Sex + Dating

The Real Reason Women Fake Orgasms

woman reading during sex
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

We've all heard stories of women faking orgasms to spare their partners' feelings.

But it turns out, women may actually be faking sexual pleasure for a much more selfish reason: to put an end to crappy sex romps. A new study presented at the British Psychological Society's Psychology of Women annual conference suggests ladies try to speed up their male partners' orgasms in order to fast-track to the finish line.

The "orgasm gap" leaves a lot to be desired

After penetration, most men climax within four minutes, less if masturbating. The female orgasm requires more work, taking up to 30 minutes of clitoral stimulation unless she's got one hell of a toy arsenal, a lot of experience, or a very skilled partner. Generally speaking, the difference between how long it takes people to come is referred to as an "orgasm gap." And that's still assuming both people are eventually going to be able to have an orgasm, which we all know is no guarantee.

For a woman who knows she isn't going to get off, faking her orgasm early on (like, around the time her partner is having his orgasm) can make so-so sex end in a fifth of the time. Which means it can be a useful hand to play. Not that I'm suggesting anyone play games between the sheets (unless they're the kind that make foreplay extra steamy).

Letting bad sex go uncorrected is creating other problems

"Women have been faking orgasms for years to speed up the end of sex," says Kelly Connell, sexuality educator and counselor at NaughtyNorth.ca. "Many times... what their partner is doing is not giving them what they need to orgasm, although they still may find it pleasurable."

But just tolerating mediocre or even bad sex is a terrible idea! "When you're hoping that sex ends and are disengaged from the experience, you are dissociating," says Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, founder and chief relationship advisor of Relationup and an ABS-certified clinical sexologist. "Even though this sexual experience is consensual, by feeling dissociated from the experience, you feel the strangeness and awfulness of having something sexual done to you that you don't want to be occurring."

Faking orgasms creates a negative feedback loop

To end the cycle of faking orgasms, all parties must find their voice in the bedroom and speak up.

"If you fake it once and he thinks what he is doing is working, he will continue to do what he thinks will work next time," says Connell. If something feels good, give your partner props and reinforce the behavior. Know that it's perfectly OK to stop a consensual sex experience if it isn't doing it for you. Ditto for not coming at all. Sex is all about creating boundaries.

The bottom line is that your sex life can only benefit if your partner understands how to please you -- and vice versa. The sad truth is that for most of our lives, women's orgasms have been put second to men's, if not considered downright superfluous.

Whether you want to spare his feeling or make it stop, please, for the love of female pleasure everywhere, stop pretending that you had one.

In my perfect world, women come first and never, ever feel the need to fake it.

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Charyn Pfeuffer is a Seattle-based writer who dreams of a world filled with 100% real orgasms. Follow her on Twitter @charynpfeuffer.