When the conversation around faking orgasms comes up, it normally revolves around women. You may think of women faking orgasms to put an end to bad sex, because they're not getting what they need to orgasm, or because they feel a lot of pressure to please their partner. But the truth is, women aren’t the only ones faking orgasms.
Condom brand SKYN’s 2018 Millennial Sex Survey found that nearly half of all men fake orgasms, too — which is a lot higher than you might have guessed. And with National Orgasm Day falling on July 31, it's time to get to the bottom of why all this faking is happening.
While the survey found that more women do it than men — 63 percent of women faked orgasms versus 43 percent of men — it's important remember the orgasm gap exists, which highlights that men consistently orgasm more than women during sex. But still, it’s interesting that so many men reported faking orgasms. Though, to some sex experts, this wasn't a surprise.
"As a society, we often put cis men in a box of always being ready for sex and stereotypically always orgasm," Rena McDaniel, certified sex therapist for LifeStyles and SKYN Condoms, tells Bustle. "In reality, many men experience anxiety, pressure, stress, and medical concerns that affect their ability to orgasm during sex. As a culture, we have created a sexual environment that doesn't teach people how to communicate effectively about their needs in sexual situations and leaves people feeling like 'faking it' is their only option to signal that they are done with the sexual experience or to show their partner that they are enjoying themselves."
With nearly half of men faking orgasms, it begs the question, “Why?” Why are men faking orgasms and, crucially, are they doing it for the same reason as women?
The Societal Pressures Behind Why Women Fake Them
Although there’s a huge range of reasons why someone might fake an orgasm, often women feel a societal pressure to do so. They don’t want to seem tricky or difficult — thanks to social conditioning — or they put a lot more emphasis on their partner’s pleasure than their own. "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," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW, tells Bustle. "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.” So instead, she fakes one.
The fact that the female orgasm is so often (wrongly) described as “mysterious” and “elusive” adds to this idea that it’s probably impossible to have one, so you might as well fake it. Meanwhile, people also joke that every man can orgasm at the drop of a hat (also wrong). So how is that connected to their urge to fake it?
The Societal Pressures Behind Why Men Fake Them
There are some reasons that people fake orgasms that could easily motivate men or women. Relationship counselor and clinical sexologist Dr. Martha Tara Lee of Eros Coaching, tells Bustle that making your partner feel like they've done well, ending sex that you're not enjoying, or just not feeling comfortable or relaxed enough to finish are reasons that women and men might fake an orgasm.
Of course, there's also the way stress can wreak havoc on our sex drive. "I believe that men and women fake orgasms for some similar reasons and some culturally-defined, gender-specific reasons," McDaniel says. "We know that stress is the number one killer of libido and affects the ability to orgasm. We also know that anxiety, pressure, and overthinking during sex decrease one's ability to orgasm. All of these things affect everyone who has sex." But is there something else? There's a certain type of pressure that, as society, we put specifically on men — and that might be leading them to fake it.
"For cisgender men, there is the added pressure of performing masculinity, which has been associated with the ability to get an erection and orgasm in every sexual encounter," McDaniel says. "This is an unfair and unrealistic expectation and might contribute uniquely to cisgender men faking orgasms." It makes a lot of sense. Society says that men should be strong, virile, and orgasm on cue — and some men might internalize those pressures.
That's why, no matter what your gender, it's time to open up a conversation about pleasure with your sexual partners. "Talking about pleasure, desires, likes and needs is so important," Sarah Watson, licensed professional counselor and sex therapist, tells Bustle. "[B]ottom line, if you are faking orgasm you might consider why and how to share that information with your partner in a meaningful way."
Whatever the reason, too many of us are faking orgasms rather than having open communication with our partners — and that's a loss for everyone.