The boyfriend of a friend of mine once told me with great certainty that no woman he'd ever been with had ever faked an orgasm. When my friend and I told him that simply wasn't true, and that statistically speaking, at least one woman he's been with has faked an orgasm (hey, it's simple math, my friend), you would have thought we had kicked his puppy in front of him.
But now, with the recent news that at least 31 percent of men admit to faking an orgasm during sex at least once, I think I have a small idea of how he felt. Wait a second, I thought. Men fake orgasms too? And then: How?
In an interview with Salon, Abraham Morgentaler, M.D., states that in the past 25 years as a doctor treating men with sexual and reproductive health issues, he's realized that faking it is more common among men than people think.
In his new book, Why Men Fake It: The Totally Unexpected Truth About Men and Sex, he writes that the reasons men fake orgasms don't differ that much from the reasons why women do it: They feel bad that they can't come and want their partner to feel good about themselves and their skills in bed. "In their minds—and we can argue about whether or not it's a productive thing to do—it's a kind of kindness," Dr. Morgentaler says. "They're letting the other person know they did a good job."
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John Romaniello, co-author of Man 2.0 Engineering the Alpha: A Real World Guide to an Unreal Life, agrees. "In any situation, it seems pretty obvious that when a person fakes an orgasm, they're doing it to spare their partner's feelings," he says. "Going a bit deeper (pun intended), there are probably a lot of reasons, but the main one is probably that he can't achieve an orgasm and decides to fake it in an effort to give the sexual encounter a feeling of finality."
It's almost kind of a relief to find out that sometimes it just doesn't happen for men, either. Stress, fatigue, and illness are just a few factors that can affect libido, and faking once or twice certainly doesn't mean that you (or him!) are bad in bed. The key to ensuring that both you and your guy have a fun time between the sheets is to stop thinking of the orgasm as the end game, says clinical psychologist Belisa Vranich. "Cut him—and you—some slack," she says. "Don't make the orgasm the focus. Think of sex as a sport you do for fun together. Remember: You can have great sex and not have intercourse."
However if you do worry that your partner is regularly faking orgasms, it's okay to approach him about it. "Try to ask without accusing," Romaniello says. "Don't say 'I think you've been faking orgasms.' Instead you could say, 'Your orgasms have seemed different lately—sometimes more powerful, sometimes less. How can we make sure they're always good? Is there anything you'd like to do differently?'"
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While it can be disheartening to discover your partner isn't climaxing in bed, it's also important to remember that faking it is most often a sign that he cares and is trying not to hurt your feelings. Ultimately, as long as you and your sweetie can talk openly and honestly about your experiences, what you want in bed, and how you guys can work to get there together, you shouldn't worry too much about the big finish. Both Romaniello and Vranich agree: Sex is more about the journey than the destination.