It’s the question we don’t dare to ask — or answer!
Are you faking it in bed?
We’re led to believe that the point of sex is all about the end result — the orgasm. Yet a study by Durex found that one in 10 women fakes an orgasm at least once a week and two- thirds don’t have an orgasm during every sex session.
Does this matter? And what impact does ‘faking it’ have on a relationship?
Ammanda Major, sex and relationship therapist at Relate, believes we need to talk about it.
She says: ‘Faking it happens for all sorts of reasons. It can be to please a partner, it can be to get yourself in the mood, it can be because it’s expected of you, or even just to get sex over with.’
It’s a frequent issue in her clinics but it’s only a problem if one partner feels it is.
‘An orgasm isn’t always important to everyone,’ she says. ‘For some people, sex is about pleasing a partner. For others it’s about being close — and the climax isn’t important.
‘But, in some cases faking it to please a partner may mean that they are not pleasing you.’
And that can be a problem.
One issue is that we’ve been set some unreal expectations. Watch any film, listen to a song, read a book and you might feel you have to be swinging from the chandeliers every time you make love.
But the reality is that most normal, long-term sexual relationships have peaks and troughs.
And we can’t always enjoy a fulfilling sex life.
Ammanda says: ‘Ill health, ageing and exhaustion can all play their part. Upbringing is also important. If you’ve been brought up to believe sex is dirty or you had a parent share inappropriate sexual information with you about sex, this can influence you.’
But, if you’re faking it and you don’t want to, how and when should you talk about it?
Ammanda says: ‘It’s good to talk and bring up the fact that you want to orgasm, but choose your moment. It’s not so good if you’re rowing about something else and you say: “And another thing, you never make me orgasm!”
‘It has to be broached and communicated in such a way that both partners listen to each other.’
If you have trouble talking about the sex you would like to have, Ammanda recommends seeing a counsellor.
‘Talking about sex in a safe space can be helpful in discussing what you want,’ she says.
Communication is key.
So before you start any conversation with your partner, Ammanda suggests asking yourself some questions…
- What is preventing you from talking about your sexual needs?
- How confident are you that your partner knows your body and what you want?
- Do you think that sex always starts in the bedroom?
- How are you generally with each other?
‘I did it for 14 years’
From Caren, 46, of Berkshire
‘My ex-partner and I were together 14 years. I know it’s awful, but I never had an orgasm with him. I started faking it when we first got together because I didn’t want to make him feel bad. But then every time we had sex, I couldn’t bring myself to explain what I needed or wanted him to do.
‘So, the lie kept on until I couldn’t bring the subject up. I used to find myself lying there wishing it would all be over. I’d make noises, pretending to have an orgasm, just so he’d hurry up.
‘We’d watch films sometimes where a couple was having an amazing love life and I’d have to leave the room and make a cup of tea. I resented my friends telling me about their amazing sex lives and dreaded sex altogether.
‘We had two children together and he was a great dad. But sex was awful and, as we got older, I resented him more and more.
‘I started looking at other men and fantasising about escaping and having a good sex life.
‘Finally, after 14 years together, we separated.
‘Now I’m on my own. I hope one day to meet someone and enjoy a healthy sex life. This time I’ll explain what I want and need. I’ll never fake it again.’
*Caren’s name has been changed.
If you’d like more relationship advice or counselling, visit relate.org.uk
Edited by Julie Cook