There are a lot of misconceptions out there about sex, and along with these misconceptions come misguided notions of what is OK to say to your partner. Atop the list of the worst things you could say to a man with a small penis: Don't talk about substituting something instead, Shamyra Howard-Blackburn, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in sex and relationship therapy, tells Bustle.
"Please understand that all penises matter, and bigger does not always mean better," she says. There are lots of inconsiderate things that could be said about the size of a man's penis, and all should be avoided. But some are worse than others. Howard-Blackburn tells Bustle that the one thing to avoid saying goes something like this: "Here, use this instead," while "handing the guy a dildo," she says. "Suggesting he use a dildo in lieu of his penis only confirms his insecurity of not being good enough," she adds.
So what qualifies as a "small" penis, anyway? "Research shows that the average erect penis is about 5.2 inches long and 4.6 inches wide," Howard-Blackburn says. But that's just average. "In a world where 'bigger is better,' some men still feel inadequate in their underwear," she says. "While many guys wear their egos in their underwear, some just don't think they measure up."
Keep in mind that there are plenty of damaging things a woman can say to a man about his body — men definitely have insecurities, and it's important to be kind above all. "To avoid contributing to those feelings," says Howard-Blackburn, here are four other things to avoid saying when your man is on the small side.
1. "Is It Hard Yet?"
What if you really aren't sure if your partner's penis is hard or not? "If unsure if your partner's penis is hard, try asking him in a sensual or seductive way," she says. "Simply lowering your voice, smiling and asking, "Are you ready?" is a great way to find out if your partner's penis is hard, because his response will let you know if he's hard or not," she says. "This is less likely to hurt his feelings or make him feel inadequate." Remember how your partner might be feeling. "Guys who think they have small penises can experience stress, anxiety and depression related to their feelings of inadequacy, shame and embarrassment," she says. Be kind.
2. "You Must Be A Grower And Not A Shower"
"Why do some men grow much larger when they're erect and others do not?" says Howard-Blackburn. "Penises are unique because they come in different sizes, shapes, and feels." That said, it's best to not provide commentary on this to your partner. "Some men report a stronger erection depending on how aroused they are," she says. "Some men have erectile dysfunction, and experience medical issues that effect erections." Regardless of the issue, refrain from talking about "growers" and "showers" in relation to his size, she says.
3. "Is That Your Finger?"
Obviously, this is not the thing to say to a partner with a small penis. But if you really do mistake your partner's penis for their finger, is there anything to say to alleviate the damage after saying something like that? "If you mistake your partner's penis for his finger, then the damage is probably done," Howard-Blackburn says. "His feelings are probably hurt. Next is to tell the truth, and work on other positions that are mutually satisfying."
4. "Oh, It's SO Big!"
"Mentioning that his penis is big can be worse than saying it's small," Howard-Blackburn says, "because he already knows the truth." If you do say any of these things to your partner, it doesn't necessarily mean that your relationship is over, but it's high time to have a discussion about it, she says. "If you ever say something to make you partner feel like his penis is small, the best way to make it better is to talk about it," she says. "Hopefully, your goal was not to hurt his feelings, and you can communicate that to him."
Also important to cover in this conversation: What to do next. "This would also be a good time to discuss other options," she says. "If the size of his penis is a problem for you, then suggesting more foreplay, more intimacy and/or different positions can open the door for more satisfying sex."
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our video on sex positions for small penises: