orgasm 11: was it fake?

Coupla months ago I wrote a bit about why women fake it sometimes.

Allow me to offer a kind of counterweight to that post: how to tell if it’s fake. Coupla things:


As a person grows increasingly aroused, first their breath will deepen and their respiration rate will increase, like they’ve been running, then they’ll begin to hold their breath as their muscles clench rhythmically. This is a necessary and universal predecessor to orgasm. You’ll hear rhythmic gaspy-chuffy noises and see their bellies rise and fall sharply with the sounds.

Don’t mistake noisy for intense. Many people are nearly silent at orgasm. When a person goes all quiet and still but tense, that’s a sign of a high level of arousal. Which brings me to…

Muscle Tension

The reason people hold their breath as they approach orgasm is because their thoracic diaphragm is clenching rhythmically along with their abdominal, buttock, thigh, and pelvic muscles. Orgasm, being the explosive release of sexual tension, is preceded by a build-up of tension that comes over your partner like the tide coming in. You’ll be able to see and feel the tension move through your partner’s body in waves, hear it in their breath. If their abdomen isn’t taut and their feet aren’t tense, that’s something to wonder about.

Caution: it’s really not about individual body parts – the feet alone or the abdomen alone can’t tell you anything clear about your partner’s arousal level. Be skeptical about any advice that tells you there’s a “foolproof” sign or that any single sign will tell you what you want to know.

(Sadly, I’m assuming here that ASKING your partner if they had an orgasm isn’t foolproof either. However, for lots of people, asking WILL get you a truthful answer!!)

Instead, it’s a holistic thing; pay attention to the way their body’s movements and breath interrelate, how they change over time. What’s hard to fake is the coordinated whole of escalating arousal.

Hip Rocking

Distinguishing between real rocking and fake rocking takes careful attention. Earlier in arousal, hips move less rhythmically and less reliably. If your partner is a hip-mover, you may notice a kind of rolling, searching motion, like their pelvis is feeling around in the dark for the light switch. (How’s that for an unsexy simile?) But as they become increasingly aroused and myotonia (involuntary muscle contractions) takes over, the pelvis movements because more purposeful, more thythmic, more thrusting.

Don’t mistake size of rocking for intensity of rocking. Small movements can be just as indicative of arousal as big movements; it’s a matter of the tension in the muscles, not the external, behavioral manifestation of that tension.

Facial Expression

There is no particular facial expression that indicates orgasm; instead what’s important is that at orgasm your partner is not thinking about their face. The “O” Face – jaw dropped in an elongated O shape – is only one possibility among many. They may have their lips barely parted, jaw tense. They may have a crinkle between their eyebrows, or their eyebrows may be raised up into the hairline. Lots of people close their eyes at orgasm, the better to focus on the sensations inside their bodies, but it’s not at all necessary. (Orgasming while looking into your partner’s eyes is an intimate and lovely thing. Do try it if you haven’t.) The thing to notice is that it’s utterly unself-conscious, that their attention is turned away from their appearance, the social mask is gone, and you have an unmediated view of the person under the persona.

Now, a really gifted faker can fool you; they’ll know all the tricks and there’s just nothing you can do. Every symptom of orgasm can be faked, it’s really a matter of knowing that it’s a symptom and knowing how to reproduce it convincingly.

But. The reason I think it’s worth posting this is because a partner who pays close attention to their partner’s arousal is a better lover than one who doesn’t. The quality of your attention to your partner is a major factor in both your own pleasure and in your ability to give your partner pleasure.

An illustrative example that uses brain scans, which means it’s inherently true and important (<– that was self-mockery):

My sister tells me that research on the human mirror neuron system shows that adult humans can distinguish between the motion of an arm that reaches to pick up a cup and the motion of an arm that reaches to take a drink from a cup – I mean BEFORE the arm actually reaches the cup, our brains respond differently. At a neurological level, we are sensitive to this kind of distinction.

It appears that some people are more sensitive than others. Think about it in terms of watching an actor. Some people can be convinced and moved by a screwed up face and a trembly voice. Others can tell when an actor’s doing something real and when they’re… well, faking it. (Like, why is Hugh Laurie so totally, totally amazing? Cuzza stuff like…he says that while he’s shooting “House,” his leg really does hurt. We’re all convinced because he’s convinced himself.)

Some people can’t tell the difference between the person and the persona.

If you’re an insensitive lover, inattentive to the details of your partner’s arousal and unable to discriminate between the person and the persona, you’ll be easy to fool. A few panting sighs and you think she came all over you.

Be sensitive, pay attention to the details. Notice how your partner moves and breathes. Not only will it be clear to you how real their orgasm is, you’ll be a better overall lover.