In new research published in Evolutionary Psychology, researchers explore women’s reasons for pretending to orgasm, engagement in mate retention behaviors, and relationship satisfaction.
Men and women both benefit from partner investment and fidelity (remaining sexually and emotionally faithful to their partner) by pursuing long-term mating strategies. To avoid partner infidelity, people may engage in mate retention behaviors to deter their partner away from other potential mates.
Research shows that pretending to orgasm may be a mate retention behavior. For instance, men who report that their partner has a greater number of orgasms are less likely to be unfaithful to their partner. Other research shows that women are more likely to pretend to orgasm when they suspect their partner is unfaithful. Women in developing countries, such as Brazil, are more financially reliant on their male partner, and thus may be more likely to engage in mate retention behaviors.
Study author Mariana Biermann and colleagues were interested in investigating the relationship between reasons for pretending to orgasm and mate retention behaviors among Brazilian women. These researchers recruited 295 women, between ages 18 and 52, who lived in Brazil. All participants were currently in a committed romantic relationship for at least 3 months when they took the survey. Participants responded to items from the Reasons for Pretending Orgasm Inventory, Mate Retention Inventory-Short Form, and questions about their relationship.
Results from this study show that, contrary to what the researchers predicted, Brazilian women’s frequency of mate retention behaviors was not correlated with pretending to orgasm because of being disinterested. The results indicate that, like American women, Brazilian women pretend to orgasm to increase the sexual and emotional experience for her and her partner.
Biermann and colleagues argue this finding is likely attributed to the women’s desire to keep their partner invested in the relationship. However, the analyses did not show a correlation between improving a partner’s sexual experience and pretending to orgasm. The researchers argue that, although women reported pretending to orgasm to improve the experience, pretending to orgasm is likely a deceptive behavior that could be intended to hide relationship dissatisfaction from their partner.
Results show that scores on the deception and manipulation measures did not correlate with frequency of pretending to orgasm or other mate retention behaviors. Biermann and colleagues posit that pretending to orgasm may be separate from other reasons for engaging in mate retention behaviors.
Scores regarding sexual disinterest did not correlate with frequency of mate retention behaviors performed. This might suggest that sexual disinterest signifies relationship dissatisfaction, which could predict less mate retention behaviors because the woman doesn’t desire to keep her partner.
This study also found that women who pretend to orgasm more frequently are typically less satisfied with their relationship. This finding suggests that women may intend to hide their relationship dissatisfaction and increase their partner’s relationship satisfaction to avoid conflict by pretending to orgasm.
A limitation of this study is that the small sample size may not allow weak effects to be detectable. This study did not assess perceived threat of infidelity, which may explain why women pretend to orgasm.
The study, “Reasons to Pretend Orgasm, Mate Retention, and Relationship Satisfaction in Brazilian Women“, was authored by Mariana C. Biermann, Mariana G. Farias, Glysa O. Meneses, Guilherme S. Lopes, and Todd K. Shackelford.