8 Women & Non-Binary People On Why They Stopped Faking Orgasms

Nobody wants to fake an orgasm, but if you've done it anyway, you're in good company. One study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that 76% of women and 41% of men had faked it, with the number one reason being that people wanted their partners to feel like they'd done a good job. It's understandable given the enormous amount of pressure put on orgasm as the goal of sex.

However, in the process of trying to please our partners, we often shortchange ourselves by faking orgasms. "The best way to start having real orgasms with your partner is to stop faking them," Vanessa Marin, sex therapist and creator of Finishing School: Orgasm With a Partner, tells Bustle. "It's just so hard to experience real pleasure with your partner if you're invested in putting on a good performance of fake pleasure. I know it can feel daunting initially, but I can say from personal experience that it's so worthwhile in the end."

Once you've started faking orgasms, it can feel like you have too much momentum to stop. But as these people prove, it's never too late to start your search for genuine pleasure. If you want to stop faking orgasms, here's a guide to talking to your partner about it, and here are some stories that might inspire you.

1. August, 40

Ashley Batz for Bustle

"Years ago, when I was dating someone with whom I seemed to share little sexual chemistry, I faked an orgasm more than once. I hadn’t yet discovered ways to experience orgasm fully on my own, which would have helped hugely. At the time, faking it seemed like the kinder option for both of us. Looking back, I see that my 'faking it' during sex was analogous for our whole relationship. We were both trying so hard to be the 'right' person for the other when in reality, we weren't very compatible in general. I wouldn't be surprised if the issues go deeper for others, too.

Today, faking an orgasm wouldn't feel kind to me, not to me or to a partner. I'd either allow myself to enjoy sex, sans climax, or guide my partner, hands, or a toy so I would, even if it took more time. But I'm in a far different place, emotionally and sexually. I think it's important to not shame anyone who feels unable to experience orgasm with a partner, even if they falsify an orgasm at some point. It isn't often easy for people with vulvas to figure things out in the sex department, considering how little most of us learn and the mixed messages we receive — that we shouldn't be 'too' sexual or only sexual in certain types of ways.

I've spoken with numerous women who felt unable to explore their sexuality before meeting 'the one,' and then felt pressured to perform like porn stars if or when they did. I think it's super important that we give gals and femmes full freedom to advocate for our own pleasure. Once we see that it's ours and just as valuable as a partner's, a whole world can open up."

2. Beth, 51

Ashley Batz for Bustle

"When I turned 50, my libido skyrocketed instead of slowing down. And it struck me that I was honestly faking my way through sh*tty sex to save my wife's feelings. And I felt that life was way too short to not ever experience pleasure with another person again. So, I decided to no longer settle. I tried talking to her about it, with predictable results. She was upset, I was upset. But we are talking about it and trying different things.

I still haven’t had an orgasm caused by her in years, but now, I don’t fake it. I focus on feeling pleasure, enjoy that, and then move on. I give her pleasure, and then later, I’ll go take care of myself if I need to. I’m going to therapy about these issues as well, so we shall see. But I’m not settling for sh*tty sex any more. Either we get better or, with her permission, I seek it elsewhere."

3. Herinza, 25

Ashley Batz for Bustle

"I think I stopped faking orgasms when I found a right partner. I identify as a non-binary femme, and I'd always think about pleasuring my partner before I met my current one. It’s really communication that helps — when the person knows what your body wants and reacts to it.

The other thing I realized is that power dynamics and gender roles in bed play a big role in getting pleasure. There is often something that holds women back from getting pleasure because we are conditioned to take it as what it is. And also — not knowing what orgasm feels like. Masturbation and sex toys are great tools, I must say!"

4. Steffanie, 24

Ashley Batz for Bustle

"For me, learning to take my own pleasure seriously had a lot to do with feeling like I deserved it. When I first began having sex as someone who had been sexually assaulted, sex felt like something done to me. I felt small and ashamed to give direction or ask for what I wanted. I would end up faking to get it to end.

As I got older and started to gain confidence in my body again — and started to see sex as empowering instead of a symptom of trauma — I was able to communicate with partners better. As I began having more real orgasms, I was able to stop faking them."

5. Vanessa, 35

Ashley Batz for Bustle

"I faked orgasms for years, until I had one particularly negative experience that made me decide I would never fake again. I had been hooking up with this guy, pretending that I was cool with it being casual, but secretly wanting him to like me as much as I liked him.

This particular time, he had been using some pretty intense stimulation, and I had actually been in a bit of pain. But I faked it as usual, wanting him to feel like we had such great chemistry. He cockily proclaimed, 'I can play your body like a fiddle.' The comment grossed me out and made me especially mad given that not only had he not made me orgasm, he actually caused me pain!

I vowed then and there that I would never fake another orgasm. I can't say that I stuck to that commitment 100%, but I did commit myself to learning how to have real orgasms with a partner, and I'm proud to say I got there!"

6. Bonny, 44

Ashley Batz for Bustle

"When I was younger, I faked all of my orgasms with a partner. I never got to the point where I could, and so I faked it. Later on, after I stopped faking it, I had a male partner that felt he 'shouldn't have to do' the things I asked of him to help me orgasm (touch my nipples, let me be on top) so I reverted to faking with him, too. Never again.

How did I stop? It took two things. One, I stopped using a vibrator. While I don't think I was addicted to it, it definitely reduced sensation when I tried to cum au natural. Secondly, position and arousal. Twice, with separate partners a few years apart, I was both extremely turned on, and, sitting on my partner's lap while he sat facing me. Both times, as soon as the gents touched my nipples, I had an orgasm. These were very different than the ones I had solo... stronger and very sudden with no buildup.

The first time, I didn't put two and two together. The second time, I knew I was on to something! I had a partner willing to explore this with me, and we figured it out. Now, years later, I don't put pressure on myself to orgasm every time. And, I don't. Interestingly, I've now found another position that gets me going, but it's a slower build: CAT, or coital alignment technique."

7. Tsara, 44

Ashley Batz for Bustle

"When I met the man who has now been my husband for nineteen years, I chose to be honest with him. Before then, I had tried to have orgasms during sex but always found that when I got close, I would be too nervous to allow it — afraid I'd make ugly sounds or embarrass myself in other ways — and so would just pretend in order to give my partner the feeling that I had been satisfied and we could stop now. However, I really wanted to orgasm during sex and knew it was not only possible but that I deserved it.

So, I timidly admitted to my man that I was capable of enjoying sex but that I had yet to orgasm during it. I was careful not to encourage him to feel like it was something I expected of him but instead something I would figure out on my own over time, and he was comfortable with that. It took a few years, and there were times I was tempted to pretend so that he wouldn't feel discouraged, but I really wanted honesty in the bedroom. And when I did finally have an orgasm I was so glad I had insisted on the truth! I hadn't taken us down a path of me pretending, and so we could celebrate while truly getting to know what worked best for me. I don't have orgasms every time we have sex, but I often do, and I never pretend anymore."

8. Gemma, 30

Ashley Batz for Bustle

"I used to fake orgasms as a teenager while fumbling around with my fellow adolescent boys. I thought that something was wrong with me if it didn't feel good. I also noticed that the guys would always beam with pride when I faked it. Truth be told, I valued their pride over my own enjoyment. For a long time, I assumed that I'd never find any sexual activity pleasurable at all. This fear worsened after a classmate sexually assaulted me. I was almost repulsed by sex, and I believed that men only wanted to have sex with me to hurt me and make themselves feel good.

That all changed when I fell in love at age 19. My then-boyfriend, though flawed in many ways, emphasized that my enjoyment was crucial to him. One day, while in a post-coital daze wrapped in a blanket hunting for a midnight snack in his fridge, I beamed at him and told him that I liked having sex with him. For the first time, I was the one beaming. He was thrilled. We broke up a year later, but I promised myself that I would never revert back to my former ways. Even if another man sexually abused me or mistreated me, I would always value my sexuality and seek my own pleasure. It's been 10 years and I still stand by that promise."

There are many understandable reasons people fake orgasms, so don't be hard on yourself if you relate to these stories. But as they show, the decision to stop is often worth it. Even if it means having some uncomfortable conversations, they'll have major payoffs for your relationships with others and yourself.

Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.