Size Anxiety

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I know these kinds of questions are a dime a dozen but I really have no one to turn to for help and I need some kind of support. I recently came out of the closet largely because I was unwilling to live the rest of my life without ever feeling intimacy, being in love and without a relationship. After coming out, I became relieved and very happy. It finally seemed possible that I could have all the things I always wanted (boyfriend/eventual partner, family, etc.). Then I realized that my penis was small (about 5.5 inches when erect) and that’s when my self esteem plummeted to a point it’s never been.
I’ve stopped socializing, rarely talk to my family (I’m at home for the summer since I’m a college student), don’t eat and can’t think about anything but how my penis size will keep me from establishing relationships. I feel emotionally exhausted, to the point where I sleep for hours in the middle of the day just so that I can let my mind take a break. But once I wake up, I just go back to obsessing about my small size and don’t get anything else done. I am seriously worried about my mental health, don’t know if or how this will get better and, honestly, completely drained. Please help!

A: You are emotionally exhausted because this is exhausting! There’s nothing abnormal about that. But I have a guess that coming out and becoming obsessed are somehow related. Is it possible that now that you are out, you are feeling pressure to make all your dreams of finding an intimate partner come true right away? That may be a very scary thought. If you’ve never had a relationshp before, you may be worried about where to start. If you’ve never had sex, or never had sex with another man, you may be quite understandably unsure of yourself. You may be putting enormous pressure on yourself to have it all figured out when you’ve barely begun to explore this part of life.

One way to avoid anxiety-provoking issues like these is to get hyperfocused on something else – like your penis size, for instance. I’m sure you know that you’re focused on the wrong organ. It’s not the size of the penis that will determine your ability to be intimate. It’s the size of your heart. But even though you know this, the anxiety takes over. It’s possible that you are developing something called Body Dysmorphic Disorder as a major distraction from the scary issues around relationships, love, and sex. Although very painful and hard to control, your preoccupation with penis size is in some strange way easier for you to deal with than the thoughts of what it takes to have an intimate boyfriend.

Psychotherapy is your best bet for getting your thinking back on track. A kind and supportive therapist will help you examine your fears and figure out how to find the relationship you want at a pace you can manage. Yes, you’ve made a decision to come out but you may not have entirely come to terms with your sexuality. Your therapist will provide important support while you do.

It’s unfortunate that most people find it too embarrassing to talk about their uncertainties around sex and sexuality. Becoming a mature sexual person is challenging for most people. You are certainly not alone. I encourage you to make an appointment with a psychotherapist soon.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Aug 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). Size Anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/08/09/size-anxiety/

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