Future faking: what is it and why is it so damaging when dating?
If you’ve ever met someone who sweeps you off your feet with romantic promises and signs of commitment before disappearing, then you’ve likely been a victim of future faking.
In the late 90s, I spent a whirlwind couple of weeks being courted by an incredibly charming guy. It felt, as all-too-often these situations do, as if we’d known each other much longer, thanks to us hitting some key milestones. He introduced me to his parents within a week of us dating and, on what turned out to be our final date, he suggested moving in together when I found my new apartment. It felt like a fairy tale…until he began ignoring me the following day.
While most of us have, at one time or another, overestimated our interest or capacity to commit, people who habitually (even if they’re in denial about it) hype up the future to get what they want in the present, are future fakers. They test the waters with their charm offensive and if you respond positively and accommodate their behaviour by having fewer boundaries than you need, they’ll take it as confirmation that you’re not looking for the real deal.
While for some it just takes one experience of this to learn, I, like many, was burned by future faking several times due to faulty assumptions about dating and relationships. I reasoned that someone doesn’t talk about the future (holidays, wedding invites, marriage, babies etc.), introduce you to their family, friends or co-workers, or talk about their feelings, unless they’re serious about you.
In truth, emotionally available people with integrity are responsible with their words. So, even if they think about some of these future possibilities a day into knowing you, they know they need to give the relationship time to develop. They value sincerity and building genuine trust.
How future faking works
A future faker uses promises, inferences and intensity to simulate intimacy. On the receiving end, you’re subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) associating what they’re doing with someone you know far better than you do. It’s why so many people who’ve felt confused about what was real and what was fake, talk about feeling as if they knew this person already very quickly.
Alarm bells should ring when someone (and yes, that includes you) pushes or assumes intimacy that doesn’t reflect reality.
If those bells don’t ring, you’ll override other information that suggests the need to slow down. Or you’ll drop your boundaries because you’ll think that your feelings and the intensity of the situation make it okay.
Future faking isn’t just about someone creating the ideal conditions to make it easier to get what they want; they also like how they look in this fantasy relationship and feeling as if they’re giving you an amazing time.
Why do people future fake?
When the future doesn’t materalise and the fairy tale rug is ripped from under your feet, it’s all too easy to ignore the lack of integrity and blame yourself. You reason that you were going to get this future and that this person is the real deal, it’s just that you messed up.
In truth, most future fakers have an underlying fear that, if you were to genuinely get to know one another and forge intimacy, you wouldn’t like what you saw. So, they kill things off while the fantasy’s still intact.
It can also be about the newness wearing off. When they’re unsure if they can have you, they equate feeling out of control with desire. Hence, if you buy what they’re selling, the challenge is over.
And yes, the worst ones are just straight-up con artists.
How to deal with future fakers
Some might argue, what’s a little fakery between two people if they’re having fun? But, in truth, it damages a person’s ability to trust themselves and others, with some feeling conned and humiliated.
Being future faked gradually shook me out of a rather pervasive naivety about dating and relationships. It forced me to have stronger emotional, mental and physical boundaries and to be clearer about who I was and what I was looking for. I learned to be more discerning and grounded, instead of looking to be swept away.
If you’re serious about being in a serious relationship, learning to distinguish future faking from genuine actions and words is critical. The easiest way to do this is to avoid future faking yourself – moving too fast and disregarding your boundaries, true intentions and desires for instant gratification. Yes, it might mean fewer ‘prospects’ but by changing what you’re receptive to, you’re also becoming available to like-minded people who are seeking genuine love and relationships.