'Future Faking': Guys Talk About Why They Play This Awful Dating Game

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It was Angel Patmore's first date with this new guy, so she was rather surprised when he asked her to spend an upcoming day shopping for Christmas trees with him -- and even meet his sister. But Angel figured, what the heck, it might be nice to have someone to do a holiday thing with. Only, not only did they never go shopping for Christmas trees -- she never heard from him again.

Then there's Mary H. On her first date with a "hot single dad -- I thought I couldn't go wrong," Mary says the man brought up the idea of visiting Boston together and offered her a ride on his Harley. But not only did Boston never happen and the Harley ride never materialize -- the hot guy disappeared. Angel and Mary may have dated different men, but they had one thing in common: they were both victims of "future fakers."

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"Future faking" -- a term I first heard on relationship blog BaggageReclaim.com -- encompasses anyone who seems to promise or strongly hint at a future together, even if it's just another date, only to nose-dive off the planet. It's one of the biggest complaints women have about the dating scene and also one of the biggest causes of hurt and confusion.

Ask any woman who has been on the dating scene for awhile if she's been the target of a future fake, and chances are, she has. Future faking can be as small as saying something like, "Next time I see you, we should ..." when there is no "next time" -- all the way up to planning weddings that never happen.

Like most women who have spent any time in the dating scene, I've had my share of future fakers. There was the guy who preceded virtually every sentence with, "And if we were married ..." (never heard from him again) and the guy who pointed at me dramatically at the end of the first date and declared, "You MUST see me again!" (followed by a few piddling emails that faded into his "busy" schedule).

I was determined to find out why guys do this. Now, getting guys to talk about anything relationship oriented is usually a hang-banging exercise in futility, but I managed to get quite a few to open up.

It was a simple question: If you're not that interested in a girl, or just don't know yet, why not just be neutral, play it cool, make no promises or plans, and go home and let the evening simmer in your brain for awhile?

The most common answer I got was this: Men seem to think it's rude or "mean" not to make future plans with you -- even if they have no intention of following through with them. Said comedian Dan Nainan, "I think that what is going on is that the guy is trying to seem interested so as not to hurt her feelings ... which I admit is a bit disingenuous of men to do so."

Despite the fact that a woman may not be sitting there begging, "Can we pleeeease go to a Thai restaurant next time?" he still feels myseriously compelled to say, "Next time, let's get Thai." To not do so would make him a bad guy, he thinks, even if the women has yet shown no interest in continuing the relationship herself.

As for how a woman feels when the offer to take her to that awesome Thai place never materializes -- he doesn't really think about it. Most of the men I spoke to had absolutely no idea that women considered this behavior bewildering and even hurtful, and some men vowed to stop doing it. "Men are generally being 'trained' to keep many options open and not to take dating too serious," said dating coach Matthias Behrends.

A few of the men were more even more insightful, however. One man admitted that he often engages in future faking, and even that it's an important part of his dating strategy. He called it "Next Date Hedging."

"It helps me gauge their interest," said John Boese, founder of GoFindFriends.com. "Based on their reaction (verbal and non-verbal cues), it helps me get a better sense if they're interested in seeing me again."

But what of the woman who responds positively to the hint or actual offer of a future date, but still never hears from John again? He says, "Maybe I was unsure about wanting another date, but still wanted to gauge her interest. I'll throw out the Next Date Hedge to get more information before I make my decision to ask her out, namely would she say yes and does she like the date idea. Of course, the unintended consequence of this is that she thinks I'm interested and going to ask her out in the future. Then, later that day or the next day, I'll figure out if I want to ask her out again ... sometimes I ask her out again, sometimes I don't."

After I informed John that hinting around that you want another date only to not ask for one leaves women baffled, he admits that he's "reconsidering my approach." Let's hope so.

Of course, there were the men who did have intentions of seeing the woman again, but something happened after the date that swept them away. It could be anything from something the woman said or did, to nothing she said or did -- perhaps the guy just had time to reflect and decided it wasn't a good idea. Perhaps he met someone else. Perhaps he decided he's gay.

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Then there's this uniquely astute married dad of two, who has picked up on the "future faking" phenomenon by listening to the dating stories of his adult sons. Says Dan Nygaard: "One reason men 'future fake' ... We're fishing for validation that this female is interested in us. Men do this regardless of our own interest in the woman because we crave validation. Most men never recognize this driving need for validation, and so cannot see their 'future faking.' ... Even after the man's interest fades, he may continue fishing for validation: 'I'm really not that into her, but if she's interested in me that’ll feel good. So I’ll test her interest.'"

See ladies? It really isn't you, it's them.

Hopefully, men will begin to realize that blurting out doing something in the future that they don't have certainty is going to happen is just making women distrust everything they say. That resting bitch face men see on dates? It's because of stuff like this.

More from The Stir: 10 Dating Red Flags That Should Send You Running

Ladies, as for you, when a guy starts rambling on about vacationing in Tahiti together, whip out your smartphone and say, "Cool! Let's book that now! Credit card number, please?"

I suspect it'll be awhile before he future fakes again.

Have you ever been "future faked"?


Image © Undrey/Shutterstock

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