How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!
Every week, the crew responds to a bonus question in chat form.
Dear How to Do It,
I have a recurring thought that might turn into a problem. I’m married to a man I adore, and we have an incredible sex life that I wouldn’t change for the world. Passionate, fun, multiple orgasms per session. However, while my body is overjoyed, my mind is struggling. My husband is slightly shorter than average, and his dick is slightly smaller than average as well. This is something I’ve always known and has never impacted our sex life. But I had a friend complaining about a below-average-sized lover, and it got me all in my head. Now when I look at my husband in bed, I can’t not notice that he’s smaller than what society says he should be. I never thought about it before, but it’s making me feel less attracted to him now. I find myself less inclined to give him hand jobs or blow jobs because I don’t want to think about his size. Why am I obsessing over this when I find sex with him so pleasurable? How do I get over this?
Stoya: I’m wondering if our writer has a similar issue with other aspects of their life, like their car, shoes, home…
Rich: Yes. Just general envy or the tendency to compare her life to those of others. “Comparison is the death of joy,” said Mark Twain. It’s also, apparently, responsible for bed death here.
Stoya: I love a good literary quote. The sex was “passionate, fun,” and they experienced multiple orgasms in a single interaction. And now, all of a sudden, the dick is deficient.
Rich: Right. I don’t know what more proof there could possibly be that size doesn’t have to matter, and yet. … It’s just wild to me that someone’s own experience/complaints could supersede our writer’s own. It’s like being gaslit, but after you just voluntarily dipped yourself in gasoline.
Stoya: I imagine it’s very uncomfortable to go through life allowing the opinions of others—about their own partners, no less—to demean their husband in their eyes. I’m trying to exercise sympathy, but I’m stuck on the framing that their friend’s complaints are making them feel this way.
Rich: Yes, I wonder if there are other relationship issues that haven’t been mentioned or even thought out by our writer. Are they using this as an excuse, in other words?
Stoya: Exactly. Something really doesn’t add up.
Rich: You know, nobody’s perfect and instead of focusing on what your partner is missing, a more prosocial approach is to focus on what he has. So what’s the block here?
Stoya: I have never dated a perfect person. I’m also not a perfect person.
Stoya: Relationships mean accepting parts that are less than ideal. I think our writer should lean into this. Say to themselves, “I’m so worried about other people’s standards that it’s affecting my enjoyment of my own husband.” And then question what’s up with that.
Rich: The thing about your partner’s genitalia, too, is if it fails to live up to society’s expectations, well in many cases, no one is the wiser. It’s not like you have people living in your closet who come out to judge as soon as they hear the bed start to creak. This is in our writer’s head entirely.
Stoya: There are three things a big dick is good for: bragging rights, curb appeal, and filling your orifice up. The comparison doesn’t have to be dick to dick, it can be dick to orifice.
Or, from the curb appeal angle, dick to height. (I think I’m trying to give our writer a way to reframe the math here.)
Rich: Do you have any strategies for getting rid of unwelcome thoughts? Meditation is my go-to. But besides that, and some minor refocusing/perspective, I’m not sure what else is to be done.
Stoya: The trick with unwanted thoughts is to know that you have to let it go over and over. And over. If you get frustrated, you get stuck on the thought again. Let it go, get a break for an hour or so, and then let it go again when it returns.
Rich: It might help to revisit what attracted our writer to this guy in the first place, again focusing on the good.
Stoya: Yeah, really elaborate on that adoration and the incredible sex life our writer reports.
More How to Do It
My wife of seven years and I have “gotten into horror movies” during quarantine. I use quotes because I’ve always hated horror movies. My wife has been indifferent, but ever since we watched a classic from the ’90s early in the sheltering in place, I’ve noticed that scary movies make her very into me, and sex usually happens. I’m not sure if she has connected the dots like I have, because she’s started putting together horror nights for us and asking for tips for our new hobby online. I just like that they seem to make her horny. I really hate watching these movies, but I can tolerate them if it means taking her mind off of things, and it leads to stress relief for me too. She recently talked about the movies on a Zoom call with my brother, and he laughed and said “Stephen hates horror movies.” I shrugged, and she didn’t say anything to me about it, but I’m starting to feel guilty. Should I tell her the truth?
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