1 Year - no porn/no fap: how did I do it?
History - I’ve been actively trying to quit porn since 2002. I had one period of no porn that lasted 2.5 years which ended in in 2006. And many years since then of having various levels of success. But after the 2.5 year stretch, the longest I’ve been able to go was 6 months in 2009.
What’s working for me this time?
No masturbation - I tried for a long time to make masturbation OK, but it always, always led back to porn for me. So I finally had to admit that if I wanted to quit porn, I had to quit masturbation too. Now that it’s off the menu, it’s easier.
Good counseling - I have a regular counselor who helps keep me focused and reminds me why I want to quit. Without that one on one contact with a real person, it wouldn’t have happened.
A supportive partner - my girlfriend of 5 years is supportive of my goal, without being judgmental or shaming.
Projects - I’m less likely to want to look at porn if I’m happier and more fulfilled, and having an active creative life makes me happier. In my case, the creative project I’m working on is a web series about quitting porn - Brick House. It helps me stay sober on multiple levels - a creative outlet, a way of articulating my reasons for quitting, and supporting others who want to quit. Check it out here: http://youtu.be/_Dq0SgNJr_I
Exercise goals - related to having projects to focus on is having exercise goals. I’ve been working hard the last few months to train to run a 5 K. I ended up injuring myself a couple weeks ago, but I’m going to get back out there soon. Exercise feels good by itself, but it also feels satisfying emotionally to watch myself make progress in terms of how far and fast I run.
Compassion for myself - quitting an addiction is very difficult. We need to be gentle with ourselves. Maybe that means taking time off in the middle of the day to read a book, or watch a show on Netflix, or take a walk, or chat with friends or family. We need to rest and give ourselves breaks. Practically anything we can do is going to be better for us than porn and masturbation
Scheduling my life so that porn doesn’t fit in - I try to not let myself get over tired, which is a huge trigger for me. Also, I try to avoid being alone at times when I used to look at porn - early mornings or weekends.
Not counting days - I guess I’m counting days now in this post about one year. But I try to avoid it. In the past, I’ve used a day count as a justification for quitting. “It’s been 100 days. That’s good enough.” I find it’s better if I don’t pay much attention to it.
There are other things I do as well, but these are some of the highlights. Questions and comments welcome!
SECOND POST COVERING ONE YEAR
Today is my one year anniversary of no porn/no fap. 365 days. I wrote another post yesterday on how I managed to make it this long. Now I want to write how my life is better without porn.
First of all - I have more time. I have an extra 15-20 hours a week to do stuff that I like and that is healthy for me. Exercise, writing, playing guitar, hanging out with my girlfriend, hiking with friends. I get more work done, and I have more time to do fun things.
My overall health is better. I sleep better. I don’t get migraines as much as I used to. I don’t get the wrung out feeling that I used to get after a binge.
I have my self respect again. I can look myself in the eye in the mirror, and I can look other people in the eye. I don’t have a secret life the way I used to, and that makes me more confident.
But probably the most important benefit I get from quitting porn is that I’m able to be more “present.” What does that mean?
It means that I’m not always distracted by trying to figure out where and when I can next get my porn fix. I’m not constantly checking out any female I see and trying to rate them on a desirability scale. I can actually communicate with a woman by looking her in the eye and relating to her as a person, instead of an object.
I can actually listen better to my clients, or my friends, or my family, or my girlfriend. I think I can say that every single relationship I have has been improved by my quitting porn and masturbation.
I’ve had to learn a lot along the way. I’ve gradually figured out how to express feelings like sadness, or anxiety, or loneliness, instead of just numbing them with porn. You could say I’ve become more human and less like a robot. Another way to say it is that I’m moving towards being the person I want to become.
While thinking about this the other day, I was reflecting that it’s not easy to grow up in our culture. In my own experience, starting around 11 years old, I learned practically everything I knew about how to be intimate with women from looking at porn. Unfortunately, it was all lies. (Women don’t always want to take their clothes off and have sex all the time.) Then, when I was old enough to be in a relationship, I had no idea how to actually be emotionally intimate with a woman. It’s taken me at least 20 years to unlearn those lies, and another 20 to learn real intimacy.
I guess my point is that this struggle isn’t easy. We have a long history to overcome. But it’s a hero’s journey. And it is totally worth it.