When it comes to women faking orgasms, a lot of us are doing it to end bad sex, a new study finds. According to research recently presented at the British Psychological Society's Psychology of Women annual conference in Windsor. When researchers spoke to 15 women about faking sexual pleasure and it turned out that a lot of women are faking it to get sex to end — especially straight sex. Emily Thomas, one of the study authors, tells Bustle that 12 participants self-identified as 'heterosexual', one as 'bisexual', one as 'heterosexual/bi-curious', and one as 'lesbian'. "The analysis emerged as only relevant to participants accounts of heterosex and thus we included accounts from 14 women who spoke of having sex with men," Thomas says.
Although it can feel like there are sometimes good reasons to fake an orgasm, those weren't the ones participants were talking about. "While some women spoke about faking orgasm in positive ways, for instance, as a pleasurable experience that heightened their own arousal, many talked about feigning pleasure in the context of unwanted and unpleasurable sexual experiences," one of the authors said in a press release. "Within these accounts, we were struck by the degree to which women were connecting the practice of faking orgasm to accounts of unwanted sex."
Sure, this is a small pool —only 14 women— but is anyone surprised? Though they are lumping together "unwanted" and "unpleasurable" sex, and those are very different things. Unwanted sex is never OK— you should never be having sex you don't want to be having and you can decide you don't want to be having it any time. Unpleasurable sex, or just sex you're not enjoying very much because you're distracted, stressed, bored, or it's just bad, is a whole other ball game. And I know a whole lot of women that have faked an orgasm during bad sex just to get it to end.
But is it OK to fake it during boring sex? "The idea of women faking orgasms is actually a very disempowering, bothersome concept," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "The point of two people having sex together is so they can be close, feel intimate, and enjoy sexual pleasure together." So when a woman fakes it during boring sex, she's saying that the point of sex is to make her partner feel good about themselves.
"Many women assume that it’s 'too much trouble' to explain to her partner what she needs him to do to give her an orgasm," Hartstein says of women faking orgasms during heterosex. "She may worry that it will take too long and that many men can’t be bothered to give her that much time and attention. Men rarely fake orgasm — they aren’t wired, either internally or societally to disregard their needs in the way that same way that women often are. They are going to tell you exactly how they need to be touched and stimulated in order to come."
It's Bad For Your Sex Life
"The main reason that faking orgasms leads to bad sex is because the woman is not giving her partner any clues about the kind of stimulation that she actually requires to have a genuine orgasm," Hartstein says. "All women are different and sex is not a magical thing where two people automatically know exactly how to kiss and touch each other. There is definitely a learning curve. If you fake an orgasm, two wrong things happen. The first is that a your partner doesn’t know what kind of stimulation and touch will give you a genuine orgasm. And secondly, you cheat yourself out of pleasure."
I know of some women who get trapped in a cycle of faking orgasms. They always fake it, so their partner doesn't know what she wants, so the sex is always bad for her, so she fakes it. It's so much easier to not fake it and be open about what you want in the first place then to try to break a cycle later on.
It's Bad For Your Relationship
Not only is it bad for your sex life, it has an effect on your whole relationship. "Faking orgasms simply sets a bad precedent about priorities and communication," Hartstein says. "It’s suggesting that you will subjugate your own importance and pleasure for in order to feed your partner’s ego. It’s also doing [them] a disservice because you are assuming that [they] aren't willing to take the time to give you exactly what you need."
You can't act like your sex life is isolated from the rest of your relationship, but if you aren't comfortable enough to communicate about sex, you have some walls up in your relationship. You need to open about what happens in the bedroom if you want to be open about what happens outside of it.
What Else Can We Do?
One of the great things about this study was that there was nothing shame-y. The authors explained:
We are not criticizing faking practice on an individual level. We want to focus on the problems with our current lack of available language to describe women's experiences that acknowledges, names and confronts the issues women spoke of in our interviews.
And that's exactly what we lack. There's not really a language or any fluency when it comes to discussing sexual pleasure. You need to create your own. And it starts by talking to your partner.
Images: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle; Giphy (3)