Can “Fake It to Make It” Really Work with Sex?

Can you really fake it to make it when it comes to sex?

I’ve often said I’m a prime example of the advice, “Fake it ‘til you make it.” The idea is that if you act a certain way, those actions will lead to real change.

We hear this counsel in a variety of ways:

Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have.

Act “as if”—as if you have the qualities that you want to have, such as confidence or a positive attitude. (See Bonny’s post about power poses and finding your inner Wonder Woman.)

It is easier to act your way into a feeling than to feel your way into an action.

Smiling will make you happier.

My Story of Faking It

When I began my journey to address sexual intimacy in our marriage, I didn’t know where to start. I considered several options: always saying yes, initiating sex, being more engaged during sex, and so on. But with each one, I ran into one question: What do I actually do to make this happen?

My approach was to act “as if”—as if I loved sex, as if I loved my husband as I should, as if I were sexy, as if it didn’t bother me that the kids would know what we were up to, as if I were a good wife.

I felt like I was faking everything, like it was all an act. None of it felt like “me,” and I grieved the loss of who I was. I felt like I was pretending to be someone that my husband would like, and that made me feel even more undesirable and unloved than I did before.

But I wanted something to be different in our marriage, so I pretended anyway. I did what I thought I was supposed to do.

I faked it.

Then, to my great shock, I realized that my actions had created real changes.

I really did fake it to make it.

Why Faking It Can Work

Faking It trained me out of my old habits and gave me new ones. At first, I had to be very intentional to not go with my automatic reaction of “no” or an argument. The more I did it, though, the less I had to think about it. Pretty soon, my new habits became the automatic reactions.

In a way, this was like creating muscle memory. People who train for physical endeavors (such as athletics or military maneuvers) train over and over—not just so their muscles are strong enough or so their minds know what to do, but in order to train the muscles to respond automatically without requiring so much thought.

As my new actions became automatic, they began to feel natural. The doing created a “new normal” for me. The doing led to the feeling.

Let me illustrate: One way I faked it was that I began to wear pretty underthings. Instead of my same old pastel cotton undies and white or beige bras, I began to wear bright colors and fun patterns—not because I felt sexy, but because I was trying to act as if I were sexy. I asked myself, If I were a sexy woman, what would I wear?

Here’s what happened: Every time I went to the bathroom and caught a glimpse of my sexy underwear, I was reminded of what I was trying to do. It was visual reinforcement of my effort. Doing my laundry gave me the same reminder. When I allowed Big Guy to see me in the underwear, his response clearly indicated that he thought I was sexy. That helped me feel good about myself, and eventually I actually felt sexy.

The Heart of the Matter

The Bible tells us to do what is right, to walk in the way that we should.

We are frequently told to do what is good and right.

And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. Isaiah 35:8

We are told that doing what is right and good will give us a feeling of rest and rightness.

This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls…Jeremiah 6:16

In Revelation, the church in Ephesus is told that to recapture love, they need to repent and do the things they used to do. Isn’t that true for us as well?

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. Revelation 2:4-5

These particular verses point to an important factor in faking it to make it: the heart.

It is when we seek to walk on the good way, when we seek to recapture something we have set aside, that the doing leads to the feeling.

In order for “fake it to make it” to work, we must be doing so with a heart that wants change, with a heart that seeks to do what God asks of us.

The reason my actions led to feelings is because I wanted them to.

I wanted a genuine change of heart. I wanted our marriage to become more like God wanted it to be.

My heart was in the right place, so my actions fostered real change.

When Faking It Doesn’t Work

Too often, we act without our heart being in the right place.

We go through the motions. We do what we know we are supposed to do not because we want change, but because we want to be able to check of a list and say, “See? I did so do those things!”

I’ve often heard from wives who say, “I give him sex twice a week. He gets oral sex once or twice a month. I let him give me an orgasm. What more does he want? Why does he keep bugging me about our sex life?”

These are not words that come from women who genuinely want their marriages to be better. These are not women who want their marriages to change or who are open to changing themselves in anyway. They simply want to know how much they have to do so they can get back to their own lives. They want to do the minimum necessary to make their husbands change, without being open to genuine change themselves.

How You Can Fake It and Make It

Faking it just to fake it doesn’t move anyone forward.

However, faking it with a right heart and a genuine desire to make it can transform us and our marriages. If your heart is right, your actions won’t feel fake for long.

Faking it requires the same actions and the same energy output whether you are faking it to make a change or are faking it to check off a list.

If you’re willing to put the effort into the actions anyway, why not try to bring your heart along for the ride?

Pray for God to change your heart. Invite God into your actions and ask Him to bless your effort.

If you ask God to help you truly make it, your efforts won’t be fake for very long.

Can you really fake it to make it when it comes to sex?

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2 Comments on “Can “Fake It to Make It” Really Work with Sex?”

  1. I just wanted to point out that “faking it” doesn’t mean to fake an orgasm. Sooner or later the husband will find out that you deceived him in that VERY important area. It will destroy the husbands ego and he will loose trust in his wife. It also will “train” him to doing things that he believes are pleasing which truly are not. Soon you may resent him from not being able to give you an orgasm, when in fact you trained him not to give you one. Because you faked (deceived) him into believing what he was doing worked.

    All the above is with a poor condition of the heart. Which I know you made a point of making sure your heart is in the right place.

    I just wanted to make sure someone reading having heard that some woman fake an orgasm and if they are havinf difficulties reaching orgasm, might mistakenly take might be tempted to use the “fake it till you make it” principal. That it won’t work in that case and will ultimately do more harm than good.

    1. Good point. I am talking specifically about doing actions that at feel false for the purpose of addressing sexual struggles. I am NOT talking about pretending to have an orgasm.

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