"Faking it" for years but wants to come clean

Dear Alice,

I have been in a good relationship for almost four years. My boyfriend is loving and generous and I have good reason to believe this will lead to marriage. (I hope!) The problem is that I have faked orgasm with him since we first started dating. At first I just thought it would be a fling and wanted to be "good in bed." As time went on, I realized this could be the real thing, but by then, it was too late to tell him the truth. It's not his fault — I have never been able to orgasm through intercourse no matter whom I was with or what I tried. I feel sad all the time for lying to him (sometimes he suspects I've faked it, but I still deny it). It just seemed easier to let him believe it because I didn't want to be a frustration to him and he seems so happy when he thinks he has satisfied me. My question is: should I tell him now after almost four years? I think he would be crushed! Maybe he'd be angry that I've lied so much. Maybe I don't want the pressure of having to really come. But I really don't think I can keep this bottled up inside anymore.


advice please!

Dear advice please!,

It's wonderful that you've found someone who you feel comfortable with and can see a potential future with them! Based off your question, it seems that you really want to get this off your chest and tell your boyfriend the truth about your challenges orgasming but are scared of how he may respond. Breaking any sensitive news to your partner can be a nerve-racking experience, but by taking some time to figure out how to approach this topic with him can help make this conversation seem less daunting and allow for you to articulate how you're feeling. Read on to learn more!

You're not the only person who has been concerned about being honest for fear of hurting someone's feelings. In fact, research has been done regarding balancing out kindness with honesty. Many people avoid having honest conversations because they are concerned they may hurt someone's feelings, create an uncomfortable environment, or fear what the consequences of that conversation may be. However, research indicates that in many instances, people aren't always the greatest at predicting the outcomes of these conversations. When they actually have these conversations, they find that instead, partners actually became closer. Knowing this information may help you as you choose to approach your boyfriend about your experiences. Although the conversation may be hard, honesty doesn't have to come at the cost of kindness or have to become a wedge in your relationship. In fact, it may bring you both together. 

Before starting a conversation with your boyfriend, it may be useful to plan out what you want to say. One way you could start is by mentioning your own hesitations about telling him about your challenges orgasming, as well as your reasons for why you chose to exaggerate your orgasms with him. You can even try adapting what you wrote here in your question, as it might help you get started on figuring out what you want to say and how. Finding a time outside of the bedroom, when you have the time and space to speak privately, will also help the conversation. It's possible that he could have a variety of reactions to this information. Will he be upset about being lied to, about not being able to please you, or about something else? Will he be able to talk about it right away, or will he need space and time to think? When you've said what you need to say, be prepared to listen or to postpone the conversation until he has formulated his reaction. Letting him know about not orgasming may cause some bumps in your relationship as you both go through the process of expressing your needs and feelings, but it provides a path forward for honest communication.

Furthermore, you may find it helpful to know that you're not alone in this, as many people have trouble orgasming through penetrative sex. People have varying definitions of "sex," but having an orgasm isn't the be-all-end-all indicator that you've had a good time. You can talk about all of the sexual experiences the two of you have shared that you have enjoyed. Additionally, it may be comforting to remind him of all the things you enjoy and love, both in your relationship and in your bed. 

It's also not quite clear from your question whether or not you're able to orgasm by yourself or from sexual activities that don't involve penetrative sex. If you'd like to try to orgasm during penetrative sex, you may find trying a few different techniques helpful. If you haven't already, you might want to consider masturbation, as this may be able to help you learn more about yourself and what pleasures you. If you're able to orgasm by masturbating, then you may want to consider incorporating some of the techniques from your solo-sex sessions while you're having penetrative sex with your boyfriend. You can also learn to arouse and pleasure yourself in ways that reflect the touching or sensations you receive from your boyfriend during sex.

Hope this information helps!

Last updated Aug 26, 2022
Originally published Aug 08, 2003

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