For example, narcissists engage in behaviors such as exaggerating their achievements, taking advantage of others to get their own needs met, and expecting others to comply with all of their expectations.
Narcissists also expect to be admired and lack empathy for others. Given all of these traits, narcissists can be pretty manipulative of other people, and one way they manipulate is through future faking.
It can involve something as simple as promising to call their significant other later in the day and then failing to make the phone call, or it can be as extreme as talking about marriage and kids together without having any intent of having a lasting relationship.
The future faking narcissist will make grand promises for a blissful future together but will not deliver upon those promises.
Future fakers may talk about saving to buy a home together or take an exotic vacation but fail to ever set aside money for either of these ventures. The reality is that this is how a narcissist manipulates.
They get their partners excited through talk of future dating or plans to sweep them off their feet by the prospects of such a perfect relationship.
Faking a relationship works for the narcissist because the unknowing partner assumes that they plan to deliver upon their promises for the relationship’s future.
This causes the partner to become hopeful for the future and bonded to the narcissist. The thought of a happy relationship together leads the partner to fall in love with the narcissist, which gives the narcissist control.
They think the partner, who has set their sights on a blissful future together, will tolerate the abuse because they have become so attached to the narcissist, who has essentially been faking a relationship.
Occasionally, the partner may call the narcissist out on future faking. The narcissist may temporarily alter their behavior to manipulate the partner into sticking around, but once the narcissist regains control, future faking behavior will continue.
Once the narcissist has gained control through future faking, the partner is likely to be committed and loyal to the narcissist and give the narcissistic partner whatever they want. This can involve gifts, money, sexual favors, or simply complying with all of the narcissist’s demands.
Is a narcissistic future faking common?
It is difficult to know just how common narcissistic future faking is, but fake relationships are common with narcissists because of their manipulative behaviors.
Promising a rosy future keeps the partner hooked to stay around for bad behavior in the future.
That being said, it is also possible for narcissists to engage in future faking without knowing they are doing it.
When they make a lofty promise to you, such as the promise to get engaged a few months down the road, they are probably feeling very positively about the relationship, and they may mean what they say, without thinking about the logistics of what they are telling you.
This is because narcissism is associated with impulsivity, meaning a narcissistic person may act on their current emotions and make grand promises, not considering the fact that they may be held to these promises later.
Why are narcissists, future fakers?
As stated above, sometimes narcissists engage in future faking because they feel optimistic about the relationship. In the early stages of a relationship, narcissists tend to view their new partners as ideal.
This is because narcissism is linked to fantasies of ideal love, and the narcissist may truly believe they have found their soulmate in their new partner.
When a narcissist loves bombing a new partner, they are likely to talk about the future together.
Still, over time, as the partner loses their perfect image in the narcissist’s mind, the narcissist will begin to “devalue” the partner, which can involve putdowns, withdrawal of affection, or even an act of disappearing from the relationship.
Instead of following through on promises of future dating, the narcissist ends up acting oppositely, treating their partner horribly.
While they may not intend to devalue their partners this way initially, the reality is that no one is perfect, and the partner will eventually let the narcissist down.
The narcissist then justifies not following through on promises made to the partner, telling themselves that it is the partner’s fault for no longer making the narcissist happy.
While a narcissist is not always conscious that they have a fake personality disorder, future faking is intentional in some cases.
A narcissist may purposely make promises to their partner to manipulate the partner into jumping into a serious relationship with the narcissist. This can involve promises of future marriage, children, or properties together.
The narcissist makes the partner dependent upon the relationship, and the partner will then give in to the narcissist’s demands because the partner has their heart set on a future with the narcissist.
They don’t want to lose out on the potential for the dream relationship the narcissist promised in the early stages.
How to spot narcissist manipulation techniques like future faking
Similarly, if your partner has been future faking, they may have promised to move in with you or propose to you by a specific date, but with a future faker, you will see no evidence that these promises are true.
When someone intends to create a future with their partner, they will take steps toward that future together.
For instance, perhaps you and your partner live several hours away, but they’ve promised you’ll get a house together in the same town soon.
If they intend to follow through, they should be taking steps like searching for new jobs in your town or making plans to look at houses with you. If there is no evidence of this, they are probably just future faking.
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Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker with a master's degree in social work from The Ohio State University, and she is in the process of completing her dissertation for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. She has worked in the social work field for 8 years and is currently a professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. She writes website content about mental health, addiction, and fitness.
Licensed as both a social worker through Ohio Board of Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage/Family Therapists and school social worker through Ohio Department of Education as well as a personal trainer through American Council on Exercise.