Faking it; just reading these words will make some uncomfortable, as the mainstream belief is, without orgasm, there is no pleasure. But still, the practice is far more current than one can imagine.
In a 2010 University of Kansas study, 25% of men and 50% of women surveyed were found to have faked an orgasm (28% and 67%, respectively, for penile-vagina intercourse experienced participants). While these numbers might surprise some, it makes us wonder why so many people would fake orgasm and if it’s really a sign of an unsatisfied sexual encounter.
The case of men
So why are men faking it? According to the Kansas study, the first reason (58% of the men surveyed) is to avoid upsetting the person with whom they are having sex when they can’t orgasm. Among the reasons they can’t orgasm, men mentioned stress, drug consumption, or extreme fatigue. It has nothing to do with the partner.
“I am bisexual, and no matter who I have sex with, there is an implicit obligation to cum or orgasm, says Jerry, 21, from Seattle. If the other person doesn’t make me do it, they feel bad. In reality, it is probably not their fault. I may have been too tired or mentally ‘not there’ enough to orgasm. I still enjoyed the experience and it felt wonderful.”
Enjoying sex without orgasm is not quite accepted in our society. We picture men as sexual machines and assume that, if they didn’t come, the sex was just bad.
“I really dislike these Western society’s views, continues Jerry. Likewise, these views are awful towards women and obviously play off this. If a woman can’t get her man off, then she sucks. These are ridiculous views and very wrong.”
To avoid hurting their partner’s feelings, some men we interviewed for this article said they’d focus hard to orgasm or will simply fake it and get rid of the condom quickly before the partner finds out nothing happened.
The case of women
Women mentioned the same reasons as men on why they couldn’t orgasm, but far more (80%) faked it to avoid negative consequences, like hurting their partner’s feelings.
The study also found that 20% of the women pretended to orgasm, because their partner seemed about to. For some, sex is not about creating mutual pleasure, but is a performance, and therefore, has performance goals, like erection, intercourse, and orgasms.
“Some of the women wrote they actually could have orgasmed, but they chose a pretend orgasm in the right sequence – before or during the man’s orgasm – rather than an actual orgasm in the wrong sequence,” the authors wrote.
These ideas can create unnecessary stress that could largely be avoided by a simple conversation.
Jessica, a 28-year-old woman from Melbourne, Australia, spent five years faking it with her partner. While she faked most times, she still often had real orgasms.
“I think I and the girls around me, while I was growing up, got the message that sex was something done to you, not with you, and you had to make it as good as possible,” she says.
A few weeks ago, she finally confessed and realized quickly that she was the only one stressed about it.
“He told me that I was silly, he loves me, it was all okay, and that he knew he could make me come for real; we’d just work harder,” she recalls.
Like we conflate ejaculation and orgasm, we routinely conflate pleasure and orgasm, tying it with the notion of authentic vs inauthentic sex performance. While each case is different, communication is the key. Rather than hiding the lack of pleasure or that pleasure can be achieved without the big ha ha moment, most partners would probably save time by simply talking about it.