Dear Young Heterosexual Men,

First, let me introduce myself.  I apologize if this sounds familiar—it’s almost identical to the introduction I gave in my Letter to Young Sexually Active Heterosexual Women that went a bit viral a few weeks ago. But, I can’t assume you read that and you deserve the same context for my comments that the women received.

I am a 55-year old psychologist and professor. I teach “Psychology of Human Sexuality” at the University of Florida to about 200 undergraduate students each year. My students say I remind them of the sex therapist and mother in Meet The Fockers, likely because I have curly hair, a large nose, and tell lots of stories from both my personal life and my sex therapy practice. Last semester, a colleague asked me an insightful question: “How would you describe this generation’s knowledge and attitudes about sex?”  Sadly, my answer was: “This generation seems to be more misinformed than any other, likely because they get so much of their information from pornography.”  I ran my answer past my undergraduate students—they sadly agreed.

For men, much of the false information is about the penis. Of course, since I don’t have one myself, I have to rely on reading and talking to men about their thoughts and feelings. To quote Paul Joannides, author of Guide to Getting it On, you likely have a “love, and sometimes hate, relationship” with your penis, which “figures into your concept of your own manliness.” No wonder cultural distortions about the penis are causing you angst. I want to clear these up, so you can have a fulfilling sex life.

Penis Size: Let's start with the big distortion (no pun intended)

  1. If you’re like most men, you have feelings (positive or negative) about the size of your penis. When Paul Joannides asked men if they feel comfortable being naked in the locker room, almost all answered with the words “penis” and “size.” This led Paul to conclude “You can almost predict how a man feels naked in the locker room by asking how he feels about the size of his penis.” Men worry both about how women and other men perceive their penis size.
  2. Only about half of men are satisfied with their penis size and most who are dissatisfied want to be larger. But, really important: 99% of men who are concerned with penis size actually are average sized! Chances are, you are too.
  3. So what’s average? Measuring from the public bone to the tip of the head: 3 ½ inches long limp, 5 inches long erect, and 4 ½ around when erect (that’s about the circumference of a D battery).
  4. Smaller than you thought?That’s because the average porn star is in the top 1% to 10% of penis size!
  5. Another cool penis fact: Those that are smaller when soft tend to grow more when they get hard. So, even if you are smaller than average when limp, you’re likely to make up the difference when hard. (You’ve probably heard this referred to as having a grower rather than a shower).

Penis Size & Sexual Intercourse with a Woman

A lot of men’s angst about penis size has to do with wanting to please female partners, so let’s clear this up:

  1. The size of your penis has little to do with most women’s orgasms. In a study that asked hundreds of women what was important to them during intercourse, not one woman mentioned penis size! Instead they answered about men taking their time and being concerned with their pleasure. Again, quoting Paul Joannides, “…as soon as a guy thinks more about what he can do for a woman with his penis than what he can do for her with his fingers, lips, and imagination, you can pretty well assume his lover will be finding herself increasingly bored in bed. When it comes to [female pleasure], the perfect penis is the most expendable part.”
  2. Paul says that the penis is most expendable to women’s pleasure because (depending on the study) only 10% to 30% of women reach orgasm solely from a thrusting penis. The other 70% to 90% need clitoral stimulation. Some women orgasm most reliably from oral sex, some from manual stimulation of their clitoris without a penis in their vagina, and some from stimulation of their clitoris (with their own hands, your hands, or a vibrator) during intercourse. A lot of women need a variety of these activities to orgasm. Adding to the complexity, some women like direct clitoral stimulation and for others this is painful and they need lighter stimulation or stimulation around their clitoral region. This means that even if you know the sure-fire way to bring one woman to orgasm, it won’t generalize to the next woman! And, making things even more complicated, what one woman needs can vary from one encounter to another. So, if you really want to be a good lover (which most men do!), then instead of focusing on your penis as the source of your partner’s pleasure, make sure to ask her what she needs in terms of clitoral stimulation. This will not only help her orgasm, but it will take the unnecessary pressure off of you to provide her pleasure with your penis.
  3. Also, if you want to be a great lover, you need to understand that women take much longer to get aroused and orgasm than men do. It takes a woman about 20 to 30 minutes to reach orgasm (through the clitoral-focused activities mentioned above). As Ian Kerner says in She Comes First (a great guide to teaching you how to give a woman great oral sex), very few of the world’s problems can be solved in 20 minutes, and the problem of your partner’s orgasm can. So, why not take the time? But, when you do take the time, expect it to be a slow buildup; in real-life, unlike in porn, a woman won’t moan and come as soon as you put your lips on her vulva!

In sum, many men are mistakenly worried about their thrusting penis and this interferes with both their own pleasure and that of their partner’s. Take the pressure off yourself. 

rebootblueprint.com
Source: rebootblueprint.com

Your Misbehaving Penis

Again paraphrasing from the Guide to Getting it On, a problem for many men is a penis that seems to have a will of its own---an unpredictable sex organ that gets hard when no one is around and then refuses to become erect when with a woman he really likes.

  1. Almost all guys have an issue with a lost erection at one point or another. This is more likely to happen when you’ve been drinking or when you are anxious (e.g., about pleasing your partner; the way your body looks, etc.).
  2. Don’t freak out if you lose your erection. Just go back to fooling around. In most cases, the erection will come back. And, it will come back a lot quicker if you just roll with it or if you’re with a woman you trust, you ask her to try to help calm you down. Quoting a male student of mine, “The best thing ever is to have open and honest communication with your partner. Your partner putting her hand on your heart and helping you relax is truly amazing. Every guy gets anxious, but if she can be your partner when the anxiety hits and help calm you down, there is a much greater probability of success. If you hide it from her and desperately (utter panic) try to get it back up before she notices—and yes most of us who have had this problem have tried this—it only makes the anxiety worse. You end up with both performance anxiety, as well as anxiety about her finding out about the problem.”
  3. A lot of young men are using boner drugs recreationally, even when they don’t need them. Please don’t do this. It’s actually harmful, not helpful.
  4. Unlike the all-nighters in porn or in music lyrics, according to The Orgasm Answer Guide, men typically require two to ten minutes of intercourse to reach orgasm. One study found that the average intercourse lasts 7.2 minutes. Alfred Kinsey found that most men ejaculate in two minutes or less, and a recent study found that 43% of intercourse is completed within two minutes. So, worry less about how long it’s taking and just enjoy the feelings. Here’s a fun video to illustrate this point.

Of course, if you do come in less than a minute or before you even put your penis in her vagina, help can be found in Coping with Premature Ejaculation or in the Guide to Getting it On.

The Sex Organ between Your Ears:

Believe it or not, your mind, your personality, and your communication skills are more important than your penis.

  1. We hear a lot about women’s body self-consciousness during sex, but if you are like most men, you likely have felt this too. It’s hard to be focused on how you look (and if your thrusting is doing the job) and really enjoy sex. Really enjoying sex requires fully immersing in the sensations of the moment and letting go. The best way to learn to do this is to practice mindfulness during your everyday life, and then transfer these skills to sex. (Here’s a great resource to introduce you to mindfulness).
  2. Good sex requires good sexual communication.This is hard for everyone, and perhaps more so for men, who’ve generally been taught to be less expressive than women. So, take a small communication risk first, and keep building from there. I promise, even though it is scary, if you start asking a woman partner what she wants and needs, and telling her what you want and need, you will have a better sex (and personal) life.

Sex is a learnable skill and not something people are inherently good or bad at. Someone probably gave you driving lessons because they knew you’d be driving your entire life and wanted you to have the skills to make it a safe, enjoyable ride. But, we likely failed in terms of giving you enough realistic information to have fun, safe, and pleasurable sex. Getting better at sex takes communication and practice (alone and with a partner). Enjoy the journey! There will be bumps along the road and not all sexual encounters will be mind-blowing.  Learn from all of your experiences and be gentle with yourself.

In sum, dear young men, if I had only three tips to give you, they would be the following:

  • Take the pressure off your penis (to be big enough, last long enough, stay hard long enough, give her an orgasm, etc., etc.).You and your partner will reap the benefits of this decreased pressure.
  • Ask a partner what she needs to orgasm and tell her the same in return.
  • Learn to mindfully immerse yourself during sex.

These lessons are harder to learn than they sound, but I assure you they’re totally worth it!

With Love to All of You,

Laurie Mintz

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