If you thought that women were the only ones who ever faked a screaming orgasm while actually just trying to remember if they paid their cable bill, think again: men can fake orgasms, too. In survey after survey over the past decade —including a 2004 ABC News poll which found that 11 percent of men had faked an orgasm, a 2010 study published in the Journal of Sex Research that showed 25 percent of college men reported having faked an orgasm, and a 2013 DatingAdvice.com survey, which found that 22 percent of men admitted to faking an orgasm — men have revealed that they, too, will fake a standing o to save face or just end a sexual encounter (I know exactly what you're thinking, and the answer is: guys who fake orgasms say they usually use a condom, and throw it away before their partner has a chance to see that it's not full).
Sure, those numbers aren't that high when compared to women's fake o stats — most surveys place the amount of women who've ever faked an orgasm at around 67 percent. But for those of us raised to believe that heterosexual intercourse pretty much revolves around the dude's orgasm, the news might be a little shocking. Even the most evolved, sex-positive, and orgasm-oriented among us usually accept the idea that the male orgasm is kind of the bedrock of the entire sexual operation, the one thing we can always count on in a sexual encounter. If a man doesn't have an orgasm, we wonder, did sexual intercourse even actually occur?
That attitude, it would seem, is partially to blame for men's (and women's) faked orgasms. As sex therapist Joanna Benfield noted in an interview with the UK's The Telegraph, "We imagine that sex can only be good if it ends in orgasm;" this emphasis has led us to feel pressure when we can't orgasm, instead of enjoying the “quality of the sexual experience as a whole.”
So what are the specific reasons that men fake orgasms? Overall, they can broken down into five major categories.
1. TO SPARE THEIR PARTNER'S FEELINGS
Faking an orgasm in order to inflate your partner's ego: it's not just for ladies anymore! According to Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, an associate clinical professor of urology at Harvard Medical School and the author of Why Men Fake It, many male orgasm-fakers — just like their female counter-parts — are trying to protect their partner's feelings, and fear that admitting that they can't orgasm from a particular sexual encounter would wound their lover's ego. "[I]n their minds," says Morgentaler, "it’s actually a form of kindness. They’re kind of letting the other person know that they’ve done a good job."
2. BECAUSE THEY'RE TIRED
Though we stereotype men as unrepentant horndogs who could never possibly want to sleep when they there's a lady interested in riding their baloney pony afoot, this belief can actually lead men who feel too exhausted for sex to fake an orgasm. As Jim Behrle wrote in GQ Magazine, "Why would any man do this? Don't we spend most of our busy hours—and all of our bored ones—plotting to get women into bed with us, just to have the opportunity to orgasm?... But the problem with that attitude is that it doesn't account for system malfunctions." And chief among those, writes Behrle, is tiredness, which led him to put a fake end to a sexual encounter: "I need sleep. In fact, I must sleep...So I decide: This must end."
3. BECAUSE THEY'RE DRUNK
4. BECAUSE THEY'RE AFRAID THEY HAVE A PROBLEM
Sometimes the fear that motivates men's fake orgasms can be deeper than just a worry about being seen as less-than-virile: that's because difficulty orgasming can be tied to health problems, like duct blockages, or can be part of a reaction to taking prescription medication like Prozac. For men worried about these problems, faking an orgasm can be a way to get out of having to have an uncomfortable conversation about their health with their partner.
"The fear is that not having an orgasm —and telling the truth about it — could generate anxiety in their partner and invite endless discussion,"says Dr. Seth Meyers (who is a Los Angeles psychologist and NOT the guy who used to anchor "Weekend Update" on SNL— though I would also be interested in hearing that Seth Meyers' take on men faking orgasms).
5. BECAUSE IT JUST ISN'T GONNA HAPPEN
You know how sometimes you're having sex with someone, and you just know that an orgasm just isn't going to happen? That happens to guys, too. As an anonymous young man who admitted to faking orgasms told The Village Voice in 2010, men sometimes fake "[b]ecause you're just kind of going at it, and nothing's happening,
and you're starting to chafe or go limp, and you're not Dirk Diggler. So
what do you do?...it'll be awkward if you don't have an orgasm, so
you fake one and finish it off."
So what does this mean (besides the fact that, statistically, one of you reading this has faked an orgasm in a sexual encounter with a guy who was also faking an orgasm, making your entire encounter a sort of Gift of the Magi with boners)? Well, the good news is that if we're all running around faking orgasms to impress each other, then actually, none of us have to fake orgasms to impress each other.
In my own personal experience, I faked orgasms because I felt bad subjecting guys to the unpredictable nature of my own orgasms; knowing that this happens for them, too, makes me think that men won't be as put out to hear "this isn't going to happen tonight" as we often fear they'll be.
It also means that current sexual standards that paint men as emotionless sex robots who'll do anything to dip their wick don't help anybody — which is a great reason to work on purging our brains of them. A vision of sex that is drawn from reality — instead of imaginary standards of how we should perform in bed — would probably lead to way less fake orgasms for everyone involved.
Images: Bustle Stock Photo; Giphy (6)