Some time back in 2001, many years before I lost my virginity, I was failing calculus. A couple variables factored into that grade (I guess some of it stuck), but mostly, I just didn’t enjoy the experience as much as other classes. Since I had an F halfway through the quarter, my teacher forced me to get an interim report card signed by my mother.
I tried to hide it from her for weeks but she eventually found out. That’s when, after her anger subsided, she tried to instill within me an ethos of honesty. To her, it is always better to tell the truth. No matter what.
Well, mom, you may not like what follows, because we’re about to talk an awful lot about lying and an almost equal amount about my ejaculate.
I guess I should say lack there of. I didn’t come on a recent Friday night. But I told the person I did when they asked, concernedly, after I halted my thrusting in a fashion that perhaps wasn’t nearly as exhaustive as it would have been had I really gotten off.
I was wearing a condom, so I couldn’t tell if she knew for real or was merely inquiring. But because it was my responsibility to take off the still-empty jimmy and dispose of it in the bathroom, there was no way for her to disprove my untruth.
It was like she was lying not in my bed, but rather Plato’s jizz cave, illuminated only by the wood-scented Yankee candle I’d lit, unable to see if there really was sperm on the latex or merely the illusion of it.
She probably knew. Humanity left the cave and I’m not that convincing a liar. But I do lie when it comes to coming. Instead of saying I’m unable to, like an honest person might, if I can’t get off, I’ll just say I did.
Yeah, guys lie about orgasms.
Back in 1989, after Sally faux-swooned all over Katz’s deli, it became apparent to the world that women fake orgasms. But a seminal (or should I say, not seminal) moment never materialized for men. When did we start pretending to come, just like our better halves?
No one really knows. There isn’t much research into playing pretend in bed prior to Meg Ryan’s assurance that all women do it. Only three years after that scene exploded across America, the University of Chicago undertook a landmark study of the sexual behaviors of Americans, interviewing over 3,000 Americans about their habits in the bedroom. But while questions as disparate and kinky and downright odd as whether couples had anal the first time they had sex or whether respondents thought a vasectomy could prevent AIDS, it didn’t even bother to ask about fake orgasms in its massive questionnaire.
What that study did find was that men claimed, in 95 percent of all sexual encounters, to orgasm, an almost complete confidence in their ability to ejaculate.
Fifteen years later, in 2009, a new landmark study came out, which was lauded for unearthing an orgasm gap for women. It found that while 85 percent of men thought they had made their partner come the last time they had sex, only 64 percent of women reported they had. The news ran with the stats, taking fake orgasms mainstream.
Much less publicized was a different gap. It found that while 93 percent of women were sure they were making their men come, the number was a little bit lower, with 28 percent of men admitting to faking an orgasm during vaginal intercourse. That number keeps going up too. In 2014, the University of Kansas found that a whopping
So why are men, who were not so long ago getting off with the kind of zeal reserved for a Doctor Seuss character (I can come during the day, I can come when the sky is gray) shifting to faking it?
Part of the rate is most likely shifting attitudes about masculine identity. Whereas you can see a man gripping his chair handle so hard it breaks while lying through his teeth about his virility in 1994, you can just as easily picture a somewhat woke liberal modern man having no problem coming clean about his deficiencies in the bedroom, at least in a survey.
But not in person, of course. That’s why we fake it.
“I wanted to be done,” says 32-year-old Roger, of the Pacific Northwest, when asked to explain why he faked his last orgasm “but didn’t want the woman to feel bad.”
The desire to please your partner, or more accurately, not have your partner be displeased, was a predominant reason for lying in bed. Alcohol, too, played a significant factor in an inability to orgasm.
“I was drunk,” said Michael, 33.
“Too drunk to finish,” said Will, 32.
“I was drunk and wanted to go to bed,” said Rick, 29.
But while, sure, we can always use alcohol to explain away all our actions, there might be something somewhat more pernicious. And it's a lot more embarrassing than we’d like to admit.
Much like any problem in the world—cough cough cough 2016 election—it’s our own damn fault. We’re jerking ourselves to our inability. In two decades, we went from occasional onanists to frequent floggers, and it’s happened simultaneously with the rise in internet pornography.
Not only are we watching a hell of a lot of it these days, we’re starting younger and becoming much more conditioned to it. A 2016 study out of the University of Middlesex found that over half of young boys thought the porn they watched was a “realistic depiction of sex” and another 40 percent who watched pornography wanted to try the actions depicted in it.
It’s creating a Pavlovian effect on our erections. The manner in which a man climaxes in porn is often with the use of his own hand, while all of us watching alongside are getting off the same way.
Some men, therefore, have become more conditioned to a release that’s profoundly unlike vaginal intercourse, the pressure no longer under your control, the stimulation not the same.
“After your brain has been saturated with every flavor of porn imaginable, straight [vaginal] intercourse can be a little bland,” said Will. “It has certainly dulled the sensation for me.”
“You get so used to orgasm from hand stimulation, it’s almost like you develop a muscle memory to come that doesn’t work with vaginal stimulation,” added Rick.
And what are you supposed to say in that situation? “Sorry, but I need to jerk myself to get off?”
A lot of us certainly sure do but just as many of us may be embarrassed by that. It’s easier to finish the act with a fake flourish than admit the woman you’re with can’t get you off because you’ve become addicted to the combination of masturbation and Pornhub, an entirely modern affliction that I think we’d all be ashamed to earnestly confront while we’re inside someone else.
Although my mom would probably still tell me to come clean about not coming.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.