Honesty under the covers

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Arts & Life editor Gianluca Inglesi reports on why not to fake your way through a relationship

Shawn* has three reasons for faking the big O. He’s either too tired, too drunk or he’s already done it once or twice and is just ready for it to be over.

“It happened a few times where we were doing it and she did or said something that really turned me off and I actually went soft. I stopped for a second and just told her I was done,” he said.

But he said he would never admit that to his partner.

“If someone told you that you made them soft during sex, imagine how horrible that would be.”

Often, when first getting under the covers with that special someone, the pressure is on to impress them. Typically, women are the usual suspects when it comes to faking orgasms, but recent studies have revealed that an increasing number of men are lying about reaching climax too.

Polling more than 100,000 men in their 2010 Great Male Survey, AskMen.com found that 16 per cent of men said they have faked on several occasions. Another 14 per cent admitting to faking only once.

Enjoyment under the covers is one of many concerns at the start of a relationship, when you’re trying to make the right impression.

“There’s kind of a weird phase where it’s very polite. It’s not dishonesty but it’s more of a formality,” said Luke Greidanus, a second-year fashion design student.

But holding back for too long can turn into a long-term pattern, which can affect the level of intimacy between two people.

Greidanus thinks that, to foster a relationship with someone, you have to open up emotionally and let them in. But that is where the challenge lies, according to James Cunningham, who teaches the Philosophy of Love and Sex course at Ryerson.

“People are afraid that if they make themselves vulnerable that they’ll get hurt,” he said.

Students also often lie or hide details from their partners in a bid to avoid uncomfortable discussions or conflicts. Cunningham explains that we have been conditioned to avoid unpleasant feelings at all costs because of our experiences with our primary caregivers, like our parents.

“We lie because we assume if we tell the truth we are going to engage in an intense emotional encounter, we associate these encounters with discomfort and we associate discomfort with injury.”

If the truth would hurt a partner enough to compromise the relationship, one may be especially tempted to lie to other.

Andrea Crofts, a second-year fashion communication student said some details are just better kept to yourself.

“I think there are things you shouldn’t tell your partner, unless it’s something that is important or will create tensions if they don’t know.”

Greidanus also agreed that, sometimes, it’s best to tread carefully when approaching your partner with a problem.

“Sometimes I won’t say anything [to my boyfriend] because I realize it’s a stupid thing to start a confrontation over but, if it continues to bother me over a prolonged period of time, I would talk to him about it,” he said.

Most often, people shy away from sharing details about their past relationships and previous sexual experiences.

“It’s definitely not first date material,” Greidanus said.

Crofts said her boyfriend of two years only found about her number of sexual partners a few weeks ago.

“You have to judge whether or not it’s a good time to talk about those things because they can ruin it from the start,” Crofts said.

When Jennifer Drobot, a first-year sociology student, met her girlfriend two years ago she had to overcome her embarrassment and admit she was a virgin. She claims that, because of her age, she couldn’t help but be nervous about telling her partner.

But sharing secrets with your partner doesn’t always have to be negative. Many students are hesitant to communicate their sexual desires to their partners, which can result in lacklustre bedroom sessions. This is especially true early on in a relationship, when the couple is unfamiliar with each other’s bodies and some direction could be beneficial.

Crofts thinks that most people are making a mistake by not showing their partners what they like in the bedroom. “Telling someone what you want after a while can be kind of insulting because they realize what they’ve been doing hasn’t been working. So I think it’s better to make it known from the start.”

Drobot also said it’s impossible to know what your partner likes or dislikes if you don’t give them a helping hand — sometimes literally. “I think everything can be learned,” she said.

Sometimes opening up to your partner can even be rewarding, such as when you swap steamy sexual fantasies with your partner.

“I’m really into garters and stuff like that. We’ve been together for almost two years now so it could spice things up a bit,” Drobot said.

Usually sharing quirks, like fantasies, is the best way to get more comfortable with your significant other.

Cunningham recommends a dose of “biting the bullet” to get to that point of ease with your partner.

“Here’s an example: ‘I’m afraid to do it, but I’m going to do it anyway.’ You’ve acknowledged your fear but it doesn’t really matter because this has to get done,” he said.

“It doesn’t help your relationship at all if you are constantly withholding things from each other and there are elephants in the room. So you’re not going to find out what makes the other person tick or what bothers them unless you talk about it,” Greidanus said. Crofts distinctly remembers a summer night early into her relationship when she was on a walk with her boyfriend and they had an exchange of embarrassing stories.

“At that point you realize that you can say things like that to them and it won’t scare them away,” she said.

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