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Why Do Women Fake Orgasms? New Research Reveals Some Surprising Reasons

There are a variety of reasons for women to fake orgasms. How can both partners have a more satisfying, honest sexual experience?

I think I was about 11 years old when I asked my mother what an orgasm was. I remember her saying “I don’t know.”

Not to impugn anyone with whom my mother was intimately acquainted but I can’t be sure she was lying. It could have been the “I-don’t-want-to-explain-this, ” variety of lie, or the “Ambushed! Play dumb!” variety or it could have been true. For all the sex scandals we’ve seen we should know by now never to assume jack about anyone’s private life.

I had asked because orgasms were everywhere, except, I guess, in people's bedrooms. They were on  book covers and TV talk shows and it seemed that this was a once-private subject, the sudden public discussion of which was making some people upset and uncomfortable, so naturally I wanted to know more. I don’t remember if my mom ever addressed the subject again but I cobbled together, with the help of various media, a half-assed idea of what an orgasm was, or at least how it sounded and naturally heard about women  faking it, though not fully understanding what, I didn’t fully understand why.

One researcher has finally taken that question to academia.

Erin Cooper, a doctoral student at Temple University conducted research on women faking orgasm, which men do, too (statistics vary pretty wildly on the percentage, but whatever stats you read women’s numbers are higher) Her initial survey of 1500 women, written up by Sadie F. Dingfelder on the  American Psychological Association website said that of the conscious reasons heterosexual women fake it the most common is “altruistic deceit” - in other words, avoiding hurting the guy’s feelings.

But a story  by Live Science on a smaller survey of 366 women said of women who “endorse” faking it they do so for various reasons, including their own feelings of sexual insecurity, to avoid intimacy or “to get it over with,” and that for some it increased, rather than decreased, their sexual satisfaction. In an email Erin said that the smaller study “looked at fear of intimacy as a predictor of motivation for faking orgasm. So women who had difficulty in a past relationship are more likely to fake in order to avoid feeling insecure about themselves or to end the sexual encounter.”

First let’s look at the two reasons for faking it that are super easy to understand.

“Getting it over with” is a no-brainer. As fun as sex is - in fact the  more fun it is - it makes you tired. Done.

Protecting the man’s ego is understandable too. Erin says that this wasn’t found to be associated with increased intimacy, but she does see it as a “relationship maintenance strategy” and I’m sure that she’s not only right but that sexual relationships are not the only sort we maintain with it. In fact, “altruistic deceit” is probably the greatest motivator of alllittle white lies (You look great, by the way. Have you lost weight?). In fact, I think the male version of ‘faking it’ is saying “I’ll call you!” after an encounter, when they probably did not really feel quite what those sounds project.

As for faking it being some women’s way of salvaging their own egos that might sound surprising but it’s really pretty easily explained. If your sexual ego doesn’t want to let you admit to awkwardness, discomfort with your body or that you don’t know what makes you climax, well, you could easily fake it, the way people often fake being happy or knowing the story of Paul Revere. The problem is that a really well-constructed facade means they may never get reallywell-informed or find what makes them happy…or sexually satisfied.

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