One of the most common manipulation tactics narcissists use is future faking. This behavior is where the narcissist makes a false promise for the future.

Narcissists use future faking to gain your trust, admiration, and compliance to keep you emotionally invested in the relationship despite all of their abusive behaviors.

In this article, I will break this topic into nine segments to help you better understand why narcissists use future faking. 

1.) To Control You

Future faking is a powerful tool for maintaining control over another person. 

Suggested Reading: 8 Powerful Tactics That Narcissists Use to Control You

It allows narcissists to create a compelling, idealized vision of the future – a vision that aligns perfectly with your deepest desires and aspirations. 

This vision can be incredibly intoxicating, keeping you attached, engaged, and willing to do whatever it takes to make the vision a reality. 

If you didn’t realize that the narcissist was future faking you, they would have a significant amount of control over you.

This is because they effectively hold the keys to your desired future.

2.) To Get Narcissistic Supply

The most important thing in a narcissist’s life is narcissistic supply.

This supply is the validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control narcissists receive from their external environment. 

When a narcissist successfully future-fakes you, they elicit immediate feelings of joy, gratitude, or love from you, thus satisfying their need for supply. 

A narcissist getting narcissistic supply.

From the narcissist’s perspective, the beauty of future faking is that they can enjoy this narcissistic supply without having actually to do anything.

For example, imagine that you have a narcissistic parent.

This parent thrives on being seen as a generous, fun-loving parent. 

One day, your parent announces they are planning an incredible summer vacation.

They describe a week-long trip to a theme park, complete with fancy accommodations and VIP experiences. 

Excited and grateful, you express your joy and thankfulness, which feeds your parent’s need for narcissistic supply.

However, as summer approaches, there’s no mention of the trip. 

When you ask about it, your parent either dismisses your queries or provides vague excuses. 

Despite not fulfilling their promise, your parent has already enjoyed the immediate gratification and adoration that came from their grandiose plans. 

In other words, your narcissistic parent used future faking to manipulate you into giving them narcissistic supply without following through on their commitments.

3.) To Manipulate and Deceive You

Narcissists are really good at maintaining a charming, charismatic, and grandiose public persona.

However, the second you become attached to them, they will often drop the act and let their abusive and manipulative side shine through.

Suggested Reading: What Is the Devaluation Phase?

To keep you emotionally invested in the relationships, narcissists will use future faking to manipulate and deceive you.

What do I mean by this?

Well, as you become increasingly focused on the promised future, you may overlook or excuse the narcissist’s abusive and manipulative behaviors.

Generally speaking, this happens because the future faking is causing you to remain hopeful that things will improve in the future. 

Sadly, this just isn’t the case. 

The truth is that the narcissist is using future faking to manipulate and deceive you so they can control the narrative and continue their behavior without repercussions.

4.) To Maintain Their Public Persona

The term “public persona” refers to the image or identity that an individual presents to the public or the world at large. 

It is how someone portrays themselves through their actions, behavior, and communication in the public sphere.

I mentioned this in the previous section, but narcissists typically have a charming, charismatic, and grandiose public persona. 

Suggested Reading: How Do Narcissists Act in Public?

One of the ways that they maintain this public persona is through future faking.

You see, promising an ideal future is in line with their grandiose persona because it helps to bolster the illusion that they are trying to manipulate you into believing. 

This helps them secure your admiration, which reinforces their inflated self-image and protects their true self from scrutiny or criticism.

For example, imagine a narcissist named Lisa, a well-respected member of your community known for her charisma and seemingly visionary ideas. 

A narcissist being praised by her peers.

She frequently talks about grand plans and initiatives that she intends to undertake, which earn her admiration from many.

One day, Lisa announces at a local gathering that she plans to build a community center. 

She passionately talks about its state-of-the-art facilities and how it will serve as a hub for various community activities. 

Everyone is impressed by her ambition and praises her for this noble initiative, but the truth is that Lisa has no intention of following through on this promise.

She is just using future faking to reinforce her public persona as a visionary community leader.

5.) To Buy Themselves More Time

If a narcissist ever senses they are at risk of losing a source of supply; they often use future faking as a stop-gap measure. 

The term “stop-gap measure” refers to something that can be used until something better or more permanent can be obtained.

When a narcissist uses future faking as a stop-gap measure, their promises are designed to re-engage your attention and commitment, thus ensuring that they continue to receive the narcissistic supply they crave. 

Here’s a list of 6 future fakes a narcissist might make as a stop-gap measure in both romantic and family relationships:

Romantic Relationships:

  1. “We’ve had our differences, but I see us in a beautiful house one day, raising our kids. Just imagine that life.”
  2. “I’m thinking we should go on a romantic Europe tour next summer. It will be a trip to remember.”
  3. “Give me a little more time. I have a plan to start a business that will give us financial freedom for life.”
A narcissist future faking someone.

Family Relationships:

  1. “I’m planning to start a family business and want you to be a part of it. It’ll bring us all together and create wealth for generations.”
  2. “I know I’ve missed some important moments, but I promise to be there for your graduation and make it special.”
  3. “I’ve been thinking about investing in a vacation home where we all can spend holidays together. It’s going to be amazing.”

This “buying of time” also allows the narcissist to find alternative sources of narcissistic supply should their current relationship with you end.

6.) To Make You Feel Indebted to Them

Yet another reason narcissists use future faking is to make you feel indebted to them.

You see, by promising a grand future, narcissists can create a sense of emotional indebtedness within you.

As a result, you may feel that you owe the narcissist your patience, loyalty, or support because of the wonderful future that supposedly awaits you. 

This sense of obligation can further deepen your emotional investment in the relationship, making it harder for you to recognize the manipulative behaviors and even more difficult for you to leave the relationship.

7.) To Keep You In a State of Confusion and Emotional Turmoil

It is common for narcissists to use future faking to keep you in a state of confusion and emotional turmoil. 

They do this by combining future faking with devaluation, which is a tactic where they belittle or degrade you to gaslight you.

Let me explain. 

The term “gaslighting” refers to a manipulation tactic that occurs when someone intentionally or unintentionally doubts or denies reality. 

Suggested Reading: How to Stop a Narcissist from Gaslighting You (3 Steps)

Now, when a narcissist oscillates between offering a fantastic future and cruelly devaluing you, it is a form of gaslighting. 

Over time, these types of interactions can cause you to start questioning your own judgment, memory, and perception of reality, making you more vulnerable to the narcissist’s control and less likely to leave the relationship.

8.) To Counteract Any Negative Perceptions Others Have of Them

If narcissist sense that others are starting to see through their façade or beginning to perceive them negatively, they might use future faking as a defensive mechanism. 

By painting an appealing picture of the future, they can shift the focus away from their current actions or behaviors that are garnering negative attention. 

For example, imagine you’re dating someone named Sam. 

Over time, Sam’s pattern of neglect and unkept promises have begun to strain the relationship, and you’ve started considering a breakup.

Sensing your growing dissatisfaction, Sam suddenly starts discussing your future together. 

They talk excitedly about marriage, kids, and a beautiful house. 

They reassure you about their love for you and their commitment to this envisioned future.

Despite their past behavior, this promise of a blissful future momentarily overshadows your doubts, causing you to reconsider your decision. 

This is a classic example of how a narcissist like Sam might use future faking to deflect negative attention and manipulate your emotions.

9.) To Test Your Boundaries

The final reason that narcissists use future faking that I will touch on today is to test your boundaries. 

Suggested Reading: How to Set Boundaries with a Narcissist (6 Steps)

You see, sometimes, future faking can serve as a test for your tolerance level. 

By making extravagant promises and then breaking them, the narcissist can observe how you react. 

A narcissist thinking about breaking someone's boundaries.

If you forgive the unfulfilled promises and remain committed, the narcissist learns that they can push the boundaries further without facing significant consequences. 

This enables the narcissist to gauge how far they can go with their manipulations, thereby adjusting their tactics accordingly.

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

The reason narcissists use future faking is to gain your trust, admiration, and compliance to keep you emotionally invested in the relationship despite all the abusive behaviors they are subjecting you to.

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.

If you’re ready to heal, visit The Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse to get started.


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