After the initial elation stage ends, the dyad then seeks to fill the depletion void by focusing on their future plans. If it felt like you’d finally found the perfect friend or romantic partner and relationship for you, then you may have experienced “future faking.” Here’s what future faking looks/sounds like — “We’ll be happy when…(fill in the blank)…
- I get that new job
- we move in together
- I/we get out of debt
- I/we retire
- we get married, etc.
Sounds normal, right? It’s not. Why? That day never comes.
You may have misinterpreted skillful observation and questions about how to make you feel loved and happy as attentiveness. Being the recipient of that kind of attentiveness feels wonderful. However, have you since noticed that your future together never actually happens beyond talk and superficial, non-committing gestures?
What you thought you’d found turned out to be more of a fantasy than reality. That fantasy was created possibly with the help of a few other actors and props.
Those actors are what’s called “flying monkeys.” They’re people in yours or the other prson’s lives who play roles that create and perpetuate an illusion that’s not real. More on them later in part 5.
It may even be that you and your partner have been as honest and sincere with yourselves and each other as you know how to be.
Because trauma causes people to compartmentalize, some thoughts and feelings fail to connect with each other and/or with reality. Compartmentalization is how trauma survivors manage to function so highly, be strong, competent, accomplished and resilient. However, in terms of time, money, existing obligations and other practical details required to “live happily ever after” as planned, there’s a disconnect — a lack of reconciliation for the practical necessities required to make those plans actually happen.
The people who helped to create those illusions were like actors. They probably participated unknowingly and/or with the best of intentions, perhaps even joining you in believing in and hoping for a happily ever after for you. If that fantasy was rooted in a trauma-bonded relationship, then, most likely, it will disappear quickly when one partner discards the other and the relationship.
Usually, the discard happens just as fast or faster than the trauma-bonded relationship began. When the discard happens, it will make your head spin. For a while, you’ll feel disoriented in addition to being heartbroken. Secretly, maybe unconsciously even to the discarder, having the power to discard the relationship feels good. By then, in part because the gap between the future faking and reality has become daunting, the discard can feel like a relief. Future faking, especially when it requires the participation of flying monkeys, tends to be exhausting.
That relief is also the other side of the trauma-bond coin. On one side was the vulnerability that felt like intimacy. That was thrilling. But was it real? On the other side is the fear — the, experience of “My God, what have I done?!” referenced in the band Talking Heads’ song, “Once in a Lifetime.” (1980: https://youtu.be/5IsSpAOD6K8). It’s where you intuitively feel and/or experience your partner feeling and behaving from a tendency to be guarded. It’s where their and/or your need for control resides. And, discarding the relationship is the ultimate means of control.
More on Flying Monkeys
The people who participated in helping to create your “happily ever after” illusion eventually will have to decide if they feel okay with having been used as actors to, probably not intentionally, to create that fantasy/illusion. If they later enable the discard or continue to enable future fantasies, then they are what’s called “flying monkeys,” an unfortunate yet rather editorially descriptive term taken from The Wizard of Oz. For a variety of reasons — unquestioned loyalty, dependence (physical, emotional, financial), fear of losing the relationship — some will continue to play their “flying monkey” roles in future trauma-bonded relationships. Some, lacking insight and any significant inclination to be reflective, may never even stop to question it. Others — those who have the capacity for insight and the power to free themselves — eventually will decide that they’ve had enough of being drawn into repeated relationship dramas. They’ll be empowered to resign from their “flying monkey” roles. To opt out like that requires some courage because it’s possible that doing so involves risking some loss and, potentially, other painful consequences.