The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.
Future Faking. You may not be familiar with the term, but you'll likely recognize it once you hear what it is, because it's very common in narcissistic relationships of all types. Future faking refers to future things the narcissist implies or promises that they never come through with, in order to get what they want now.
An example of this would be, let's say that the narcissist in your life has done something terrible to you and you have decided that you're done. No more of this hamster wheel. You're tired of running in circles and jumping hurdles just for someone to still treat you like badly. That's it, goodbye. But wait! the narcissist says. I know I've done wrong and I've hurt you, but I'm going to do better, you'll see. I'll call a therapist tomorrow and start going to therapy, I swear. I want to get help because I don't want to hurt people anymore.
I know I need help.
Well, you are elated. Finally this person sees the problem and is willing to do something about it. This is what you've been waiting to hear. So you capitulate. You give in. You say yes, OK, I will come back. I will stay. I will try again. So you come back. You stay. You try again. And you wait.
And you wait.
And you wait. After a while, you realize nothing has changed. Maybe they forgot to call the therapist... 15 days in a row. Or maybe they did go, but all they did in therapy was talk about how horrible you are instead of their actual problems. This is an example of future faking. The narcissist is using promises of a wonderful or different future to get what they want now.
Future faking is one of the most damaging and hurtful things that narcissists do. It doesn't matter the relationship. Whether it's your mother or your husband or your sister or your son, it's hurtful. And it's embarrassing. It's humiliating for people to have to face the fact that they believed the narcissist's promises even though reality itself proves that they shouldn't have. People will sometimes say that they didn't really believe it, but if that's true, why are they upset that the narcissist didn't come through? It's important to be honest with yourself so that you can see how you were manipulated and why it worked. That's how you prevent it from happening again.
This is often where narcissists get the reputation for being such master manipulators. The truth is, it isn't that hard to get somebody to believe something they already want to believe. Yes, narcissists are definitely manipulators and yes, that is absolutely wrong on every level - but the victim is also usually meeting them halfway. Sometimes more than halfway. As discussed in other articles, narcissists run their game on many people but it only works on a few. There is a reason for this, and it is not so much their skill at manipulating but rather the fact that the victim wants to believe them. For all their skill at manipulation, it won't work if people don't want to believe it. And of course, people who love them want to believe it. People want to believe their loved one will change or be better because they want their loved one in their life. They want the relationship that they've fantasized about.
This is another reason narcissists are able to manipulate their victims. They know what you want to hear. How do they know? You told them, probably repeatedly. This is not to say it's a blatant lie. At times it undoubtedly is, but other times they may mean every word. It's just that their feelings rule them. To the narcissist, feelings are facts. Truth and reality change with their mood, therefore any promise that is expected to be kept at a future time is virtually doomed to failure. How can someone be expected to keep a promise they made yesterday when they are a different person today? Dr. Jekyll made that promise, but you're talking to Mr. Hyde now.
There's also the instant gratification factor. Recent studies have shown that narcissists focus on the reward more than anything else. This means that they may and often do agree to anything to get what they want. They may not realize or even understand the repercussions or consequences of what they are agreeing to, and they may also not put any thought into whether they actually want to do it. It's simply a means to an end, something they have to say to get what they want. So really, whether they are lying or not doesn't even matter. Chances are likely that any promise that is not supposed to come to fuition in the next 5 minutes is not going to come to fruition at all.
Pathologically narcissistic people live in an endless present, an endless moment of now. They may change their mind, their tune, their truth or their persona at any minute. Yesterday it was true. Today it is not true. Yesterday they meant it. Today they do not. There is no way to keep up with this or change it. There is no way to know if it's a purposeful lie or just a temporary truth that has now changed. And it doesn't really matter anyway. Future faking happens because there is no real future with a narcissist. There are only the same old lies, the same old problems and the same old issues that never get resolved.
Narcissists are great future fakers because they are fake in general. Their whole life is a fraud. It's nothing but a performance they are putting on to convince themselves they are worth something. The pie in the sky promises of a great future or of a change are not for you. They are for the narcissist, either so they can get what they want or because promising these things make them feel good. But the good feeling is all the narcissist wants.
Narcissists generally don't want the actual responsibility to keeping these promises, nor have the considered how they will keep them. It's just something to say, like a child who walks around saying they will be famous one day. It makes them feel good and important to say it, and there really isn't much to it than that. This is very hard for people to hear sometimes, because not only does it mean they have to accept that they were lied to, but they have to accept that the thing they were waiting for, the thing they took all the abuse for and jumped all the hurdles for, is never coming. Worse, it was never going to come. It was just one more manipulation from someone who will do anything to get what they want. Often when people look back honestly over their relationship, they will see this happened not just once or a few times but over and over again.
This is a tough one for some to hear, but nothing is tougher than living that lie and having the rug repeatedly pulled out from under you. It's better to face it for what it really is. Once you do that, it loses its power over you and you can break out of the spell of your own hopes and dreams that you've been under for so long. You survived the abuse. You will survive the realization and recovery.