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When’s the Best Time to Tell Your Partner You Have a Small Penis?

Never, but let’s talk about why

Congratulations, you have a penis. That’s something that can you do a lot of good in this world if you use it right. But let’s say you’ve gotten the idea — from porn, locker rooms, the internet, a medical book, or a someone calling themselves a friend — that your penis simply doesn’t look the penis part, size-wise. And now you’re dating a new person you intend to eventually have sex with. Should you warn them? And if so, when? And how?

That is precisely the concern of a recent Reddit post in the sex subreddit, which reads:

I’m a 5'7" Asian guy so I don’t think women expect much of me anyway but I’m probably about 4" erect on average. Some women in real life have told me they don’t want to have sex with a smaller guy, which I am totally going to reserve judgment on instead of being an insecure jerk because everybody deserves to have a good sex life without lying to themselves about what they truly want. I’m just not sure when would be the right time to bring it up to a woman if they’d be okay with what I’m packing. I feel like if I mention it on the first date it’s a little bit TMI, but I also feel like I owe it to a girl to let her know if we’re going to be sexually compatible instead of wasting her time. Girls, would you like to be told bluntly? How and when would you like to know?

Where to start with this? First things first: It must be noted that the letter writer in question here is Asian. Being an Asian man, in this country, at least, comes with an incredible amount of penis baggage, and likely means the letter writer has spent his entire life bombarded with popular images of Asian men as angry, invisible, wimpy or sidekicks, but rarely as romantic leads. And that’s in spite of increasing mainstream awareness about the issue of how Asian men are often depicted in films and on television. It’s a shame so many Asian men don’t know how hot they are, because there are so many hot Asian dudes out there, not to mention plenty of attractive Asian actors as potential candidates for leading men to challenge this outdated notion.

But any shift in hot inclusivity has only happened in the last few years, and proof there’s still blowback from the stereotype that Asian men aren’t sexy or well-endowed came when Steve Harvey joked on his show that Asian men aren’t attractive to women outside their race (he apologized, sort of). Women who date Asian men say they are even asked point-blank if their boyfriend has a small penis. And other Asian men have written about the pervasive sense that they just don’t measure up.

“Never mind that no comprehensive science has conclusively verified the myth,” Alex Tizon writes, in a book excerpt published on Salon, about the perception that Asian men have smaller penises. “Never mind that Google can provide a fair number of visual examples of Asian oaks. Never mind that the myth deeply hurts young Asian men in the West attempting to forge a sexual identity in the midst of overcoming a host of other demeaning perceptions.”

So it’s no wonder this Reddit guy is sweating it. But he should take heart that, of course, this isn’t just an Asian-man issue. All men, we’re told, are insecure about their penis size, even when that size is objectively huge. (Side issue: Is it a grower or a shower? Other side issue: Having a big dick doesn’t mean squat in the good-lover department). Part of the problem is that nobody has a good idea of what an average penis is — to have, or to hold.

“Men do not know what they are packing, and women do not know what to expect,” Larry Harris wrote back in 2011 about penis size research that found women thought they preferred a penis size that happens to be bigger than 98 percent of all penises. “None of us really have realistic expectations.” Sex tips abound for men with small penises, but rarely if ever do they define exactly what makes a penis small in the first place (though that subset includes the micropenis, which offers its own set of challenges). A culture full of dick jokes and swinging dick references amuses us all, but helps no one in the sack.

But all the anxiety is largely for naught: A recent, comprehensive review of penis sizes found that an average flaccid penis is 3.66 inches. Hard: 5.16 inches. In other words, most of us are getting by just fine with around 5 inches, and this letter writer is batting just fine, too, and all that really matters is what he can do with not just his penis, but everything else he can bring to the sex table (sorry). So what can we tell him?

“First off, stop measuring your penis.” That’s what David Wygant, a dating and life coach who charges thousands for weekend coaching retreats to teach men and women how to put the goods in the best possible light, told me by email when asked to address this guy’s concerns.

“Secondly, stop looking at internet porn and looking at men with ridiculously large penises so you make yourself feel even more insecure than you already do. And third, who cares what your penis size is? Can you have an erection? Does it get erect? Do you know how to have sex? Are you good at foreplay?”

“Let’s be honest right now,” he continues. “If you can go eat a woman’s pussy until the sun comes up and make her have orgasm after orgasm, if you’re skilled with your hands and know how to touch her and find her G-spot, she’s not going to care how big or how wide your penis is going to be. Your penis can have the girth of a potato chip or can have the girth of a gigantic cucumber, and she won’t care because you’ve already satisfied and taken care of her. So many men are so consumed with penis size. It’s all about how you hit the walls, it’s all about how you move, it’s about you glide. It’s the words that you use. It’s the foreplay.”

While this is all absolutely true, it needs a caveat. Telling a man who may be relatively inexperienced (which is probably why the letter writer is asking the question in the first place) to make up for a perceived lack of penis size with skill he may not have acquired yet is hardly helpful. It’s like trying to land a first job to get experience, only to be told you need experience to get it. Being good at sex in general comes with having a lot of sex. No easy feat if you’re tripped up by your own anxieties getting in the door.

But women have a host of anxieties they’re waiting for men to notice, too, once they get naked: Weird feet, big thighs, one droopy boob, the list goes on. That’s kind of the beauty of chemistry — being confident in whatever you have makes up for what most of us don’t: anything nearing physical perfection. If we only hooked up with people we thought met our ideal, or for whom we thought we were the physical ideal, the human race would never have survived. Yet somehow, people stumble into beds and get each other off every day of the week.

On Reddit, the responses were overwhelmingly candid and supportive. “One of my ex boyfriends was a stellar sex partner,” a user notes. “He had below average penis size. He did not mention this before we had sex. I noticed it, but I didn’t care, because we had chemistry and were both very adventurous. As other commenters have mentioned, I think you need to get away from the idea that you ‘owe it’ to share this information.”

“Is she going to tell you how tight she is before sex to make sure you are satisfied?” another asks. “Of course not. Try not to worry about it, especially because insecurity is perhaps a greater turnoff than a less than average penis.”

While we can all agree there are critical things worth disclosing before you get intimate — STDs, a felony, a love of Dave Matthews — dick size isn’t one of them. So keep your own ideas about your literal shortcomings to yourself and just let the dick chips fall where they may. And who knows? Your dick could be perfect for that person. It probably is. Let’s say it actually is small, though. Take Dan Savage’s words of wisdom to bed:

…biologically speaking, a penis is a big clit and a clit is tiny penis. And guess what? There are lots of people out there with clits — bisexual women, lesbian women, trans men — who intercourse the shit out of their partners on a regular basis. And here’s how they do it: strap-ons. You don’t have to be a lesbian or a trans man to purchase a strap-on. And guys with small-to-average dicks who wanna take a walk on the hung side have options as well. Check out the cock sheaths and cock-extenders for sale at Oxballs.

Save the talking for when it’s time to negotiate sexual pleasure. Otherwise, zip it.

“You don’t say anything at all,” another Reddit commenter offers. “Let them find out for themselves and then decide whether or not they can handle it. That’s like a girl saying after a third date ‘just so you know my vagina smells pretty funky but it’s my normal scent, not an infection.’ That doesn’t happen. And sex is so much more than the size of one’s genitals. Focusing on that is not gonna do you any favors.”

The original poster was grateful to hear it. “Edit: Message loud and clear,” he added to his original question. “I love you guys. I know confidence doesn’t come overnight but I will do my best to get right with myself mentally and to be the best lover that I can be.”