Original Paper

Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 1121-1125

First online:

Do Women Pretend Orgasm to Retain a Mate?

  • Farnaz KaighobadiAffiliated withHIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Email author 
  • , Todd K. ShackelfordAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Oakland University
  • , Viviana A. Weekes-ShackelfordAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Oakland University

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The current study tested the hypothesis that women pretend orgasm as part of a broader strategy of mate retention. We obtained self-report data from 453 heterosexual women (M age, 21.8 years) in a long-term relationship (M length, 32.8 months) drawn from universities and surrounding communities in the southeastern United States. The results indicated that (1) women who perceived higher risk of partner infidelity were more likely to report pretending orgasm, (2) women who reported greater likelihood of pretending orgasm also reported performing more mate retention behaviors, and (3) women’s perceptions of partner infidelity risk mediated the relationship between pretending orgasm and the performance of cost-inflicting mate retention behaviors, such as Intersexual Negative Inducements (“Flirted with someone in front of my partner”) and Intrasexual Negative Inducements (“Yelled at a woman who looked at my partner”). Thus, pretending orgasm may be part of a broader strategy of mate retention performed by women who perceive higher risk of partner infidelity.


Female orgasm Infidelity risk Mate retention Evolutionary psychology Sexuality