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As a result, many women feel pressured to "prove their womanhood" (and assure him of his manhood) by faking orgasms. Almost every woman has faked an orgasm at one time or another, and almost every man insists he can tell the difference between a false climax and the real thing. Whether or not this is so can make for some lively dialogue between men and women. Can anyone forget the diner scene in the delightful movie When Harry Met Sally?

Some women really do go all out and make a spectacle of their feigned passion, just as Sally did in the movie.

Years ago, Workman published a humor book called The Dieter's Guide to Weight Loss During Sex. According to the book's facetious calorie counter, the calories burned during orgasm could be broken down as follows: Real—27 calories burned. Fake—160 calories burned. That's probably not too far off the mark.

All joking aside, however, I don't recommend ever faking an orgasm. No matter how kindly your intentions, faking an orgasm is an act of deception. When you've done it once, it's too easy to do it again. And what you end up doing is cheating yourself and your partner out of a beautiful—and genuine—experience.

It's far better to be honest with your partner from the beginning about your pleasure level. Of course, it's entirely possible that your patterns can change as your relationship grows. But this should be a natural progression, not a contrived one. Here are some pointers to remember.

Experts now disagree on whether or not there's even such a thing as a woman's sexual peak, hut many women report that it takes years of experience for them to reafly come into their own sexually.

For HER Eyei Only

Experts now disagree on whether or not there's even such a thing as a woman's sexual peak, hut many women report that it takes years of experience for them to reafly come into their own sexually.

• Learn to appreciate your own sexuality, and don't try to measure up to some arbitrary standard. If you're satisfied with just one orgasm per session, or if you need a half an hour or so between orgasms, so what? There's no rule that says you have to be multiorgasmic every time, or at all. There's also no rule that says you have to have an orgasm through intercourse. As a matter of fact, many women either can't have an orgasm with vaginal intercourse alone, or it's very difficult for them to have one that way. But who cares? It's been said that any orgasm is a good orgasm, and I have to agree. Remember, everyone is different; let your body be your guide to what pleases you.

• Tell him honestly what pleases you. Let him know in an attractive way, however, so he won't feel as if he's being corrected. And if you're satisfied after one good orgasm—whether manual, oral, or vaginal—certainly let him know that, too, and reassure him that he's under no obligation to keep going and going until he "gives" you a dozen climaxes. Of course, you don't want to just roll over and fall asleep if he's not finished yet, but neither do you want to fake orgasms just to keep things going.

• Be willing to learn and grow. You may not be multiorgasmic now, but that could change with time. Or maybe, like so many women, you've never had an orgasm through intercourse—but that could change, too. Be open to these changes, and willing to experiment with your lover. Particularly if you're young, you may still be learning to define your sexuality, and your peak may be years ahead.

• If you just can't have orgasms at all, be honest with him (and see your doctor). There are many reasons women don't have orgasms.

Sometimes the problem is a lack of sexual desire, and sometimes it is an inability to get sufficiently stimulated. Many factors can be responsible: stress, fatigue, anger, embarrassment, various medications or surgeries, or a combination of causes. Be honest with your partner so he won't feel that he is the cause of your lack of response. And see your health-care practitioner; most cases of female sexual dysfunction (the term "frigidity" is passé) are treatable.

Shared Fears

Since sex is such an intimate act, it brings up many emotional issues that aren't necessarily relegated to one gender or the other. Some fears are common to both men and women.

Rejection

If everything doesn't go just right during lovemaking, if one partner seems even moderately displeased about something, the other partner can interpret that displeasure as sexual rejection. And, at some level, both men and women may feel the fear of being "seduced and abandoned." For both sexes, the fear of rejection or abandonment can create a fragile emotional state. On the other hand, the rejection issue may not be a problem at all. If it is, the best antidote is to talk about your fears with each other. Even if the sex doesn't work out, and you ultimately end up parting ways, you'll both leave with your self-esteem intact.

Who Else Is in Here with Us?

Once upon a time, men were experienced and women weren't (or at least they weren't supposed to be). Nowadays, women are as likely as men to have multiple lovers in their past. As a result, both sexes may be faced with that silent question, "How do I measure up to his/her past lovers?"

It's normal to be curious about your lover's past. (Of course, I hope you've long since covered all the safe-sex issues, so that curiosity is your only motivation for wanting to know more about your partner's past loves.) As you get to know each other better, you'll almost certainly share more stories from your respective pasts. Just remember these rules:

• Don't be obsessed with the notion that your lover is comparing you to past partners. Assume that your new love is with you because he or she truly wants to be. Certainly, don't ask your lover questions such as, "Was I better than... ?" Of course, don't compare him or her with your past partners, either.

• Everybody has a past, but remember that in bed, it's more important than ever to realize that you're with this person—right here, right now. Act accordingly.

• If you are still haunted by ghosts from your past, or if one or the other of you has some unfinished business, you need to deal with it before you become sexually involved with each other.

Your past will always be a part of you, but it doesn't have to haunt you. Sex just works best when both parties put the past in its proper place, and practice the art of "being in the moment" with each other.

Continue reading here: Primal Fears

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