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!