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The Aging Narcissist man: All You Need to Know

Reviewed by Karis A. Williams, MSMHC, LPC

Recently, I wrote an article about how to identify and deal with the aging narcissistic woman (you can check that one out here). While there are some significant similarities between the aging narcissist man and woman, there are even more significant differences.  In this article, I would like to speak about the specific issues I experienced with the aging narcissist man in my life, how I worked through it, and what I have learned in the years following.

So, what do we need to know about the aging narcissist man?  We need to understand what triggers him, even when there doesn’t seem to be a pattern (there actually is once you know how to look for it), how to avoid being the target of his anger when triggered, and how to either set healthy boundaries if you must spend time with him or how to part ways in a healthy and productive way if you are afforded that opportunity.

Let’s take a closer look at how to deal with the aging narcissist man in your life.

The Aging Narcissist Man Becomes Increasingly Toxic

Those of us who have direct experience with an aging narcissist man know that as he grows older, he also grows more impatient.  He is just tired at this point, worn down, over all the drama.  But he can’t stop.

If the aging male narcissist were to stop with the galighting, lies, denial, control, and all the other stuff, he knows that people would finally find out all the things he had tried to hide for so long.  That lifelong mask he has worn is now at risk of being found out.  So he feels the pressure of being found out combined with the exhaustion from keeping up the act.  And it creates a huge storm.  This is what creates the mounting toxicity.

Many people say that narcissists don’t become more self aware because they keep on doing the same abusive things.  But I think they were never lacking in self awareness.  I believe they see and know everything they do.  But they don’t have enough of a conscience to do anything about it.  Not necessarily because they are being malicious, but because they are so incredibly afraid people will see what they are hiding deep down inside.  And as they realize that in their old age it is getting increasingly more difficult to obtain that supply, they become even more toxic trying to force those around them to give them what they need.

The Aging Narcissist Man Must Work Harder to Get His Narcissistic Supply

When watching the movie Grumpy Old Men, we tend to laugh and roll our eyes at the ridiculousness of their behavior.  And granted, in that movie, the men did much of the things they did in a very tongue-in-cheek manner.  But with the aging narcissist man, it is a vastly different story.

Granted, it is just a movie, but it does sort of line up with a typical grumpy old man.  With a narcissist, however, the eye rolling and chuckles stop when his bad behavior goes so over the top that you can no longer overlook the hurt and pain from it.  But then, the more you try to walk away or ignore the increasingly bad behavior, the more the narcissist struggles to regain your attention and reaction.

This circular behavior is a classic case of the narcissist trying to gain back some of the charm, good  looks and other forms of narcissistic supply that came so much easier in his younger years.  He just can’t let the thought of keeping that narcissistic supply go.  At one point, my narcissist said he needed my attention and unilateral approval more than oxygen.  I was stunned into silence when he said that.  I couldn’t imagine someone who needed those things more than life itself.  Now that I know so much more about narcissism, I totally understand.

So even though a narcissist is no longer as good looking, athletic, or charming as he was when he was young.  He still needs all of the results of being those things.  He tries to do whatever he can to make up for it.  And that often includes being mean, controlling and abusive to get those things back.

The Aging Narcissist Man Becomes More Isolated

Unfortunately, as the aging narcissist man works so hard to maintain that level of narcissistic supply, he tends to burn a lot of bridges.  Most people hate confrontation.  So when they try to speak to the narcissist about the problems in their relationship and he shuts them down in anger, it is easier just to walk away.

Over time, there aren’t many people left that haven’t walked away.  And as the narcissist ages, he reaches out to new friends less frequently, until it actually becomes painful to reach out for fear of those people also walking away.

The aging narcissist becomes increasingly frustrated that he is not able to get as much narcissistic supply as he could earlier.  But because of the rejection and issues getting that supply, he becomes somewhat paralyzed with fear about being able to continue to pursue it.

In spite of the isolation, the narcissist still feels like he needs to find sources of supply.  So he tries to find sources of low-hanging fruit that won’t cause him the agony of rejection or boundaries.  Because those are usually few and far between, he elects to spend the majority of his time alone.

And that brings us to our next point:  the more the narcissist spends time alone, the more he begins to view himself as the victim rather than those he has used and abused over his entire lifetime.

The Aging Narcissist Man Must Play the Victim

The narcissist always plays the victim.  But as he gets older and finds himself having more difficulty succeeding in his narcissistic endeavors, he even more sees himself as a victim.  He doesn’t understand why people won’t warm up to his lies and manipulation like they used to.  People over time set better boundaries and he can’t figure out how to successfully break through them.  And he truly starts to believe that he is the victim and you are mistreating him.

While there isn’t a lot of research out there that talks about why the aging narcissist feels like such a victim.  But I do have personal experience with a narcissistic mother and my ex husband, who is not elderly, but I was in relationship with him for over 36 years.   What I learned from experience was that while narcissists intentionally destroy those around them to build themselves up, most of the time they are so wrapped up in getting what they want that they literally don’t see those around them as people with feelings, needs and humanity.

Because they are so into what they want rather than how they are relating to others, all they really see is that they aren’t getting what they feel they need.  And as they get older and it becomes even more difficult, they feel that they are the true victim.  They are definitely more triggered by the things going on around them.  They realize how vulnerable they are now compared to in their earlier years.  This may be the one aspect of narcissism that they are truly sincere in.

But, even though they see themselves as a true victim, you will still find times with them that they play the victim card, knowing full well that they are not the victim at all but it may get them more narcissistic supply if they can convince those around them that they are indeed the victim.

In reality, aging female narcissists actually tend to play the victim even more than their male counterparts.  For more on that, check out this article.

The Aging Narcissist Becomes More Vulnerable

In the same way that victims of narcissism become triggered by narcissistic abuse and have a hard time learning to get past the abuse, narcissists also become triggered.  But for them, the triggers are from the fact that instead of getting narcissistic supply, the feel unbearable shame.

When my ex would try to convince me that I had to pretend everything was wonderful with us and I said I would no longer pretend, he was shamed that he couldn’t publicly convince everyone that we were a perfect, happily married couple with perfect children.  Then, as the church leaders had him removed from the home for the abuse behind closed doors that he could no longer hide, he was even more triggered.

He realized that he was no longer in control.  He wasn’t calling the shots, and he could no longer manipulate and abuse his family.  At the same time, the church elders, counselors, and many others were no on to his games.  And he realized they could see exactly what was going on.  Especially because now he was targeting the church leaders who saw what he was doing to his family.  And now they could clearly see the narcissistic abuse that he was extending to them.

He was in the most vulnerable position in his life because he could no longer hide the narcissism from those close to his situation.  And he realized it.  But…his answer?  It was not to heal, but to walk away from all of us and create a new life with people who had no idea who he was behind his mask.  And it totally worked.  They all tell him what a great man, Christian, and father he is.  All while 7 of his 8 kids refuse to have anything to do with him, the 8th child only spends a few hours a week with him because the court system forced him to, and he is now married to the woman he left his wife for.

He may be considered the most amazing godly man to them right now.  But sooner than later, they will figure it out just like nearly everyone from his past life did.

The Aging Narcissist Man Is No Longer Effective at Hiding his Narcissism

As the aging narcissist man goes along in his older years, he begins to realize that one of the reasons he isn’t getting his needed narcissistic supply is that he is no longer as effective at hiding his narcissism.

This is incredibly frustrating to the narcissist because in his earlier years it was his superpower.  And now, it has become so difficult, especially as most family and long-time friends now see him for what he is and have set the appropriate boundaries (more on that later).

His mind no longer works as well.  So it is a constant struggle to try to remember who did what when and who he told what to when.  It has all become so convoluted in his mind that he sort of realizes he’s not going to be able to hold it together.  This is why he isolates and shows uncontrolled anger issues even more so than in his younger years.  He is unraveling.  And he is starting to realize there is little to nothing he can do about it.

In addition to not being able to keep up with all that he has done behind the scenes, the aging narcissist male also has a hard time hiding his narcissism because he just plain loses his patience.  He can’t stand having to deal with all of the dialog or trying to pretend that he cares what others are feeling.  So when he engages with others, he ends up showing his true colors.  And everyone ends up seeing it.

Could the Aging Narcissist Man Actually Become Milder?

YES!!!  But it is incredibly rare for that to be the case.  In some instances, the narcissist realizes that his battle is getting too hard to fight anymore.  And knowing that he doesn’t have the energy to keep going, he decides that it would be easier to just come clean in a sense.  It would be almost unheard of for him to completely come clean and admit his narcissistic behavior over the years.  So don’t expect that kind of reconciliation!  But what he my do is try to be kind and somewhat empathetic going forward.

Are his new behaviors actually a turn for the better?  It may feel like it, but check your expectations.  It is likely just that he knows that he can only get acceptance and a little bit of narcissistic supply by playing nice.  But is it better than the anger, bitterness, control, and manipulation!  You bet it is.

Also, just because your narcissist has become mild mannered, realize that little bursts of narcissism will still break through.  His brain has not changed.  And his personality hasn’t either.   So his tendencies will always be toward narcissism to an extent.  Having healthy boundaries and being ready with healthy responses helps you to manage those little bursts of narcissistic behavior.

And you can also take some comfort in knowing that if your narcissist has become milder and you end up engaging, that if you handle it well, he will likely respond pretty well too.  Maybe he has finally learned that there are behaviors that can pay off well for him too without having to die on his hill.

What to do About the Aging Narcissist Man in Your Life

The aging narcissist man is watching his life fall down around him.  He knows that as much as he struggles to stay on top of everything–something he considers as necessary to life as breathing itself–he is losing the battle.

We should indeed feel for the plight of the narcissist.  But not to the point that we allow ourselves to be his victim.  Pray for him, check in on him periodically (from a distance if necessary to keep yourself safe), and do things behind the scenes that help him out, even though he has no idea that you are doing it and you will never be acknowledged for it.  That is how you can know you have done all you can and acted humanely in the most inhumane of relationships.

If the aging narcissist in your life falls so high on the spectrum that you are not able to have any communication at all or help him in any way, that is not your cross to bear.  You can walk away knowing that you did what you could when you could.

And for the extremely rare aging narcissist male that actually becomes milder with age, enjoy those golden years, but with strong, HEALTHY boundaries in place.  And consider yourself one of the lucky ones that found reconciliation in this lifetime!


When the aging narcissist experiences all of the things we talked about above, it makes him feel even more shame than the unbearable shame that already made him narcissistic.  This is very sad to think about on a humanitarian level.  It is so incredibly sad that we can not show the narcissist love, support and encouragement.

While we would do that with anyone else, we must realize that if we do it with the narcissist, he will only use that empathy and care to run over you in his quest for more narcissistic supply.  You WILL be abused by him.

So, does that mean we don’t show him any empathy at all?  That is totally up to you as long as you are walking into it realizing how you will be treated.  But, if he is going to abuse you in ways that go beyond just narcissistic hijinks, then you likely will need to go no contact or as minimally contact as possible.  Setting healthy boundaries is key to your own emotional health.  If you are not sure how to set boundaries, or you need help in setting better ones, there is one book that is heads and shoulders above all the other ones.  It was a lifesaver for me, and I still use it as a reference to this day, even for setting healthy boundaries for good relationships!  It’s called Boundaries and is written by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  Click on it below for more information:

What has your experience been with your aging narcissist male?  Did things get better or worse?  Were you able to find some closure and peace?  Were you able to reconcile on any level?  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Leave a comment below!

Blessings and hugs!

If you found this article valuable, I think you will also love the following articles:

Do Narcissists Die Early?  The Whole Story

What Happens to Narcissists in the End?

5 Signs Your Husband Wants a Divorce and How to Prevent It

5 Signs Your Wife Wants a Divorce and How to Prevent It

Is My Husband a Narcissist or Just Selfish?

Guarding Against the Narcissist’s Divorce Tactics

Scriptural Ways to Deal With a Narcissistic Husband

What is the Narcissist Divorce Rate?

Who Does a Narcissist Marry?

How Many Times Does a Narcissist Marry?

Narcissists and Marriage:  The Complete Picture

How Does a Narcissist Stay Married for so Long?

Does Narcissism Worsen With Age?

Does a Narcissist Realize What They’ve Lost?

Do Narcissists End up Alone?

Can a Narcissist be a Good Father?

Can a Narcissist be a Good Mother?

Will a Narcissist Hurt Their Child?

Can Narcissists be Good Parents?

Can Narcissists Love Their Children?

How Can You Tell if Someone is a Religious Narcissist?

Can Two Narcissists be in Relationship With Each Other?

Understanding the Tactics of a Religious Narcissistic Father 

Dealing With the Trauma of a Religious Narcissistic Mother

When Narcissism Becomes Pathological

Will God Punish a Narcissist?

What to do When Your Narcissist Threatens You

The Bible Used as a Weapon Against You:  You Can Overcome! 

What Does the Bible Say About Abusive Husbands?

The Link Between Spiritual Abuse and Narcissism

Why Narcissists Want to Appear Godly

What Healing From a Narcissist Looks Like

Why Narcissists Love Going to Church 

How Religious Narcissists Think

Are Narcissists Evil?

Narcissistic Behavior:  What to Look Out For

Praying for Your Narcissistic Husband

Are Spiritual Narcissists Overt or Covert? 

Religious Trauma Syndrome:  How to Preserve Your Spiritual Journey

How to Navigate Religious Narcissistic Parents

What Happens to the Soul of a Narcissist?

How to Heal From a Spiritual Narcissist

Can You Maintain a Relationship With a Spiritual Narcissist? 

Can Narcissists Have a Spiritual Awakening?

How Will God Judge a Narcissist?

When the Church Says to Move Back in With Your Narcissist

What Can we Say to a Christian Friend Who’s Divorcing?

Why Does God Hate Divorce? 

12 Ways the Church Helps Narcissists Abuse Their Victims

When Your Church Believes the Narcissist’s Lies

23 Reasons Why Narcissists are Drawn to the Church

What Does the Spiritual Narcissist do When You try to Leave?

When the Church Doesn’t Recognize Narcissistic Abuse

Will the Church Support Divorcing a Narcissist?

Are Narcissists Demon Possessed?

What Does the Bible say About Narcissism?

Can a Narcissist be a Christian?

Can a Spiritual Narcissist Heal?

What is Spiritual Narcissism?

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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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