Future faking is an elite form of manipulation in the narcissistic realm. Its sinister intentions traps victims of narcissistic abuse in the relationship for months, years, and even decades. It lays a foundation on which a narcissist can stand on to justify their actions, wants, and desires. Future faking is all about the narcissist coercing their victims into making the sacrifices needed to uphold the narcissists grandiose, superficial reality. 

What Is Future Faking?

At its core, future faking is a manipulative tactic designed for coercion, control and distraction. Narcissists use future faking to mimic the life their victim envisions and the goals their victim sets. Much like many narcissistic relationships, future faking is the manifestation of a narcissist’s grandiosity, entitlement, and lack of empathy. 

Future faking is all about the narcissist getting what they want, when they want. They do this by coercing the victim into making a sacrifice by promising to deliver something of importance to the victim in the future. Future faking is made possible by a narcissist’s devotion to mirroring. 

Mirroring is when a narcissist will pay an incredible amount of attention, usually during the love bombing phase, to the victims goals, desires, insecurities, vulnerabilities, and anything else that makes up their identity.

Mirroring makes the victim feel like they have a magical connection with the narcissist, which blinds them to the red flags the narcissist will inevitably display during the early stages of the relationship.

Mirroring has sort of a Yin and Yang relationship with future faking. Narcissists will use the information they accumulate while mirroring, to have the knowledge required to future fake the victim.

mirroring and future faking

Coercion

A core dynamic of domestic abuse is coercive control, a pattern of behaviors designed to gain power and control over another through humiliation, threats, and intimidation. There’s research that suggests coercive control is a sign of future physical violence, but in some cases, it has a direct correlation with future faking as well. 

Signs of Coercive Control

  • Isolating you from family and friends.
  • Making threats or intimidating you.
  • Humiliating, degrading, or dehumanizing you.
  • Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware.

Those were just a handful of known forms of coercive control, but I chose to leave out controlling your finances because of the correlation it has with future faking. In our article Narcissism & Money: A Deeper Look Into Financial Abuse I mentioned that financial abuse often originates in the love bombing phase, as does future faking. 

A popular form of future faking in the narcissistic realm is claiming to have the ability to take on the financial responsibility in the relationship based on future income predictions or claims that they’re in a financial position to take care of the victim as well as themselves.

Narcissists have an insecure need for power and control, and in the current era we live in, money symbolizes both of those. When you combine this with a narcissist’s need to follow societal norms, future faking quickly morphs into a narcissist attempting to coerce a victim into leaving their jobs or other forms of financial support 

Why? 

The answer lies within a narcissist’s insecure desire to comply with societal norms. It’s no secret that narcissism is far more common in men than women, and as large as the steps towards equity and equality have been, we still live in a society dominated by men. This creates an extremely outdated belief that women should stay home while men are the ones that make the money. Of course, this belief isn’t true for all men or women, but it certainly still exists on a large scale. 

financial abuse

Financial abuse is a manifestation of this belief. Oftentimes a narcissist will coerce their victim into becoming financially dependent on them by claiming they’d be a better team, pretending that it would allow the victim to pursue their goals, and of course, claiming to be in the position where they can assume the financial responsibility required when supporting two or more people. 

With that being said, narcissists are often very successful and well off individuals, so many of them are actually in the financial position to take care of two or more people, however that will rarely be their intention. Creating a narrative where the narcissist can provide for the family financially while their victim will stay at home to take care of the kids or pursue their own goals, is a lie. 

It’s a form of future faking, infused with coercive control, designed to trap the victim in the relationship indefinitely. 

Distraction 

The beginning stages of all narcissistic relationships are very intense. Some individuals may experience a love bombing phase, some may idealize the relationship, and others may experience the abuse straight away. But regardless of the beginning, it’s intense. 

The best understanding of future faking being implemented as a distraction can be found in intimate relationships during the love bombing phase. 

future faking

What’s often overlooked by the victim during the love bombing phase is the abundance of red flags. 

Two of the most common red flags I’ve come across during my research is an insecure need for communication and time. 

“We spent so much time together in the beginning. When we weren’t together, we were chatting on the phone. He even demanded that we fall asleep together on FaceTime” Alex

The behavioral patterns that a narcissist will exhibit during the love bombing phase are often mistaken as healthy behavioral patterns because it makes the victim feel incredibly special. 

“I never had someone show so much interest in me. He made me feel like I was the only person in the world. Even after all of the abuse I suffered, I feel myself missing that feeling.” Alex

Love bombing is a powerful phase, but not everyone falls for it. In fact, many victims of narcissistic abuse are able to recognize that something is off, which is when future faking comes into play. 

When a victim of narcissistic abuse rejects the abundance of superficial compliments, gifts, and affection during the love bombing phase, the narcissist will use future faking to distract them from the red flags and pull them back into the relationship. 

future faking

Future faking in this context focuses on what matters most to the victim. This could be the “perfect” family like the photo above, wealth, experiences, and so on. 

Control

As the most self-loathing individuals on the planet, the emotional stability of a narcissist is nearly nonexistent. Their behavioral patterns are designed to gain a sense of control by projecting their instability onto others. 

Future faking is no different. It is very easy for individuals to identify lies right in front of them, but future faking is a bundle of lies based on the future that manipulates the victim’s healthy grandiosity, which makes the lies much harder to identify. 

There’s no telling how long it will take for a victim of narcissistic abuse to figure out that the narcissist’s promises were all lies, and because of this, the narcissist is able to keep their victims in their lives indefinitely on the hopes of empty promises.

Future Faking Causes the Victim to Gaslight Themselves

Future faking is a very strategic form of manipulation and often coincides with narcissist enablers. Narcissist enablers are people who don’t have a comprehensive grasp on narcissistic behavior so they approach the situation as they would a healthy relationship. 

Imagine a victim of narcissistic abuse on the fence during the love bombing phase. They sense something is off with their abuser, they aren’t ready for a relationship, or whatever else it may be. 

confused during the love bombing phase

They decide to confide in close friends and family members about her confusion. She tells them that he’s really intense, makes promises that are too good to be true, constantly seeks attention and validation, really clingy, and so on. 

Instead of being met with a supportive response, they tell her that she probably has commitment issues. They’ve met the guy a few times so they tell her that he seems like a catch and so on. 

Having her reality denied by friends and family puts her in an extremely uncomfortable position. She becomes engulfed with self-doubt and Gaslights herself into believing that her intuition is wrong.

How Can You Spot Future Faking?

It’s impossible to predict the future, therefore being able to identify promises for the future as lies is impossible as well. However, you can make a very educated guess.

If your partner can’t even do the basics…

  • “Yeah I’ll pick you up from work and bring you to the doctor’s appointment.” – doesn’t show up
  • “I’ll make sure to pick up milk on the way home.” – doesn’t get the milk
  • “Yeah, let’s go out to dinner next weekend because I have a lot of work this weekend.” – you don’t go out to dinner the following week

You shouldn’t expect them to follow through on promises like the following: 

  • “One day we will buy a house on the lake you went to as a kid.”
  • “I want to marry you one day.”
  • “One day we will move to Greece and have the life you always wanted” 
  • “I promise I’ll float you some cash for your business, you don’t have to go start that new job in another city.”

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

In many ways, future faking is the pinnacle of manipulation. Because of how attentive narcissists are during the mirroring phase, they’re able to falsify a very enticing future for the victim. Future faking is a malicious subcategory of power and control, that feeds off all of our desires to live a happy, meaningful, and successful life. 

Everyone should practice being an advocate for their own future. The important steps one needs to take to live a happy, meaningful, successful life, occurs within the individual. Only then can someone safely accumulate those with authentic and genuine intentions with the capability of mutual growth.


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:

The mania and ludus love styles are central to pathological personality traits

Abramson, Kate. “TURNING UP THE LIGHTS ON GASLIGHTING.” Philosophical Perspectives, vol. 28, [Ridgeview Publishing Company, Wiley], 2014, pp. 1–30, https://www.jstor.org/stable/26614542.

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