I was scrolling through our community forum and found this question: “Why do narcissists make false promises?” It got me thinking, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

Narcissists make false promises to maintain control and keep you engaged, boost their ego, keep you in a state of hope and dependence, avoid being held accountable for their actions, create a favorable public image, and cause confusion and undermine your confidence.

In this article, I will unpack all of these reasons to help you understand why narcissists make false promises.

If you have or currently are experiencing narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse for help.

1.) To Maintain Control and Keep You Engaged

Narcissists make false promises as a way to maintain control over you and keep you engaged in the relationship.1 

By promising something you desire or need, they ensure that you remain hopeful and committed to them, even if they have no intention of fulfilling these promises. 

For instance, imagine you’ve been wanting to take a weekend trip together for ages. 

The narcissist might say, “Let’s plan a getaway next month, just the two of us. It’ll be great!” 

A narcissist making a false promise.

Excited by the prospect, you might overlook current issues in your relationship and hold on to the promised trip. 

However, as the date approaches, they come up with excuses for why it can’t happen, leaving you disappointed but still waiting for the next promise. 

This cycle keeps you tied to them, always hoping that “next time” things will be different.

Related: How Do Narcissists Keep You Hooked? (7 Tactics)

2.) To Boost Their Ego

Narcissists make false promises to boost their ego and maintain a positive image, not just with you but with others as well. 

They enjoy the admiration and gratitude that come from making grand promises because being seen as generous or thoughtful gives them a momentary boost to their ego.2

For example, in front of friends or family, they might announce, “I’m going to surprise you with the best birthday gift you’ve ever gotten. It’s going to be unforgettable!” 

Everyone around you is impressed by such a declaration, and the narcissist basks in the attention and praise for their apparent generosity. 

However, when the time comes, the promise might be forgotten or dismissed as “just a joke,” leaving you feeling let down and embarrassed. 

This behavior serves their need to be admired and seen in a positive light, with little regard for the disappointment or consequences their empty promises create.

3.) To Keep You in a State of Hope and Dependence

Sometimes, narcissists make false promises to keep you in a perpetual state of hope and dependence, ensuring that you remain emotionally invested in the relationship despite consistent disappointments.3 

They create a cycle in which the promise of change or improvement is dangled in front of you like a carrot, always just out of reach but seemingly attainable if you just give a little more, wait a little longer, or try a little harder. 

For instance, they might promise significant changes in behavior or big steps in the relationship, like moving in together or getting engaged. 

A person who is experiencing narcissistic abuse in a state of hope.

However, these promises are always “postponed” with various excuses, keeping you hopeful for a future that aligns with your desires.

This tactic leverages your hopes and dreams against you, binding you closer to them in anticipation of a fulfillment that never comes.

If you need help with anything related to narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.

4.) To Avoid Being Accountable for Their Actions

Narcissists often make false promises to avoid being accountable.4

This means making a conscious decision not to do something and then another decision to downplay the importance of not following through. 

For instance, if you express dissatisfaction that they’re not spending enough quality time with you, a narcissist might quickly promise, “I’ll make it up to you this weekend; we can do whatever you want.” 

But when the weekend arrives, they claim to have forgotten, had other plans they “couldn’t cancel,” or brush off the promise as being less important than whatever else came up.

This response minimizes the issue at hand, treating it as a simple oversight that can be easily corrected rather than a manipulative behavior pattern affecting the relationship’s dynamics. 

5.) To Create a Favorable Public Image

Narcissists are deeply concerned with how others perceive them5 and may make false promises to create and maintain a favorable public image.

They want to be seen as generous, reliable, or alluring, so they often make false promises that align with this desired image in public settings. 

For example, in front of friends or during a family gathering, a narcissist might grandly offer to fund a relative’s education or donate a significant sum to a charitable cause, receiving praise and admiration from those present. 

A narcissist making a false promise.

However, once the attention shifts away, the follow-through on these promises is neglected.


The narcissist wants the initial public acknowledgment of their promise to bolster their image so they can manipulate the social narrative to their advantage and ensure they are seen positively.

They don’t care about actually following through on their promises.

Related: How Do Narcissists Act in Public?

6.) To Cause Confusion and Undermine Your Confidence

The last reason narcissists make false promises that I’ll cover is to cause confusion and undermine the confidence of those around them. 

By repeatedly making and then not keeping promises, they create an environment of unpredictability that can cause others to question their own perceptions and judgments, making them easier to control.6

For example, a narcissist might promise to support their partner’s career ambitions, offering to help with networking or financial backing. 

Yet, when the time comes to act on these promises, they might deny ever making such commitments or accuse their partner of misinterpreting their words. 

This gaslighting tactic can make the recipient of the false promises question their memory and sanity, undermining their confidence and increasing their dependency on the narcissist for validation. 

This manipulation keeps the narcissist in control as their partner or those close to them become more uncertain and less likely to challenge the narcissist’s authority or actions.

If you are ready to be more than a victim of narcissistic abuse, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.


That’s the end of this article!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read it until the end!

I hope you found it helpful.

If you have any questions or thoughts to share, please leave them in the comments.

Our Latest Articles

About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

Unfilteredd has strict sourcing guidelines and only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our content. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, actionable, inclusive, and trustworthy by reading our editorial process.

  1. Darius Cikanavicius. (2019. September, 16). How Narcissists Use Future Faking to Manipulate You. Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/blog/psychology-self/2019/09/narcissist-future-faking#1 ↩︎
  2. Melissa Kalt. (2023. August, 15). Future Faking Is the Manipulation Tactic You Can’t Afford to Miss — Here’s What to Look For. KCM. https://katiecouric.com/lifestyle/relationships/what-is-future-faking/ ↩︎
  3. Katharine Chan. (2023. September, 26). How Narcissists Use Future Faking to Manipulate You Into a Relationship. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-spot-future-faking-in-narcissistic-relationships-7968853 ↩︎
  4. Lia Huynh. (2023. December, 7). All About Future Faking & How to Tell When a Narcissist Does It. wikiHow. https://www.wikihow.com/Future-Faking ↩︎
  5. Casale, Silvia, et al. “The interpersonal expression of perfectionism among grandiose and vulnerable narcissists: Perfectionistic self-presentation, effortless perfection, and the ability to seem perfect.” Personality and Individual Differences 99 (2016): 320-324. ↩︎
  6. Jenni Jacobsen. (2022. October, 19). How Narcissists Use Future Faking to Manipulate You. Marriage.com. https://www.marriage.com/advice/mental-health/how-narcissists-use-future-faking-to-manipulate-you/ ↩︎

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.