If You've Been Faking Orgasms, Here's How To Tell Your Partner, According To A Sex Therapist

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I've faked a laugh at a friend's bad joke to help them save face. I've also faked a phone call to avoid signing a petition. And I once bought a fake Gucci bag on Canal Street because I really wanted a Gucci bag and I really couldn't afford it. Fake it till you make it — except in bed. If you're guilty of faking the occasional orgasm, girl, stop. How can you have consistently O-worthy sex if you're pretending to climax? If you want to improve your sex life, you've got to tell your partner you've been faking orgasms. Although that confession might not get you off the hook with misleading your partner, it might lead to actually getting you off.

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First of all, why do some people fake orgasms in the first place? I spoke to Dr. Jess O’Reilly, host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast, and she said there are many reasons people of all genders fake their Os. She says a common reason is "to stroke our lover's ego. One study on the sounds women make in bed (copulatory vocalizations) found that our sounds don't coincide with our own pleasure, but instead with our partners'." Another reason Dr. O'Reilly suggests one might fake it is to "get it over with." This I absolutely get because, come on! There's a new episode of Castle Rock waiting!

Lastly, Dr. O'Reilly says some women fake orgasms because, "We don't really know what an orgasm feels, looks and sounds like. We think that our bodies should respond the way porn stars' do and this is totally unrealistic." While this might apply to some people, there really is no one-size-fits-all reason people pretend to orgasm. Maybe you feel uncomfortable with asking for what you want, or you're unsure of the most effective way for you to climax. The point is, if you're faking your Os, you might want to stop. Otherwise, your partner has no choice but to think that their techniques are really working.

If you're considering talking to your partner about this, realize that there's a chance your partner may have faked climaxing, too. O'Reilly concurs, "Men feel pressure to orgasm each and every time they have sex and though orgasm and ejaculation are actually separate processes, they often occur together." Just like you might be worried about hurting your partner's feelings if you don't come, they may feel similarly.

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When talking to your partner, choose your moment wisely. Dr. O'Reilly advises to pick a time, "when you’re in a good mood at dinner, or while watching Netflix (even better if you see a sex scene that seems exaggerated or appealing to start the conversation), or while on a walk." To begin the conversation, emphasize your role in the process. Dr. O'Reilly suggests, "Tell your partner, 'Last night felt so good, but I just couldn’t get out of my head with everything that’s going on at work, so I couldn’t have an orgasm.'" (Of course, don't say you're distracted by work unless you're actually distracted by work!) This way, you're acknowledging factors that affect your ability to climax that aren't simply your partner's sexual ability. By sharing the onus of responsibility for orgasming, it's clear you're not blaming your partner.

This could be a tricky conversation to have with your partner, so Dr. O'Reilly advises, "Focus on the positive. Whether you're giving feedback in the heat of the moment or having a heart-to-heart at the dinner table, begin with what's already working and build on it. People respond more favorably to requests immediately after a compliment." Honesty and communication help build intimacy, which can translate to greater intimacy during sex. If you share your climax conundrum with your partner, hopefully they will hear you and work with you to figure it out. Dr. O'Reilly continues, "What makes [someone] a good lover is a willingness to listen and attend to your needs without pressuring you to perform or provide proof of your pleasure."

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The next time you and your partner are having sex post-conversation, try not to focus on the expectation of orgasm or a certain performance. Instead, Dr. O'Reilly suggests you focus on your own pleasure. "Oftentimes, we fake pleasure because we’re so focused on our partner’s that we forget about our own." When you focus on your own pleasure and know what you like, your experience will can be genuine instead of forced.

It's also useful to reframe your and your partner's belief that orgasm is the metric by which to measure sex. Orgasm-less sex isn't unsuccessful sex and Dr. O'Reilly agrees. "Many people enjoy sex without orgasm and not every orgasm is earth-shattering," she says. "Enjoy sex for its benefits related to connection, intimacy, and pleasure as opposed to measuring its outcome via orgasm alone."

While coming clean with your partner about your past faked orgasms might be awkward and result in a momentarily bruised ego, being honest and open about your sexual experience is key. Focus on the connection you and your partner share and teach them what really, truly makes you tick. And who knows? They might have a thing or two to teach you, too. So while "faking it" can get you out of awkward social situations, it does you no favors in the sack. And in the spirit of coming clean, you should know I've long since thrown away that faux Gucci bag.

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