Is she faking it?

Written by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D.

Thanks to Meg Ryan's infamous scene in When Harry Met Sally, we've witnessed just how easy it is for women to fake an orgasm.

And, really, all your partner needs to do is watch a few minutes of most porn to see how to "have what she's having." Think she can't fool you? Think again. Some colleagues of mine recently found that one-quarter of the men they surveyed believed that porn (fake tans, fake breasts, fake orgasms and all) depicts a realistic representation of women's sexuality. 

And it's not like women are getting better information. Find me a women's magazine whose cover doesn't include screaming headlines about the 764 varieties of orgasm every woman is supposed to be having each time she has sex. In reality, life gets in the way, stress, depression, anxiety, body image, performance anxiety (women get it too), sleep deprivation, feeling rushed (women average roughly 10-30 minutes to orgasm), all interfere with orgasm. So sometimes women fake it.

Faking isn't evil; it's often a well-intentioned safeguard for her partner's ego. For example: a woman is less likely to have orgasms early in a relationship because her body needs time to to learn to trust a new partner and to relax into the knowledge that he accepts and appreciates her body. At the same time, if a woman likes her partner, she wants him to feel good about the relationship. If orgasm is a way she can show him she's enjoying it, but orgasm just isn't there for her yet, faking it is a completely viable option (as long as it doesn't become a habit).

But back to those 764 different kinds of orgasm. If your partner hasn't experienced them all, don't worry. Orgasms are a little like Highlander: There can only be one (kind, that is). Orgasm is simply the explosive release of sexual tension. You have, however, lots of ways to generate that tension. Most women have orgasms from clitoral stimulation and, contrary to what porn would have you believe, only a third of women usually have orgasms from intercourse. She might also have an orgasm from stimulation of the G-spot, inner thighs, breasts, earlobes, toes, backs of the knees, small of the back, or arches of the feet (women vary a lot). Add in how she's stimulated (hand, mouth, penis, vibrator, to name but a few) and you've got a lot of delicious options to get her off.

Don't sweat it if your sex isn't "porn-perfect." Orgasms should be less about being able to have one a certain way and more about not being able to stop yourself from having one, whatever way works. Focus on sharing her pleasure and both you and your partner will enjoy the real-life results.

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