In Praise Of Faking Orgasms

Photographed by Lula Hyers.
Orgasms, like most things that aren’t eyelashes and fur, are generally considered better when they’re real, especially when it comes to women. Pretty much every person with a vagina has heard or read that they "deserve" to come. For some reason, it seems that the world is convinced that we don’t believe we should be orgasming. But, in my experience, this just isn’t true.
I’ve faked orgasms many times throughout my life, and it wasn’t because I didn’t deem myself worthy of climaxing. In fact, I’ve been focused on my sexual pleasure since I figured out how to masturbate when I was 3 years old (it’s common, look it up). I knew how good — nay, necessary — it was for my mental health to come. And yet, growing up in a small town in Mississippi, whenever I could get my hands on a woman’s magazine, like Cosmo or Glamour, I’d come across the question, "Why do women fake orgasms?" The answer they’d give: because you don’t believe you deserve real orgasms.
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To that, I say: Have you ever tried communicating exactly how you want your body to be touched to a 20-something guy who doesn’t know the difference between wavy and curly hair? Who doesn’t know that a dress and a skirt aren’t interchangeable terms? Who doesn’t know that you don’t pee out of the same hole you bleed out of? These examples, of course, are from my own personal experience of sleeping with men, but I have a feeling many straight women out there will be able to relate. Sometimes, it’s just too exhausting — which is not to say that people with crappy partners who don’t make an effort to help them reach orgasm deserve that outcome. If you want to come, you and your partner should be actively working towards that. I’m just saying that, some days, you might want to give up and fake it, and that’s okay. You don’t always have to start an often-arduous conversation full of reassurances for your partner, who — almost by the nature of these talks — becomes the focal point of the comfort. You’re great, you’re great; it’s fine with me that I didn’t come. I promise I love having sex with you.
Not to mention, getting my own body to cooperate during sex every single time is pretty much impossible. I could be too dry, too wet, not turned on mentally, not turned on physiologically, or I could be too focused on the fact that next year I’m going to owe a lot more on my taxes because the job I have right now doesn’t withhold, so I should probably pay in quarterly. There are just so many reasons why I might not be able to come, even if I feel deserving of the experience.
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Sure, making a partner feel good can be deeply pleasurable and consistently ranks as one of people’s biggest turn-ons (particularly for straight men). But it’s not always going to happen, and that’s why I — and presumably many other straight women out there — fake it. So I’m just going to put this out there, since it would have been helpful for me to read in one of those women’s magazines when I was growing up: It’s totally fine to fake it.

Making orgasm the sole goal leaves out the fact that the whole experience can be pleasurable, and stops us from having more nuanced conversations about sexual pleasure that go beyond demanding orgasms.

Of course, ideally, we’d all communicate with our partners efficiently and figure out how to make sex work for everyone involved. Sometimes, that means guiding them to help you come, but sometimes that means learning how to signal that it’s just not going to happen. That’s just an inherent part of sex. And here’s the thing: Sex can still be fun, even if you don’t come. Making orgasm the sole goal leaves out the fact that the whole experience can be pleasurable, and stops us from having more nuanced conversations about sexual pleasure that go beyond demanding orgasms. And besides, I’m guessing that stressing about orgasming probably doesn’t making coming any easier. So, my unprofessional advice is to stop making orgasming the goal and make pleasure the goal.
That may sound difficult, but for me, abiding by that credo simply involved keeping a few key phrases in my back pocket for the times when it was just not going to happen. No one wants to make it seem like they’re telling their partner, You couldn’t make me come tonight, or, My broken, shitty body can’t come, and it’s all my fault. So phrases like, I can’t really do that right now, but let’s do X again, or even, I wish I could keep going right now, because this was feeling amazing, but I need to take a break, have helped me communicate my needs without accidentally being wounding or self-pitying. I’ve also just been direct and told someone, I’m not going to come, but keep Xing my Y until I Z.
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Conventional wisdom swirling around out there suggests that sex is better with someone you love. I’m not sure I buy that any more than I buy the idea that playing tennis is better with someone you love. (I’m pretty sure doing anything with someone you love is better than doing it with the person behind you in the Trader Joe’s checkout line.) I do, however, think that if you’re having sex with someone you’ve slept with a bunch (feelings or no feelings), you’re more likely to learn what works, and it becomes a whole lot easier to orgasm. Or at least it becomes easier to not feel the need to fake one. I know that happened for me, personally. Once I started sleeping with specific people repeatedly, I became a whole lot better at communicating how and what I needed. Whatever the case, don’t feel bad if the moment arrives and you fake it. It’s not a lie, and it’s not deceitful. It’s just managing a loaded social interaction the best way you see fit.
We fake it because maybe the person is a one-night stand, and we don’t have the energy to communicate to a guy who doesn’t remember our name that we need simultaneous clitoral and vaginal stimulation. We fake it because we’re tired, and if we don’t fake it, we’re going to snap "JUST GET OUT OF ME ALREADY; PLEASE GOD, IT’S NOT HAPPENING." We fake it because sometimes we aren’t actually faking it, we were just being vocal since that turns us on, and we thought we were going to come, but nope that wasn’t it and oh you assumed I came? Okay, I guess I came. We fake it for a whole host of reasons, and I’m not convinced that the primary one is that we don’t think we deserve to orgasm.
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But whether you’ve faked it because you have to make the train in time for your company-wide meeting, or you’re not entirely sure how an orgasm feels, or you truly don’t feel deserving, there is one thing I can say: I get it.
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