The majority of this website has dealt with male narcissism rather than female. Although my mother is a narcissist, my life was even more affected by my narcissist husband of 31 years. Also, men are more likely to be narcissists than women. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t many female narcissists, or that their damage is any less. So, this article is for those people who have a female narcissist in their life!
Aging female narcissists do not do well as they age. Their physical appearance wanes, even though they may be working hard and spending tons of money to maintain their appearance. They don’t have the same ability to charm people and draw them back in. Because their mind is no longer as sharp as it used to be, they can’t remember all the lies and drama they have created. They cannot keep their story straight anymore. This makes them even more angry and they will lash out at anyone that dares cross them. And the less successful they perceive themselves to be, the more bitter they get, turning even more people away. This cycle continues until they end up virtually alone.
Now that we have established a simple answer, let’s take a look at the details.
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What Happens to Female Narcissists as they Age?
Several things happen to female narcissists as they age, depending on how far on the narcissistic spectrum they fall as well as how successful they have been at maintaining supply over the years.
Nearly all aging female narcissists will play the victim. It is the strongest thing they have left. They don’t have their youthful looks anymore, even though they may be very sophisticated and elegant in their older years. But because they look in the mirror and see their decline, they realize they won’t have the pull that the world gives to the young and beautiful. They don’t have the strength they once had. And they don’t have the sharpness of mind they used to have. All of this leads them to the perfect fall-back: victimhood.
On the flip-side of the victim coin, many aging female narcissists will become bullies. If they can’t get what they want by playing the victim, they will get it by bullying others into submission. Sometimes it will be based on the expectation to “listen to your elders.” Other times bullying will be couched in terms of not disappointing the sweet little old lady, who will become an absolute bear if you poke her.
She will talk incessantly about the “good old days” and how she was so amazing, embellishing the truth more and more each time she tells the stories. And she will outright lie about her lifetime accomplishments. I recently read about an elderly narcissistic lady that convinced her children she had a home abroad that they needed to find and make sure she didn’t lose to unlawful sale. It was meant to keep them on a wild goose chase for quite some time. Fortunately, they knew she had a penchant for stretching the truth and knew there was no second home in a faraway land. And I’m sure they considered themselves lucky that her narcissism was not more malignant in their lives.
One of the biggest changes over time with aging female narcissists is that toward the twilight years, most of their family and friends have left. They couldn’t stand the constant attacks and negativity. So they set boundaries that kept them emotionally healthy. And often that ended up being broken ties. For the few that do hang on, they severely limit the time they spend with their aging narcissist.
How about you? Do you think you may be in a relationship with a narcissist? If you think so, take this test with instant results to get a better idea of whether you are indeed involved with a narcissist and what healing you will need to pursue.
What About Men Married to Aging Narcissist Women?
In many cases, husbands of aging narcissistic women become resigned to life in the narcissist’s household. They do whatever they can to stay under the radar, which pretty much consists of making sure she has plenty of narcissistic supply. As long as he is praising her relentlessly, she will keep on love bombing him enough to want to stay. And in his mind, putting up with the gaslighting, blame shifting, denial, lying, and other drama is still better than standing up to her in a divorce situation.
One of the big problems husbands of aging female narcissists experience is that they are abused, often even physically. But they can’t say anything about it because they fear people will think less of them. And it’s embarrassing. Men are supposed to be strong and bold. Being unable to keep a wife from abusing them isn’t a good look for men. So they stay silent for years, decades, or even a lifetime. What a sad existence.
We saw something similar to this in the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard court case that was watched around the world. While admittedly, both sides were pretty darned toxic (both were raised in abusive homes), Johnny was endlessly pummeled by Amber’s narcissistic attacks. She became so blinded to her anger because he wasn’t feeding into her need for narcissistic supply. And she made sure he paid. Because she had gotten away with much of the abuse, she even mocked and taunted him that there wasn’t a thing he could do about it. And then the world heard her words. And they very soundly supported Johnny in his struggle to get to a safe place.
If you are a man that is being abused by your woman, significant other, or family member, get help now! If you feel that you are in physical danger, don’t stay another minute. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Or you can visit online at thehotline.org.
How Aging Female Narcissists Become More Toxic
The more aging female narcissists feel ignored and belittled in society, the more angry and belligerent they will become. Their whole life consisted of a struggle to get a steady stream of narcissistic supply. The job of staying relevant in a society that values youth wears on them. They need to hold on to their relevance. So they will do whatever they can to remain relevant in their society, even if that means becoming louder and more demanding. There will be time for love-bombing later, they think. But the anger and bitterness takes root.
She still needs to be the best person in whatever endeavor she pursues. So she will demean, lie, cheat, and steal, to keep that position.
She never saw the people around her as real people. That certainly won’t change in her older years. She needs you more, but she won’t let you know that. Plus, she doesn’t need you as a person. She needs you to keep bolstering her up. You are her personal doormat. That is the extent of personal in her mind.
Aging female narcissists also become more frustrated because they know they aren’t as good as they used to be. Or thought they used to be. The more unsuccessful, tired, or weak they become, the more frustrated and angry they become. I know, the word angry keeps popping up. For good reason.
When Does the Aging Female Narcissist Become More Subdued?
Many people believe that aging female narcissists do not mellow with age. They believe that they just continue to get more and more bitter and angry. This is certainly true in many cases. But I think that there are a couple of times that narcissists actually do become more subdued as they age.
The first case is when they do not score very high on the narcissism spectrum. When they show mild to moderate narcissistic tendencies, things can turn around. It does take a lot of work on their part. They have to work through the enormous shame that keeps their mask on and learn to become vulnerable and real. Plus they must learn to value people and relationships over just what they can get out of people.
I did actually see this happen in the case of my grandmother. As her mind failed, she actually became a docile and kind person more often than not. The funny thing was when she had moments of lucidity, her words were harsh and gaslighting in nature.
In the case of my mother, however, the narcissism has not waned with age. She has always been a covert narcissist but not very good at hiding her intentions.
The second case is when they do realize the error of their ways and decide that kindness and love get them a whole lot farther. It is hard to say if this is an act or that they truly realize how to live a better life and course correct. Or maybe they just get too tired to fight anymore.
Surviving the Female Narcissist
Generally speaking (not a hard and fast rule), female narcissists can be more crafty, sneaky, and manipulative than their male counterparts. Because of this, you may not see an attack coming. Or you may see it coming but feel powerless to overcome the attack. Either way, dealing with a female narcissist can make you feel like an abject failure. And you may feel that you will never be able to rise above it.
But there are things you can do! If you have been reading my blog for some time, you will already know the first thing I’m going to say! You have to set healthy boundaries. If you don’t know how to do this well, get a copy of the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. If you have been dealing with a narcissist for a while, this book will be life changing for you. It was for me and most of the people in my support group. Click on the book below to check it out:
Next, don’t argue with an aging female narcissist! You won’t be able to win. They will argue you into circles, keep you on the carousel, the roller coaster, or whatever emotional turmoil term you want to use. There will never be a moment of clarity in an argument with a narcissist.
Don’t let the narcissist stir you up. No matter how provocative their words are, you must remain calm and unbothered. This way, they will not get any narcissistic supply from you and will eventually give up trying. This is called grey rock in narcissistic healing circles. The point is to be so boring that they stop targeting you and move on.
There is more to surviving the female narcissist than I can put here in this article. There is an excellent video that Richard Grannon recorded that does an excellent job of covering the specifics of dealing with narcissistic women. He learned a lot from experience. But then he got the healing and training he needed to become healthy and now help others who face the same issues. It is longer than most videos I post, but I guarantee you will appreciate the wisdom he imparts. Check it out here:
Aging female narcissists are dangerous to everyone around them. If you can cut and run, you will be better for it. But sometimes you just can’t. And you have to learn how to handle it well without sacrificing your own emotional health. I hope this article has been a help to you.
Do you have an aging female narcissist in your life? How did you realize? Have you been able to set healthy boundaries? Or did you have to cut off the relationship? I would love to hear your story.
Feel free to share your story below or if you don’t feel safe commenting in a public forum, feel free to contact me here.
Blessings and hugs,