It’s Time to Reveal Your Fake Orgasm

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You have been faking orgasms with your partner. You are not alone. Women faking orgasm is embedded in cultural sociosexual scripts. Men pretending to orgasm (and they do) is often met with surprise and curiosity, but to hear that women fake orgasm does not raise an eyebrow. Previously, I had written about men pretending to orgasm (Do Men Fake Orgasms?); here, I will focus on women.

In a study involving women’s sexual satisfaction and sexual communication, Herbenick et al. (2019) obtained data from 1,008 adult women aged 18 to 94 years. The researchers found that 58.8 percent of the study’s participants reported having ever faked an orgasm. Of course, for men, it’s about “other women.” Certainly, their partner does not fake orgasm. It is a belief that either stems from a position of hegemonic masculinity, or they are being told/reassured by their partner that they don’t—when, in fact, they do. If the latter is true for you and you are faking orgasm, it’s time to stop. This brand of performative sex is detrimental in that it fails to address health issues and/or issues in the relationship and continues to deny the vulva owner sexual pleasure.

Even understanding that one needs to let their partner know that they’ve been faking orgasm raises many difficult questions:

  1. I’ve been faking orgasms for years; how do I let him know after all this time?
  2. Won’t I come off as a liar?
  3. Won’t this confession hurt his feelings?
  4. Will this ruin our sex life?
  5. What if I say something and it ends the relationship?

These are all fair questions.

Reasons for Faking Orgasm

If the reason for faking orgasm is to hasten an end to the sexual encounter because of pain or the inability to orgasm and this is a pattern, you may be ignoring a potentially serious health condition. Some reasons for sexual pain and/or the inability to orgasm are health-related. Hormonal disorders, chronic pelvic pain, nerve damage, and serious illness can all affect the ability to orgasm. Even prescribed medications to deal with health conditions can affect an individual’s ability to have an orgasm. Reaching a state of orgasm can also be affected by psychological issues stemming from past sexual trauma. In any of these cases, pretending to orgasm and ignoring the issues is not a healthy solution.

It’s important to let your partner and health professional know that something is wrong so proper diagnoses can be made and you can receive the necessary medical attention. If the condition is serious enough, it’s best to catch it as early as possible. If the issue is with the medication you are taking, there are alternative drug regimens that may alleviate or eliminate the issue, but none of this can happen if you remain silent (beyond false orgasmic theatrics).

Source: Jill Burrow/Pexels

Romantic partners lie to each other from time to time. That’s the truth. Sometimes it’s insignificant things, and sometimes it’s to hide a good surprise. But, sometimes, the lie is very significant and can be of such a nature that it could threaten the relationship if discovered. Depending on your partner, knowledge that you’ve been faking orgasm can be serious enough to end a relationship. So you may be asking why you would risk everything by saying something.

Trust and Honesty

Relationships need to be based on trust. If you are serious about the relationship, you need to be serious about the trust issues. Behind every lie is a reason. And behind every faked orgasm is a reason. Regardless of the reason for pretending to orgasm, you need to be honest with your partner. Once you are honest and come clean, then trust rebuilding can begin. Trust is founded on open and transparent communication that is honest. When you fake orgasm, you are concealing something from your partner and leading them to believe a falsehood. This is certainly not open, transparent, or honest sexual communication.

Approaching the Partner

So, how does one approach their partner about this? It’s not necessarily going to be easy. The longer you have been dishonest about reaching orgasm, the more difficult the discussion may be. Your partner may be hurt by the dishonesty and see this as a breach of trust. They may have feelings of sexual inadequacy. They may wonder how else they have been deceived.

There are effective strategies at your disposal to approach the discussion. Remember, behind every lie is a reason—and that is where you can begin. It’s not a good strategy to admit to the simulation and end the conversation there, full stop. That would not be constructive communication. Simply explain what you have been doing and offer the reasons behind it. If the reason is medical, such as pain, let your partner know that you need medical attention. If things are just taking too long and you need to get up early in the morning, just say that. If the issue is your partner’s performance, let them know what they can do to give you the pleasure you need to reach orgasm.

If you simply are unable to achieve orgasm, even through masturbation, let your partner know that it just doesn’t happen for you and that shouldn’t affect your sexual relationship or their sexual confidence. Let them know that you still enjoy sex with them, and they still provide you pleasure, despite the lack of an orgasm. While there may be a positive correlation between sexual satisfaction and orgasm, orgasm is not necessarily required for a woman to view a sexual encounter as satisfactory (Lentz and Zaikman, 2021).

If issues arising from your confession, be it trust or shame, are too much for the two of you to deal with alone, utilize the services of a licensed relationship therapist to assist in the navigation of the issues.

Returning to the Herbenick et al. study, two-thirds of the participants who had pretended to orgasm in the past did not continue the practice. Reasons provided for the change in sexual behavior included a greater feeling of being accepted by their partner, greater sexual comfort, and a heightened level of confidence. Study participants who continued to fake orgasm reported feeling embarrassment in discussing sex in an explicit manner with their partner and disagreement that they were able to discuss what would make sex more pleasurable.

When you fake orgasm, you deny yourself the potential of the maximization of your pleasure, you risk ignoring a medical condition that needs to be addressed, and you add challenges to the foundational trust in your relationship. Your physical and psychological well-being are important. You deserve to have a sex life in which your pleasure is maximized. This does not occur when you are engaging in performative sex where you fake orgasm. Plus, your partner is half of the relationship—they deserve to know what is happening in the vital aspects of the relationship, including the sexual components. Only with open, honest, and transparent sexual communication can you and your partner work on effective solutions for the benefit of your shared sexual livelihood.

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