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Do Narcissists End up Alone?

Reviewed by Karis A. Williams, MSMHC, LPC

Narcissists usually make a great first impression.  They seem so charming and in tune with you.  But over time, they have great difficulty keeping  friends for very long.  As a general rule, the only way for a full-blown narcissist to maintain a circle of supportive friends is to start over every time their current circle of friends sees the light and distances themselves from the narcissist.  But as they get older, they get tired.  Obtaining that narcissistic supply no longer seems worth the effort they need to put out.  So, they just don’t bother anymore.  And that is how narcissists ultimately end up alone.

While it is true that a vastly large number of narcissists end up alone, it is not a set-in-stone rule.  Sometimes, narcissists are able to avoid this fate.  Let’s take a closer look at all of the different factors that determine how and when narcissists end up alone.

The Problem With Narcissists and Friends isn’t Making Those Friends…It’s Keeping Them

Narcissists tend to make friends pretty easily initially.  They are generally charming, caring, and in tune with you, especially in the beginning.  In the same way that we are excited and energetic when we meet a new friend that we relate to really well, narcissists are excited and energetic because they have found a new source of narcissistic supply (the intense need for constant validation and accolades).

Because the narcissist loves meeting new people because they see what they can get out of it, they tend to “meet” tons of new people.  If they can meet a larger number of people, they can spread their need for supply among them.  This keeps them from scaring away potential supply.  If someone starts to get antsy or uncomfortable, the narcissist can give them a break and move on to a fresh victim.  By the time that victim starts growing wary, he can then move back to an older victim that has once again let their guard down.

Eventually, the vast majority of the narcissist’s friends and family will get wise to his routine, especially if they are emotionally healthy.  And depending on how high the narcissist falls on the narcissism spectrum, his behavior will become untenable to them and they will eventually walk away.

This pattern can, and usually does, last for years and years.  Over time, unless the narcissist goes on to live a totally new life in a totally new area, his reputation will begin to precede him and he will have more and more difficulty even making friends to begin with.

Narcissists End up Alone Because They Have Difficulty Forming Meaningful Relationships

Friends of narcissists don’t generally get too close to the narcissist.  He will keep them at arm’s length, fearing that they will see what is under the mask if he lets them get too close.

What I noticed with my ex narcissist of 35 years was that he did have a few friends for several years.  They were mostly from our church.  And he would talk to them casually on a Sunday morning after church.  He knew all the right words to say (how religious narcissists work the best in churches).  And several people were easily fooled by his words because they weren’t close enough to him to see that his actions didn’t even remotely match his words.

That is the key to the narcissist keeping his friends fooled for years–use the right words but don’t let them close enough to see what is really going on.  Because most people already have their few close friends, they don’t necessarily notice that things aren’t quite right with the narcissist.  So they continue to interact with him on a somewhat regular basis.  And the narcissist continues to seem kind and attentive because he only has to make that good impression once in a while.  It isn’t a constant everyday need.  So it isn’t so hard to keep up with.

For the people that do start to see cracks in the lining, he will most likely back off for fear they may learn more.  He may walk away from the relationship and never go back.  And they won’t really necessarily notice.  If they do run into each other down the road, the narcissist can act as though everything is fine and life just got away from them.  He still knows the right words to say to come out looking like the great guy they knew long ago.  But there is not now, nor was there ever, a meaningful relationship.

Narcissists End up Alone Because They are Unable to Form Long-lasting Relationships

Often, in relationships that are more involved than an occasional conversation, the narcissist will not be able to keep up the charade.  When he needs to interact with others on a daily or frequent basis, it will be very difficult to keep up appearances.  And it is likely he will slip, either with his actions not lining up with his words, or his words not lining up with his other words.

If anybody pushes into his inconsistencies, they can instantly become the enemy in his mind.  And at that point, he needs to destroy them to get them out of his way.  He needs to make sure that they cannot reveal what is under the mask.  And the narcissistic games will begin.  For more on the behavior of a narcissist, check out my article by clicking here.

As people begin to get wise to the narcissist’s behavior, they start to withdraw.  This sets off a bit of a pattern.  As they continue to withdraw, the narcissist will also back off for fear of being “discovered.”  The chance of those relationships becoming successful in the long term diminish with every step back that the friend and the narcissist take.

Narcissists End up Alone When They Get too Tired to Keep up the Charade

It actually becomes quite exhausting for the narcissist to keep trying to control what everyone thinks of him, especially when it is all a construct and he has to remember what he has said and done with everybody.  Keeping lies and stories straight becomes harder with time.  And eventually, the narcissist realizes it is much easier to walk away and start fresh than to keep trying to get his head above water with the current friends.

If the narcissist lives in a small town or tight-knit community, he will find all of his bridges burned and not many new friend possibilities to start again with.  Starting a new life in a new town may not be an option for many reasons.  So he may end up just isolating for the sake of finding some peace in his own head without the effort of having to go somewhere to start a whole new life.

Dr. Ramani Suryakantham Durvasula (known as Dr. Ramani), an American psychologist, psychology professor, media expert, and author, says that as narcissists get older, they get even more narcissistic. They may not have the charming good looks or money that they had earlier in their life.  Or the trophy wife.  They become meaner and nastier, and virtually impossible to bear.  Because of this, people will avoid them even more, often leaving them alone.  

Do Narcissists Want to be Alone?

As a general rule, narcissists really don’t want to be alone.  With no people around them, they cannot obtain the narcissistic supply they so desperately need to consider themselves valid.

Because narcissists have little to no empathy, emotionally healthy people will not stay with them when the charm wears off and the true character of the narcissist comes out.  Thus, the only possibility for a long term relationship to work out for the narcissist is to prey on emotionally unhealthy people.  These people tend to be those who are raised in emotionally unhealthy homes and/or are codependent.

Even the codependent person realizes over time that the narcissist is not treating them well, especially when they realize almost everyone treats them better than the narcissist in their life.  So, they too become more healthy emotionally and eventually move on, leaving the narcissist with no supply.

While it is true that narcissists don’t want to end up alone, they do enjoy plenty of alone time.  They need some down time from the constant act they must put on to hide their true self.  But the difference here is that they are alone by choice.  They know that narcissistic supply is just a phone call or date away.  Or maybe a room away if they are a married narcissistic father.  In my case, my narcissistic ex was more than happy to be alone until he needed his trophy wife and children.  Or a good meal.  Or sex.  It seemed the only time he didn’t want to be alone was when he was getting his family to serve his every need.

When Narcissists Don’t End up Alone

There are some cases where narcissists don’t end up alone.  Sometimes, family members will put up with them simply because they are family and they don’t want to turn their back on him.  But generally speaking, they also have boundaries in place to prevent the narcissist from totally running over them.

In spite of this, the healthy never is truly healthy.  But it is what it is.  As long as everyone recognizes it for that and expectations are realistic that the narcissist will never truly relate to them in healthy ways, then the ongoing relationship is possible.


Often, as people get to know narcissists more intimately, they lose their shine, their charm, and their allure.  Narcissists cannot keep up their mask forever, and the lack of empathy, dishonesty, gaslighting, and other characteristics begin to emerge.  As a result, most people don’t stay around that long for the continued abuse.  

How long did you stay with your narcissist?  Was it because they were a family member or spouse?  Maybe a coworker or boss?  Narcissists are literally everywhere and in every type of relationship.  I would love to hear how things worked out for you–how you met them, how long you stayed in relationship, how or if the relationship ended.  Feel free to share in the comments below.  Or, if you don’t feel comfortable posting publicly, feel free to contact me here!  

Hugs and love,

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Hi! I am the founder of Navigating Religious Narcissism after being raised under a narcissistic mother and married to a narcissistic man for 31 years. It is my prayer that I can be as valuable on your journey to healing and peace as were so many who crossed my path of healing.

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