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Faking it

Amanda Moulson

The writhing, the moaning — the moves we all learned from Meg Ryan — they are the hallmarks of a fake orgasm. Many women are simply faking it, but why?

Woman with secret in bed

Orgasms have made big news in the past 12 months. Earlier this year, a TED Talk with Mary Roach, a popular science writer who authored the book Bonk, about sex and sexuality, piqued our collective interest about the wheres and whyfors of orgasms — that is, those of us who are actually having them. Research in July 2012 suggests faking it is pretty widespread, with an study of 50,000 men and women in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia showing that a startling 26 per cent of women fake it every time. Notably, approximately one-third of men said they had faked it (we’d still like to know exactly how), and one-third of women said they never do.

To illustrate this point, Anne Browning, a married legal assistant in her 40s, said, “I just don’t do it. In life, I don’t see the point of pretending to be satisfied when I’m not.”

Her view is countered by a younger Livia Spencer, who is just starting her professional life in Montreal. “I feel sexiest and think my partner enjoys it when I make the noises and play the part. I do it for both of us, really.”

What exactly is going on here?

(Or not going on here, as the case may be.)

Women being women, we can already speculate on a number of reasons women may fake it. Here are just a few:

  • We aim to please him: As Livia shows us, we’re mostly a sensitive gender, and we care about our partner’s happiness — with himself and with the sexual experience he shares with us. Who can blame us if we get a little dramatic?
  • We aim to please us: The theatrics associated with orgasm — the sounds and the moves — can turn us on too. Nothing wrong with some healthy exaggeration if it helps us along, right?
  • We’re accentuating the positive: Sexuality is delicate, and a negative sexual experience can have a profound effect on our self-esteem. To protect it, maybe we become a bit… optimistic… between the sheets.
  • We don’t know what a real orgasm looks like: Popular culture has shown us so much sighing and screaming that maybe some of us feel the need to amp up our efforts in the face of a more serene — but satisfying — experience.
  • It’s quitting time: Sometimes, whether for good or bad reasons, it’s just not happening. We know the end is near, and we know the shortest path to the finale. Faking it can allow your partner to release, and then it’s good night!

It’s harmless, right?

There isn’t a straightforward answer here. In general, in life and in sex, things are harmless only if they don’t make you feel bad. If you are faking orgasms to get more out of the experience for yourself and it pleases your partner, then who is anyone to judge? If, however, you just feel silly, are doing it only for your partner or to end a generally mediocre — or worse, just plain bad — experience, then we suggest you get honest with yourself. Your love life doesn’t need a casting couch.

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