Over the past couple of years, I’ve talked often of the perils of being caught out by Future Faking – this is when someone spins you a future so that they can get what they want in the present. I’m talking references to plans such as something you’ll do together in a few weeks or months, living together/marriage/baby talk, and basically talking as if they’re sticking around. This tends to happen in new relationships, after breakups when they’re attempting to woo you back, or when problems are happening in the relationship. You know you’re experiencing Future Faking (whether you feel it’s intentional or not), when the future doesn’t materialise.
Future Fakers don’t put the action behind the words. If you don’t smell a rat quickly enough and end up internalising the change in the relationship programme as being a reflection of you, you’ll make the mistake of thinking that they were going to do all of the things they said, it’s just that you’re not good enough or you ‘did’ something to eff it up.
Many people end up baffled, wondering “Where the eff is that future that they promised me?” or Why can’t they go back to being who I thought they were?”, and find it difficult to work out what was real and what was fake. They keep chasing the dream, convinced that it’s still on offer, even when the ‘salesperson’ has vanished.
Here’s the thing: It’s a given how thoughtless, hurtful, misleading and inappropriate a Future Faker’s actions are, but after listening to so many people talk about their experiences and seeing some of them go back so many times to the same ‘burning fire’, it’s time to ask: Are you guilty of Future Faking yourself?
If you keep returning to the same relationship, or find yourself Staying and Complaining in a poor situation, or you keep finding yourself in same relationship packaged up in a different person while carrying the same ‘ole issues, you’re faking a future to yourself by Betting On Potential and using denial, rationalising, minimising, and excuses to circumvent what you actually know to be true (reality) or right for you (your values), so that you can continue to get a short-term fix and bury your head about medium to longer term issues.
The same can be said for you, if you kid people into believing that ‘things are going to be different this time’, drumming up support, confidence, sympathy, empathy, help, and even money to ‘back’ your proposed changed self, only to renege. It’ll be familiar if you whip up a lot of drama around you, with people rushing to put their two cents in, Florence, and fight your corner.
You see people with addictions do this all the time, but it’s also the same for people who ‘go’ to therapy but don’t actually do therapy. Experience has taught me that some people are very good at talking the talk and saying what they think professionals, friends, and family want to hear – you can, if you’re not looking out for the hot air, get sucked into their faux confidence.
To be fair, we’re all guilty of a little Future Faking of ourselves. We say we’ll definitely go to the gym before enjoying a sneaky treat, that we’ll get up early and catch up on work before casting aside our task list to chill out, or that we’ll cut back next month and then we go mad with the spending this month. We don’t go to the gym, or get up early, or cut back the spending though. However that’s life and really, it’s only going to become an issue if we never actually do any of these things but keep telling ourselves and others that we will, and then complaining about the results of the fact that we don’t.
When for example, you decide to opt back into a relationship that you know has caused you much pain and that you in fact recognise that the very things that broke your relationship in the first place haven’t been resolved, you’re telling yourself (or imagining) all of the various things that will happen to legitimise your reason to go back right now. That and you have [selective] Relationship Amnesia.
You use an almost dogged focus on the future and the grand plans you have for yourself in it, to avoid very real problems in the now. This is like throwing caution and responsibility to the wind.
It’s also the same when you appear to have a compulsion to break contact, to create drama, or to attention seek, or maybe all of these combined – you mean your intentions for the future about as much as you could mean it at the time, which isn’t much because you have given no genuine thought to anything beyond instant gratification and have exhibited little self-control.
Just like if you’ve been Future Faked by someone else, when you do it to yourself, your mentality is a bit like “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.” This allows you to enjoy the fantasy without interruption until the future materialises along with the expectations, needs and desires that go along with it.
It’s a bit of a gamble really. It’s like realising you haven’t got enough money, for example, to go on holiday, but going anyway, acting like you have all of the money for your trip and having the time of your life, and in the back of your mind, hoping a ‘windfall’ will come along to save you, instead of scaling down your efforts and living within your means…or not going. Failing that, you find something or someone to blame when you have to pay bills…or you disappear.
It’s bad enough when others bullshit you, but it’s even worse when you bullshit yourself. It’s also important to recognise that bullshit begets bullshit, so if you lack honesty and integrity with yourself, you won’t be able to smell what’s wrong with a person or situation, because it will be clouded out by the smell of your own bullshit. That and it’ll blur your vision and block up your ears.
Before you opt back into something, it’s time to ask:
Is there a medium to long-term benefit to what I’m about to do that isn’t based in fantasy?
If I have to stand behind my word and follow up with action, can I still open my mouth? You may actually find that the first time you’ll be taken seriously is when you keep it zipped and get on with it.
Have I been here before and if so, what is the genuine, tangible difference now that would legitimise me proceeding, that doesn’t involve my ego, my libido, or my overactive imagination?
There’s no such thing as a life without accountability and responsibility…unless you live in a fantasy or set yourself up with faux goals by having a long shot mentality. By Future Faking yourself, failure is accepted from the outset so you’re not actually being accountable for the dodgy decision making and Betting On Potential that you’re engaging in.
But actually, you’re still accountable, something that is easy to forget when you avoid making decisions and being final about things. You cannot even begin to make change or be happy, if you’re going to trap yourself in Groundhog Day future jacking yourself. You’ll also get on your own tits due to frustration at your self-deception, plus you’ll wear down those who actually buy into your bursts of proactivity showboating- when you do decide to get serious, you’ll be the girl/boy who cried wolf.
There’s more to life than the short-term. Remember this the next time you’re selling yourself out for instant gratification and longer term side effects.