The diner scene in “When Harry Met Sally,” in which Meg Ryan Billy Crystal proves that women are far better at faking orgasms than he believes, remains a key cultural moment for fake orgasms.
Although fake orgasms have apparently been around as long as sex guilt has been around, and mocking fake orgasms is a staple of movies, television, and adult entertainment across the world, people rarely talk openly about fake orgasms, and “experts” occasionally argue that fake orgasms are something other than deception that fools one person and leaves the other unsatisfied.
Who fakes orgasms
Normally, we discuss exclusively ladies who fake orgasms. While there’s no solid study to back it up, men have been talking discreetly about faking orgasms for years, and it’s now a topic that’s getting some media attention.
Anecdotally, I can confirm that both men and women fake orgasms, as I have talked to thousands of men and women about their sex lives.
Fake orgasms: How common are they?
There isn’t much research on women faking orgasms, nor is there any scientific research on how often or how many men fake orgasms. The results of the study, which also happened to ask women about faking orgasms, are as follows:
- In a study of heterosexual couples, 19% of women admitted to faking orgasms.
- In a survey of Danish women, 68% admitted to faking orgasms.
- In the famous Shere Hite survey of women, 34% said they currently fake orgasms, while 19% said they used to fake orgasms but now they don’t.
Why do people fake orgasms?
To make their male partners feel better and to end sex when they are tired are the two most popular reasons women give for faking orgasms. Women claim that their male partners are not satisfied if they do not “give” their female partners an orgasm, so sex continues until the woman either orgasms or fakes it.
When asked why they would fake an orgasm, men similarly give the reasoning of “to get it over with” as well as the feeling of anticipation. Men can’t always have an orgasm whenever they want, despite what we’re told about sex, and they will occasionally fake it rather than deal with what’s really going on for them.
These are some of the justifications given for faking orgasms. But it’s worth thinking about why people fake orgasms instead of talking to their partner, asking for something else, or simply expressing, “I’m tired and don’t want to have sex right now.”
There’s no easy answer to this one, but whether you like it or not, faking orgasms is a way of lying to your partner, and if your goal is sexual health, lying about sex is something you should cut down on, if not eliminate altogether.
Is it feasible to tell the difference between a real and a fake orgasm?
Many people believe they can tell if their partner is faking an orgasm, but studies show this is not the case. In one study where 19% of women said they faked orgasms, only 16% of their male partners believed they faked orgasms.
While some parts of our sexual response (increase in heart rate, muscle tension, heavy breathing) are predictable, the way it manifests itself in each of us is unpredictable. Some people become quiet while others become loud; some people move around a lot more while others seem to be completely still.
Researchers who have used brain scans on couples having sex believe they can determine if a woman is faking an orgasm by looking at which parts of her brain are activated. However, others have pointed out the flaws in the research, and how many of us have MRI scanners in our bedrooms.
Asking if someone is faking an orgasm is the best way to tell. You can’t guarantee they’ll tell you the truth, but if you ask openly and make it clear that you’re genuinely interested in knowing the truth rather than trying to “catch” them in a lie, that might be your best bet.
How should I confess to my partner if I fake orgasms?
There is no denying that this is a difficult task. Faking orgasms is a type of dishonesty, and when you tell your partner the truth, you have to admit that you lied.
However, there are different levels of lying, and fake orgasms are not really lying to the death. There are also a number of compelling reasons to disclose your fake orgasms:
You may find that you’re not the only one faking them, and your openness may be admired and even rewarded. Starting an open and honest conversation about sex is difficult, but once it happens, it can lead to the discussion of other topics that were previously overlooked. You can start a dialogue with your partner about what you’d like to change so you don’t have to pretend anymore when you tell them you’ve been faking it. Taking a chance and disclosing in a loving and trusting relationship can help you build even more trust and make it easier for your spouse to open up.
Still, taking a risk like this is never easy.
If you need more inspiration, take a look at these suggestions for discussing a challenging sexual topic with a partner.
- Garde, K. & Lunde, I. “Female Sexual Behaviour. A Study in a Random Sample of 40-year-old Women.” Maturitas Volume 2 (1980): 225 – 240.
- Hite, S. The Hite Report New York: MacMillan, 1976.
- Thornhill, R., Gangestad, S.W. & Comer, R. “Human Female Orgasm and Mate Fluctuating Asymmetry” Animal Behavior Volume 50, (1995): 1601-1615.