Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“We are going to go on a road trip through New Mexico because I want to see the mountains and the desert together. We’ll have an amazing time and laugh and joke.”

“And then we’ll go back home and work hard on that business we are going to build together. I am excited about the future it’ll bring us and doing more together.”

“Our kids are going to going to have amazing cute butts when we have them.”

What do all of these statements have in common? Promises of the future. And they also have another thing in common. A lack of action.

After a few of these incidents in life and in business I started looking for a way to spot this sooner. A way to cut my losses. A way to keep my effectiveness in a world where some believe there are more and more narcissists.

Which lead to me developing this simple formula:

Promises of the Future + No Reasonable Actions On The Promises = Future Faking

This simple formula will save you both in life and in business. I’ve encountered narcissists in both places. But like so many times, life and business really are about the same thing.

I learned this lesson in my personal life and took it back to business.

That client that wants your time and consulting help for the amazing future they are going to build? Run it through the formula and see if it’s Future Faking.

That man or woman you are dating and their promises? Run it through the formula and see if it’s Future Faking.

This is going to be a powerful tool for you to combat the narcissists in the word, keep your sanity and save your time – in life and in business.

What is Future Faking?

Future Faking. I remember reading about the concept and a light-bulb went off in my head.

Essentially the narcissist tells you what you want to hear about the future so you do what they want you to do NOW. It’s not hard for them to do. They just listen to what you want or desire and promise that to you in the future.

All you have to do to have a “Future Faking” event happen is talk about the future and not intend to have it happen. The hard part for the recipient is dealing with the fake part.

How do you know it’s fake? We’ll get to that in a bit.

Why Is It So Powerful?

Future Faking is powerful because most of us want a future. We want a future with our romantic partners and we also want a future with our business partners. And many of us are willing to make sacrifices today for the future.

While a lot of us get focused on the here and now our society is full of people that are trading today for a better future. College classrooms would be empty, as would research libraries and laboratories. Less books would be sold. The self-improvement industry would be dead. Business incubators and angel capital meetings would be empty too.

A lot of us look to a brighter future.

And the narcissist knows and senses this. Whether they want free work on a project, your contacts or your love and sex they’ll gladly tell you about the wonderful future so that you’ll comply with their wishes.

Why Do Narcissists Use It So Much?

But why use this tool so much? Why is it so common in the narcissist’s grab bag?

Because it fits perfectly with the profile of narcissists. Narcissists, by definition, want the most supply they can get for the least amount of work.

So how does this fit with Future Faking?

By making a promise now (pretty easy to make promises if you aren’t making the commitment behind it to do the work) the narcissist has given you something of high value. You want that future and you know you’ll sacrifice for it. So you start to make sacrifices NOW for the future. The narcissist collects the value of those actions in present time knowing they will never do the future work they promises. All benefits for the narcissist at no cost.

It’s all based on a bad contract, as us lawyers would say. You did your part – they just timed their part in the future and never intended to do their part.

How Do We Test?

This is pretty bad stuff for the giver. If we keep giving and getting nothing back we’ll eventually have nothing left to give, right?

So we need a test. We need a way to protect ourselves.

That’s why I came up with the equation at the beginning of this article:

Promises of the Future + No Reasonable Actions On The Promises = Future Faking

The first part of the test is easy. Is the other person making promises of the future?  If there are no promises of the future there is no Future Faking.

But merely having promises alone does not make a Future Faker. Many couples, and many businesses, do build futures. Amazon has grown and grown over the decades. It was small when it had big dreams of a future. And it did the work and grew. And the same happens with couples. Some dream of new cities and growth – and many make it happen.

So the key is the second part of the test. If there are promises of the future we need to see if there are any reasonable actions on the promises.

Not promises of actions, but actual actions on the promises. For instance, if your partner is promising that you’ll be buying a house together in 5 years are they saving for that? Are they planning their job, their current lease or their current house in a manner consistent with being with you in this house you’ll buy together in 5 years?

If they want to build a business with you are they actually doing things consistent with that in their life?  Or are they just talking about it?

Let’s get real here. Actions speak louder than words. Is the person promising the future taking action?

What Do We Do When Someone Fails The Test?

When someone outright fails the test we know they are likely a Future Faker. We need to plan accordingly.

While every relationship is different I strongly suggest distancing from those that promise a future but don’t take actions consistent with it.

Another option is to slow your roll. If the other person isn’t acting you stop taking actions and making investments. I don’t like this option as much because it seems to start a very unhealthy trading mentality in the relationship. Really not great for long-term in business or in life.

To Our Futures

This is about our futures. If you’ve been Future Faked in the past and you are thinking about avoiding in the future you are obviously future oriented. Future oriented in that you were susceptible to the Future Fake and also future oriented that you are planning for the next possible encounter with that.

You now have the test. Use it every time.

Know that everyone doesn’t have the same values as you.

Have you been Future Faked?  What happened? What tools do you use to avoid it? Join me in the comments below to discuss.

By: The Our Shawn McBride, is the man you call when you want a keynote, training or a consultant to get your business ready for The Future of Business. He’s the host of The Future Done Right(TM) Show and a long-time business attorney. If you want regular content on the future of business subscribe to get new blog posts from us here.

Check out some of my other articles on

Why Ownership Isn’t What It Used To Be

Hit The Ground Running, Deliver Value: This Is The Future of Business

Who Is Controlling Who?  Are the Algorithms In Charge?

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