Faking An Orgasm May Not Be As Bad For Your Relationship As We Thought

People with vulvas have been told time and again that faking an orgasm is never a good idea. When we fake it, we're not just lying to our partner, but we're also denying ourselves pleasure. There are also other factors that can come into play when we fake it. For example, it creates a disconnect in your intimate bond, it teaches your partner bad pleasure-related habits and, worst of all, there may come a time when you'll have to admit you've been faking it.

While all this is true, it doesn't stop people from faking orgasms — and faking them often. According to a 2019 study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, 58.8% of the vulva-owning participants admitted to faking orgasms at least once.

However, in complete contradiction of what we've been taught and what we know about faking orgasms in regard to denying ourselves pleasure, there are actually times when — wait for it — you should fake it! Or rather faking it isn't as bad for your relationship as we once thought. It can be consoling for your partner, ego-boosting, and reassuring to your partner that you're still aroused by them, even if your head isn't totally in the game sometimes. Not everyone can always be fully present during sex, and that's completely normal, just as not having an orgasm is completely normal too. 

If you've been faking it, here's when it's okay to do so for the sake of your relationship.

Why faking it isn't so bad

Orgasms are tricky. Not only are they difficult for some to achieve, but people put different amounts of importance on them. For some, sex isn't sex if it doesn't end in an orgasm, while for others, if you can't bring your partner to climax, you've failed. Of course these thoughts are inaccurate, but sometimes we need to cater to the thinking of those in our life. 

If your partner feels insecure about their sexual ability and you don't have an orgasm during sex, sometimes telling them you did is an easy out from having to console them. As much as you love your partner, having to reassure them their sex skills are top-notch can be taxing. That's why, in these situations, it's fine to spare their feelings to avoid having to comfort them for hours on end. 

If you're exhausted and your partner is taking a while, this is also an okay time to fake it. Being extra vocal while faking it so your partner gets there faster does both of you a favor. A 2011 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found 66% of those with vulvas fake orgasms simply to help their partner finish. A 2016 study published in Sexual and Relationship Therapy found that people with penises also fake it about 30% of the time and for similar reasons: to avoid upsetting their partners. According to the 2016 study, the fake orgasms were performed to create the illusion that both partners were coming at the same time. In other words, it was done out of love, and love involves the occasional sacrifice and white lie. 

It's a good way to ditch societal pressure

Some people opt to fake it for the sake of orgasm imperative. This term has been given to the enormous amount of pressure that couples face to orgasm every time they have sex. When orgasm becomes the only goal, all the pleasure experienced from beginning to end is seen as useless if climax isn't the final resolution for both partner, then there's a deep feeling of failure.

"[Orgasm imperative] injects a sort of 'fast food' mindset into our bedrooms and causes us to be so focused on the goal [orgasm] that we forget about actually enjoying the journey of sex," sex educator Caitlin V., MPH tell Well + Good. "It is entirely possible for someone to experience a great amount of pleasure without orgasm."

In these terms, it's not about faking it so you don't have to console your partner or you're tired, but faking it because our culture has put so much emphasis on orgasms. If you need to fake it so you don't feel like some societal failure, that's fine. But if this is the case behind all those feigned moans, it might be time to restructure how you experience pleasure, meaning shelving orgasms for a bit. Faking it for your partner in the name of relationship satisfaction is one thing, but faking it because you think orgasms are what make for happy relationships is another thing. It's also something you want to talk to your partner about, they might be doing the same thing. 

Ultimately, as long as it doesn't involve you going without pleasure, then faking it has its place. But you definitely shouldn't make a habit of it.