Why lying about sexual satisfaction doesn't help anyone.
Q. During my pregnancy, I started faking orgasms because I just wanted to get more sleep. Now our baby is almost a year old, and I'm still having trouble climaxing. But I'm afraid to tell my husband I'm a better actress than a lover.
A. In sex, as in everything, you can't make it if you fake it.
"As you've discovered, faking orgasms creates an expectation that you can get off on a dime," says Sallie Foley, coauthor of Sex Matters for Women (Guilford, 2002). Don't be too hard on yourself, though. You allowed your husband to mistake your false moans for the real thing "because you were trying hard to make your sexuality fit some sort of template for perfect sex."
But perfect sex doesn't exist outside of books and movies, where people always seem to come on cue, whether they're in bed or on a splintery wooden kitchen table. Instead, sex at its best is neither predictable nor mechanical, but "a shared emotional and physical experience that allows for a range of wondrous, surprising, and intimate things to happen."
"Whether you have an orgasm or not is just part of that range," says Foley. So get real with your husband and tell him the truth. "Acknowledge that you made a mistake," Foley says. But add that you faked it for a good cause: because you love him and wanted to please him. While you're at it, ask your husband if there's anything he'd like to change about your sex life. There may be things he wants to work on, too! "Think of your lovemaking as something you'll do over a lifetime, like marriage and parenthood," says Foley. "It isn't always perfect, but it can be wonderfully rewarding to share."
Holly Robinson is a writer outside of Boston.