For most of my young adult life, I faked my orgasms with every one of my sexual partners.
I don’t really know how it began, but I can absolutely recall when it did. I was 15 and dating my first long-term boyfriend, who was also the person I lost my virginity to. Within the first few months of our relationship, I had somehow fallen into a cycle of faking my orgasms. I reassured him that he satisfied me sexually and I was happy with our intimate life, yet, oddly enough, it felt normal. I couldn’t exactly explain why, but pretending to reach climax every time we had sex seemed natural to me.
Back then, I was a teenager with very little experience and hadn’t taken the proper time to get to know my body. Once that relationship ended, I assumed that I would never have to deal with one-sided intimacy ever again, but instead, the problem continued, all the way up until I was 22.
It took me years to realize that faking my orgasms was a disservice to my body, sexuality, and intimate relationships.
At first, it was a dirty little secret that I kept from my partners. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings, but I wanted to make them feel confident at the same time, too. It’s not that they weren’t pleasuring me—I had a good time, and they did things to make me feel great. But instead of using my voice to urge them forward or do something different, I stayed quiet, then pretended that I was experiencing the best orgasms of my life.
Eventually, this became a pattern that occurred every time I engaged in a sexual scenario. I chalked it up to, “Well, maybe I’m the only person that can make myself orgasm,” and marched on, using that very same justification every time I was in bed with someone new. It wasn’t until I turned 21 and started dating my current partner, Jonathan*, that I finally felt the freedom to articulate what actually turned me on.
From the very beginning of our relationship, Jonathan was straight-forward about wanting to please me sexually. I waved him off, giving him my standard explanation, but that didn’t stop him from pushing forward. We discussed my ability to reach climax during masturbation and gradually began to experiment, with the most important factor being that I remained comfortable and communicative.
Through our attempts, I learned that a huge part of enjoying sex was actually speaking up—something that I had never really done before. If something felt good, I needed to tell him. If I was ever uncomfortable, we had a safe word that was to be used the second I felt unsure. We began to engage in post-sex conversations, where we both commented on the things we especially enjoyed.
I decided to quit my orgasm-faking habit with Jonathan because I wanted to enjoy our most intimate moments. He was someone who instantly showed that he cared about pleasing me sexually, and for that, I chose to actually give things a try. I felt as though I owed it to myself to slowly unlearn the idea that I was supposed to climax quickly or within minutes of intercourse or foreplay. I ultimately learned that it takes a while for me to orgasm with a partner, but that doesn’t mean I should feel bad or rushed.
Above anything, I’ve since realized that there’s no reason for me to brush things off or use excuses about my orgasms if I’m having trouble getting there. If I’m willing to take the time to make my partner orgasm, I should feel that way about myself, too.
Of course, these realizations didn’t come with ease, but slowly, through mutual patience and communication. For once in my life, I was in an honest sexual relationship, and it felt great. I feel comfortable enough to tell my boyfriend what I like, dislike, or even what I want to try, all because we embarked on a journey that dove deeper into my sexuality. What truly helped the most was taking the time to focus and learn about my body. I assumed that I was familiar with what turned me on, but I discovered that I actually still had a lot to learn.
It’s actually a popular practice for womxn to feel as though they come second in bed (literally). Dr. Janet Brito, a certified sex therapist, attributes this behavior to a variety of reasons, like not knowing how to be touched, not knowing enough about one’s body, or having limited views on pleasure or sexuality. In some cases, Dr. Brito explains that faking orgasms might seem reasonable if womxn are looking to please their partner(s), or even end the sexual activity that they’re engaged in.
For those who struggle with this particular issue, Dr. Brito advises that creating more realistic expectations is key.
“Engage in more sex communication, develop sexual assertiveness, give yourself permission to let go, and ask for what you want,” she says. “Create safety in your relationship to be vulnerable to express your sexual interests and desires, too.”
I’m grateful that Jonathan refused to accept my well-rehearsed excuse of “nobody makes me cum” because as it turns out, I wasn’t permitting myself the time or patience to guide my partners there. When it came to sex, I constantly prioritized my partner or hookup and rarely ever allowed myself a chance to orgasm.
Viewing myself as equal to my significant other and developing the communication skills necessary to speak up saved my sex life. What I previously failed to realize was that faking orgasms goes beyond a lackluster intimate relationship—it actually has more to do with maintaining a certain level of sexual assertiveness and letting go of fears and anxieties.
If you’ve fallen into the cycle of pretending to climax, I urge you to get to know your body better and practice advocating for yourself in the bedroom. I can promise you that you won’t regret it.