I've been faking, but I just don't want to tell him.

I'm seventeen years old and have been sexually active with my boyfriend for the year that we have been together. I have faked orgasm almost every time we have had intercourse. I have read your site and read the dialogue you have provided on how to come clean about this form of dishonesty. However, I feel that at this point I am not sure the best thing to do is come clean. I would like your thoughts on what sort of dialogue I should be having with my boyfriend concerning different things we can do so that I can achieve orgasm, without hurting his feelings. Do you think it's healthy to not tell him at all and move on towards a healthier relationship?
Heather Corinna replies:

Obviously, this is more of a personal judgment call than anything else.

But personal ethics and the integrity of a relationship (as well as your own integrity) aside, you are likely to have some practical problems with not being truthful about faking and then expecting the sex to improve. I have to say, I'm also not sure how one can move to a healthier relationship from the foundation of a lie.

Practically speaking, if you've been faking all the time, by now your partner is going to validly feel that he has a really good idea about what does and does not work for you sexually. So, if suddenly everything which seemed to work just fine before isn't working anymore out of the blue because you now stop faking -- none of it -- he's going to feel mighty perplexed. He will probably also ask you if you know what's going on, since it would be pretty odd for what's always gotten us off to come to a screeching halt.

You're going to need to answer him, which means, if the answer isn't some kind of truthful, "You know, I'm really sorry, and this is all on me, but I've been faking orgasm," then it's going to be a lie of some kind, whether the lie is "I don't know," or "I just started this new medication," or "I woke up today and my whole sexuality was taken over by aliens." So, there you'll be with yet one more untruth on top of the existing pile, not to mention in a situation where you two are having to work something out from a position where one person thinks what they're working on or adapting to is something different than reality.

Plus, he might not be so comfortable having sex with you now that you've been the victim of an alien infestation. I'm always all about sexual diversity, but that one would give even this girl some pause.

Personally, that doesn't seem so workable to me, nor like the way to nurture a relationship of any quality. But if you want to go that route, beyond choosing the story of your choice and playing that however you're going to, then you're just going to want to start voicing clearly what does and does not feel good for you sexually, what you do and don't like, what you want to try together, just like you would without any storytelling. You're also likely to have to be very patient, since without the truth, working out a whole new way of sexually relating is going to be a lot tougher to do.

You didn't fill me in, so I can't know why you don't feel it's best to be truthful. If it's because you have any fear or worry of any kind of abuse -- verbal, physical, emotional, sexual -- from your partner, then I'd advise you to consider leaving that relationship, or at least making a plan to leave. We can't lie our way out of abuse in an abusive partnership or one going that way, we can only forestall it for later.

If it's just about worry per hurting your partner's feelings, again, when you disclose faking it, you can make it very clear that your faking and your untruth is your responsibility, and that because you have been faking, he couldn't possibly have been expected to know what you did and didn't like, since you kept that from him. No one can be sexually psychic: we learn what we do about our partner's sexuality and likes by paying attention to the cues they give us, and by more direct communication. If a partner gives us false cues, it's not reasonable to expect us not to follow them as if they were not false. In other words, it's likely that a lot of what he's done sexually is what the cues you have been giving him have directed him to do, and he can't be held responsible for that.

You can make clear that if he feels insecurity because of this, it's misplaced, as again, this is about something you have been doing, not something he has (though guys fake it sometimes, too, so you could even ask if he ever has to see if you two can't find some common ground). You can let him know that the reasons you are being honest now are that you want not only a more satisfying sexual relationship, but one where real intimacy can happen, and which is in line with a relationship based on honesty. You can also, of course, apologize for breaking a trust between you, and give him any time or space he needs to deal with that and rebuild that trust.

And if it's just about having egg on your face and feeling like a jerk, or having to deal with the process of a partner being upset with you or wanting some space away from you, I'd suggest you just suck that one up. Our partners always have the right to be unhappy with us, and in any relationship that goes on for a while, we're going to be unhappy with one another sometimes, and have to deal with being in the doghouse now and then. None of us gets to be the good guy all the time, and when we're close to someone, there are going to be times when we just screw things up. We're human and necessarily imperfect.

No matter what, you can be sure you and he both are filled in on realistic expectations when it comes to women reaching orgasm with intercourse. You can talk about the pressures men and women alike tend to be put under to have orgasm through an activity which, for a majority of women, as well as some men, isn't likely to make it happen, and why you felt the urge to fake. You can bring up that even knowing the physical realities of orgasm and intercourse, plenty of people feel disappointed that intercourse just doesn't frequently make them orgasm. You can talk about what you like about intercourse separate from orgasm: after all, for plenty of people, even when orgasm doesn't happen, they still enjoy the emotional aspects of intercourse, the physical feelings, or the metaphysics of entering someone's body or taking another person into one's own body in that way. You can discuss what activities you two could add before, during and/or after intercourse to make orgasm with intercourse more likely. Heck, it might even open the door for both of you to discover things you'd like to try together and will enjoy which neither you nor he has yet voiced.

You can also talk about how you're going to move forward in your sexual relationship from a place of real openness and honesty. It can be tough for partners to feel like they're not pleasing each other, or to deal with times when one or both voice disappointment or dissatisfaction. After all, it's a bummer when that happens. Given our druthers, we'd all prefer for every sexual encounter to be mind-blowing for everyone, but in real life, in real bodies, in real relationships, that's just not...well, real. In real-life, sometimes the sex is amazing, sometimes it's good, sometimes it's just okay, and sometimes it's probably best if we just give it the heck up, stop mid-stream and go veg on the sofa with a movie and a pizza instead. It can be helpful to talk about how to deal with all of that together in a way that isn't unduly hurtful for anyone, and it is something couples can work out.

So, really? I'd encourage you to be honest. You can figure out how to do that with accountability and sensitivity so that it is not deeply hurtful to him. Plus? It's often a lot tougher to reach orgasm with someone no matter what we do when we keep up barriers with them. It sounds to me like you want both a better sex life and a healthier relationship, and one big common denominator for both of those things is honesty.

Here are a few links to help you get there:

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