Future faking is a slang term for when someone deliberately manipulates you by overpromising a grand future they cannot deliver on.
The manipulator, (often a narcissist), will hook you emotionally and lure you into giving them what they want by faking what (and how much) they can offer you in the future.
The term is usually used in dating, but future faking is common in all kinds of relationships. From bosses and employees to athletes and coaches, future fakers are not picky when it comes to which relational context they choose to use this tactic.
The thing is, they are not picky about when to use this tactic, but it only works on those who are already needy of something or who are unsuspecting.
In short, the narcissist can only get away with future faking on certain people, and what we want to do here is make sure that you are not in that basket of people they can easily manipulate!
When Does Future Faking Happen?
Future faking usually happens most intensely and frequently at the start of a relationship.
However, people with narcissistic personality disorder will use future faking at any time, even years into a relationship with you.
So why does it usually happen at the start of a relationship? Because time is on their side right at the beginning.
Early on in the relationship, someone can make over the top promises without being discovered, because not enough time has passed yet.
That’s why they come on strong with phoney future promises as early as possible.
Future faking also happens often at the beginning of romantic relationships because it allows a potential suitor to appeal to your vulnerabilities and emotions quickly, establishing greater control over you.
Here’s the deal:
Due in part to the fact that future fakers know they don’t actually have any real substance or game, they unconsciously developed the strategy of being charming and faking it til they make it.
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Why Do People Future Fake?
There are many reasons people use this tactic in interpersonal relationships, and not all of the reasons are malevolent.
People future fake because:
- They want to control you (stop you from leaving or abandoning them). Future faking is a form of coercive control and once you let their behavior gain momentum, it gets harder and harder to get out of the situation. To help, I’ve written an article for you on the 17 Early Signs Of A Controlling Man.
- Keep you around as a resource for attention, sex and approval.
- (This is not widely publicized or known, it is a connection I made on my own through reading different studies): another reason is due to early life adversity that lead them to develop what is called a ‘fast life strategy‘. As shown by one study, fast life strategy is connected to personality traits such as subclinical narcissism, subclinical psychopathy and machiavelliansim. These are dark triad personality traits and people with these traits also tend to love bomb and lie a lot.
- They’re trying to cover up their real intent: to use you or trick you into a relationship with them.
- They want to confuse you and exhaust you, making you unable to think critically about them, their actual value in the relationship and their intentions.
- They want to paint a flawless image of themselves and stop you from choosing other options or partners.
- They have low self esteem.
- They have nothing else to offer you.
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Future Faking Examples
If you want to spot a future faker, the first thing to know is that they will either:
- Quickly pick up on what your heart desires most and make false promises about how they will give you all of those things.
- If it’s a first date or second date, the man will pander to what he knows as women’s desire for commitment. (this is one of the biggest red flags in men).
Here are some specific examples of future faking…they may say things like:
- “We’ll get married, buy a house in the suburbs and have a family”.
- “I’ll buy you your dream car soon.”
- “I’ll get you that dream job with the fantastic business contacts I have.”
- “I want to take care of you so that you never have to work again.”
- “One day I’ll pay all your bills for you so that you can relax and buy anything you want for yourself.”
Examples of future faking in contexts other than romantic relationships:
Future Faking Bosses
When your boss at work tells you that you’re working hard and doing exceptionally well, and if you keep that up you will bag the new, higher job position and a hefty raise.
But after working longer hours and even on weekends for months or years, you find that your boss always has a reason to keep you in your current position. “Oh you’ll have that new position as soon as it’s approved by the big boss.” Or “Ah, I’ll get around to promoting you in the new year..”
Future Faking Coaches
The weirdest thing happened to my family and I a few years ago. My son is a well known jiu jitsu competitor in Australia, especially Melbourne. Though he’s young, he achieved the number 1 position for under 18s in the world at age 9 in one of the well established jiu jitsu competitions worldwide.
Anyway, you can probably imagine that it would’ve been valuable for my son to represent his club.
We showed up one day for kids training and he immediately started talking to us about his unique method of training the kids and basically started flexing and telling grand stories (ahem, lies).
Over the course of a couple of months, he started intense future faking:
- He promised he would build a separate area upstairs at the academy for us to sleep and shower in every Friday night (before Saturday training since we were travelling 2 hours up and back.) When my husband and I laughed it off, he said: “no, I’m serious.”
- He told us as long as we showed up for training, we wouldn’t have to pay a cent and that we’d already paid our fees by showing up. (That particular promise he actually delivered on for the first 2 months until one day he suddenly went cold), and we immediately offered to pay, and we kept up regular direct debits for months – and here’s the catch – he kept taking the payments even after we left the club.
He had no intention of stopping those payments. Gee, what a 180 he did – he couldn’t keep up the facade anymore, and nor did he care as he was busy trying to snag other good competitors now that he’d snagged us. And our money.
- Strangely, one of the other kids’ parents also jumped on board the future faking train and promised us an empty home to sleep in on Friday nights so we wouldn’t have to drive up and back to training on Friday and Saturday nights. We never really believed this one, but it was so bizarre, and he also went cold over time.
We never even asked for any of this. We were happy to travel no matter what for the right training for our son, since it’s incredibly difficult to get good training at that age in that sport where we live.
The coach also “love bombed” my son by giving him free items every time he showed up. From hoodies to key rings to lanyards to stickers to t-shirts, (a lot of them with his club’s logo on it, of course.
That was years ago now, and we were lucky that we managed to get our son out of that rather quickly.
That is partly thanks to my son’s incredibly sound gut feeling about the club (it was the only club in which he hated attending and didn’t want to wear the clothing that was given to him for free).
Hundreds of parents ended up leaving in anger after we left as well.
However, others aren’t so lucky because they’ve been stuck there for years, pandering to the coach, and now so deeply caught in his web of narcissistic control that they (and their kids) cannot leave.
When Parents Future Fake
I can attest to the fact that if you have a mentally ill, controlling and narcissistic parent, they will likely use future faking to manipulate you.
As a child, you might be quite vulnerable to these empty promises, but over time you begin to wise up to the fact that your parent has left a long trail of broken promises behind them.
Narcissists use future faking to keep you in their grasp, as they cannot bear (nor cope with) the idea of you leaving them.
You leaving them would disrupt their narcissistic supply catastrophically.
A mother or father who is using future faking to manipulate you might:
- Make grand promises to spend time with you or take special trips just the two of you, but never fulfil those promises.
- Tell you that they will come to your sporting games or school concerts, only to either never show up or spend the entire time on their phone when they do show up.
- Promise you a day out with your friends if you just stay home and keep them company this one last time.
- Offer you copious amounts of money of financial support if you do what they say. Only, when you actually do what they say, the money never comes.
- Tell you they will pay for your college education, but when it comes time to pay, all they have to offer are excuses.
In my own case, my adoptive mother used to promise to play my favorite board game with me if I just got better at knowing my times tables than she ever was.
When I actually did accomplish that (I even received a trophy for my effort and skills at school and could out-recite her when it came to the times tables), she sat and played with me for half a game, and then lost her temper and said I wasn’t good enough at the game. She never played again, and I never asked again either.
That was when I was young.
When I got older and met and moved in with my now husband whom she has hated from day 1, she promised me a brand new Mercedes car if I would just leave him and come back home.
She did end up buying the Mercedes without talking to me about it. But it turns out it wasn’t really for me, it was for her it was conveniently used as a tool for gaslighting me.
It didn’t matter anyway, as I never took her seriously, never drove it – and thank goodness, I never returned home.
8 Telltale Signs of Future Faking
- You feel like you were pulled into a whirlwind romance overnight, and think it’s your ultimate fantasy coming true.
- They go on and on about how you are going to have a wonderful future together, only when you interrupt them to ask questions, they get defensive or angry.
- It all seems too good to be true (and it is).
- The intensity of their warmth towards you doesn’t match the grand promises. Alternatively stated, they don’t actually want to connect with you, feel for you and be warm to you – instead, they want to control you.
- When you point out their broken promises, they lose it and blame you for doubting them.
- Your family members seem skeptical of your new romance when you excitedly inform them of how wonderful and generous your new lover is (going) to be.
- You’ve lost a lot of money, family, friends, time – or even a job that you quit – all in the name of this person’s false promises. Maybe you even paid for a plane ticket for a trip they promised or put a down payment on a house.
- If you dare to question their sincerity, they change overnight, becoming a completely different person. Also known as hot and cold behavior.
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How Can You Spot a Future Faker?
It’s harder to spot a future faker if you’re in need of what they’re promising or offering you. The more you need it, the more vulnerable you are to them, and the less you’ll be able to spot them.
But one thing you can do if you want to spot a future faker, is reveal and test them in intelligent ways. If they don’t pass the tests, you know they’re likely a love bombing future faker.
How Can You Test A Future Faker?
You test a future faker by:
- Introducing spontaneity into your interactions with them using playful banter. The purpose of this is to get a glimpse of who the guy is beneath the grand statements.
Is he hooked on grandiosity and pretentiousness? Or does he have every intent to fulfil his promises?
When future faking, people often get really carried away with their need for glory and their desire to present themselves as this ultra powerful saviour.
But this requires rehearsing and acting on their part, which leaves no room at all for playfulness. That’s where your playfulness comes in to trip them up (in a good way). The spontaneity will cut through the rehearsed BS.
Their obsession with their false promises leads to them being highly myopic, focusing on the image they’re creating, as they’re incapable of actually connecting with you.
This facade and insincerity can be revealed very easily if you introduce some high value banter (which allows you to lead with playfulness) and spontaneity in your questions. (CLICK here to take my husband’s free high value banter class and get FREE banter examples.)
As myself and my husband tell the women we coach all the time: a guy who cannot banter back to you at your level is not actually there to form a real relationship with you, regardless of how grand their promises.
CLICK here to discover why you as a woman need to use the dark art of “High Value Banter” in order to quickly weed out the wrong types of men and create emotional attraction with the “BEST of MEN”! (…Even if no man has ever given you any love and all you’ve encountered so far are pen pals, ghosts, booty calls, and incredible duds!)
- Ask them specific, intelligent questions (that you ought to be asking every guy you date anyways), to reveal their true intent. Here are 5 Revealing Questions To Ask A Guy To Know His Intentions.
Is Future Faking Intentional?
Not always. The behavioral patterns that lead people to engage in future faking can be so unconscious and so well practiced that they never give their own behavior a second thought.
Plus, honest self reflection isn’t a skill that narcissists possess, but it’s not even a skill that a lot of “normal” people possess.
Sometimes it’s just old patterns running, and it’s not a conscious attempt to make life miserable for you, as sometimes they don’t even know that they’re hurting you, as stated by Thriveworks.
But that’s the best case scenario.
There are other people who are more calculating, and you could honestly say that they are intentionally trying to use you.
Specifically, use you as a pawn in their twisted game of succeeding in romance and reproduction.
Are All Future Fakers Narcissists?
Sometimes, future fakers are otherwise normal people who possess some narcissistic traits. This is known as subclinical narcissism.
What you have to understand is that even some normal people use future faking. Why?
Well, it helps them solve adaptive problems. One example of these adaptive problems (in the context of dating) is how to pass on their own genes as quickly as possible.
What better way than to build a fantasy relationship in your mind based on a false promise or two, (or ten?)
If you buy into the future faking, that gives them the power to do what all living organisms instinctively want to do: reproduce.
Or at least, it gives them another option of whom to reproduce with.
You might think that this behavior definitely signals that they’re a narcissist. But that’s not true.
Narcissm is on a spectrum, so normal people can sometimes use future faking to achieve a goal in their interpersonal relationships.
Is Future Faking A Form Of Gaslighting?
Absolutely it is.
It’s a form of gaslighting because it’s a tool of control, which all gaslighting behavior is.
If you try to hold your partner accountable to all their promises and they don’t respond with empathy, warmth, compassion, you know that they’re gaslighting you.
Sometimes future faking can be an innocent mistake of overpromising and under delivering – but a genuine person won’t blame you for their own inability to deliver.
They’ll own their part in the whole situation.
What to Do If You’re Dating a Future Faker
If you’ve just started dating, it’s relatively easy to stop someone in their tracks and walk away once you’ve noticed the red flags.
As long as you’re more emotionally attached to the negative consequences of getting involved with them than you are to their over the top promises, of course.
But let’s say you’ve just started dating them and are already in too deep. What can you do?
- In conversation, gently raise all the hurdles they will encounter on their way to fulfilling that promise, and see if they get defensive and annoyed at you for doing that. If they respond badly to innocent questions you ask, it might be because you’re disrupting their narcissistic supply.
- Introduce spontaneity into your conversations with banter. Then see who shows up when you’re not busy buying into the promises whilst asking nothing of them other than being in the present moment.
- Excuse yourself and take some time away to breathe. Breathe into the uneasiness you’re feeling, and let it have its place in your mind and body. We often try to overlook the uncomfortable, insincere statements of a narcissist because we’re getting so hooked and invested in the relationship with them that we feel guilty for doubting them! Don’t let this happen. If you let this happen, you’re already falling victim to their gaslighting.
But what if you’re more emotionally involved and even months or years into a fake relationship with a future faker?
Here’s what you can do:
See the inconsistencies in their stories and words. If the best a guy can offer you is grand promises that never come to fruition, he won’t care about the details of what he’s said or promised.
So for example, today he promised you 5 cupcakes on your birthday, but tomorrow it’s 2 cupcakes. That’s a red flag you need to take note of. Don’t brush it off, see it for what it is – a real inconsistency worth noting.
Best of luck out there! Remember, you’re the best person to have your own back. If you don’t do it, there’s a slim chance anyone else will do it for you.
Over to you now. Do you have any personal examples of future faking you can share with me? I’d love to learn from you (as would other women). Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments below!
Renee is the founder of The Feminine Woman & co-founder of Shen Wade Media where we teach women how to show up as a high value high status woman whom easily inspires a deep sense of emotional commitment from her chosen man. Together with her husband D. Shen at Commitment Triggers blog, they have positively influenced the lives of over 15 million women through their free articles and videos as well as 10’s of thousands through paid programs through the Shen Wade Media platform.
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