There are many people who have a narcissist in their life who they can’t, or won’t, distance themselves from. There’s a long list of reasons why this might be the case (e.g. they have children with the narcissist, the narcissist is a family member, they are still trauma bonded to the narcissist, etc.) but it leaves many wondering if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel or if narcissists get worse with age.

Narcissists do get worse as they get older. With age comes a lack of independence and narcissistic supply, so aging narcissists tend to become the extreme versions of their worst selves. They don’t develop a late-onset self-awareness, they just become more abusive, manipulative, hypersensitive, rageful, and entitled. 

This article is going to walk you through the different reasons that narcissists get worse with age so you can have a better understanding of narcissism that helps you make conscious and well-informed decisions to protect your thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, wishes, goals, and aspirations from the narcissistic people in your life. 

3 Reasons That Narcissists Get Worse as They Get Older

There are three primary reasons that aging narcissists tend to become the extreme versions of their worst selves and they all go hand-in-hand with one another. 

  1. Aging narcissists lose their ability to get a sufficient amount of narcissistic supply.
  2. A lack of narcissistic supply causes the suppressed painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions of aging narcissists to be triggered. 
  3. The emotional instability that a lack of narcissistic supply creates causes narcissists to become incredibly fragile and vulnerable. 

As you can see, the common denominator in the worsening of an aging narcissist is narcissistic supply. Therefore, we would like to take this opportunity to invite you to join the Narcissistic Abuse Support Platform so you can learn how to reduce the amount of supply you inadvertently create and protect yourself from the narcissist in your life. 

The Narcissistic Abuse Support Platform is a space that we have teamed up with mental health professionals to create so you get access to the ongoing support and education needed to protect yourself and heal from narcissistic abuse. 

With all of that being said, let’s take a closer look at the three reasons narcissists get worse as they get older so you can start, or continue, to make conscious and well-informed decisions that protect your thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, wishes, goals, and aspirations!

Aging Narcissists Lose Their Ability to Get a Sufficient Amount of Narcissistic Supply

The reason that narcissists lose their ability to get a sufficient amount of narcissistic supply as they get older is because they’ve built their self-esteem and sense of self out of the most superficial, materialistic, and trivial forms of narcissistic supply (i.e. validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control) that society has to offer. 

Generally speaking, an emotionally competent individual will build their self-esteem and construct their sense of self out of their own feelings of belonging, feelings of competence, self-confidence, and trust in their own identity.

The life experiences of an emotionally competent person are going to determine whether or not they have a positive or negative self-esteem and sense of self. Nonetheless, their emotional competence puts them in a position from which they are in power and control of their own self-esteem and sense of self.

Narcissists are emotionally incompetent, which is why they build their self-esteem and sense of self out of the most superficial, materialistic, and trivial forms of narcissistic supply that society has to offer (e.g. having a lot of money, driving a fast car, owning a big house, having a lot of social media followers, etc.) and have little control over their self-esteem and sense of self.

Did You Know?

It is believed by many mental health professionals that a narcissist’s childhood upbringing is to blame for their emotional incompetence, and much more. Our article “How Are Narcissists Made?” has a lot of great information about this!

Narcissists are entirely dependent on their surrounding environment for the narcissistic supply they need to develop a positive self-esteem and sense of self. Yes, they have an absurd amount of manipulation tactics that gives them access to a ton of narcissistic supply, but they become less and less effective as the narcissist ages

Appearances, social status, and sexual partners are three of the most superficial, materialistic, and trivial forms of narcissistic supply that narcissists depend on. 

As we get older, we see decreases in our authority, responsibilities, attractiveness, mobility, memory capacity, and sex drive. This has a massive effect on a narcissist’s ability to gather a sufficient amount of narcissistic supply.

A Lack of Narcissistic Supply Triggers the Painful Thoughts, Feelings, and Emotions That Aging Narcissists Have

One of the most important things that narcissistic supply does for a narcissist is acts as their primary form of emotional regulation. An abusive and/or unhealthy childhood upbringing prevented narcissists from getting their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs mirrored by their primary caregivers.

The terms “abusive” and “unhealthy” have a broad spectrum of possibilities that could range anywhere from primary caregivers who are physically abusive (e.g. hitting, pushing, spanking, etc.) to those whose emotional availability, responsiveness, and consistency is unhealthy (e.g. too much pampering, being overprotective, lack of boundaries).

When a child grows up with emotionally unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent primary caregivers, they don’t receive the validation, admiration, and reassurance needed to develop a realistic sense of self and have a healthy cognitive development. 

One of the many negatives that originate from growing up in an environment like this is an overwhelming amount of painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions that narcissists are too emotionally incompetent to manage through healthy forms of emotional regualtion. 

Make no mistake about it, these painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions that narcissists have are powerful ones such as a sense of inadequacy, being unlovable, unwanted, weak, and worthless. To protect their emotional stability, narcissists stopped searching for validation, admiration, and reassurance from their primary caregivers and turned to society instead. 

The validation, admiration, and reassurance that narcissists are able to get from society allows them to construct a falsified identity powerful enough to suppress all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

The biggest problem that narcissists face when doing this is that they are too emotionally incompetent to look past society’s superfical, materialistic, and trivial exterior. Meaning that when they build their falsified identity, they are doing so out of the most materialistic, superficial, and trivial forms of validation, admiration, and reassurance that society has to offer. 

If you remember correctly, we mentioned this when explaining the reason aging narcissists have a more difficult time getting narcissistic supply! 

To sum everything up that has been stated in this section, narcissists get worse with age because as they get older, all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions begin to compromise their emotional stability because their inability to get a sufficient amount of narcissistic supply causes their falsified identity to become less effective. 

Did You Know?

Three of the most common behaviors narcissists rely on to protect their emotional stability when they don’t have enough narcissistic supply are scapegoating, narcissistic rage, and projection. Our articles “Why Do Narcissists Need a Scapegoat?” , “Why Do Narcissists Go Into a Rage” , and “Why Do Narcissists Use Projection” can help you understand why!

Aging Narcissists Become Increasingly Fragile and Vulnerable

Just as a quick reminder, as narcissists get older, their ability to accumulate a sufficient amount of narcissistic supply worsens. When this happens, all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions get triggered and compromise their emotional stability. This puts the aging narcissist in an incredibly fragile and vulnerable position. 

The fragility and vulnerability that a lack of narcissistic supply creates makes narcissists highly susceptible to narcissistic injuries, also known as ego injuries. Narcissistic injuries are caused by contradictions to their falsified identity and serve as a constant reminder of all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

When a narcissist experiences a narcissistic injury, their grandiose sense of self-importance, specialness, and uniqueness gets dismantled and replaced with all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions. 

Remember, these are powerful ones such as a sense of inadequacy, being unlovable, unwanted, worthless, and weak. This would be a terrible position for anyone to be in, but it is even worse for narcissists because they are too emotionally incompetent to manage the situation through healthy forms of emotional regulation. 

This causes narcissists to become increasingly aggressive, angry, resentful, spiteful, and even depressed. When dealing with an “injured” narcissist, you should be prepared for manipulative behaviors such as narcissistic rage, baiting, stonewalling, etc. This can make an aging narcissist an absolute nightmare to be around as they will be the extreme versions of their worst selves.

Did You Know?

Narcissistic injuries can be caused by just about anything. Our articles “What Causes Narcissistic Injuries” and “5 Examples of Narcissistic Injuries” will teach you much more about them so you can have more information that will help you stay safe around the narcissist in your life!

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

An aging narcissist can be an absolute nightmare to manage. It is almost as if they (the narcissist) experience an out of body experience as they age because they are forced to watch as their tower of power, control, dominance, grandiosity, and lies comes crashing down around them. But when the dust settles, all that is left is a fragile, insecure, terrified, and terribly alone human-being that they refuse to accept.

With that being said, it is super important that you don’t underestimate an aging narcissist by letting your guard down around them. Despite their age, they are more than capable of controlling your thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, wishes, goals, and aspirations. 

If you are interested in a complete guide through these manipulation tactics so you can better protect yourself and heal from narcissistic abuse, please join our amazing community at the Narcissistic Abuse Support Platform where we are spending everyday supporting and growing with one another! 

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All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

References:

Jauk, Emanuel et al. “The Relationship between Grandiose and Vulnerable (Hypersensitive) Narcissism.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 8 1600. 13 Sep. 2017, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01600

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