The stereotype is that only 'women' fake orgasms (thanks in part to that unforgettable scene in When Harry Met Sally), but there are all kinds of women, men, and non-binary individuals, who may fake an orgasm for all kinds of reasons.
The most common reason being if you're someone who struggles to achieve orgasm, you might fake it with your partner to avoid embarrassment—you don’t want them to know how much work it really takes to get you off, because it feels like a chore. Or maybe you just aren’t feeling it, or know that it's not going to happen and fake an orgasm so you don’t hurt your partner’s feelings.
Contrary to the stereotype, both those with penises and vaginas can fake an orgasm. Regardless of biology, the reasons that people fake orgasms are more or less the same: To avoid shame and embarrassment, either for themselves or their partner. That said, good sex is all about communication, and whether you consider it a little white lie or not, faking an orgasm isn't honest. It’s the kind of lie you’ll have to keep up with, too, since now you’ll have to admit to your partner that you didn’t actually like that move, or you prefer something totally different. Even through your frustration with them—why can’t they just figure it out??—it’s important to remember that sex is an exchange, and it’s in nobody’s best interest to withhold information.
Faking an orgasm lets your partner believe that you like what they’re doing. It’s one thing if you’re trying to speed up a less-than-amazing one-night stand, it’s another if you’re with a regular partner. Are you trying to make them feel better, or are you trying to get it over with? Do you want to enjoy sex with this person? Faking it takes you down the wrong path.
If that sounds unfair, flip the situation around in your head. What if you found out that your partner had been faking it, and was too upset or afraid to tell you? Wouldn’t you want them to be honest? Our point is, each of us is our own best representative, and the best, fastest way to get something is to ask for it.
There are also some more pragmatic reasons that people fake orgasms, like feeling tired, bored, not in the mood, or like they need to leave a situation, and those are all totally valid reasons (especially that last one). At the end of the day, you are your own person and nobody else, not even a partner, has a right to your body. If you decide that faking it is the route you need to take, don't worry about anyone else's feelings but your own.
If you have trouble achieving orgasm in general, or you want your partner to do something differently, it’s best to have that conversation right up front, before the problem becomes bigger than it needs to be. Emotions run high during sex, so if you prefer to have this conversation in a more neutral setting, like when you’re just hanging out, that can be a good idea. Just be honest—explain the problem, and what each of you can do to solve it. If the truth still hurts too much, there are other ways to talk about it with a partner, like asking them to try something ‘new’ sexually that you think might get you off. The suggestion of bringing your favorite vibe to bed to 'mix things up' can help you demonstrate for your partner exactly what it takes to get you all the way there. Read our piece on Introducing Toys into Partnered Sex and the one on Mutual Masturbation for more info.
Here’s the biggest thing: You don’t need to fake an orgasm to gain your partner’s approval, no matter who you are or what you’re doing. Even if you have a hard time achieving orgasm, you are not inadequate and the only thing that can improve the situation is to have an honest dialogue with your partner. Avoiding the problem will not get your toes curling!
If you aren’t having orgasms during sex because you aren’t getting enough direct clitoral stimulation, ask your partner for more! Need more lubrication? Stop and add more. Or maybe you prefer to penetrate your partner in the spoon position instead of missionary, let them know! If candles or incense get you in the mood, light 'em up! If you love the feeling of a vibrator, bring it into the mix, if you're worried that it might be a medical concern, book an appointment to start investigating. Nobody is a mind-reader, and even body language can be difficult to decipher if we aren’t also using words, and most importantly, saying what we really mean.