Narcissists & The Art of Future-Faking

wolfCalling out a narcissist as a pathological liar is not as important as pin pointing the type of lying that he does that really cuts us to the core: future-faking. By this, I mean that the narcissist talks about or hints at a future together to get what he wants from us right now. Indeed, his innate ability to future-fake is probably the narcissist’s most effective tactic for managing down our expectations and the biggest reason for why we stay in a relationship that is obviously so bad for us. In other words, it’s the depth and breadth of the lie that we become tethered to because it speaks to our heart’s desires…to what we’ve wanted all along. The narcissist, of course, knows this and thus will use his knowledge of our heartfelt desires to string us along until the end of time. It’s the part of the narcissistic pathological relationship agenda that lends itself to the fact that there is no boundary that a narcissist will not cross to get what he wants in the moment that he wants it.

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Now, mind you, what I’m talking about here goes far beyond the periodic broken promise because a periodic broken promise can be easily forgiven when followed by a promise kept. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the perpetual broken promise that carries the allusion of a promised future. It’s these types of broken promises that hurt the most because the lie itself is intensified by the authenticity of the way it’s presented. The narcissistic lover will spin us a future via promises containing all the words we want to hear. They’ll spin us a future via mirroring back to us all the things that we want from the relationship. They get us to stay or to come back or to wait for them to come back by faking a future with us that ultimately never happens. Future-faking is so much worse than ordinary lying because it shows how much of a pretender extraordinaire the narcissist really is.

For the first few years of my 13-year relationship, I made it so easy for my ex-boyfriend to future fake that he barely had to say a word – and he knew it. If he even alluded to doing something together in the “future”, I’d ride the fucking wave of hope right up to the shoreline where he’d gleefully slap me off my surfboard. Up until that point, of course, he’d have gotten whatever he wanted which was usually to stroll back in after several weeks of silence (with no repercussions or questions asked) or to have hot sex not after but during a fight or to distract me from catching him in a lie. For all of the above, he had no problem saying whatever it took to get the job done. Eventually, I grew defiant and combative whenever he even mentioned a future event because I knew it would never happen but that didn’t stop him from future-faking because to deliberately deceive me was… well… just too much fun!

Here are some of the ways that a narcissist will use future-faking to keep us in his queue of narcissistic supply:

  1. Future-faking during the idolize/love-bombing phase to make us think that this person really wants the same things that we do in life. This type of future-faking creates what I call the soulmate effect. Example: “Oh My God, that’s my favorite band too! Look, they’re coming in 4 months. I’ll get us some tickets – that’s a date!” or “You know, from the moment I saw you, I just KNEW we’d be together for a really long time” or “I can’t believe we like ALL the same things. I’ve never had that with anybody. YOU are the one for me.”
  2. Future-faking as a hoovering technique but only when we’ve had enough and have finally gone No Contact. Since a narcissist can typically lure us back with mere crumbs, future-faking is the emergency back-up in his bag of hoovering tricks. Example (by phone) “No, no no…don’t hang up! I wanna get married!” or (by text) “Hey it’s me. Look, I’m sorry. Let’s live together” or (in person) “Wait..look into my eyes. Can’t you see how much I love you? I want to grow old together.”
  3. Future-faking to end a fight. If, in the middle of a fight, the narcissist feels as if he may be losing, he’ll typically toss out some future-fakery to get you to relinquish control. Example: “Okay, okay..look, can’t we just stop this nonsense and get married or something?”
  4. Future-faking as part of conversation. Narcissists, as we know, thoroughly enjoy hearing the sound of their own voice and consequently will future fake just to keep the conversation going. Example: “Hey, I’ve been thinking that you could really help me start my business. What do ya think? Wanna do it together?” or “Remember when we talked about France awhile back. I think it’s time we started planning for that trip.”
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The idea of writing about future-faking was actually provided to me by a lovely woman who, during a phone consultation, lamented the fact that her narcissistic ex would continually make meaningful plans and then vanish into thin air. Shortly before the final discard, during a peaceful moment, he’d even urged her to start planning for a trip to Paris for the following year – something they had both expressed an interest in doing together over the years. Excited, she went to work, making the plans, researching the details….getting ready for what would undoubtedly be a trip of a life time. The fact that this was his idea and that he appeared excited it gave her hope that he actually meant it…that despite his ridiculous and unexpected silent treatments, he obviously intended to be around for the future, for the TRIP. Unfortunately, this was not to be when, shortly thereafter, over something ridiculous and unrelated, he simply vanished never to be heard from again as if the plans were never made. To her, obviously, this was devastating and hard to wrap her head around. When I labeled his behavior as “future-faking”, she was shocked by the fact that, here again, was another universal behavior so typical of the narcissistic personality that there was actually a term to describe the nonsense. I remember feeling that same shock. It’s the kind of shock that prompts us to review and re-label so many moments from the relationship. It’s the kind of shock that makes us shake our heads in sadness, wondering why the hell we allowed ourselves to stay in the relationship beyond perhaps not the first but – hell – at least the second time that it happened.

Seriously, how many futures need to be faked before we realize that fakery is all it’s ever going to be? When does it become time to reconcile the blame? In my case, the answer to that would have to be thousands or 13-years worth or whatever number the last faked future was before he never came back to me. In all honesty, it took me years to not realize but rather accept that my ex’s ability to future fake was just that – an ability – and that he never ever planned to follow through with anything that took place in a future time beyond, say, the next ten minutes. I had realized plenty before that but coming to a point of acceptance was a whole other thing. To accept that the person we love is a future-faker means realizing and accepting the reality that this person is NOT normal and NOTHING about this behavior is acceptable. There ARE people in the world who mean what they say and say what they mean…but the narcissist that we love/loved is NOT one of them. Hindsight may be twenty-twenty, my friends, but let’s be grateful that it happens at all. What happens after that is up to us and all we can do is the right thing.

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107 Comments

  • Dabri

    June 27, 2015 at 4:18 am Reply

    I have been with a man for over seven years. It has been off and on and we had a child whom he didn’t really show interest in so instead of letting him come and go I wouldn’t allow him to be around until he was consistent.he hates that word.during that time and the whole seven years, we have talked and he will go into his modes of not talking to me for weeks. Last time it was over nothing and lasted months bc he was seeing someone else.when he thought I was seeing someone then he’d talk to me.he finally ended things with that girl to be with me.i thought maybe this time it’d work and it’d be ideal bc I love him and for our child.i just set boundaries, like I wanted to see him stick around before we revealed who he was.so it’s been less than two months and he gets mad at me constantly.he days I’m too affectionate, I’m not enough, I’m too needy, he doesn’t feel the need to “reassure” me all the time which I haven’t asked for. He stopped talking to me the other day again over something he said I was mad about which was completely ridiculous and untrue but he said I was lying that it didn’t make me mad , “nuts” and he was done unless I got “help”. He has been ignoring all of my many calls and b texts now. I honestly didn’t do anything but become upset, more saddened by the way he spoke to Me when he told me I was upset. He said that it’s me and the last girl he was dating never argued with him like we do (and I don’t even understand bc I don’t feel like we argue all the time). He says I’m insecure which maybe I am in some ways.i know I feel insecure not knowing what’s going to happen with us but he says it’s bc I’m worried about other females

    • Zari Ballard

      July 14, 2015 at 3:27 pm Reply

      Hi Dabri,

      I’m sorry it has taken me so long to respond to you. I, too, suffered silent treatments – literally hundreds of them over 13-years – for no reason at all and it about made me insane. If you look in the right sidebar in the article library you’ll find many articles about that very thing and exactly what it means. Do not accept this type of cruel and unusual punishment because he will continue to do it until the end of time. The silence is used to buy himself time for doing other things with other people – make no mistake about it.

      Please, if you can, download my book When Love Is a Lie from Amazon because you will see yourself on every page. In this book, I share my story and explain in detail the strategies of these jerks and it will empower you to make some important decisions. I guarantee it.

      Stay strong and I’m here to support you!

      Zari xo

  • Shoshannah

    June 18, 2015 at 4:17 pm Reply

    Thank you again for this blog. It’s really changing my life at this very moment. It hasn’t been long with my narc – less than a year of affair… then he proposed (but I’m not sure if he ever meant it, because he proposed while hoovering). Anyway, no marriage or anything serious is going to happen. For, as I am just realising, he is a narc. I am so grateful for this website, if not it, I might go further into this sick relationship.

    I could sense that something is wrong with him, but wasn’t sure what and didn’t realise how serious the problem is. Now I know, suddenly everything makes sense:
    – silent treatments
    – cold shoulders
    – hoovering
    – ghastlisting
    – cheating
    – lying
    – weird sex behaviours
    – future faking
    Every single feature… My guy is a role model of a narc! Now I understand why I am so emotionally exhausted, even though nothing really serious has even started between us yet.

    So thanks again. Thanks to you, I will now enjoy the silnece… and prepare myself to not let him back in.

    I think he will be back, because… We’re within the silent treatment – after a fight. But I can see that he continues with the game – didn’t give me my clothes back, didn’t cancel his visit until the last minute, so that I hope that it will happen, and now he even started to like and share my posts on facebook (quite surprising, after our fight and weeks of not responding to my calls etc, I would rather expect him to block me than to like and share my posts). I am ignoring all of this, but I expect him to hoover, sooner or later, for otherwise, I don’t know why he would be doing all of those weird little things. Right?

    Anyway, now I am trying to get my balance back, so that when he does hoover I am strong enough to not let him in. Again, thank you!

    • Zari Ballard

      June 18, 2015 at 9:56 pm Reply

      Hi Shoshanna,

      I’m grateful that you made your way to my website. I like to hear that someone is learning from my mistakes – seriously, that is the point of all of this. If you get a chance, read my book When Love Is a Lie. It’s downloadable from Amazon and through this website and if you think you have validation now, the book will cinch it for you.

      Once we make the connection from our partner to narcissism, there is no going back. This is why I tell those who sit on the fence about their partner’s behaviors, “If you think he is a narcissist, he is”. The behaviors are too universal…too predictable (once you know)..to be denied. Now that you know, ignore those hoovers. Nothing a narcissist does is EVER random (i.e. the “liking/sharing” of FB posts, etc.) and it’s all about keeping you off-balance and wondering. BLOCK HIM from calling, texting, and all social media. If you don’t, you will continue to wait and then days and then months and even longer will pass. Less than a year is a very short amount of time in the narcissist’s mind. He still has all kinds of abuse up his sleeve to subject you to and he knows that it’s been a short enough period since the beginning that he can still hook you in. End it now because what we allow, will continue.

      Please read the book…..I guarantee it will COMPLETELY change the way you see this creature and how you behave going forward. Stay strong!

      Zari xo

      • Shoshannah

        June 20, 2015 at 4:16 pm Reply

        Dear Zari,

        Thank you for your replies.

        I will definitely buy and read your books. After looking through your posts on this blog, I am sure that your books are a must-read for me. And I will look forward to your next publications.

        This is really amazing that you transform what you’ve been through and your pain into something good in order to help other people to save or restore their sanity. Thank you!

        All the best,
        Sho

        • Zari Ballard

          June 29, 2015 at 1:36 pm Reply

          Thanks, girl! Sometimes you gotta take the pain and turn it to a positive. I don’t think I went into it with that in mind but I’m grateful that it happened. Believe me, it’s my privilege to help in any way that I can…

          Zari xo

  • katie

    June 9, 2015 at 10:17 am Reply

    Hello zari,

    I am not sure if you remember me, its been awhile, but just wanted to catch you up with whats been going on, well….the last time i wrote my ex N was with the girl he discarded for me out of nowhere, i was with him for 5 years on and off, i have told u my story, but since then i have heard they broke up numerous times and got back together, well just this past April at the end of the month at 1 am i got a strange text it was a group text giving everyone his new number (cell) i did the right thing and ignored it, well after that i unblocked him on fb just to be nosy, it didnt say he was in a relationship with her anymore but just recently added her back on fb, so that tells me that they were on and off, well after that i just kept moving along and nothing from him since that group text he included me in on. . Dont know why!!
    Well i saw that she put a comment on her wall saying about how funny it is for someone to be jeolous of someone else and then i looked and they were not friends anymore and they were earlier that day so i know it was about him. So a few weeks later i hear he is with this other girl he was friends with plus he was friends with her boyfriend of 12 years, he has her and his pic on fb and i dont know what hapened to her bf of 12 years, my ex wasnt even friends with him on fb after awhile he used to be, and now all of a sudden they are together since early May and they live together yes he is renting his cousins house, which is stupid on his cousins part. But her and the new girl live togerher isnt that quick??? And the timeframe doesn’t add up with the last girl, my cousin told me she ran into him a couple weeks before he texted me in April and he was telling her he makes $70,000 a year and he bought a house, which is total bull crap!! He lies through his teeth, he just wanted it to get back to me so i would reach out to him, which i didnt and then when i didnt i got that text,

    This sucks….i can not believe he is with this new girl amd i think its going so great just like i thought with the last one, but he lives with her, i think she is doing it to get bavk at her ex…my opinion, but really they only been dating not even a month, do you think it wil last??? I would think it would go sour quicker cuz they live together!!!

    HEl P!!!

    • Zari Ballard

      June 29, 2015 at 1:00 pm Reply

      Hi Katie,

      Of course, I remember you, girl! Now, I’m not sure why you’re asking my opinion on this because you’ve got to know what I’m going to say: WHO CARES???? LOLOL Stay away from that FB and all social media where he’s at. And if you don’t BLOCK HIM from being able to text you, these sporadic texts are going to keep popping up and causing you to waste time like they’re doing right now. Whether he was trying to let you know his situation or not, the point is that you’re now stuck on wondering what he’s doing and will it last and why so quickly with this new girl and how the timelines aren’t adding up and what good is knowing the answer to any of it going to do for you??? You end your post with HELP!!! as if something is riding on the answer and I sure hope that it isn’t. In fact, I hope that all has changed since you’ve written and that you’ve come back to your senses! LOL

      Don’t worry about him and BLOCK BLOCK BLOCK. It’s the only way. He’s never going to change and better all those girls than you, that’s for sure….

      Stay strong!

      Zari

  • Elizabeth

    April 20, 2015 at 6:00 am Reply

    This was it, this was the final article that I needed to read to go full on NO CONTACT with the narcissist in my life. The story is long, but oh so similar to all of these stories so I’ll get right to the point which finally put me over the edge, and am now NEVER going to speak or see the narc ever again. Since his first discard in December, right before Christmas, I was completely devastated, to a point of hospitalization for non-eating. He disappeared for a month a half, ruining my holiday and feeling so alone and worried sick that he was dead in a gutter somewhere. Oh no, he was sitting on a beach! No worries, not a care in the world because he knew he lived free off me, no job. I really had no idea about his NPD and got myself into therapy and on anxiety meds. Then, he returns as if nothing happened, no explanation. I let him back, by putting up boundries I thought all would be great, he had to follow my rules now and pay up, get a job or get out, Fabulous with promises for two weeks, then back at his evil crazies, gas lighting, secrets with his cell phone, acting as if I’m a roommate and not the person he has supposedly loved for a year. Then comes the vacation “we” planned…..long story, but again, he LEFT me alone on a trip, disappeared and never answered his phone. OMG! I am not a violent person, but I kid you not, if he walked in front of my car, I would have run him over! I called my therapist a wreck, she talked me through this and of course, she had been right all along. BUT, I had NO idea this was called “Future Faking”! The ah ha moment finally came to me last night after reading this. I blocked him every which way, he cannot get ahold of me. He owes me tons of money, including money I loaned him for his daughter’s college tuition, of course, no money to pay me back. I do not care, I’m running so far from this man and NEVER looking back! Thank you for your articles, the “Cell Phone Game” was so him too, I’m sitting here smiling because I finally got it, but I am no longer a victim, I am a super survivor!!

    • Zari Ballard

      April 26, 2015 at 12:31 am Reply

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Wow…please send an update to let me know how you are doing! I am so grateful that the articles were helpful because you certainly sound as if you are well on your way to No Contact success. Never give up – even during the low times. If you can get my book When Love Is a Lie and also Narcissist Free: A Survival Guide for the No Contact Break-Up because the more empowerment the better! Food for your brain that follows the path for recovery is exactly what you need, girlfriend.

      I’d love to know how you’ve fared so far in the days since you’ve written so please keep us updated. I’m here to support you….

      Zari xo

  • Amy

    April 1, 2015 at 12:00 pm Reply

    Just want to say I love ya Lady… Zari,, 🙂
    I am spreading the word all over IG. and I am referencing you.
    People will be seeking you out.
    thank you for your kindness when I needed those books the most.
    Every day I strive on.. Big hugs to you and everyone who has dealt with these monsters. I saw you wrote a male version so I am referncing that to those I come across also..
    thank you for helping me see the light. xoxox Amy

    • Zari Ballard

      April 2, 2015 at 2:12 am Reply

      Hi Amy!!

      I love ya too, sister, and I’ll always be cheerleading for you on this end! Survivor bonds can never be broken. Thank you so much for getting the word out…I appreciate you:)

      Zari xo

      • Amy

        April 2, 2015 at 2:19 pm Reply

        Zari,
        i wanted you to know that i returned a box that was mailed to my work. and i didnt open the card or accept it.
        it was tough but something i knew that needed to be done ..its essential. im staying strong always. one day at at ime.. and im all no contact.
        thank you for your support always:)
        xo Amy

        • Zari Ballard

          April 2, 2015 at 9:45 pm Reply

          Hi Amy,

          Good for you, girl! I know that it’s hard but MY GOD you did it and it means everything relevant to you getting better and moving on with your life. One step at a time, one day at time is all we can do but you just took a giant LEAP forward on the game board. Be proud of yourself because returning that box was an amazing accomplishment. It really was:)

          Stay strong and be happy…you deserve it!

          Zari xo

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