Narcissists Use a Subtle Tactic Called 'Future Faking' to Manipulate People

Philip Ellis
Photo credit: Nick Dolding - Getty Images
Photo credit: Nick Dolding - Getty Images

From Men's Health

One of the hallmarks of a toxic, narcissistic relationship is the belief that things will change or get better in the future, often reinforced by a promise to that effect. But as clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula explains, these kinds of promises are actually a narcissistic technique called future faking.

"It's actually a form of manipulation, and it's keeping you hooked in by making the kinds of future promises you want to hear," she says. "This may include wanting to have a family with you some day, and they may say things about wanting to get married some day, and buy a house together, some day."

"Future fakers reassure you, they tell you about the income potential they're going to have one day, or they're making more than enough money to take care of you," she continues. "In that way, future fakers can often coax a partner into leaving a job, or moving to another place, just to be with the narcissist... One of the main things that keeps people stuck in a narcissistic relationship is financial dependency. And once that narcissist renders you financially dependent on him or her, they are able to exert far more psychological control."

This isn't a tactic that's exclusive to romantic partnerships either; Durvasula explains that it can also present itself in family dynamics, where a family member will dangle the offer of future opportunities or financial support in order to get you to do what they want.

"One function of future faking is simply to distract you, just when you may be having a growing sense of discontent about the relationship, or starting to draw away," she says. "It's a perfect manipulation to draw you back in. They'll focus on talking about future things that really, really matter to you, and doing this can make you doubt yourself and make you think twice about transitioning out of the relationship."

Future faking is often deployed by narcissists at very strategic times, she adds, such as when a big decision needs to be made about work or school that might result in them having less influence.

The important thing to remember is that a narcissist has no intention of keeping these promises, they are made with the sole intention of keeping you on the hook. "It's kind of a psychological Ponzi scheme, in which you buy in now, and never get paid down the road," says Durvasula.

"They ask you to make a sacrifice now, to make a compromise now, give them money or support now, because 'some day' they will do whatever that thing you want is. What they're astute at is figuring out what matters to you in the future, and promising you exactly that thing. It's often part of the mirroring process, where they listen to you and work out what makes you tick, which is the perfect tool to future fake from."

You Might Also Like

More From