Faking Orgasms — Husbands and Wives Both Do It

Several recent studies show that up to 30% of men admit to faking an orgasm with their current partner. The potential for a woman to “fake it” is a common trope, but it’s often ignored that men can fake it, too.

Previous studies have shown that men’s rationales for feigning orgasm are not so different from the reasons why women play pretend in bed. Both have reported that they fake because they’re intoxicated, to arouse their partner, and to end sex sooner; the most common reason among both genders is preserving partners’ feelings. This new survey indicates that men who pretend to orgasm because they want to avoid having a talk about their sexual needs are less likely to be satisfied in their relationship and in bed. The study’s authors say these men “might be contributing to [their] own low desire and satisfaction by reinforcing unsatisfying sexual activity by feigning orgasm rather than communicating [their] sexual needs and desires.”

But the root cause of this problem—faked orgasms as sub-ins for honest conversations about sexual desires—lie in gender norms that compel men to strive for unrealistic benchmarks of sexual performance. “The image is that men are always up for sex, which makes you feel under pressure to perform even when you don’t want to,” Harvard urologist Abraham Morgentaler said of men’s reasons for faking.

Those same improbable expectations have given rise to women’s pretend orgasms, too. The authors of a 2010 study that found up to 80 percent of women faked orgasms wrote that women often do so “because their men are so goal-directed they won’t stop until a woman climaxes.” Our social construction of sexual pleasure has pegged men’s orgasms as simple—inevitable, even—and women’s orgasms as complicated reflections of their male partner’s sexual abilities. The authors of the new Canadian survey write that these reductive ideals may encourage men to feign orgasm to “appear normal” and women to fake it so their partners’ egos don’t crumble.

As I bolded above, Morgentaler is right: faked orgasms are a poor substitute for honest conversation. For both husbands and wives, it’s important to be honest about our needs and desires. We’ve written a lot here about the importance of sexual enthusiasm and responsiveness, so I suppose it’s important to reiterate the importance of genuine vulnerability.

No matter how great your sex life is with your spouse, not every sexual encounter will go perfectly. Our bodies aren’t machines: sometimes the stars don’t quite align for orgasm, even for men. Don’t be ashamed, be honest. Sometimes there’s some circumstance about the situation that can be fixed or avoided in the future, but sometimes there’s no real explanation — let it go. Try again later!

If your sex life with your spouse is generally good but you have a few misfires, don’t sweat it, that’s normal. If the misfires and frustration begin to overwhelm the successful encounters, then consider talking to your doctor or a Christian counselor who has experience dealing with sexual issues. In either case, honesty is the best policy. Faking an orgasm might spare you and your spouse some immediate embarrassment, but it won’t help in the long run.

Share your thoughts in the comments!

10 comments

    1. There isn’t always a lot of ejaculate, and if the husband climaxes inside the wife then it’s easy to see how it could be ambiguous.

  1. Unfortunately when I could not climax, I left the marriage bed for 25 years. Not until 8 months ago did I have enough courage to talk to my wife about it. Now we are on a good track to sexual satisfaction. Have a ways to go, but it is a lot better than no sex at all.

    1. I’m really glad to hear that you’re on a better path! Do you have any advice for men who may be in the situation you found yourself in 25 years ago?

      1. 25 years ago there was little help out there. Now there are so many of you blogging about marital sex problems. So, thank you. I wish I had heard these messages when I was having difficulty with sex in my marriage.

        If I had any advice it would be don’t be embarrassed to talk to your wife. Talk, talk, talk. There are solutions to almost all sexual situations.

        My wife and I quit talking, and that gave birth to misunderstanding each other. We both wanted sex, but we thought the other did not. I finally broke the ice with the encouragement of a fellow blogger, and we have been having sex almost every day since.

  2. I am struggling with something and would love advice. I have been with my husband for 6 years, married for one year. Before I really became a Christian, we lived together for 2 years. It is only a year into marriage and I am struggling with sex. He is more attracted to me than ever and I find that I am avoiding sex. I used to be the one initiating before I became a Christian, but now I don’t find my husband sexually attractive now. In the start of our marriage (long after we started having sex, the sex was great and i desired him). I love him more than anything and want to desire him again. I know I need to pray about it but wondering if you know any uplifting stories about getting through something like this. I am scared because I dont know how to tell my husband that I don’t desire him anymore and I cannot find the exact source of the problem either. Any advice or uplifting story would be extremely welcome.

    1. Hello Sam. I’m sorry to hear about your frustrating situation. If you’re mainly looking for encouragement, then I encourage you to lean on your relationship with Christ. You know that his will is for you to have a thriving relationship with your husband — so as you said, pray for it. Here’s a post I wrote about trying tears.

      On the practical side, here are a few thoughts.

      1. I would not tell your husband that you don’t desire him anymore. That would be hurtful and cruel, and it’s hard to imagine what good could come from it. It will scar your marriage long after this season has passed.

      2. Recognize that this is a season, and it doesn’t have to last forever. Every marriage has ups and downs. That doesn’t mean the situation will just solve itself.

      3. Investigate your health. It sounds like your mindset changed significantly over the past few years, and there may be a medical reason — hormone changes, kids, etc. Talk to your doctor.

      4. Investigate your environment. Has your stress level changed? Kids, jobs, money problems, etc., can all affect libido. How to Have Time and Energy for Great Sex

      Finally, check out Bonny’s marriage website. I think she has written a lot that might help you.

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