That openness and honestly in a sexual relationship lead to greater intimacy and satisfaction is an article of faith, especially among American women. But is it necessarily true? Are the couples who tell all really happier than those who tell--well, considerably less than the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
679 people, 400 men and 279 women, from 47 countries responded to this survey. Once again, my readers refute the myths, including the one that says men don’t respond to surveys. I asked people about the sex lies they tell, the secrets they keep—and then asked them to rate their sex life satisfaction. As I told Tiffany Grannath on her Playboy Radio show last week, the men and women who reported the most sexual satisfaction were also keeping some secrets, like one-night stands, business trip flings, masturbating to cyberporn (after promising her they would not)—and more.
The people who claimed to be truth-tellers and not secret keepers but also rated their sex lives highly—are mostly American women. I'd love to know what their partners have to say about that.
And now the results—
1. What are the secrets you keep from spouse or lover?
70% of men and 50% of women are keeping quiet about one-night stands, business trip flings or affairs.
45% of men have not told their partners that they hire call girls when they travel and 76% keep quiet about visiting strip clubs.
23% of men have secret liaisons with other men--ranging from anonymous blow jobs to a little anal play among guy pals.
Only 7% of women hide bisexual tendencies--more socially acceptable among women.
“If I told my wife I use prostitutes, she would freak out. It has nothing to do with our relationship. I feel no guilt about it. I come home a happy man with my arms full of flowers and gifts telling her how much I have missed her,” Frank, New South Wales.
49% of women and 38% of men don’t share the extent of emotional involvement with opposite sex co-workers or friends.
“I sneak around to have lunch with my woman friend. She knows everything about me, things from before the marriage that my wife doesn’t know,” Geof, 37, London.
45% of men and 21% of women have secret Facebook accounts.
“I keep in touch with old lovers. He would hate that,” Natalie, 47, New York City.
“I have a fake identity and all my friends are international porn stars. It’s the only thing I have of my own,” A, Copenhagen.
*Best Secret: A South American soccer star said: “My secret is that I am not cheating on her. She expects me to behave as a man.”
2. What is the one thing you would never keep from him or her?
80% of women and 78% of men said—exposure to a Sexually Transmitted Disease.
“You have to own that one. It’s not enough to treat yourself. She has to be tested and treated too,” G, 35, London.
15% of women and 20% of men said money issues,
“Money secrets and lies are worse than sex secrets and lies. Destructive,” JK, Philadelphia.I
*Best One Thing from a "Texas Tycoon: "Having sex with one of her sisters or her friends, because they would tell if I did."
3. And what are the lies you tell?
45% of women and 18% of men lie about their “numbers”—how many partners they had before.
“I lie to him about my numbers and also what I did with those men. If he knew how many times I had anal or that I went to sex parties, he would think less of me,” Gina, 29, Atlanta.
Masturbation! 49% of men lie about masturbating to cyberporn, while 22% of women swear they don’t play with their vibrators alone. (Who are these gullible spouses?)
“She says masturbation is cheating on her. That is BS, but I am tired of defending the position so I told her what she wanted to hear and she’s happy,” Jimmy, Boston.
“He doesn’t like me masturbating, especially with vibrators, unless he is there. I know it sounds controlling, but why argue? It’s not like he has hidden cameras around the house.” MM, 33, Colorado.
The big one, “Cheating”: 89% of men and 57% of women claim “I never cheated on you” when, in fact, they have.
And the obvious one, Feelings: 90% of men and 60% of women claim they no longer have feelings of love for former lovers or spouses when they do.
*Best Lie: From a New York physician, "I'm twelve years older than my new husband is. I spent a lot of money on new documents. He has no idea."
4. The lie you would never tell?
The big bad lie for 68% of men: Saying “I love you” when you don’t.
“If that is what you need to say to get laid, go home and whank off, because you will pay for this one,” DB, 32, London.
12% of men said they wouldn’t spread false flattery and tell her she looked great in that dress if she really looked fat.
10% of women said they wouldn’t say the sex is great if it’s not.
5% of women said they wouldn’t fake orgasm.
“He needs the truth. I will never feign pleasure for his ego. If it didn’t happen, I say, it didn’t happen,” Luisa, 32, Rome.
But the big bad lie for women: 76% said they wouldn’t tell him he is SO Big if he is not. No penis size lies.
“If you tell a man of modest endowment that he is the biggest you ever had, you make him feel he must be quite small or you wouldn’t lie,” Amanda, 40, London.
*The Best One: A Tel Aviv businessman says, "I would never tell her I prayed if I didn't. She would smell that lie on me."
5. Have you ever felt the presence of secrets and lies in bed with you and your partner--and did it repress or enhance sexual spontaneity and expression?
The majority of women—78%--said that yes, they have felt the presence of secrets and lies and, according to 45%, it repressed rather than enhanced sexual expression.
41% of men, however, said, No, never felt that vibe. Of the 40% who had, only 21% felt it repressed their sexuality.
“A little drama, a little mystery—that enhances not represses my sexual expression,” TR, New York City.
*The Best One: From a London dancer, "I only sleep with other dancers who have only slept with other dancers. Our beds are full of ghosts but they are lithe ghosts and get out of the way."
6. On a Truthful and Open scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate self? And your primary partner?
Interestingly even the liars and secret-keepers rated themselves fairly truthful and open—and their partners a little less so. On a scale of 1 to 10, 85% rated themselves between 5 and 8 and their partners between 4 and 7. 10% claimed to be open and honest, with no significant secrets and no lies—and again, rated their partners a little lower.
Most of the completely honest people (or so they tell us) are American women. (No comment.)
*Best One from a Virginia Mom of 3: "I try to be open and honest in all my dealings with my husband even when I have to lie to him."
7. And on a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the quality of your sex life?
26% rated their sex lives at 9 or 10—and the majority of them are harboring secrets, often involving affairs, and telling lies.
59% rated their sex lives at 6-8—and many are harboring secrets and lies.
15% rated their sex lives between 3 and 5—and they included the (self-rated) most open and honest respondents, especially men.
*Best One from a New York lawyer: "I would rate my sex life a ten, but my wife probably woudln't go that high because she isn't around for the best parts of it."
I can only conclude that the advice I have been dispensing for years is sound: When in doubt, shut up.
One more point: Americans are more likely to lie about masturbation than Western Europeans or Australians or New Zealanders or Asians. Having to lie about your vibrator or cyberporn is rather sad and tawdry, isn’t it? Let’s see if we can’t finally bring masturbation out of the relationship closet in the 21st Century,
Finally, a science bulletin from Kimmie:
“I learned something new this morning. There's an animal in Australia called the echidna, similar to an anteater, but related to the platypus. It’s an egg-laying mammal that feeds milk to its young. But get this - the male has a four-headed penis and uses two each time it has sex, alternating them the next time. I don't know why knowing this makes me so happy, but it does. I didn't even know this animal existed before 7am this morning. Four-headed penis! Who knew?? We live in exciting times, Susan. If it wasn't for FB (an Aussie friend mentioned in his status that an echidna had popped 6 holes in his tire) and Wikipedia (where I got the info on what the hell an echidna was) I'd still all in the dark, ignorant of the beast with the four-headed penis. This is almost as exciting as Wikileaks, yes?”
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