A new study coming from Emory University found that “Love, formally defined as a mixture of altruism and demand for togetherness, increases the likelihood of faking orgasms.”

Intrigued? So was I.

The New York Times Freakonomics blog covered the gist of economist Hugo M. Milion’s model on rational lovemaking:
– Men who are closer to age 18 are less likely to fake
– Women who are closet to age thirty are also less likely to
– Educated people are more likely to fake
– Men and women fake less if they think their partner can tell
– People fake more when they are in love

The last finding caught me a bit off guard. Don’t get me wrong, I am just as guilty as the next woman of faking orgasms with people I have hooked up with in the past. But why are people who are in love more likely to fake it than people who are just having casual sex?

I suppose it has to do with caring about the other person’s feelings. We like to make our partners feel good about their love making ability. As individuals, we feel fantastic about ourselves when our partners orgasm. There is nothing sexier than seeing someone you love in pure ecstasy right as they are coming. All that face contorting, moaning and contracting of the major muscle groups, and it’s all because you did that figure-8 move with your hips. We not only feel happy that our partner just received so much intense pleasure, we also selfishly feel a sense of pride in a job well done. So, it is only natural that we want a partner whom we love to feel the same way. We want them to be confident that they can give us just as much pleasure as we can give them. Even if that means faking it.

Another reason we fake it is because we just get tired. Sex is a cardio vascular activity, and sometimes when it’s going down for more than 30 minutes, you get exhausted. Yet, conventional wisdom is that sex isn’t over until both partners successfully orgasm. Why on earth else would we call it “finishing”? Dr.Tingle, the world’s leading expert on sex, has this to say about the importance we place on orgasms as being the finale of sex,

“Orgasm is very important for many Americans because it tells them when the sexual encounter is over. Most of these people enjoy competitive sports, where some official is forever blowing a whistle or waving a little flag to let them know the event has ended. Without orgasm, they would be fumbling around, never knowing when it was time to suggest a game of Scrabble or a corned beef sandwich.”

Thus, when we know making it to that finish line just isn’t going to happen, the path of least resistance is to fake it. Everyone’s ego is intact and you can get to get on with your day.

But, what is really the utility of faking? As the faker, you are not only not receiving an orgasm, but you are also hindering your ability to reach an orgasm with your partner the next time. Continuously faking orgasms cheats you and your partner out of figuring out what works for you in the bedroom. Being a part of a loving relationship means discovering each other’s body and pleasure points. That’s why sex keeps getting better and better, because that thing you did with your tongue that one time REALLY hit the spot. But if you actually didn’t like it when he pulled your hair, yet you faked an orgasm, guess what? He is going to pull your hair again. Furthermore, you know those feelings you are trying to protect by faking it? They are going to be crushed if and when your partner finds out all the Oscars you should have won by now.
The problem is that we are so wrapped up with orgasms being the goal of sex. We think that we are only good at sex if we can give our partners orgasms. When in reality, if all we were seeking from sex was an orgasm we would just masturbate all the time. But your vibrator can’t kiss your neck or spoon you afterwards. The truth is we have sex for the intimacy, friendship and togetherness it brings. We have sex to feel wanted and loved, and to express our love and desire for another person.

My advice is to learn to talk to your partner before resorting to the When Harry Met Sally act. Ask for something different, express your needs, or just say, “I’m tired and I want to stop having sex now.” Most importantly, maybe start realizing that orgasms and sex are two different things. Orgasms can be had without sex. And more importantly, sex can be had (and enjoyed!) without orgasms. And for the times that they happen together, well, let’s just call that icing on the cake.

For more reading

-The Economics Of Faking Ecstasy http://userwww.service.emory.edu/~hmialon/Ecstasy.pdf
-NYT Freakonomis Blog “Who’s More Likely To Fake It In The Bedroom?” http://
freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/20/whos-more-likely-to-fake-it-in-the-bedroom/

-Guide To Getting it On, Chapter 9 “Orgasms”

~ Kristin Brey