Whenever the clip is shown of Meg Ryan “faking it” in the classic diner scene from “When Harry Met Sally,” many men inwardly cringe. They can’t help but wonder: Do all women do that? Is my partner faking too? How do I know if I am really making her feel good?
Despite stereotypes that tell us that men only care about their own pleasure in the bedroom, the truth is that most men are very invested in their partner’s sexual experience. Making their partner feel good is more than just an ego boost; it’s inherently tied to their love and care of their partner. It’s also tied to their sense of masculinity, and how they feel about their sexual performance and abilities.
So no wonder so many men fear that their partner is faking the big “O”!
Unfortunately, women don’t make it any easier for their hard-working lovers. Because our society often shames women for enjoying sex or exploring their sexuality, many women are afraid to own their sexual experience or learn more about their sexual pleasure. As a result, they are very ignorant when it comes to their own bodies and their own hot spots.
Even if they are able to have orgasms on their own, women might struggle to have orgasms with a partner. First of all, only 30 percent of women reach orgasm through intercourse. Yet many women also struggle with letting go and allowing the experience to come naturally. Instead, they stress themselves out and think, “It’s never going to happen,” or, “This is taking so long, it’s embarrassing,” so they fake it just to make their partner feel good.
I call this the mercy fake. It comes from a place of kindness, but it ultimately does a woman and her lover a disservice. She doesn’t get the pleasure she deserves, and he never learns how to touch her in ways she truly desires.
If you are worried that your partner might be faking, here are some tips to keep in mind:
• Don’t try to become a sexual Sherlock. Rather than trying to piece together clues or read her body language, it might be better to just come right out and ask. Don’t accuse her of faking or make her feel put on the spot. Instead, ask her what she likes most during foreplay or intercourse. If she’s feeling shy, take the first step by sharing your own fantasies or by telling her about your own sexual desires. Have your discussion over a glass of wine or on a date night, when she is really in the mood to open up.
• Consider sex aids. Sex aids can be incredibly helpful when it comes to closing the arousal gap between men and women. (Women can take up to 20 minutes to become fully aroused, while men might need as little 7.5 minutes). With a sex toy, you can help intensify and increase her pleasure, and you can also take the guesswork out of figuring out her hotspots.
• Cue into her moans and coos. While you don’t want to constantly second guess yourself or worry about whether or not she is actually enjoying herself, you can learn some things from her body language. If she moans and coos when you touch her a certain way, it’s a good clue that she is enjoying herself and you should keep doing what you are doing.
• Encourage her to open up and become part of the experience. Once she realizes that you truly want to please her, she will become a very willing participant. Let her know, “I just want to make you happy.” That will give her the permission to tune into her own needs and her own body, rather than just focusing on what makes you feel good.
It’s also important to keep in mind that orgasm isn’t the end all, be all of every sexual experience. Sex is about so much more than gratification. It’s also about intimacy, passion, connection and love. In fact, my research has shown that sexually satisfied women don’t focus on orgasms alone—they focus on the experience and the relationship as a whole.
Make it your goal to focus on pleasure and on the sensual experience of lovemaking so you both feel connected and desired.
Laura Berman, PhD, is a world renowned sex and relationship educator and therapist; popular TV, radio and Internet host; New York Times best-selling author; and assistant clinical professor of ob-gyn and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. Dr. Berman is a New York Times best-selling author of many books on sexual health and pleasure, a weekly columnist for the Chicago Sun Times, and host of the radio program "Uncovered with Dr. Laura Berman."