How to Do It

I Dumped a Guy Because He’s Small Downstairs

Am I a jerk?

Man looking a little ashamed but not too ashamed in front of a neon eggplant.
Animation by Lisa Larson-Walker. Photo by PhotoAlto/Sigrid Olsson/Getty Images.

How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Send your questions for Stoya and Rich to howtodoit@slate.com. Don’t worry, we won’t use names.

Dear How to Do It,

I’m a guy who is single after nearly a decade in a mostly monogamous relationship. I’ve been dating and hooking up a fair bit, “making up for lost time,” etc. Recently, one man who I had dated/slept with a few times reappeared and began pursuing me again. I responded positively at first but found myself not replying to his texts, and eventually he took the hint, but then asked me: “Just curious, why aren’t you interested? I thought we really hit it off.” The truth is, we did. But I have not replied, because I’m embarrassed to have realized the reason is that his dick is smaller than I’m used to. I’ve never thought this would matter that much to me, and I’ve seen so many advice forums reassure smaller guys that anyone who would reject someone for his penis size “is an asshole anyway.” Am I one?

—Sweats the Small Stuff

Dear Sweats the Small Stuff,

I don’t think you’re an asshole, but it does sound like you’re a size queen. The designation exists for a reason. We like what we like, and you happen to like dicks that are at least bigger than this guy’s. It’s not the end of the world, and even if everybody doesn’t take as hard of a line, many can relate. Big dicks are great fun, and I recommend every dick lover hold at least one in their hands at some point in their lives just to understand the marvels of human anatomy. I love a big dick like I love a piece of pizza: I’m not necessarily having either every time I chow down, but I can’t imagine life without them on the menu.

I think the difference between a size queen and an asshole is absolutism. If there is no way that a guy with a fun-size Snickers bar between his legs could ever be your man—regardless of his personality, facial beauty, interests, worldliness, and shit, even bank account—then you might be an asshole. If you could forgive a dick that doesn’t get you going just by thinking about it in light of other positive qualities, you’re not an asshole. Simple.

The optimist in me suspects that regardless of your “hitting it off” while hanging a few times, he just didn’t have enough sparkling qualities to compensate for the weenie. I’ve been there. A big dick can forgive quite a few (though by no means all) shortcomings, and a smaller dick can make an already underwhelming guy seem even less … whelming. Hopefully you’re at least open to the possibility of being swept off your feet by a dude who is hung like a snail. But I can’t make that call for sure from what you’ve given me, and I don’t know if even you can. You’re going to have to look inside yourself, and deeply. If you’re the size queen I think you are, going deep may take a while, and may resemble a spelunking expedition. Wear a headlamp.

Dear How to Do It,

I like to schedule time for sex to make sure it happens and to increase my anticipation so I’m ready and in the mood, but my partner likes to be spontaneous and thinks scheduling sex takes the fun out of it. The problem is, I worry that if/when we don’t schedule time for sex, it doesn’t happen as often, because we’re both so busy with work and are often tired at the end of a long day. Is there a compromise option?

—About Time

Dear About Time,

Pardon me if this is obvious, but there seems to me an extremely logical compromise: Do one week your way, one week your partner’s. Repeat a few times. Take written note of how much you’re banging so that you can compare and contrast the frequency within the different approaches.

It seems that while you are a type-A, data-oriented sort of person, you don’t have firm proof that your way is the right way—you merely fear that your partner’s way will lead to less sex. All you have is time, really, so test your hypothesis. Collect that data and at the end of some period of time—say, a month or two—see whose way yields more sex. This is a low-risk proposition: If your suspicions are, in fact, incorrect, you do not have to reveal that you’ve been creating a relatively elaborate and, let’s face it, kind of insane chart plotting the frequency of your sex. You can sit on the results, and your defeat, in silence, and your partner is none the wiser. And you will have learned something about trusting your partner and the galvanizing effects of spontaneity. Also, you’ll be having more sex than if you did it your way, anyway. Your life will be enriched no matter what.

But keep in mind that being right only goes so far in relationships, and while your concern here is one of quantity, it seems that your partner’s is one of quality. I don’t buy that planning takes all the fun out of sex, but the specific flavor of spontaneous sex is clearly something that your partner craves. Regardless of what your great experiment finds, you’re going to have to feed that craving somehow. I recommend determining your baseline amount of times per week that satisfies you and knock the number down a few, which can be picked up by your partner whenever they choose. Some wild cards, if you will. That way you’re still planning, and your partner gets to have spontaneous sex in a way that doesn’t endanger your precious frequency. You’re still having sex either way, so win-win.

Incidentally, I am a planner as well, so I suspect your way is right. If you are so inclined to take me up on my first suggestion, please write in with the results of your experiment. You can send a Google doc—I would love to see it.

Dear How to Do It,

At drinks with a few friends recently, one friend said she was going on a date with a man who strongly hinted on his online dating profile that he was into exploring BDSM, particularly the B. My friend is fairly sexually experienced but has not dabbled much in that world. She seemed interested in the idea, and this being a happy-hour situation, there were jokes involving Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. We moved on. In seriousness, she’s a 30-year-old woman, and I don’t see the problem here. But another of our friends who kept quiet during the conversation texted me afterward, “How could you joke about that? Why would [Friend] want to be with someone who wants to hurt her?” I told her this interest is pretty common and to Google it, but she won’t let it go, especially now that a couple of those dates have happened. Am I being too cavalier, like she insists? If not, what is the best way to shut this conversation down?

—Victor Rasuk

Dear Victor Rasuk,

I’m seeing red after reading this question, and it’s not because there’s a blindfold covering my eyes. Your text buddy, Judge Rude-y, is way out of line. She’s conflating consensual play with abuse, and the reason that she’s doing so is that she’s not making any attempt to understand the difference. Her lack of good faith and her intellectual laziness are apparent in the very manner she delivered her message—instead of asking your mutual kink-curious friend about the ethics of submitting sexually then and there, she waited until that friend was out of sight and talked to you about it. It seems that she has her mind made up to the point of not even wanting to entertain why someone would embark on a journey to the bottom of the dungeon in the first place. She is essentially gossiping. If she were so worried about the Anastasia Steele-in-waiting that you both know, surely she would talk to her and not you. Not only does she think she has the answers, but she isn’t even revealing them to the person that could, by her terms, benefit from hearing them.

Most offensive in all of this may be the idea that Judge Rude-y thinks she knows better than Anastasia about Anastasia’s own desires. That’s downright patriarchal. You have established that your friend who’s dipping her toe into BDSM is a grown woman. She seems fun and adventurous and not the type to talk shit about someone who’s trying out a new method of hunting for orgasms. She’s doing it right.

There are few things I find more corrosive than someone who judges others for their ways of pursuing (consensual) pleasure. It always, always, always is more about the judge than the judged. We could tsk at others until our tongues are stubs for doing things that we’re not into, or we could just accept that humanity’s sexual canvas is infinite and will always be regardless of those who try to contain it. We all may as well just take a step back and admire the vastness.

I’m fairly unforgiving about these things. I judge judges quite harshly, so her judgment is, in my opinion, grounds for unfriending. You may have more patience than I do, so if you want to continue having a person in your life who concern-trolls people who are having a good time and expanding their worldviews and capacity for pleasure, you could suggest that she brush up on her Gayle Rubin, specifically the notion of benign sexual variation. Send her a link to Rubin’s Wikipedia page, not that she’ll click it.

Or just don’t engage with this topic when she brings it up. Ignore her texts. You can’t gag her literally—though part of me suspects that she’s so against BDSM because of her own shame over her curiousness about it—so do it metaphorically.

Dear How to Do It,

Perennial but very real question: What should I do if I feel weirded out by my partner’s fetish? I’m willing to try it out, but I think I’m just going to be grossed out and not turned on at all.

—Not Feeling It

Dear Not Feeling It,

In general, I think the fair thing to do is give it the college try with a straight-A student’s attitude. You really shouldn’t go into it thinking that you’re going to be grossed out—you’re setting yourself up for failure. Meditate on this, break it down to the mechanics, and give it a sincere attempt. Make like Corinthians, and let love be your guide.

I’ve been in your situation before, and while I have never absorbed a partner’s fetish per se, when I’ve engaged with one repeatedly—in the case of boyfriends who, at their sexual essence, are just kinky—I’ve taken on a sort of arousal by proxy. That is to say, if some practice or object becomes so integrated into my sex life because of my partner’s interest in it, I’ve found that I may start to associate it with sex myself. And then it becomes as much of a staple in the getting-off process as kissing or oral.

That would be sort of an ideal outcome, and it’s meeting halfway. Of course, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, and if you try it and it just isn’t working for you, it’s fine to say so. Besides, another thing I’ve found is that people with fetishes often like people who have the same fetishes they do, and even if I’m game, I’m not getting it up on feet alone (to use a completely random example that may or may not be plucked from my past). Sometimes your kinky partner wants a partner who gets the same excitement that they do, and you will likely never be that partner. In that case (it’s not always!), for the good of their sexual pleasure, I recommend at least considering opening up the relationship and letting them have their fun. I know this is daunting and advanced and requires much communication and planning, but at the end of the day, sometimes it can be nice to unlatch the gate and let the horny kinksters go out and play.

—Rich