Home Family & Relationship Psychologist Decodes 5 Telltale Signs of Future Faking in Dating

Psychologist Decodes 5 Telltale Signs of Future Faking in Dating

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Did you know that January and February are peak months for dating apps? Tinder revealed that there were 11.4 million more messages sent globally from the start of January to Valentine’s Day compared to the rest of the year.

To help people navigate the difficult world of dating, Dr Gayle Watts from Turning Tides Psychology, a psychologist with over 12 years of experience, has warned of five telltale signs of future faking, a manipulative tactic often deployed by narcissists in dating.

What is future faking? 

Dr Watts explains: “Future faking is a term that describes a form of manipulative behaviour, whereby someone promises you will get something you want in the future to get what they want in the present. The promises are usually empty and never come to fruition, but they tap into our deepest desires and hopes for the future which makes us want to believe they will come true. Future faking is essentially a way of controlling or coercing someone’s behaviour.”

5 Future faking red flags to watch out for

1. Love bombing

Future faking is a form of love bombing, where someone “bombs” another person with extreme displays of attention and affection in an attempt to influence and gain control of them. While this may seem romantic at the beginning of a relationship it can lead to a power imbalance further down the line.

Dr Watts adds: “This can lead to a potential partner falling for them very fast and very hard – it strengthens the bond. This in itself often means the narcissist holds more control and power in the relationship than they otherwise would. It can essentially be a form of love bombing.”

2. Empty promises

Before entering into a relationship, it’s important to understand that each person’s wants and needs in life are aligned. However, future fakers pretend that they want exactly what the other person wants to trick them into a false sense of security that never comes to fruition.

Dr Watts has provided an example: “Person A is in a long-term relationship with person B and wants to get married. Person B doesn’t want to commit but they promise that they do want to get married at some point in the future.

“Without this promise, person A might have left the relationship as they would know they weren’t going to get what they wanted out of it. However, with the promise of marriage in the future being dangled like a carrot, they end up staying in the relationship and waiting for something that never comes.”

3. Distracting from reality

At the beginning of a relationship, it can be exciting to discuss future plans. However, someone who future fakes is likely to do this to the extreme. Dr Watts explains they are more likely to “enter into a relationship making all sorts of promises about the future – for example how they can’t wait to get married and have kids, or to go travelling the world together.” this is a form of distracting from reality to keep someone hooked into the dream in hopes that one day it will be real life. Sadly, for someone who finds themselves dating a future faker, this will always be a distant dream.

4. Commitment avoidance

Future faking can also be used to avoid committing to plans. Dr Watts describes: “For example, telling someone you will ‘call them next week’ to talk through an issue and then not calling. It can essentially be a way of ‘kicking the can down the road’. We all avoid difficult situations at times, but future faking is a particularly unfair way of doing this as it involves messing with another person’s feelings, hopes and desires.”

5. Not taking tangible actions

Future fakers will employ tactics such as promising their partner they will do something once they have completed another task first then not following through. Dr Watts warns people to watch out for red flags such as “If someone says they will move in with you when they have saved up enough money for a deposit, what are they doing to save for a deposit? What tangible steps or actions have they taken? Look for substance behind the words.”

How to respond to future faking

It can be difficult to spot when we are being future faked, as we are often so invested and attached to the outcome. We keep believing in something even when all the evidence is against it because we want to hold onto some hope that it will come true.

Dr Watts recommends: “It can be helpful to try and take a step back from a situation and try to remove emotion from it as much as possible – look at the evidence.

“Look out for how much detail they go into when they are talking about future plans. Are they being vague with timelines or what exactly is going to happen? Do they try and change the conversation when you ask questions? Or does it seem like they genuinely have a detailed plan in place and an idea of when they think it will be put into action?

“If you find yourself getting swept up in promises about the future during a conversation, remember it is ok to ask for a pause or some time out so you can go away and reflect on what you have heard. Perhaps write things down to help you get clarity on what has been promised and when, and whether there is any evidence to suggest they will stick to their word.”

Dr Watts has over 12 years of experience working both in the NHS and the private sector. She completed a doctorate in clinical psychology in 2016 and since then has worked with in both mental health and physical health settings. She has gained extensive experience working with difficulties such as anxiety, depression, stress, sleep difficulties, anger management and adjustment to living with long term conditions. As well as providing 1:1 support for clients, Dr Watts has provided supervision and training to other members of a multidisciplinary team. 

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