Before we start talking about why some Narcissists “future fake,” let’s talk a bit about the concept of future faking and the role it plays in new relationships when one member of the couple has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I will start with defining the term.
What is future faking?
Future Faking is a courtship strategy in which someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder acts as if you are the one they have been waiting for all their life. They start making plans for the two of you and they tell you about all the wonderful places that they want to take you in the future.
What does future faking look like?
Imagine you meet this appealing person on a first date. By your second date, they seem to have already decided the two of you are the perfect couple. They praise everything about you. They start talking about a future with you.
You may be a bit hesitant. After all, you barely know this person. You are thinking: “Isn’t this too soon to make this type of commitment?” But, on the other hand, it is nice to finally be in the company of someone who seems to really like you.
The possibility that this person really means everything they are saying leads you to start imagining a possible future with them. A future with no more bad dates and no more wondering whether your date really likes you as much as you like them. So, you decide to go with the flow and see what happens next. You do not want to risk missing out on something wonderful by being too skeptical. You like this person.
Now this person whom you hardly know starts describing the great times the two of you will have when they take you away this summer to their favorite resort. They start to describe in vivid detail all the amazing things the two of you will do together—the great restaurants you will eat in, the romantic walks along the beach, and even relatives and close friends that they want you to meet.
You get caught up in it and invite them to be your plus one at a family wedding in two months time and they immediately agree. You breathe a sigh of relief and think: “They must be serious. Why would they agree to go to a family wedding, if they weren’t in love with me?”
Here is an example of how future faking might sound:
You have never been to Paris in the Fall? I can’t wait to show you around. I know Paris like the back of my hand. It is the most romantic of cities! I have an idea. Let’s make the trip longer and end up in Rome. There is nothing more beautiful and atmospheric than the Tivoli Fountain lit up at night.
Is future faking always just lies?
No. Many people get over enthusiastic in the early stages of infatuation—including many people with NPD. They are too quick to assume that they have found their ideal mate and now the two of you will live happily ever after. In this case, they are not pretending. They are happily playing out aloud their favorite inner fantasy that they have now projected onto you and the new relationship with you.
How common is narcissistic future faking?
Not all people with NPD start planning an entire life together after a first date, but It is very common. How common? Well, I hear about it frequently from my clients who are dating, especially those clients who are meeting people through dating apps. It is common enough for it to appear in a question on Quora and for lots of non-narcissistic people to be wondering about how wary they need to be when their new lover starts to plan a future together.
What is wrong with future faking?
Even if the person with NPD is not consciously trying to fool their new lover, most of the time this type of premature planning ends in disappointment. The Narcissist jumps into the deep end too fast. People with NPD are often quite impulsive and uncritically go with their current emotion without thinking it through.
In addition, because Narcissists lack emotional empathy, they are not worrying about the possibility of raising unrealistic expectations and then disappointing the other person. The reality is that more often than not, the narcissistic lover will get bored or start to find fault with this person and that will be the end of the relationship. The Narcissist will forget or renege on every promise they made—including being your date for your cousin’s wedding.
Why do Narcissists do future faking?
The line between sincerity and insincerity is nearly invisible for people with NPD. In the moment, they might actually feel sincere. But, they are not factoring in that they should wait before sharing their fantasies about a possible rosy future with you.
They feel free to change their mind at any moment. When their infatuation wears off and they lose interest in fulfilling the future plans, they can easily rationalize the change in their thinking. Here are some of the things Narcissists tell me about these situations:
I meant it when I said it. It just didn’t work out between us. Why blame me?
They are not who I thought they were. They fooled me. I don’t owe them anything.
They should have realized that I was just trying to be entertaining.
It was fun while it lasted.
What about insincere future faking?
Sometimes Narcissists use future faking as a seduction technique. This is particularly cruel because they know that the glowing picture that they are painting is totally fake. They are using it as a cold blooded strategy to get sex and attention from someone new.
Also, many people with NPD are poor conversationalists. They tend to develop a set of stories or strategies that they believe show them in a good light and use the same ones with almost everyone. Elaborate future faking can be a substitute for real conversation and a way to avoid actually showing real interest in the other person.
Punchline: Narcissists use future faking to enjoy themselves, entertain someone they are interested in for the moment, and as a way to get sex and validation.
Elinor Greenberg, PhD, CGP
In private practice and the author of the book: Borderline, Narcissistic, and Schizoid Adaptations.