We all fake orgasms every once in a while, right? Studies show that 80% of women have faked an orgasm one time in their relationship. Why? In this episode, I talk about why we as women feel like we need to fake orgasms and why we might want to rethink that. Is it time for a tough discussion with your husband? Listen to find out!
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References for this episode:
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Even if you haven’t seen the movie, I’m sure you know the iconic scene from the movie When Harry Met Sally, where Meg Ryan writhes and moans and pounds on the table to demonstrate her perfect imitation of an orgasm? She says “Most women at one time or another have faked it.” And Sally is right. According to a study published in 2010 in the Journal of Sex Research (Vol 47 No 6), 67% of women admitted to occasionally faking orgasm. Other studies indicate that over 80% of women have faked an orgasm sometime during their relationship and about 40% do it on a regular basis. (Women’s Health)
Why do we fake orgasms? I have some ideas that I am going to share with you today about why women fake them and maybe some changes you want to make so you can stop faking them.
I have recently discovered that I am a feminist. I never would have classified myself as a feminist before. But the more I do this work, the more I see the systems that have been put in place that have created many of the problems that I am working against. Now, by me saying that I am a feminist, does not mean I hate men. I love men. I am not going to become a man-hater. This entire podcast is about empowering women so that they can have better marriages with the men that they love, and helping men understand the women in their lives better to again, have a better marriage and sexual relationship. But I am learning and seeing so much more about patriarchy and the systems that have been created that created the problems I am working to help fix, which I guess, makes me a feminist.
I recently read an incredible book called Untamed by Glennon Doyle. This book is amazing and I will recommend it to everyone I meet. I listened to it (and then bought the hardbound book because I wanted to highlight so much) and I would say it’s a very quick read and worth every minute. In this book, the author talks about the cages that we have been put in that keep us from knowing, trusting, and honoring ourselves. And while this book is aimed at women, the author fully acknowledges that men have these cages as well. She encourages each of us to start seeing the cages and come back to our true “wild” self. And not wild in that we all need to be loud, crazy, and boisterous, but wild in whatever way is truly us. She encourages you to go inside, to your inner knowing, and live from that place, which is exactly what I teach my clients to do. It’s a fantastic book.
One of the cages that women have been put in is that we feel it is our job to make everyone else feel comfortable at our own expense. We know that our husband wants us to be enjoying sex as much as he is, and we feel an internal pressure to make sure that he knows we are having a good time. So even if we aren’t enjoying it, sex is not pleasurable for us, we aren’t getting there, we will act as if we are and fake an orgasm to make sure he feels like he is doing a good job as a man.
In a study of 1,500 women, Erin B. Cooper, a clinical psychology doctoral student at Temple University found that faking orgasms is often a “relationship maintenance strategy,” adding that women may fake orgasm to avoid difficult or uncomfortable discussions with their partners.
Another possibility is that even though he is doing “all the things” you aren’t getting there and you just want to be done. And rather than just saying “hey, it’s not working for me tonight, I’m ready to be done” you fake the orgasm to get it over with.
So here’s the problem…if you don’t give him feedback, if you are unwilling to have the uncomfortable conversation, that what he is doing isn’t working, then he will never make changes and you won’t ever get where you want to go. If you are faking an orgasm to check the box and just get through it, you’re always going to be in a situation where you are checking the box just to get through it. It’s never going to improve. You are sacrificing what you desire to manage his ego and emotions or to avoid feeling uncomfortable yourself. You also aren’t giving him any credit that he can handle your feedback.
Another cage we have been put in that makes women feel the need to fake orgasms is that we have been trained to not be too demanding and that we should not be selfish. And taking the time that is necessary for a woman to orgasm often feels selfish. We think “he must be so bored or annoyed that this is taking so long.” Most of the time, this is completely untrue. Men’s sexuality tends to be very generous in nature and they derive much of their pleasure and excitement from your pleasure and excitement. They want you to experience the same pleasure and enjoyment that they have and are usually willing to do whatever it takes for you to get there. It is your own conditioning that is preventing this. We have been trained that men’s sexuality is the “right” sexuality and that our sexuality should look like theirs. And when it doesn’t, that we are broken and that something is wrong with us. But women’s sexuality is completely different than a man’s sexuality. It doesn’t look like a man’s. It is much more nuanced.
Ladies, it is not selfish to want to achieve pleasure and orgasm. I think selfishness is one of those things that we have been conditioned as women to be afraid of. But I also think we have a skewed definition of selfishness. We think that selfishness is taking time and energy for ourselves. That is not selfishness. Selfishness is when you do that with absolutely no regard for others. It is not selfish to want pleasure and orgasm when your husband is willing and able and wants to give it. It’s not selfish that it takes longer. That is just the nature of women’s sexuality. And I personally feel like God created women’s sexuality this way on purpose. Why? Because we spend so much of our lives giving, giving, giving. We nurture others constantly. We are making sure that everyone else has what they need. And sex is when we can sit back, relax, and be taken care of. We need to allow our husbands to take care of us, give to us, and nurture us in this way.
When you can break free of the cages and go back to who you were created to be. When you can break free of the belief systems that keep you from being in tune with your sexuality and understanding what you need, you won’t need to fake orgasms anymore. You’ll know that you are entitled to them just as much as any man. Claim your time.
In the book Untamed, the author tells us that she was married to a man and faked many orgasms. But she realized that she was in fact a lesbian and divorced her husband and married a woman and sex was a completely different experience for her. She was living up to these ideals of how she thought sex “should” be when she was married to a man, but when she was with a woman she knew women were different and all the “shoulds” were dropped and sex became what it needed to be for both to have intimacy, pleasure, and orgasms. Now, I am not suggesting that you need to become a lesbian and have sex with a woman for this to happen. I think it can happen in a marriage between husband and wife when we do the same thing and drop the “shoulds” of what we think sex should be and go inside, into our knowing, into our integrity and live within those. Our “shoulds” are another cage.
According to Charlene Muehlenhard, PhD. A psychology professor at the University of Kansas “the root reason women pretend to have orgasms is to shore up the difference between expectations and reality.” And, a study she and student Sheena Shippee conducted, published in 2010 in the Journal of Sex Research (Vol. 47, No. 6), found that most faking happened during penile-vaginal intercourse. Of the women who had ever feigned orgasm, 55 percent pretended in that scenario, as compared with just 8 percent during oral sex and 4 percent during manual stimulation. This finding supports the idea that there’s a cultural script at play. There are “shoulds” at play, where women and their partners expect them to orgasm without external clitoral stimulation. Muehlenhard goes on to say that “When expectations and reality don’t line up, people fake it.”
So what if you have been faking orgasms? It’s time to come clean. A good sexual relationship needs to be honest. Both parties need to feel seen, heard, known, not for who they “should” be, but for who they truly are. And I understand that that is going to be very difficult. You are going to have to admit your dishonesty in the relationship and your spouse is probably going to feel a lot of negative emotion. They may feel hurt, betrayed, disappointed, sad, ashamed, angry, or many other emotions. It’s ok that they feel this way. You need to be ok with letting them feel however they need to feel. You may also feel some negative emotions; guilt, shame, remorse. That’s ok too. By being willing to feel these it is going to move you forward so that it doesn’t keep happening. It’s hopefully going to bring you closer together in the long run because you will have more honesty.
Your spouse may want to know or try to understand why this has happened. Why you felt like you needed to fake orgasms. It’s important to be honest about this too, so you may need to do some introspection beforehand and think about why. Is it because of the reasons I’ve said here? Are you trying to protect his ego? Are you protecting your own feelings of inadequacy and brokenness? Are you trying to live up to “shoulds” and expectations? Or is it something different? Only you know. But also let him know you want to be more honest going forward. If you want a better relationship, a better sexual relationship, this honesty is crucial.
Going forward, look at this as a problem that the two of you can solve as a team. Each person needs to take responsibility for their own orgasms. It’s not your partner’s fault if you are not climaxing. Especially when you aren’t telling them what you need. Talk about exploring new things together to see what works for you. You can even do some self-exploration and then translate it to what happens when you are together. Show him the way after you figure it out for yourself.
The important thing here is honesty and dropping expectations, for both of you. Once you do that, things will be a lot smoother going forward.