Did you cum? Why We Fake it and Why it Matters: an Analysis
Your penis is so powerful! I’m coming! Okay, thanks, get off me now.
Way back before Netflix, my mother and I used to rent movies at our local grocery store and then if we rented it a million times, we’d end up buying that same used VHS to save ourselves a trip to the store. When I say I’ve seen Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion a hundred times, I’m not actually kidding. It was our go-to. Which yes, might be an odd choice for a single mom and elementary school child, but we just had that kind of relationship. Sex wasn’t something we shied away from which could be a part of why Psych N Sex is a thing. But, I digress.
I didn’t realize faking an orgasm was a thing, until, well… I started having sex myself which in writing this article sent me back to ’97 and this in particular scene. I get it now. But popular media aside, real people having real sex actually fake orgasms more than you’d think and for a variety of reasons. Have you ever faked it? I know I have, maybe more times than I’ve seen that movie. In retrospect, I realize how destructive this practice really is. If you’re having sex with the goal of orgasm in mind, why on earth would you fake it? Faking it sends signals to your partner that you are super into what is going on, and that’s a good way to get you there. But it’s not. Communication is key- whether that’s through a Yes, No Maybe guide, body language or plain old conversation. You should be having the sex you deserve.
We decided to look to the literature instead of listing off 100 reasons we personally think people fake orgasms. Check it out:
What does the research say?
A study explored gender differences in young adult heterosexual men’s and women’s experiences, beliefs, and concerns regarding the occurrence or nonoccurrence of orgasm during sexual interactions, with emphasis on the absence of female orgasm during intercourse.
They found (for both the male and female participants)
- The most common concern regarding lack of female orgasm in a partnered context focused on the negative impact this might have on the male partner’s ego.
- Male and female participants also agreed that men have the physical responsibility to stimulate their female partner to orgasm, while women have the psychological responsibility of being mentally prepared to experience the orgasm.
- Men and women tended to maintain different beliefs, however, regarding clitoral stimulation during intercourse, as well as the importance of female orgasm for a woman’s sexual satisfaction in a partnered context.
Everyone’s doing it
But it’s not just women, research shows that men fake orgasm too. A study examined men in relationships who had faked it, at least once with their current partner.
Participants reported faking an orgasm in approximately one-fourth of sexual encounters in their current sexual relationship, most commonly during vaginal sex.
- Faking orgasm for reasons related to a poor sexual experience or to poor partner choice was the strongest predictor; associated with lower levels of desire and sexual and relationship satisfaction.
- Faking orgasm to support a partner’s emotional well-being was associated with higher levels of desire.
- Faking orgasm because one was intoxicated, having undesired sex, or out of a desire to improve the quality of the sexual encounter was associated with higher levels of sexual satisfaction.
But one study wanted to look at men and whether, how, and why men pretend orgasm( through penis in vaginal sex.) As well as, what men’s and women’s reports of pretending orgasm reveal about their sexual scripts and the functions of orgasms within these scripts.
When asking questions they found that:
28% of men and 67% of women reported faking an orgasm. Mostly they faked it during PVI but some pretended during oral sex, manual stimulation, and phone sex.
They went further to ask why did you fake it? The participants reported faking orgasm because:
- that orgasm was unlikely
- they wanted sex to end
- they wanted to avoid negative consequences (hurting their partner’s feelings) and to obtain positive consequences (pleasing their partner).
Are there differences in people who fake it vs those who don’t?
Another study gathered data from young adult women regarding lifetime sexual experience, objective and subjective physical attractiveness, sexual attitudes, sexual esteem, and general tendencies toward self-monitoring of expressive behavior in social situations.
- More than one-half of the women reported having faked orgasm during sexual intercourse.
They sorted the groups into the “pretenders” and “nonpretenders” (of having an orgasm) and found they did not differ in experimenter-rated facial attractiveness, self-rated body attractiveness, or general self-monitoring.
However, pretenders were significantly older; viewed themselves as facially more attractive, reported having had first intercourse at a younger age; reported greater numbers of lifetime intercourse, fellatio, and cunnilingus partners; and scored higher on measures of sexual esteem.
- But the overall findings is that only sexual esteem was uniquely related to having pretended orgasm.
What about the good orgasms? Where are they?
While some literature has explored women’s sexual satisfaction and, to a lesser degree, women’s faking orgasm experiences, little research has examined the context and conditions around women’s best and most memorable orgasms.
“While faking orgasm narratives reflected themes of wanting to reinforce a partner’s sexual skills, strategically ending sexual interactions, and suppressing feelings of abnormality and shame, best orgasm experiences showcased the power of interpersonal connection, the joys of masturbation and other non-penile-vaginal intercourse behaviors, and the significance of ‘transformative embodiment’.
Implications for the relative failures of (hetero)sex, particularly in the context of gendered power imbalances, along with the importance of deconstructing the sexually ‘functional’ or ‘dysfunctional’ woman are explored.”