Are you faking orgasms? Sex therapist Aleks Trkulja explains why faking it is problematic, why you need to stop doing it, and shares tools for communicating your needs and desires in bed.
Certified Sex Therapist & Clinical Counsellor
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Faking orgasm is when someone makes all the sounds and movements that would otherwise indicate orgasm has occurred.
But faking it is problematic. So I’m going to break down who does it, why we do it, why it’s problematic, how to stop, and how to discuss it with your partner.
Heterosexual women seem to fake it more than heterosexual men, but I have come across some het men faking it too.
Queer folk don’t seem to fake it as much, and this is usually because they’re a lot more open about their pleasure, and don’t have as many prescriptive ideas on what sex ‘should’ look like.
There are many reasons why one might fake orgasm. These might include:
+ Embarrassed they don’t know how to reach orgasm
+ Faked it once, now they’re stuck in a cycle
+ Assumes their partner will be hurt if they don’t orgasm, or expects it to happen
+ Assumes their partner will judge/reject them if they don’t orgasm, or feel better if they do orgasm
There are likely more reasons, but these are some of the more frequent ones I’ve heard in private practice.
The reasons people give usually indicate to me the underlying beliefs, and attitudes clients have about their own sexuality.
So we notice things like:
+ Orgasm is often placed on a pedestal, and sex becomes goal-oriented
+ Getting stuck in a cycle of faking it relates to avoidance behaviours, and often develops into performance anxiety
+ A judgmental partner is unsupportive. A patient and kind lover will recognise sex is more about connection and pleasure, than producing orgasms
+ There may be shame surrounding sex, and potentially some trauma if people have judged/rejected for lack of orgasm in the past
+ Noticing how a pattern of self-neglect reinforces a vicious cycle of low confidence when it comes to asserting sexual needs
Faking is it problematic because you’re neglecting your own safety, and sexual needs to manage someone else’s experience (which we are not responsible for).
And, it’s deeply patriarchal. Women self-sacrifice for men, and their orgasms hold up many a male egos.
Faking it is a form of avoidance. Here’s a graphic to help you understand the cycle of avoidance.
Firstly, we feel anxious about something, which is our body's way of communicating that it has registered a ‘threat’. “Oh crap, they’re expecting me to orgasm.”
Then an unhelpful belief about asserting your needs might come up “they’ll judge you if you’re honest.”
Then we fake it, to avoid the confrontation. And we feel short term relief. “Phew, glad that’s over.”
Then we experience a long-term increase in performance anxiety, which is triggered by the next interaction related to orgasm.
And the cycle starts over.
Instead, we need to confront the anxiety provoking thing, and build our confidence in sexual communication and advocating for our pleasure.
This can take some time, but it’s incredibly helpful to communicate.
You don’t have to say “I’ve been faking it this whole time”, instead it could sound something like “I’d like to talk about how we can make more space for my pleasure during sex.”
If you do tell them straight out, be compassionate to the fact you have withheld the truth. It’s normal for people to feel hurt about this.
If your partner nags for orgasms, or feels disappointed when it doesn’t happen, this is about them, not you.
Be curious about what an orgasm represents for them. Discuss whether it’s actually necessary for you to feel pleasure, connection or love.
You can also let them know how it feels when they place pressure on one component of your sexual function.
Instead of being a little capitalist orgasm machine, focus on pleasure. What else feels good, and why?
Just stop. And instead, let your partner know ahead of sex, “Hey, I won’t reach orgasm today. Can we please not make that a priority? X would feel great for me instead.”
Explore either solo or with partners what feels good for you.
Practice some paced breathing, or a 5 senses grounding technique to regulate yourself if you’re becoming anxious.
Take breaks. Ask your partner to stop, drink some water, have a cuddle, watch Netflix.
Unpack those beliefs and attitudes that keep the vicious avoidance cycle going. You may need more support, and performance anxiety can be tough!
Faking it is a coping mechanism formed to protect us from shame, judgment, or rejection. But over time, it can manifest into performance anxiety, which can really taint our sexual experiences.
Faking it can be managed with a healthy mixture of communication, courage, and advocating for your pleasure.
Certified Sex Therapist & Clinical Counsellor