Sometimes, cutting a narcissist out of your life isn’t possible. Because of this, a common question people ask is, “Do narcissists get worse as they get older?”

Narcissists worsen with age because they lose their narcissistic supply, have less control over others, become more dependent on others, fear being alone, become even more entitled and unempathetic, and have difficulty managing change.

In this article, I will guide you through these reasons (plus some bonus ones) to help you better understand why narcissists typically get worse as they age.

1.) They Can’t Get As Much Narcissistic Supply

Narcissistic supply is the fuel that powers a narcissist’s ego. 

When they are younger, narcissists often find it easier to secure this supply because they are typically more attractive, social, and active.

However, as they age, these sources of supply start to diminish as their attractiveness fades, social circles shrink, and mobility decreases.

An aging narcissist looking at himself in the mirror.

When aging narcissists realize they can’t get as much narcissistic supply as they did when they were younger, they experience a deep sense of frustration and emptiness.

These feelings can, and often do, cause them to act out more aggressively or manipulatively to secure the attention and validation (narcissistic supply) of others.

2.) They Have Less Control Over Others

Narcissists have a strong need to control others because it reinforces their sense of importance and helps them maintain a positive self-perception. 

Throughout their lives, they use various manipulation tactics, such as gaslighting, love bombing, hoovering, etc., to exert control over others. 

Suggested Reading: 8 Powerful Tactics That Narcissists Use to Control You

However, as they age, their ability to exert this control diminishes. 

When this happens, the painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions they have suppressed within themselves get triggered.

So, instead of having a positive self-perception, they start to feel unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak.

In a desperate attempt to regain control, and subsequently, a positive self-perception, they often become abusive and manipulative, worsening their narcissistic behaviors.

3.) They Become More Dependent on Others

As individuals age, it’s common to become more reliant on others for various reasons, such as declining physical health or mobility. 

For narcissists, this increased dependence clashes with their self-image of being superior and self-reliant and leads to feelings of humiliation and vulnerability. 

They often respond to counteract these uncomfortable feelings by becoming more defensive and demanding.

For example, an aging narcissist may insist on receiving special treatment or attention to reassert their sense of importance. 

This defensiveness and heightened demand for attention often results in an escalation of narcissistic behaviors.

4.) They Become Even More Entitled

As people age, they often experience a shift in how others treat them. 

Society tends to show more respect and consideration towards older adults, sometimes even giving them special treatment or privileges. 

A man heping an old woman across the street.

For narcissists, this societal shift can feed into their already inflated sense of entitlement, causing them to expect special treatment or admiration from others. 

As a result, their abusive tendencies often become even more intense because they feel entitled to getting what they want when they want it.

5.) They Fear of Being Alone

The fear of being alone is common among many people, but it can be particularly intense for narcissists. 

Suggested Reading: 7 Things Narcissists Fear the Most

This is because they rely on the attention and admiration of others to maintain a positive self-perception. 

As they age and their social circles shrink, the fear of being alone and unimportant can become overwhelming. 

This fear can drive them to seek attention and validation from others more aggressively, leading to increased and more intense narcissistic behaviors.

6.) They Become Even More Unempathetic

Narcissists lack empathy.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings. 

As people age, their cognitive functions, including empathy, naturally decline. 

For narcissists, this natural decline in empathy can exacerbate their already limited capacity for understanding and sharing the feelings of others. 

This decline can manifest as increased insensitivity, an inability to recognize the impact of their actions on others, or a lack of remorse for their abusive actions.

This decrease in empathy can lead to an escalation of narcissistic behaviors as the narcissist becomes even more self-centered and indifferent to the feelings of others.

7.) They Have Less Accountability

As people age, their social circles often shrink due to various reasons such as retirement, the death of peers, or relocation. 

For narcissists, this reduction in social interaction means fewer people are around to hold them accountable for their actions. 

Additionally, society tends to be more forgiving and lenient towards older adults, sometimes dismissing inappropriate behavior as a byproduct of aging. 

This lack of accountability can embolden narcissists, leading to an amplification of their narcissistic behaviors. 

8.) They Lose Their Sense of Purpose

Purpose and meaning in life are essential components of psychological well-being. 

For many people, purpose is derived from their careers, raising a family, or contributing to their community. 

A family photo.

However, as people age, these sources of purpose often diminish. 

Retirement, children becoming independent, and physical limitations can all lead to a sense of lost purpose. 

This loss of purpose can be particularly challenging for narcissists as it directly conflicts with their self-image as important, productive, and superior individuals. 

This can lead to feelings of emptiness and worthlessness, which narcissists may try to counteract by seeking attention and admiration from others, often in unhealthy ways. 

This can lead to an escalation of narcissistic behaviors as they desperately try to fill the void left by the loss of their former sources of purpose.

9.) They Have a Hard Time Managing Change

Change is a natural part of life, but it can be particularly challenging for narcissists to manage. 

They often need consistency and predictability as it helps them maintain a sense of control and superiority. 

However, aging brings about significant changes, both physically and socially. 

Physical decline, living situation changes, and losing loved ones are common experiences in older adulthood.

These changes can be incredibly destabilizing for narcissists as they directly challenge their self-image and sense of control. 

A narcissist fighting age.

This can lead to increased anxiety and insecurity, which, unfortunately, often manifests as heightened narcissistic behaviors. 

Because of this, it is common for aging narcissists to become more demanding and manipulative to regain a sense of control and stability.

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

As a general rule, narcissists get worse as they get older because: 

  • They can’t get as much narcissistic supply.
  • They have less control over others.
  • They become more dependent on others.
  • They become even more entitled.
  • They fear being alone.
  • They becoming more unempathetic.
  • They have less accountability.
  • They lose their sense of purpose.
  • They have a hard time managing change.

About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

If you’re ready to heal, visit The Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse to get started.



  1. Do Narcassitic people ever get their compupnce and eventually starts to see the damage they’ve inflicted? Upon Researching how our behaviour is mainly in our unconscious, And makes up for 95% of our behaviour without us knowing, does the pushing down of deep insecurities and feelings deep into the unconscious eventually lead to some form of mental illness/breakdown? As if the unconscious will ‘blow its top’

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Thank you for leaving a comment.

      You’ve asked a great question I don’t have an answer for.

      I think an argument could be made that narcissistic rage is a manifestation of this mental breakdown you speak of.

      But I’m not 100% sure, so I’ve added your question to our list for our upcoming Q&A with Ellen Biros.

      She’s a therapist.

      To join, just email me at, and I will pass the details along.

      It is 100% free.

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