Have you ever faked an orgasm to spare your partner’s feelings? Or perhaps because you wanted sex to be over but didn’t know how to say it? Maybe you’ve been faking orgasms for years, and you’re so far into the lie it’s hard to know how to break the news to your partner. Relatable? You, my friend, are not alone.
I will be the first to admit that I have faked (many) orgasms, usually because I felt embarrassed that I wasn’t going to have one and because speaking up during sex was absolutely terrifying to me. This ended up taking a toll on my relationships, starting with the fact that it literally taught my partner that the things I don’t like make me orgasm, which only led to us having more sex that I wasn’t into. Faking it also pointed to some larger, underlying challenges in my sex life. This habit was really a result of the reality that I didn’t know what I liked in bed. Rest assured, I did break this habit and there are ways you can too. This is your guide on how to stop faking orgasms.
Why Faking Orgasms is Bad
Why fake an orgasm?
There are lots of reasons people fake orgasms. I personally have faked orgasms for two reasons. The first being that I didn’t want to make my partner feel bad for not being able to make me cum— I wanted to protect them from feeling inadequate. And I’m not alone—a study published in 2010 found that 50% of women and 25% of men have faked an orgasm (the study didn’t include nonbinary people, smh), and the most common reason women faked it was to avoid negative consequences, like hurting their partner’s feelings.
The second reason I’ve faked Os is because I wanted sex to end, but I didn’t know how to say it. This same study found that wanting sex to end was the most common reason men faked orgasms and well over half of the women reported doing this, too. It’s also common for people to fake orgasms because they know it’s unlikely they’re going to cum and because they want to make their partner feel good about themselves.
The toll faking Os can have on your relationships
Faking orgasms can have a lot of negative consequences on your sex and dating life. If you consistently fake orgasms with a partner, it teaches them that the sex you’re having, the techniques they’re using, and the positions you’re in are working for you, when in fact, it’s the exact opposite.
Faking orgasms can make it difficult to feel connected to your partner because you’re not being fully honest with them and you’re potentially holding back a part of yourself. For some partners, learning that you’ve been faking orgasms can break trust in your relationship.
Perhaps most significantly, faking orgasms usually points to larger issues in your sex life. For me, faking orgasms was a sign that I didn’t know what I actually liked in the bedroom and I had no idea how to communicate my needs. It became very clear to me that I was prioritizing my partner’s pleasure, comfort, and feelings at the expense of my own.
Faking orgasms can also be a sign of underlying issues like people pleasing, in which you believe your partner’s needs to be more important than your own. Alternatively, for many, the underlying issue is that they feel so much shame and discomfort about sex that it prevents them from being able to talk about sex at all. Other people discover that faking orgasms is a result of mismatched priorities, in which your partner values orgasms much more than you do. In the most extreme situations, faking an orgasm because you don’t feel safe to say that you want to stop having sex can be a sign of an abusive relationship, and if this is the case, the best thing to do is to reach out to someone you trust, a doctor, or therapist.
Six steps to stop faking orgasms
1. Recognize why you’re faking it
The first thing you need to do if you’re faking orgasms is get to the bottom of why you’re doing it. Knowing why you fake orgasms will help you find solutions specific to your challenge. For example, if you fake orgasms because you want sex to be over and you don’t know how to say it, this means you need to work on communication. To figure out why you’re faking it, try to notice what is holding you back in the moment. What are you avoiding? What are you fearful of?
2. Add some simple phrases to your vocab
For those of you who fake orgasms because you want sex to end and don’t know how to say it, you need to add some simple phrases to your vocab. You can say “I’m tired, do you think we could take a break?” or “I’m not really enjoying myself anymore, can we stop?” Or “Wow, I’ve had such a good time, and I don’t think an orgasm is going to happen for me. Let’s stop here.” and “You have been amazing, and an orgasm isn’t in the cards for tonight. I’m good to stop now.”
It’s possible that your partner might react to this by sharing how much they want to make you cum and encouraging you to keep going if you want to orgasm. While the sentiment that they want to make you feel good is nice, this can be difficult to hear because they are actually pushing back against what you want. If your partner responds this way, you can say something like “I love that you want to make me feel good, and the thing that would actually feel best for me right now would be to stop.” Keep in mind that if you’re over having sex, but you and your partner are still craving intimacy, you can tell them that a foot massage or cuddling would feel amazing.
If you typically don’t orgasm during sex, before you even get in bed together, you can take the pressure to O off by telling them, “I typically don’t orgasm during sex— I wanted to give you a heads up now so you’re not waiting for it to happen.”
If you’re faking orgasms because you don’t know what you really like in the bedroom, and you’re just going along with what your partner wants instead, masturbating can help you discover what gets you hot. Get a toy, try some erotica, or simply set aside some time for yourself to masturbate. Focus on enjoying yourself— not having an orgasm— and make a mental note of what you like.
4. Learn to ask for what you want
Once you know what gets you off, the next step is communicating it so you can do the things you enjoy, instead of the positions and activities that always lead you to faking it. One of the easiest places to start is with one word requests, a strategy I learned from Allison Moon, author of Girl Sex 101. One word requests are just that, one word used to ask for something— like more, higher, lower, deeper, softer, slower…you get the picture. This strategy helps you ask for a lot while only having to say one word.
From there, you can make bigger requests. Like, “will you do that slower?” “Can you move your finger a little higher?” It’s also important to have clear conversations about what you do and don’t like. Before you get between the sheets with someone, consider asking them what positions they enjoy, how they like to be touched, what things are a no-go for them, and share yours. You can even make these convos flirty and hot by doing it while you’re sexting. For many, it’s hot (and great communication) to hear exactly what you want them to do to you.
5. Have a (very) honest conversation
This is an important step for anyone who has been faking orgasms for a long time with one partner. Begin by asking your partner if you can have a conversation about sex. When you’ve found a time that works for both of you, say that you want to share something vulnerable. You can tell them you have a hard time saying what you do and don’t like during sex, and for a while, you’ve been pretending to have an orgasm because (insert reason). You can say that you really want to figure out how to enjoy sex together and you’re sorry if this has been hurtful.
It’s possible that your partner may feel really sad hearing this. It’s common for people to feel like faking an orgasm is lying. And in some ways it is. It’s valid for your partner to feel hurt that you haven’t been truthful. It can also make your partner second guess your past sexual experiences together— they may have a hard time trusting that your reactions are authentic because they now understand that you weren’t always being genuine in the past.
If you find yourself in this situation, this reaction might be frustrating because chances are, you were faking an orgasm because you weren’t enjoying yourself or you didn’t feel like you could speak up, and your partner likely contributed in some way or another to this feeling. While it can be challenging, consider trying to hold both truths— that you haven’t been able to express your needs, and that they are also hurt by how it played out.
6. Remember, you don’t have to orgasm to have good sex
Many people believe that having an orgasm is the marker of “good” sex. While for some people, orgasms are important, for many, orgasms are low on the list of things that make sex good. Instead, many people value feeling connected to their partner, learning new things about themselves, experiencing new sensations, or even having fun and laughing. If you feel like you have to fake it, remember that you don’t have to have an orgasm to have good sex.