. However, age positively predicted loneliness.

She concluded, “There is evidence that narcissism is important for mental health, including loneliness, which in turn has been linked to other psychological problems, including increased suicide rates in the elderly.”

suicidal tendencies in old age

In fact, an aging narcissist is more likely to commit suicide. According to a 1992 study, “older people have less narcissism available to invest their own ego in.” Thus, it becomes increasingly difficult for the aging narcissist to inflate their ego when dealing with new people, environments, and habits Has.

The study adds: “As a result, some older people may feel increasingly isolated and commit suicide…Suicide rates increase with age, that is, with decreasing narcissism at one’s disposal.”

narcissism and dementia

Aging narcissists are more likely to also have dementia. Research shows that older people with narcissistic personality disorder are 80% more likely to develop dementia than the general population.

According to a 2006 study by Daniel Segal PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and colleagues, people with a personality disorder experience significant impairments in their psychological and cognitive functioning as they age.

Difficult or personality disordered older adults tend to later develop clinically diagnosed frontotemporal dementia , according to a 2011 study . The research paper states, “Patients with personality disorders, particularly those with dramatic disturbances, may present with functional frontolimbic abnormalities.”

This can be very difficult for the aging narcissist to accept as they rely heavily on their cognitive abilities to demonstrate their superiority over others.

When that wears off, it becomes unbearable for the aging narcissist. An aging narcissist and dementia can be a terrible combination, as the effects of dementia and deteriorating cognitive abilities contribute to their suicidal behavior.

The narcissist vs. age

Do narcissists change with age? It depends on their life choices and the person. As their social influence weakens and their personal power dwindles, the aging narcissist becomes more psychologically vulnerable.

Although many older narcissists experience a marked decrease in their level of narcissism, others are more likely to suffer from loneliness, dementia, and suicidal thoughts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What is the Emotional Age of a Narcissist?

The emotional age of a narcissist is thought to be above 7 to 8. This is the age when children develop narcissistic traits based on how they perceive themselves and how others see them. People with narcissism stop growing emotionally relatively early. However, their emotional age can vary from around 7 years old to their early teens.

Do narcissists change as they get older?

Although some narcissists can change with age, others tend to get worse. However, research shows that narcissistic traits tend to decrease with age. They also develop depression, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts.

Do covert narcissists get worse with age?

Narcissists and narcissistic personalities don’t usually change with age. While the aging female narcissist or aging narcissistic man can become more confident and wiser, they don’t magically become better or more empathetic. They simply become embittered with no ability to control their victims.

How do you deal with an aging narcissistic parent?

Fighting back against an aging narcissist can be a bit tricky, because while they get older, they get weaker, but they also get wiser. To deal with an aging narcissistic mother or father, you should be aware of their mind games, set clear boundaries, avoid reacting emotionally, seek support from others, practice self-love, be compassionate towards them to be and learn to let go of their grudges.

The Aging Narcissist: What To Expect From Narcissistic People As They Age

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