Abusers are very successful at using future faking to manipulate you into neglecting your own thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs because the false promises that they make are intertwined with your wishes, goals, and aspirations. This entanglement of hope and manipulation make the words that come out of the abuser’s mouth during a future fake believable. To protect yourself from this, you have to develop healthy responses to future faking. 

The best response that you can have to future faking is to not respond at all. Instead, you’re going to want to set healthy boundaries for yourself that help you maintain realistic expectations for the relationship. This is going to prevent your abuser from using your wishes, dreams, and aspirations to future fake you.

This article is going to provide you with all of the information that you need to develop healthy responses to future faking. We’ve created a short video (see below) about what future faking does to you so that you can understand the importance of developing healthy responses to future faking.

A Short Video About What Future Faking Does to You

How to Use Healthy Boundaries as a Response to Future Faking

The most important thing that you have to remember when setting boundaries with a narcissist is that the abuser is not going to respect your boundaries. This is important because the most effective boundaries that you can set to protect yourself against future faking and other narcissistic behavior patterns are ones that you set with yourself. 

To successfully do this, you first need to understand what exactly future faking is. A future fake is when an abuser will make a false promise for the future to get what they want in the present. The concept of future faking is pretty straightforward, they are just false promises, but to develop healthy responses to future faking you have to be aware of a hidden aspect of it.

This hidden aspect is called nonverbal future faking. It is when an abuser will use a manipulative technique called mirroring to absorb a ton of information about your identity and use that information to create a falsified identity that is designed to fill a void in your life. 

In a romantic relationship, this void is going to be centered around your perception of the ideal love. In a family setting it will be centered around your desire to have an emotionally available, responsive, and consistent family member. In the workplace, it will be all about bettering your career. In a friendship, the void will be centered around your desire for a best friend.

Mirroring is all about the abuser presenting themselves as the “perfect” person for you. By doing this, the abuser is manipulating you into envisioning a happy, healthy, and secure future that is never going to happen. 

Suggested Reading: How Do Narcissists Use Mirroring?

This is a nonverbal future fake and it is important to be aware of because an abuser’s ability to present themselves as the “perfect” person for you is part of the reason that their future fakes are so believable. When you are aware of nonverbal future faking it is much easier to let go of the wish for things to be different and develop healthy responses to future faking.

Have Realistic Expectations For the Relationship

Generally speaking, abusers who use future faking are irrational, intense, overwhelming, charming, charismatic, and make bad decisions. They often expect things to happen on their terms and are usually very pushy. There are going to be warning signs of all of this, but an abuser’s ability to use mirroring to present themselves as “perfect” is going to prevent you from seeing the red flags of a future faker. 

The best boundary that you can set for yourself to develop healthy responses to future faking in this situation is to re-educate yourself on the dynamics of a healthy relationship. It doesn’t matter what type of relationship it is, healthy relationships require honesty, trust, an ability to make compromises, respect, and open communication between the people involved. 

If you maintain realistic expectations for the relationship, the future faking won’t be able to manipulate you as easily. You will be able to reflect on your relationship and easily spot the parts of it that aren’t healthy. This is true for all relationships, you need to have realistic expectations for your relationship to defend yourself against future faking.

Pay Attention to Their Behavior, Not Their Words

Remember the concept of future faking. A future fake is when an abuser will make a false promise in the future to get what they want in the present. These false promises are intertwined with your wishes, goals, and aspirations. 

A victim of narcissistic abuse falling for his boss's mirroring.

Sometimes these false promises will be small ones (e.g. “I promise that I’ll clear my schedule for next weekend and spend time with you.”) but they can also be big ones that alter the course of your life. (e.g. “I don’t want you to worry about paying for the college tuition. If you just stick around this summer and help me at the shop, I will pay for your tuition.”)

An abuser’s ability to present themselves as the “perfect” person for you is what manipulates you into making decisions based on their words, not their behavior. You want to believe what they say so badly because you believe that they want the best for you, but that isn’t the case. 

Suggested Reading: Are Narcissists Good at Mirroring?

You have to set a boundary with yourself that you are only going to make decisions based on their behavior. If someone in your life is promising things that align with your wishes, goals, and aspirations, pay attention to how they handle the smaller promises they make on a daily basis. 

If they are consistently doing things like being late to events that are important, forgetting to return your calls when they said they would, not going grocery shopping like they said they would on the way home from work, not paying the bills on time, etc., you shouldn’t expect them to follow through on the bigger promises they make. Pay attention to the future faker’s behavior, not their words.

Identify the Reason That You Are In the Relationship

As we mentioned before, abusers who use future faking also use mirroring. That is how they can create such convincing future fakes. One of the things that mirroring does is it gives you very clear and seemingly solid reasons for being in the relationship. 

They are reflecting or “mirroring” your identity back to you so they are often able to check off all of the boxes on your metaphorical checklist of the types of people that you want in your life. (.e.g. “He/she understands me really well” , “He/she sees my potential and wants to help me reach my goals” , “He/she is teaching me how to be a good person” , ” He/she is the best friend that anyone could ever ask for, he/she always has my back”

A very common pattern to see in relationships where there is a lot of manipulation, like mirroring, is that once the abuser senses that they’ve got you hooked, they will begin to put less and less effort into making you believe that they are the “perfect” person for you. 

Over time, the clear and concrete reasons that you had for being in the relationship might fade away. Generally speaking, this does not happen in healthy relationships as quickly as it happens in abusive ones. Yes, healthy relationships can lose that spark but it doesn’t happen in a matter of months. 

If you have a clear picture of the reasons that you are in the relationship, you are going to notice the second that you feel like you’re losing touch with those reasons. You have to trust your instincts in situations like this. If you are losing touch with the reasons that you are in a relationship because of a change in the other person’s behavior, it should at the very least make you more cautious and/or cynical.

Focus on Being Honest and Direct

One of the reasons that people find themselves in an unhealthy/abusive environment is because they aren’t honest and direct with their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs. This isn’t necessarily their fault, abusers are often very charismatic, charming, manipulative, and therefore, persuasive. 

They have a strange ability to take charge of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs without you even noticing. This makes it really easy for them to attach themselves to your wishes, goals, and aspirations. They will manipulate you into “wanting” things that you don’t necessarily want. 

The best way to set a healthy boundary with yourself that protects you from future faking is by practicing saying no, voicing your opinion, daily affirmations to remind yourself of your worth, controlling your emotions, avoiding negative emotions like guilt and shame when you disagree with someone, and separating your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs from the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs of others.

If you focus on being honest and direct with your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs, the abuser’s charm, charisma, intelligence, manipulative prowess, and intensity will have a much harder time bullying you into believing in the future faking. 

Suggested Reading: What Are Some Boundaries You Can Set With a Narcissist?

Put Yourself In Charge of Your Own Future

One of the things that abusers who use future faking are really good at is manipulating you into believing that they are capable of taking care of you. It doesn’t matter if it is a romantic partner, family member, colleague, or friend, an abuser will want you to feel dependent on them for a happier, healthier, and more secure life.

The fact of the matter is that we all have to make our own way in life. You need to put yourself in charge of your own wishes, goals, and aspirations. You can’t link them to another person, you have to own them yourself. If you have a clear understanding that you, and you alone, are in control of your future, it is highly unlikely that an abuser will be able to future fake you. 

5 Ways That You Can Put Yourself In Charge of Your Own Future!

  • Set and Keep Track of Achievable Goals In a Journal
  • Think About What You’re Good At, What You Enjoy Doing, and What You’re Passionate About
  • Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
  • Find Different Things That Motivate You
  • Learn How to Be Flexible and Resilient Because Things Won’t Always Go Your Way

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

What makes future faking so powerful is the fact that they are intertwined with your wishes, goals, and aspirations. The best response that you can have to future faking is to set healthy boundaries that help you maintain realistic expectations for the relationship.

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All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

References:

Bensch, Doreen & Maaß, Ulrike & Greiff, Samuel & Horstmann, Kai & Ziegler, Matthias. (2019). The Nature of Faking: A Homogeneous and Predictable Construct?. Psychological Assessment.

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