Women get a bad reputation for faking orgasms. But the truth is, it's not just women who do it, and a lot of the reasons
why people fake orgasms are actually very understandable. Rather than being an attempt at manipulation, the motives can range from wanting to leave a bad situation to getting turned on by it.
But regardless of
how we feel about faking it, a lot of us have done it. An IllicitEncounters.com survey found that 68 percent of women and 28 percent of men had. Another study in Sexual and Relationship Therapy found that men who fake orgasms do so around a quarter of the time.
Some of the
reasons people fake orgasms reflect disturbing societal problems. A study presented at last year's British Psychological Society's Psychology of Women conference found that many women were faking it to end what they described as bad sex — but a lot of their accounts could also be described as sexual assault. Clearly, if somebody's in that position, they faked it because they felt that had no choice — which is what I mean when I say we shouldn't judge people for this.
To find out more about all the different reasons people fake orgasms, I asked 17 people why they did. Here are their explanations.
1 Sheena, 32 "1. I didn't want to hurt his feelings. That's what I thought would happen if I said something... even though I'm told I won't. 2. Because it was just awkward. At first, things are going well... then they are OK... then they are not... and it just felt awkward to stop midstroke and say, 'this is doing nothing,' so I just faked it so it could be over. 3. What he was doing wasn't working and I didn't have the energy, the compassion, the heart, the courage, or whatever else to show him or explain to him how to make it better so I could have an orgasm, so I just faked it." 2 Robert, 55 "The last time I did this, my wife kept wondering if I had because I didn't seem to enjoy it that much even though I did ejaculate. So, even if it isn't all that great, I acted as if it was great, which normally it is, so my wife wouldn't think she was losing her 'touch' and would feel better about her methods." 3 Cynthia, 73 "Many, many years ago, when I was still married, I faked an orgasm once or twice for the sake of my then-husband's pride. I have not done so — nor have I needed to do so — since, with quite a variety of partners." 4 Reba, 29 "I felt like his ego couldn't handle me telling him he just wasn't doing it for me sexually. Nowadays (as I approach 30), I don't fake orgasms because it's honestly doing me and my partner a disservice. The more genuine pleasure you feel during sex, and the more you can genuinely convey that during the act, the more pleasure your partner will experience in turn. When you fake an orgasm instead of working with your partner to increase real pleasure for you, you both miss out on a mind-blowing, pleasure-filled experience. I feel like if you're not getting real pleasure from sex, then what's the point?" 5 Gemma, 27 "I used to fake them all the time when I was a teen. I thought there was something wrong with me because sexual activities didn't feel good. I mentioned my habit of faking it to a trusted male friend one day, and his response changed my ways: 'Don't do that!' he said. "Now the guys will think they're doing it right and they won't change! NEVER fake an orgasm!' It was then that I realized that guys were just trying to figure out sex stuff like I was and were clueless about many things as well. I stopped faking it then and I haven't done it since." 6 Kate, 24 "I faked an orgasm once, back when I first started having sex, because my partner was really eager to get me off but wasn’t touching me in a way that would actually give me an orgasm, and I was too awkward and shy to give her instructions or direction. It seemed easier and less confrontational to just fake an orgasm so the encounter would end, than to tell her I needed her to adjust her technique. Now, I’m much more confident asking for what I want, and I wouldn’t fake an orgasm these days unless for some reason I felt it was the safest and easiest way to get out of an unsafe situation." 7 Gabby, 24 "I knew it wasn't going to happen because I was drunk. I really liked the girl, and I knew I'd be able to orgasm when I was sober, but I was too anxious to say that, so I faked it. Happy ending: the next time we had sex, I came a lot." 8 Wendy, 33 "I wanted to make my partner feel like he had succeeded and could finish up. I'd just had enough — there were other things on my mind, I knew I wasn't going to get there, and this just seemed like the most efficient way without hurting feelings, raising questions, or whatever. This also wasn't someone I saw as a longterm partner, so it felt easier to 'lie.'" 9 Jenny, 41 "I was bored, didn't want to hurt feelings, or knew he would orgasm first, so why even try?" 11 Meg, 30 "Because I was totally wrapped up in the moment but at the same time knew I wasn't going to orgasm." 12 Lisa, 38 "Because I just wanted the whole thing to be over with." 13 Kathy, 28 "I hadn't seen my partner in a while, but I had a really long day at work and needed to get some sleep." 14 Kelli, 33 "I've faked orgasms both to make my partner feel good and to bring an end to sex because I'd rather be doing other things." 15 Cara, 43 "When I know it's just not going to happen. My husband wants me to come first, so he will keep trying until it happens. If I know it's not going to happen, I 'finish' quickly so we can be done." 16 Jane, 29 "I faked them with my ex for four years every single time we had sex. It started in the beginning when I was 22 to stroke his ego because when I honestly told him I didn't come, he left me hanging and beat himself up so much I had to console him. From then on, I faked and couldn't stop until the relationship ended. I will never fake again. I've learned that my orgasm is more important to me than a man's ego." 17 Kitty, 33 "When I was in my early 20s, I'd fake an orgasm because the sex I was having was not enjoyable to me and I didn't have the language yet to speak up for myself, so I'd fake an orgasm in the hopes the other person would finish more quickly. When I was in my late 20s, I would fake orgasms because I found it difficult to orgasm with a partner, and I didn't want my lover to feel badly that they hadn't 'made me come.' Faking allowed them to recognize they had given me pleasure without me having to do emotional labour reassuring them. Now, in my early 30s, I'll occasionally fake orgasms because I've personally found making the sounds and body movements (like squeezing my kegels) as if I was having an orgasm arouses me and makes it more possible for me to have an orgasm, like a self-fulfilling prophecy."
I was impressed by the sheer amount of variety in these answers, and after reading them, I have trouble judging anyone for faking an orgasm. Gemma's right that it can reinforce ineffective techniques, but perhaps it's not on individual women to train their partners to be good lovers. Maybe it's on all of us to create a culture where people don't feel the need to fake it in the first place.