Is she faking it? A new study in the journal Sexualities concludes there’s a good chance she is—at least once in a while.
The researchers then interviewed 14 women to ask whether they had faked it before—and if so, why. Thirteen of those 14 copped to having feigned orgasm or pleasure.
Why play pretend? Here’s what the women said, word for word:
“It [sex] wasn’t fun, I just . . . passed the time, like it was—I was doing it just to make him happy.”
“I didn’t really feel like doing anything, not really in the mood but I—I did anyway just because it was something nice to do for my partner.”
“I just kind of wanted it to end.”
(To become so good in bed she’ll never want it to end, check out How to Pleasure a Woman from Men’s Health.)
Why Do Women Fake Orgasms?
Study coauthor Monika Stelzl, Ph.D., says the women she interviewed faked because they were tired, didn’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings or ego, or didn’t want to seem like they were uninterested in sex.
“Women cannot easily say ‘I don’t enjoy this,’ ” Stelzl says. (Note: The women in this study were all talking about consensual sexual encounters.)
If she cares about you, she won’t want to hurt your feelings. And she may think that telling you the sex isn’t good for her—or shooting down your advances when she’s not in the mood—will be more hurtful than faking her way through it.
Don’t Freak Out
Rest assured, not every moan is really a groan. Like anything else, sex has its ups and downs. Just because she dusts off her acting skills from time to time doesn’t mean you suck in bed.
Also, understand that an orgasm isn’t the be-all-end-all for women. What matters most is that she has a partner who is attentive and responsive to her in bed, Stelzl says
Here’s how to become the attentive, responsive partner she desires:
Follow Her Cues
Pay attention to how she’s reacting to your moves. Not just verbally, but nonverbally.
“Listen for changes in her breathing, feel for rises in muscle tension, notice how deeply she’s kissing you,” advises Emily Morse, sexologist and host of the Sex With Emily podcast.
That’s especially important if you’re the one who initiated sex. If she’s not leaning into you or undoing zippers and buttons, she may not be in the mood. And if that’s the case, not even Ryan Gosling would be able to get her off.
During sex, if she yips or inhales suddenly, you’ve probably caught her off guard or done something she didn’t like.
Erase “Are You Close” and “Did You Come” From Your Vocab
These questions shift her focus from the intimacy and enjoyment of the moment to one thing: Her climax.
That puts pressure on her, says Debby Herbenick, M.P.H., Ph.D., director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University.
It can make her feel like the experience was a failure if she doesn’t orgasm. And that can diminish the connection you two shared—which in your partner’s eyes, may be more important.
Use this guide to What to Say During Sex instead.
Focus On Foreplay
You’ve heard it before. But seriously, the best way to improve sex and help her orgasm is to spend more time preheating her oven.
Massaging her legs and trying out the “figure 8” oral sex technique are two of our 14 Foreplay Tips to Please Any Woman.
Talk About Sex Outside the Bedroom
If you want more intel, “it’s best to keep conversations about your sex life casual, positive, and at the right time,” Morse says.
Some ideal times for an honest chat: Having breakfast together, going for a walk, or in the car.
Morse recommends approaching it this way: “Tell her that you’ve been thinking about how hot the sex has been lately, and you want to make sure you’re doing everything possible to make it amazing for her.”
Showing you care about her pleasure boosts intimacy, and that can put her on the fast track to getting off. A 2015 study found women are more likely to have an orgasm during sex when they feel intimate and compatible with her partner.