People who become more narcissistic as they get older usually adopt these 8 behaviors

It’s a curious thing, how some personalities seem to change as we age. In particular, there’s one trait that can creep up on us: narcissism. It’s a sneaky one, because it often disguises itself as high self-esteem or confidence.

But make no mistake, narcissism is not about healthy self-love. It’s an inflated sense of self-importance, often resulting in a lack of empathy for others. And unfortunately, as we age, some of us may find ourselves displaying more narcissistic behaviors.

Luckily, these behaviors are not difficult to spot if you know what to look for. So settle in, because we’re about to explore the 8 behaviors that people who become more narcissistic as they get older often adopt.

1) Grandiose sense of self-importance

It’s an intriguing phenomenon, but as some people age, they develop a heightened sense of their own importance. It’s like they’ve climbed a mountain, and suddenly they’re viewing the world from a higher vantage point.

This grandiose view of oneself is one of the hallmarks of narcissism. It’s not just about being confident or proud of one’s achievements. Instead, it’s an inflated sense of self, where the individual believes they’re superior to others.

They may start to exaggerate their talents or achievements, expecting others to recognize them as superior without any basis for that claim. It’s as if they believe they are the sun around which all other planets revolve.

This grandiosity can manifest in different ways. They might dominate conversations, disregard the opinions of others, or expect special treatment because of their perceived superiority.

So if you notice someone starting to behave as if they’re the center of the universe, it could be a sign of growing narcissism. Keep an eye out for this behavior – it’s number one on our list for a reason.

2) Lack of empathy

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve noticed a distinct lack of empathy in some individuals as they age. It was particularly striking with an old friend of mine.

We were once very close, but as the years passed, I noticed her becoming more self-absorbed. She stopped asking about my life and instead would talk incessantly about her own achievements and plans.

I remember one day when I was going through a tough time with my job. I was feeling pretty low, and I decided to reach out to her for a little emotional support.

Instead of offering the comfort I needed, she quickly veered the conversation back to herself. It was as if my problems were an inconvenience to her.

That’s when I realized she wasn’t just being self-centered; she was showing a lack of empathy, which is a common sign of growing narcissism.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. If someone is losing this trait as they get older, it could be a warning sign of increasing narcissism.

3) Need for constant admiration

Here’s something to ponder: studies found that individuals who consistently seek admiration from others display a stronger sense of entitlement and are more likely to demonstrate narcissistic behaviors.

This need for constant admiration can be seen in various ways. It may be an incessant desire for compliments, a relentless pursuit of positions that offer status, or an obsession with being the best at everything.

As some people age, they might start fishing for compliments more frequently or become fixated on their image and reputation. This can be a subtle shift at first, but over time it can turn into an unquenchable thirst for admiration.

This desire for constant praise and recognition isn’t merely about boosting one’s ego. It’s actually a key component of narcissism.

4) Sense of entitlement

Ever noticed how some folks start to believe that the world owes them something as they get older? I sure have.

Let me share a personal example.

A couple of years ago, my Uncle Fred retired after a successful career. His accomplishments were indeed impressive, and he was proud – rightfully so.

But here’s where things got interesting.

Gradually, Uncle Fred started to act as though everyone should treat him with reverence because of his past achievements. He expected special treatment everywhere he went, from family dinners to grocery stores.

It was as if he thought his past successes gave him an all-access pass to entitlement. That’s when I realized that this heightened sense of entitlement was a definite shift towards narcissism.

So remember, while it’s great to be proud of what you’ve achieved, expecting special treatment because of it is a step too far.

5) Exploitative behavior

Exploitative behavior can be a telltale sign of self-absorbtion as one ages. This behavior involves using others to achieve personal gain, often with little regard for the feelings or well-being of the individuals being used.

As some people grow older and more narcissistic, they might begin to see relationships in terms of what they can gain from them. They may manipulate others to get what they want, whether it’s emotional validation, material possessions, or status.

This exploitation often goes hand in hand with a lack of empathy. After all, to exploit someone, you have to disregard their feelings and wellbeing.

6) Overly critical

Being around a person who becomes more narcissistic as they grow older, you might notice a significant change in how they view others.

Here’s the thing.

These individuals start to adopt a hyper-critical attitude, picking at the flaws and mistakes of others, often without reason. They seem to take pleasure in pointing out what’s wrong with everyone else around them.

I’ve observed this behavior in many people over the years, and it’s not pleasant. It’s like they use criticism as a tool to elevate themselves while undermining the confidence of those around them.

If you notice someone becoming excessively critical, it may be more than just grumpiness or a bad mood. It could be a sign of increasing narcissism. Keep an eye out for such behavior shifts.

7) Manipulative

Manipulation can take many forms, but at its core, it’s about control. And for someone becoming more narcissistic as they age, manipulation often becomes an increasingly used tool.

It’s important to understand this.

They may use guilt trips, emotional blackmail, or even gaslighting to control the people around them. This behavior is not just harmful to their relationships; it’s a sign of an increasing self-focus.

It’s crucial to address the issue if you notice someone increasingly using manipulative tactics, Remember, understanding is the first step towards dealing with such situations effectively.

8) A fragile self-esteem

Here’s something you might not expect: people who display narcissistic behaviors often have a fragile self-esteem. It seems contradictory, doesn’t it? After all, they’re the ones with the grandiose sense of self-importance.

But beneath that mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism. This susceptibility is because their self-worth is typically based on perfectionism and unmet unrealistic expectations.

As some people age and become more narcissistic, they might become overly sensitive to criticism or perceived slights. They may react with anger or try to belittle the other person to regain their sense of superiority.

Final thoughts: It’s a journey, not a destination

Navigating the complexities of human behavior is a journey filled with exploration and discovery. The path of understanding narcissism, particularly its growth in individuals as they age, is no different.

Recognizing these signs in ourselves or others isn’t about casting judgement or criticism. It’s about fostering understanding and empathy. Self-absorbed behaviors often stem from deep-seated insecurities or unmet emotional needs.

While it can be challenging to witness these behaviors in someone we care about, or even harder to recognize them in ourselves, it’s essential to remember that change is possible. Self-awareness is the first step towards growth and improvement.

So, as you reflect on these signs of growing narcissism, remember this isn’t an end point. It’s just another step on the journey towards understanding and empathy. And that’s a journey worth taking.

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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