I don’t usually enjoy sex, but my husband gets frustrated if I don’t get into it. Lately, I’ve resorted to faking it. Is there anything wrong with that?
This scenario represents the experience of many couples, at least in certain seasons of marriage. One partner enjoys sex while the other is rarely in the mood. A caring spouse doesn’t want to be sexually selfish, which can put pressure on the other person to at least pretend to be having fun.
While faking climax or sexual enjoyment may be a quick way to resolve this type of scenario, it’s not a healthy long-term strategy. Here’s why.
Faking it undermines honest communication.
Even if it is for a good reason, faking sexual excitement is a form of dishonesty. It leads your partner to believe that you are sharing an experience of intimacy and pleasure when your mind might be a million miles away. Any form of deception chips away at the trust required for honest communication in your sexual relationship.
Rather than faking it, a healthier approach is to communicate what’s going on. By trying to avoid an awkward conversation, you may be contributing to a pattern of avoiding conflict rather than learning to communicate through it. Talking about sex can be intimidating. You might be concerned about hurting your spouse’s feelings, or you may be embarrassed to admit your lack of sexual excitement. It often helps to have a third party give you language for these conversations. This way, you can respond to the groundwork laid by someone else. You might take the step of reaching out to a counselor, or you and your spouse can read through a book like this one or listen to a podcast to get the conversation started.
A healthy sex life requires learning to communicate about these sensitive issues. Research suggests that couples who openly communicate about sex are far more likely to be satisfied with their sexual relationship.
Faking it ignores the underlying problem.
If you and your partner are in a pattern in which one of you doesn’t enjoy sex, that is a problem. There are a lot of reasons why this might be the case including physical or hormonal problems, past trauma, or underlying relational conflict. It could simply be that the way you as a couple are approaching sex doesn’t involve enough time and foreplay. Approximately 35% of men and 70% of women have receptive sexual desire, meaning that it takes time, thought, and foreplay for them to begin to experience sexual excitement.
God created sex for both the husband and wife to enjoy. This doesn’t mean that every sexual encounter has to be equally exciting for both people, but it does mean that the pattern of your sexual relationship should be mutually enjoyable. By faking sexual pleasure, you ignore the underlying problems that interfere with healthy sex in your marriage. Although it will require work, communication, and perhaps reaching out for help, it’s worth exploring why sex isn’t pleasurable for both of you.
Faking it perpetuates the wrong goal of sex.
Most couples define a successful sexual encounter as penis-vaginal intercourse in which both people climax, preferably at the same time. This definition of “good sex” can short-circuit a more comprehensive understanding of the journey of healthy sexual intimacy. There will be seasons in which intercourse is impossible or unadvisable (for example post-pregnancy, when there is pain during intercourse, seasons of working through trauma, erectile dysfunction, etc.). In addition, many women do not regularly climax, particularly during intercourse. When you approach every sexual encounter with intercourse and climax as the goal, this puts undue pressure on both the husband and the wife to perform sexually.
Instead, try defining a successful sexual experience as both of you feeling loved and cared for. Think of your sexual relationship not as a series of physical encounters but as a journey of learning how to love each other sexually. This might mean that sometimes only one of you is ready for sex and the other person lovingly engages without the pressure of having to become aroused or climax.
Sex is about way more than what is happening in your bodies. It is a long-term journey of vulnerability, intimacy, love, and mutual pleasure. Don’t fall for the short-cut of faking it. Instead, embrace the challenge of authentically addressing barriers together.