They begin to have sex. It starts slowly and then both the man and woman quickly become excited. But almost as soon as the intercourse starts and the man looks as if he’s about to reach a climax, the woman starts to writhe and moan as she fakes one of the greatest orgasms in the history of humankind, then relaxes and turns away. If the man has finished, all the better. If the man is perplexed, his excitement and yearning hanging in midair, she says, “Don’t worry, I’ll finish you by hand.”
The fact that some women fake orgasms has been well known for a long time. However, up until now many experts thought that women did so to please their partners and make them think they were enjoying the experience. A recent study has come to a surprisingly different take on this age-old phenomenon.
A new study presented at the British Psychological Society’s Psychology of Women annual conference suggests women try to speed up their male partners’ orgasms by faking their own orgasm. In other words, many women may be faking orgasm to quickly end bad sexual experiences. “When you’re hoping that sex ends and are disengaged from the experience, you are dissociating,” says Rhonda Milrad, founder and chief relationship advisor of Relationup. “Even though this sexual experience is consensual, by feeling dissociated from the experience, you feel the strangeness and awfulness of having something sexual done to you that you don’t want to be occurring.”
The research project had originally recruited women to talk about consensual sex, but all of the subjects eventually spoke about experiences with bad consensual sex, especially when they were asked about faking orgasms. The authors of the presentation were surprised by the number of women who stated that they did not fake orgasms in order to enhance the experience but rather to avoid bad sex.
“It appears that faking orgasm is both problematic and helpful at the same time,” noted Emily Thomas, a clinical psychologist and one of the authors of the study. She explained that while faking orgasm could be helpful in ending an unpleasant sexual experience, at the same time it does nothing to improve the experience. “We want to focus on the problems with our current lack of available language to describe women’s experiences that acknowledges names and confronts the issues women spoke of in our interview,” she added.
According to this study, faked orgasms are an indication of bad communication between sexual partners. Women are reticent to say that they are unsatisfied with the sexual experience and to assert their sexual needs, perhaps out of a fear of hurting their partner’s feelings. However, they often end up hurting their partner’s feelings anyway, because the man can sense that the orgasm is fake as well as that the woman isn’t enjoying the experience as much as they would like. And just as the woman doesn’t mention her dissatisfaction, neither does the man. And so they quietly or not so quietly continue this awkward cycle.
Milrad advises women to speak up. “If you fake it once and he thinks what he is doing is working, he will continue to do what he thinks will work next time,” she notes. She points out that if something feels good, the woman should give her partner affection and reinforce the behavior. She should become aware that it’s perfectly all right to stop a consensual sex experience if it isn’t working. Sex, she states, is all about creating boundaries.
Instead of faking an orgasm, a woman may suggest, “Would it be all right if we talk about sex?” If she her partner’s consent to do so, she may say something like, “I’d like to talk about what we could do to improve our sexual experience. I’d like to tell you what would improve it for me, and I’d like to hear from you what would improve it for you.” She may even go so far as to admit she has been faking orgasm and ask if he’s noticed. This will hopefully lead to a frank conversation about their sexual experience that will head them in the direction of making their sex more authentic.
Communication is always the key to a relationship blockage, whether it is a sexual or emotional blockage. However, couples are often hesitant about communicating about these blockages out of a fear of hurting their partner’s feelings or a concern with making themselves vulnerable.
And, yes, a man or even a woman may be initially hurt at the start of this conversation and even a bit defensive. But eventually if the couple works through it they will usually come to appreciate the talk and benefit from it.
Usually action speaks louder than words. This is one of the exceptions.