When is a woman more likely to fake it?
December 8th, 2011
07:27 AM ET

When is a woman more likely to fake it?

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.

Ladies, how many of you have ever faked it? If so, why? Did you fake it because your orgasm just wasn’t going to happen? Or did you do it because his orgasm happened all too quickly? In that case, perhaps you faked your own orgasm to spare his feelings, or maybe to avoid having to talk about it.

But have you ever faked it because you thought that doing so might prevent him from cheating? A new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that 54% of women admitted to faking an orgasm, and that women who thought their partners might cheat were more likely to be the ones doing the faking.

While the idea of faking orgasm to keep a partner faithful is a novel one, one has to wonder about its potential effectiveness. I personally don’t know of any research to suggest that men are more likely to stay in a relationship with a partner who has orgasms, or that men are more likely to cheat if their partners do not have orgasms.

Of course, research into the female orgasm is fairly scant. Perhaps the women who are faking it in light of their partner’s potential infidelity are not doing so to keep their partners, but rather are faking it because the fear of their partner’s infidelity makes it difficult to have an orgasm in the first place.

“Maybe women fake orgasm more when they think their partner might cheat, not because orgasm persuades their partner to stay, but because the stress of not trusting their partner acts as a ‘brake’ on their arousal, making orgasm more difficult,” says sex educator Dr. Emily Nagoski. “If orgasm is expected by your partner, but isn’t easily achieved, faking is a way to meet that expectation and thus reinforce the relationship narrative that ‘everything is fine.’”

Of course, if a woman is faking it, everything is not fine, especially if she is worried that her partner could cheat.

“Faking it is by no means an effective strategy,” says Dr. Logan Levkoff, author of the book "How to Get Your Wife to Have Sex With You." “A relationship won’t have longevity simply because someone pretends that they have an orgasm. In fact, lack of physical satisfaction (and, clearly, a lack of honest communication) will definitely not lead to relationship success.”

And in my experience as a sex counselor, women who fake it consistently are also more likely to eventually stray themselves in search of sexual satisfaction.

But as we know from the famous “I’ll have what she’s having” scene in "When Harry Met Sally," men are easily fooled. According to the recently published National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 85% of men said that their partner had experienced an orgasm during their most recent sexual event, while only 64% of women reported actually having had an orgasm.

The implication: Lots of women are faking it - and getting away with it. But if a woman fakes it and her partner thinks she is actually enjoying the sex, is her dissatisfaction really heard?

It isn’t easy to talk about sex, especially if you’re naïve enough to think that faking it is any sort of effective way to keep a partner from straying. But as Dr. Madeleine Castellanos notes, “The women in the study were mostly university students with a mean age of 21.8 years old and mean length of relationship of about 2 years and 9 months. There may be a higher level of anxiety in this population in regards to their relationship.”

Maybe that’s why women are said to experience their sexual peak later in life - not for physiological reasons, but because an older woman is less likely to fake it and more likely to pursue pleasure on a level playing field with her male partner.

And when it comes to faking, remember that the secret could come out.

“Faking can blow up in your face if a man finds out that his woman has been faking her excitement and orgasm all along,” adds Castellanos. “Talking to your partner about what you like and what really pleases you is more likely to develop a genuine erotic connection that he will value.”

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