Ask Emily: How Do I Tell My Partner I’ve Been Faking Orgasms?

Woman leaning her head back

Dear Emily,

I’ve been with my boyfriend for around eight months and have still never had a REAL orgasm during sex. And as if this isn’t bad enough, I’ve been faking it! I know—it’s terrible! My partner has no idea, I just get so in my head about it and I want to make him feel good about his performance, but now I’m sick of performing. I want the real deal and I know I need to be honest with him, I just don’t know how to confess without hurting his feelings. How do I approach this?

Thanks, A

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Dear A,

Oh, I hear you! “Performative sex” is an incredibly common issue, and I hear your exasperation in this line:

I just get so in my head about it and I want to make him feel good about his performance, but now I’m sick of performing. I want the real deal.”

Of course, you want the real deal. We all do! So let’s help you navigate this conversation, and get the O’s you absolutely deserve.

You’ve been faking your orgasms, in part, because you have an altruistic desire to make your partner feel good. But can I tell you something? Your partner doesn’t want to be placated – they want to be respected. And when we respect people, we’re honest with them. So that is how I would start this conversation, by literally saying the words: “hey – I’ve got something I want to talk to you about in the sex department, and it’s because I respect you.” Begin with that, to show him where you’re coming from. 

Next: time to come clean (pun very much intended). I would tell him you have a confession to make, a confession that stems from a deeper understanding about sex and orgasms. Are you a vulva owner? Because if so, the grand majority cannot orgasm from penetration alone. Most need clitoral stimulation, either from fingers, oral sex, or a toy. So you can tell your partner, “I’ve been faking my orgasms because I wanted to make us both feel good in the moment. But eight months in, I’m ready for something deeper with you…I want to experience hot orgasms that are authentic and real, and now that I’ve been doing a little bit of homework, I think I’ve got some ideas for how to get there. Wanna try them with me?”

If you’re not a vulva owner, then it’s totally possible that the stimulation you need is simply different from what you’re currently getting. Maybe oral doesn’t get you off…but anal does. Or vice versa. Either way, vulva OR penis owner, I just did a show on anal play for beginners – give it a listen, and see if the tips are intriguing to you. Also, a clarifying question: are you faking your orgasms because he gets off before you do? If so, you might need a simple tool in your arsenal to help him last longer, so your genitals can fully engorge…and arrive at orgasm in their own time. For that, I always recommend Promescent’s Delay Spray, which will help the sensitive nerve endings in his penis chill out a bit.

Last thing I’ll say here. Most of us go into fight or flight when talking about sex because as a society, we haven’t normalized this topic for everyday conversation. That’s changing, but if your partner feels a bit sensitive during this talk, please know that you’re not doomed – you’re just working through a sexual issue together, and it requires you both to work through a bit of discomfort. It might help to tell him that he’s not doing anything “wrong,” it’s just that in order to orgasm, you’ve realized you need different types of stimulation. That makes it not so personal because listen: most of us didn’t have sex education that talked about orgasms or pleasure. We’re all still learning! So the amazing news is that you can turn this into a game, where you experiment together with techniques and toys to help you O. If you’re a vulva owner, maybe you try bringing a toy into the bedroom that you can wear during penetrative sex, like the Dame Eva – it has wings that tuck under the labia, stimulating your clitoris during penetration. Genius, right? 

I hope these tips help. I get it, it seems like a scary conversation because you don’t want to hurt his feelings, but what’s worse? Having one awkward conversation, and working through this together? Or saying nothing, and experiencing months (or years) of resentment? I think you know the answer. Trust yourself – you can do this.