Dear Venus Envy,

I’m a 22 year old cis woman, and I’ve been with my boyfriend for just under a year. I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’ve been faking my orgasms with him during most of that time.

When we first met and started hooking up I thought we were going to keep it casual, so I didn’t think it was a big deal. But now I’m frustrated and I feel stuck, because if I tell him I need something different he’ll know I haven’t really been having orgasms.

I’ve tried having sex and just not faking it, but I can tell that it makes him confused and insecure since he’s not doing anything differently.

I feel so anxious about the idea of having sex, and it’s creating tension between us because he knows I’m avoiding sex with him but doesn’t know why.

He is a sweet and caring guy who I love, and I feel so stupid for creating this problem.

I don’t know how to fix it without hurting my boyfriend. Please help?

-Frustrated

Dear Frustrated,

I’m sure that there are so many people reading your question and nodding along, because this is such a common experience. At Venus Envy, I’ve had conversations with women in their 50s and 60s who have been faking orgasms for the full 30 years of their relationships!

I don’t think any of those women are stupid for faking orgasms, and I don’t think you’re stupid either. So many of us are exhausted and stressed so much of the time, and so used to navigating a world that tells us not to ask for too much. And sometimes faking just seems like the easier choice – until, of course, it’s not.

It doesn’t help that pop culture perpetuates the idea that Good Sex™ is when two people orgasm at the same time from penetrative sex alone. That idea is incredibly pervasive, and it’s also some really damaging bullshit.

Most people with vaginas are just unable to get off through penetrative sex. Yet we continue to hold it up as the ideal, and so many people believe that they’re broken when they can’t achieve it. No wonder there’s so much faking happening.

Of course, women fake orgasms for many different reasons. If you haven’t already, spend some time figuring out what the reason is for you.

Are you afraid of hurting your boyfriend’s feelings? Do you feel too much pressure to come? Are you worried about taking too long or seeming too “needy”? Knowing what’s getting in your way will make it that much easier to move past.

I think you already know that you will also have to talk to your boyfriend about this. Inevitably, he will want to know why you’ve been faking all this time, and I think you should be as honest as you can stand to be.

If you’re tempted to soften the blow, remember that more white lies will likely lead you back to this same conversation in another few months. It might help to emphasize that it’s not about him being a “bad lover,” it’s just that the kind of sex you’re having together isn’t the kind of sex that gets you off.

Make sure you also let him know that you’re excited to play and explore. Then tell him specifically what you want more of.

If what gets you off is clitoral stimulation, then find ways to incorporate more of that into your sex life. Masturbate in front of your boyfriend to show him where and how you like to be touched.

Also, don’t be afraid to take charge of your own orgasm when you’re together. It still counts as sex when you’re touching yourself or using a vibrator. Plus it might take some pressure off both of you to know that it’s not his responsibility alone.

I really believe that most decent guys do want to know how to please their partners. Assuming your boyfriend is as sweet and as caring as you say, I think opening up this conversation will ultimately change your relationship for the better.

And on that note, I’ll leave you with the immortal lyrics of Bikini Kill: “I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe. I do. I do. I do.”

Sincerely,

Sam Whittle, sex educator and owner of Venus Envy.

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