Sex Ed

Sex Question Friday: Do Men Fake Orgasms Too?

April 26, 2013 by Justin Lehmiller

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know whether faking orgasms is something unique to women, or if guys do it too.

I had a rather lively conversation with some of my friends the other day about faking orgasms, with the general focus being the myth that men don’t or can’t fake orgasms. The conversation I had seemed to suggest that faking orgasms is not all that uncommon among men since everyone seemed to have at least one experience doing it, but obviously that is just my group of friends. So is faking orgasms a common experience for men?

As Meg Ryan’s character in the classic film When Harry Met Sally once famously said: “Most women at one time or another have faked it.” And she was right. Studies have reliably found that a majority of women report having faked a climax at least once in the past [1]. But what about men? Do they ever pretend orgasm with their partners? Until recently, no published research had even bothered to explore this question because it was assumed that men either don’t need to fake it because they almost always reach orgasm or men can’t truly fake an orgasm because ejaculation makes it obvious when men climax. As it turns out, however, these assumptions appear to be incorrect.

In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Sex Research, 180 male and 101 female college undergraduates were asked about their previous experience faking orgasms [2]. Consistent with previous research, fully 50% of the women had faked at least one orgasm in the past. In addition, it turns out that 25% of the guys had faked at least one orgasm too! Men reported several different ways of faking it ranging from “I just made some extra noises and told her how good it felt” to “I just stopped and told her I was done and left.” Several of the guys also reported removing and disposing of their condom in private so that their partner could not see the lack of “evidence.” Let me just say that reading through these faking “techniques” made it clear that some guys put in more effort than others to convince their partners.

Why do men fake orgasms? A large number of reasons were reported, but more than 80% of male fakers reported that they had faked an orgasm out of a desire for sex to end (e.g., because they were tired, bored, or no longer in the mood) or because they realized that a real orgasm just wasn’t going to happen (e.g., because they were too drunk, they had already climaxed that day, or their partner was inexperienced). In addition, 58% of fakers reported having pretended an orgasm to avoid a negative consequence (e.g., so as not to hurt a partner’s feelings or to prevent an awkward situation). Based upon these results, it appears that men often fake orgasms to make themselves feel better. Of course, it turns out that women often fake orgasms for a similar set of reasons, although one important gender difference is that women are more likely than men to fake an orgasm in order to please their partner or let them know their efforts are appreciated.

In short, men definitely do fake orgasms. They may not do it nearly as often as women, but the sexes have a lot in common when it comes to the motivations behind their false finishes.

For past Sex Question Friday posts, see here. Want to learn more about The Psychology of Human Sexuality? Click here for a complete list of articles or like the Facebook page to get articles delivered to your newsfeed.

[1] Wiederman, M. W. (1997). Pretending orgasm during sexual intercourse: Correlates in a sample of young adult women. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 23, 131–135.

[2] Muehlenhard, C. L., & Shippee, S. K. (2010). Men’s and women’s reports of pretending orgasm. Journal of Sex Research, 47, 552-567.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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