When discussing narcissism, we often hear about the concept of “Future Faking.”
It’s the overpromise of a commitment involving a relationship, marriage, family, or money. It essentially asserts, “Just hang in there. It’ll happen. I promise.”
Only, it never seems to manifest, does it?
Let’s take it to a much simpler promise: the promise of basic communication—the classic “I’ll call you.”
This person constantly makes and breaks appointments; they always have an excuse and a “reason.”
Yes, sure, life happens; the unexpected happens; emergencies happen. But if it keeps happening, at every turn, something else is going on.
Here is where sayings like, “We make the time for what is important to us,” and “Don’t make someone a priority who makes you an option” pop up.
Once again, I return to a family relic that has served me well as an educational tool: it’s a hunk of fool’s gold. It looks shiny. It looks like “the real thing,” but it can’t deliver on anything more than its very name—the illusion of something precious, in the eye of the beholder. And, often, when that is us in this scenario, we do feel like a fool.
So, why? Why is there the tactic of the Future Faking maneuver?
Here are a few of my theories. Kick them around and see if anything resonates:
1. They don’t care.
This can be a startling wake-up call for us. It seems inconceivable that the narcissist wouldn’t care. And it’s not necessarily because we’re naïve. It has more to do with the fact that we mistake our caring and empathetic selves for their uncaring selves. Yes, we’re projecting—we believe the best, instead of the worst, in the person.
We need to constantly remember that how we’d respond, how we’re moved with compassion for others, may not be another person’s response.
Especially if we are dealing with a narcissist, they view things more through a self-focused lens. To them, others are simply not important; they are often viewed as expendable.
Therefore, when it comes to communication, there is no reciprocity. Phone calls, direct messages, emails, and texts, in the narcissist’s eyes, all have the luxury of being ignored. It’s just not important—end of story.
They’ll say it’s “nothing personal.”
It’s nothing personal because our narcissist simply doesn’t rate it as significant. They do not care.
So, that’s one big why. Ready for another?
2. They get something from our time and attention.
They enjoy the power of being unavailable.
Narcissistic supply is defined as the energy, the fuel, the attention a narcissist gets when they engage with us.
And if we are sincerely invested in the relationship, we try to make it work—out of love or a need to help and be there for that person—and the scales of power are imbalanced.
Make no mistake; the narcissist loves that imbalance in their favor. Power and control over another person are huge in the eyes of this abusive type. They revel in holding power over someone.
It’s often why many narcissists gravitate to positions of power, like politics, law enforcement, and highly public platforms, which garner much attention. They enjoy the attention—the “perks.” They enjoy being able to decide what happens to the little people.
Ego stroking is just too appealing. They cannot deny themselves any and every opportunity to engage in it.
The “I’ll call you” tactic and assorted communication manipulations relate to the power imbalance that comes with being unreachable, “un-gettable,” and too important to speak with a mere mortal by phone.
They like the chase; they like being wanted and pursued. It feeds their delusional ego, reassuring them that they are significant, special, and different. They don’t need to abide by the rules that the rest of us follow. They are too much of a star to be bothered.
Our sincere desire, attempts, love, and desperate willingness to be there and to connect with the narcissist further cement their grandiose sense of self.
Yes, they are the master; we are the slave. Never the two shall change. The worship is, therefore, owed to them.
3. They are cowards.
Often, narcissists take the easy way out. Have you ever noticed that?
They often avoid uncomfortable situations, possess endless excuses, and employ other people (their “Flying Monkeys”) to do their dirty work.
Narcissists, it appears, cannot be bothered with one-on-one, direct, open communication. Again, they may reason that they are too important, too busy, too special to stoop to such lowly and unrewarding behavior. It’s beneath them.
But I believe it has more to do with cowardice. It takes moral character, strength, and facing one’s fear of difficult confrontations to have an open, honest dialogue. Whether it’s a breakup—where a narcissist may “ghost” that person and disappear without any explanation—or an awkward firing, the communication never seems to be direct or eye-to-eye.
And a phone call? Forget it! They may reassure, “I’ll call you,” but it’s sporadic, at best. And, if a call is returned, it may take on a rushed tone, even further underscored with their superiority over our inferiority. If there’s an important matter or issue that needs to be addressed, it rarely, if ever, happens. The narcissist, in one way or another, slips out of the phone call.
Indeed, the “I’ll call you” moment is just too real, with too much discomfort; it strikes their insecure nerves. A narcissist does not want to be reminded of his/her insecurity. Yes, it already permeates their entire being, but denial is a right a narcissist may believe himself/herself to inherently possess. They get to pretend and play by their own rules, while “the rest of us” must deal with reality.
These are potentially a few explanations, attempting to answer the confusing why questions a narcissist often leaves behind in the wake. But let’s really get to an uncomfortable explanation. And this speaks to our participation in the dysfunctional dance.
Why are we here?
Why do we believe the lie of “I’ll call you?”
4. We’re being abused and mistreated.
No, we don’t deserve mistreatment or abuse. Nevertheless, we put up with it—don’t we? We give them chance after chance. We constantly check our emails, text messages, and phones. We believe, “this time will be different.”
And it never seems to be different.
We hang on like this, perhaps, because we’ve been trained to do so.
Many of us have come from abusive backgrounds. We’re accustomed to bad treatment, a lack of accountability, and personal responsibility. We’re used to lies, chaos, and broken promises. That doesn’t mean we like it; it merely means we’re used to it; it’s familiar.
Future Faking is fool’s gold; it looks solid and shiny, but it’s not the real thing.
And no amount of us wishing or wanting or hoping it will be so will make it so.
One of the most painful, difficult things for each of us to accept is this: they mean more to us than we do to them. That’s not a healthy love, family, or friend dynamic.
Relationships involve reciprocity, dignity, and mutual give-and-take respect. And that includes caring enough to follow-through and not creating a communication ping-pong game.
Their actions should match the words they utter. Period.