Have you ever learned about something that suddenly snapped a huge part of your life into a new perspective? That happened to me the other day when I read about future faking for the first time. If I had known what it was twenty-five years ago, it would have changed the entire course of my life, and I am not kidding.
Future faking is a trick that manipulative people use to make us think they are invested in a relationship. They pretend they want to do something with you in the future in order to win your affection, attention, or whatever the heck it is that they want.
This kind of thing actually happens all the time to varying degrees. Most people do not regard casual statements as a firm contract. When we say, “we have to get together soon” or “I’ll send you that link” or “I’ll call you,” we’re expressing a sentiment that feels true in the moment. Today Me thinks Future Me is totally going to want to hang out!
Just like Past Me has committed Today Me to do all kinds of things, from donating blood to reorganizing the cabinet under the sink, Today Me never feels any more like doing those things than Past Me ever did. Ah, but Future Me, Future Me is the one with the motivation.
Future faking goes beyond ordinary over-promising and under-delivering. Future faking can be a conscious strategy of the unscrupulous.
Multi-level marketing is a classic example of this. There’s a huge amount of inspiration, motivation, visioning, and pumping up of aspirations. It’s going to be so great, business is booming, you’re going to get so rich! …in unsold and unsellable inventory and bitter experience. Even though 99% of people who sign up for MLMs lose money, they’re still allowed to operate. Sadly, getting duped by one MLM is not enough to convince everyone to swear off all of them, and the same individual may get swept up in the same type of scheme several times.
One of the hints here is to do a status meeting with yourself and ask: “Is this working for me, right now?” “Do I constantly feel uneasy about this situation… until Person X talks me out of it yet again?”
This works in romance, too.
I can give my ex-husband credit for a few things. One, he did a great job of erasing himself from my life after we split up, which is more than most people can say. Two, he always did his share of the housework. Three, he told me the brutal truth (meticulously, over several weeks) about why he wanted a divorce. At least I would never have to wonder!
Among other things, he told me that he had tricked me from the very beginning of our relationship. He pretended to be into the same things I was, because he wanted to go out with me. In fact, he said he was still attracted to me and would still date me, he just didn’t want to be married anymore. Strange but true.
He had the basic concept of marriage down. Marriage isn’t about two people who find each other attractive and want to save money by sharing rent. That was sort of what was on offer with my ex.
Marriage is about wanting to live the same basic lifestyle, on the same basic schedule, with compatible values and ultimate goals. My ex knew we didn’t have any of that, and furthermore, he knew it almost instantly from the moment we met.
He formed a deliberate plan to use his strategic advantage and manipulate his way into my good graces. He read me well, and quickly understood that I was oblivious to his position.
On the alignment chart, I’m a lawful good character. My ex was… hmm, I never really thought about it… ugh. Neutral evil? Honestly I don’t think he would be offended by that characterization; he might find it flattering. Why wouldn’t an intelligent person look out for his own interests?
I fault myself, although the mistakes I made were a young person’s mistakes of trust, optimism, and simple naivety. Poor little fool.
It goes basically like this:
I like walking on the beach. Oh my gosh, you do too?? Oh, look, we both have a scar on our chin! We’re meant to be together, forever!!! *harps and butterflies*
We give our hearts away, spilling a dozen details about ourselves, which any carnival employee could quickly note. It’s a straightforward matter of conjuring up a persona that shares those interests. We fall for it because we want to believe, because we believe in a vision of love, romance, and dating that is missing all the important steps of a long-term marriage contract.
Absolutely none of that can be determined at a faster rate than that at which a lovesick young fool’s heart falls for a certain sort of image.
Young Me had dreams of middle-class stability and home ownership. Young Me came up with a plan in which one of us would go to college while the other worked, and then we would switch. That’s what my parents did, after all, and my new husband said I could go first because he had no particular desire to go to school right then. It was easy for him. I made all the plans and dreams, and he nodded along. All he had to say was a formula along the lines of, “Yeah, I always wanted that too” - and I fell for it every time.
The truth was, I had no independent vision of what he wanted for himself, because he never offered one, I never asked, and I never got curious. I simply swallowed the bonkers notion that we coincidentally wanted all the same things. Didn’t everyone want to go to college and buy a house, after all? (No, actually).
Further, nothing in my ex’s past indicated that he had ever been on track for any of these plans. Just like me at the time, he was on the rebound and probably “between plans.” Most people don’t necessarily have any plans beyond avoiding eviction or job loss.
Future faking is no big deal when it involves tentative plans for lunch or dinner with someone. It may happen, after all, sometime within the next year. Future faking is definitely a big deal when it leads us to believe that someone is a completely different person than he actually is, a person with a different ideal life and different visions for what happiness looks like.
While I didn’t know what future faking was as a clueless twenty-two year old, and I didn’t have a name for it, I did figure out how to get around it. I started asking a lot more questions when I met prospective suitors. I also married my current husband only after we had dated for three years, when I pretty much had him figured out. Our future would turn out to be a lot more interesting than I would have guessed, and that’s because I chose a man, not a carefully plotted future fantasy.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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