Age 23 - (ED) I reclaimed the ability to have and enjoy sex
I missed my 90-day Victory post, so here's a 100-day one! I won't drag this out. This was my position when I started this journey: a PMO-addicted wreck. This is what's happened since then:
- I reclaimed the ability to physically have sex (i.e. get it up without the aid of porn and/or my hand)
- I reclaimed the ability to enjoy sex with real women
- I've had two flings* with real women, both in their early thirties (I'm 23), and had the best sex of my life with one of them.
- I've grown a beard. Twice.
- I've had the energy, mindset and testosterone-drive to do so much more: work out, finish a fantasy novel I was writing, help my dad with some building works on his house, and more.
- I secured a job in a sector (and country!) that really excites me.
- I've made an incredibly good friend, courtesy of my improved confidence.
- Probably most importantly, I feel more mature, more capable and more in control of myself. I'm learning to control other urges (drinking, basically) based on by success with nofap. I feel awake.
*No, they weren't deep, emotional, life-changing relationships. But they were fulfilling in their own way, however transient. And damn good fun.
It doesn't end here. The plan is to not fap for the rest of my life. When thinking about the things that define me, I'd like to get to the stage (rather like the top poster on /r/pornfree) where I can say I don't fap, just like I don't smoke or I don't have two heads. It's just a fundamental aspect of me, no big deal, no great struggle. Just what I do (or more to the point, don't). There'll probably be relapses (human, after all), but one should aim high.
Stay strong, brothers and sisters. The road is long, but the rewards are rich indeed.
LINK - 100 days of NoFap
It's been a year. To celebrate, I wrote my story out in full for a non-pornfree audience (don't yet know exactly who). It's rather long, completely candid, and occasionally graphic. It's called Why Porn Is Bad For You.
Disclaimer: the following isn't a moralizing tirade against the porn industry (although the porn industry certainly has some dubious aspects), rather an exploration of the way porn affects a person's conception and experience of sex, sexuality, and attractiveness. Given its deeply subjective basis, it isn't scientific at all – although I hope it'll underline common issues encountered by anyone in Western culture who's used porn.
I began looking at porn when I was about ten, which nowadays would be something of a feat – I'd probably be watching it much earlier if were a kid in today's world. In fact, retrospectively, my whole process of discovery was almost twee in comparison to contemporary experiences. I was at an all-boys boarding school in the south of England, and the establishment's attitude towards sex was one of total denial-of-existence. Given the huge hormonal developments boys of that age and older experience, this denial bordered on the farcical. However, the school was only acting as a localized agent of a society with exactly the same beliefs and attitudes: that sensible, meaningful conversations about sex are taboo, and that sexuality in children is to be denied entirely. Therefore, instead of being educated about the feelings and urges we were experiencing – and their prominent, beautiful place in the human experience – we were left to our own devices, to our own secret explorations, with the aid of the dying Wild West that was the early 2000s internet.
Rumors of websites spread, sites which would make you feel good, sites with pics of naked women with big boobs. There was one in particular – Bikini69, I think it was called, now defunct – that was particularly popular. So one afternoon, when everyone else was playing sports and I'd bunked off sick, I snuck into the IT room, fired up some archaic version of Internet Explorer, and began my porn journey.
Bikini69's pics were tame by any standard: they mostly consisted of pictures of one model in various stages of undress, mostly just with her boobs out. Still, this was all completely new for me, and I found the pics deeply arousing: they struck a chord with the urges and feelings I'd been experiencing, the ones I hadn't come to terms with. Of course I knew they were sexual feelings – that much is innately obvious, and I wasn’t stupid – but that was just about all I knew. Also, knowing about the base mechanics of copulation and reproduction did nothing to help me fully understand these urges.
By the time I was twelve, my porn repertoire had expanded. I now had a fixation with pics of women with grossly exaggerated breasts – and I don't mean just "big boobs", but gargantuan monstrosities that were practically udder-like. In retrospect, most must have been photoshops, or pics of women with the condition gigantomastia, although a few were of models who'd gone to the horrifying length of getting colossal breast implants, turning themselves into what is, in essence, a Western pre-teen's hyper-distorted conception of what is 'sexy' (i.e. what they’ve been told is ‘sexy’).
It was around this time I started masturbating. But what should have been harmless exploration of my newfound desires became something more sinister – I would skip sports (by making up all manner of silly excuses), hole up in an empty classroom with a PC, and masturbate over these pics of massively exaggerated parodies of femininity. This is where it began: my linking of sexuality with the unreal. What I was doing, which seemed so straightforward at the time, was laying the groundwork for what was to come.
I changed schools when I was thirteen, graduating to a large all-boys Public school. Here, the establishment's (but not the teachers’) attitude towards pupils' sexuality was equally denying. This denial meant our explorations of sexuality were heavily influenced by just three sources: our peers, older boys, and our own somewhat warped preconceptions.
It began a few weeks after the beginning of term, when my peers and I were still finding our feet in our new environment: nervous thirteen-year-olds trying to impress each other and the older guys. Late one night, just before we had to go to bed, a guy in the year above went around the hall in which we did our homework, saying he was going to watch some porn in his cubby hole, and that we'd be welcome to join him.
Five minutes later, about twelve of us were jammed into his cramped, secluded work area, lights off and laptop on. Again, the film was fairly tame, retrospectively. Standard porn-script stuff, nothing particularly exotic or extreme.
But it was mesmerizing.
Being a boarding school, knowledge got around fast. Soon me and the others were up to speed on proxies, VPN tunnels and other means of circumventing the school's net filters while remaining anonymous, as well as file sharing, P2P torrenting and the importance of having one's own portable hard drive. A whole universe of porn was opened up to us within a startlingly short amount of time, all of it far more accessible than it had been at my previous school. Here, it was a culture. Everyone was watching it. One kid even had over 100 gigs of the stuff, which for 2004 was no mean feat (by 2009 he had over a terabyte, including material which would have probably warranted a prison sentence if discovered).
What porn it was – much of it made my grossly over-exaggerated boob girls look innocent. It was around this time when I became aware of words and concepts like tit fucking, facials, anal beads, BDSM, face fucking, bukkake and humiliation.
And I masturbated to it all.
Eventually, after a few months, I discovered a curious video involving a heavily pregnant woman (hugely pregnant would probably describe her better) – and I found it completely compelling. Eventually I fell into a pattern: I'd watch porn and masturbate at least once a day: often twice, sometimes three or four times. I'd watch a lot of pregnant porn, interspersed with tit fucking, face fucking, bukkake, and so-called 'BBW' videos. I was thirteen.
This, with one or two variations, was to become my go-to porn repertoire for years to come. As I advanced through my teenage years, I sought out more and more videos, often becoming more and more extreme and unreal in nature, spending hours trawling search results and nascent 'tube' sites, constantly searching for that next clip that really 'gets' you. Although I learned about addictive behavior in Biology, I didn't see the signs in myself. I didn't see the effect this endless repetition of Porn- Masturbation-Orgasm was having on my sexuality and mindset.
How far removed is this PMO behavior from actual sex? Let's first look at how porn itself differs. The average porn script runs something like this: girl is alone in a house, guy comes in, she sucks him off for a bit (he possibly fucks her tits as well), they have fairly robotic in-out sex in a variety of positions (keeping their actual bodies as far apart as possible, so the viewer can witness the act of penetration), and then he comes on her face. That's it.
Other, more extreme forms of porn differ to an even greater degree. Many videos have one part of the woman's body as their focal points – her ass, breasts, fat, or belly (if pregnant porn) – fetishizing it, playing out male pleasures on it. Breasts have penises rubbed between them, and are eventually came on. Asses are probed and stretched with phallic objects (or penises themselves), and are eventually came on too. Mouths are vagina-substitutes, and often take in penises in their entirety, or are fucked roughly. Faces, cleavage and bellies are left covered in come.
Sometimes the woman's body itself is fetishistic focal point – and again, instead of intercourse, male pleasures are played out on it. Take bukkake – the ultimate manifestation of vicarious porn – where a group of men masturbate over a woman, and then each comes on her in turn. No penetration. No intercourse. Just guys masturbating over a female body, and the idea or association with sex and sexuality it represents, and then coming on it. The viewer in this situation is doubly vicarious: doubly removed from the actual act of sex.
Yet perhaps all porn viewers are doubly vicarious anyway, because as we've seen, porn is not representative of sex. Porn is, in a way, a parody of sex, a charade of lovemaking, and this is what viewers are masturbating to, not a normal act of sex.
And then there's the masturbation aspect of PMO. In and of itself, masturbation is not bad - but coupled with porn, it creates a pleasure-reward system based on false stimulation: a system that can quickly become addictive, not to mention detrimental to one's actual sexuality (as in, that which occurs in partnership with another human being).
I've had firsthand experience of this. Before going into my story, let's outline some of the ways the Porn-Masturbation-Orgasm cycle impacts one's sex with another person.
Firstly, deriving pleasure exclusively from a virtual complex of (false) stimuli can mean that, after a while, you can only derive pleasure via such means. In short, if you get too much into porn, it can become the only way you can get aroused, get it up, or come at all. Losing this ability to become aroused at actual, physical contact with a real human being is one of the greatest tragedies a person can experience, in my opinion - and as we'll see, I had the misfortune to go down that road.
The problems aren't limited to yourself, however. A flipside of losing interest in genuine sexual contact is that your partner's sex life is damaged as well (if you have one, that is). On a less dramatic level, PMO can make you too focused on your own pleasure, too focused on playing out pleasurable acts on your partner as opposed to having good sex. Good sex is an act of sharing, an act of communion, not of masturbating yourself with another person's body.
Another side of this is that you can end up asking things from your partner which, for them, are at best only dubiously pleasurable and at worst downright degrading and unpleasant (relative to personal preference, of course – while some people enjoy having a penis rammed down their throat hard and their faces slapped, many don't). Not to mention the self-confidence blow some people will experience, when they discover their partner cannot become aroused by them alone, and instead requires video parodies of sexuality to become sexually fulfilled.
And then there are the more introspective, philosophical issues with porn use, each of which differs from person to person, but essentially boils down to this: to what extent is porn usage an external manifestation of an internal problem? Is it an addiction/coping mechanism/result of psychological issues/relationship issues/ issues with the opposite gender/any other manner of hard-to-define, yet socially invisible or stigmatized issues? And therefore, is it actually psychologically unhealthy for some individuals to be engaging in regular cycles of PMO? In our society, which medicalizes psychological issues and attributes them to "natural causes" and "chemical imbalances" and denies any social or cultural causes, an exploration of this issue is unlikely to be forthcoming.
So, time to outline these problems with an example. By the time I was fifteen, I started to date a girl called Clara. By this time I'd been looking at porn for five years, and PMOing for three. The first thing that struck me was how different actual sex with another person was – there were smells, fluids, unglamorous sights, new physical sensations – in short, far more dimensions to real sexuality compared to porn.
But nevertheless I was annoyed. I was annoyed at Clara for not sucking my cock, and not letting me push it far down her throat. For not letting me come on her tits. I asked her time and again, and each time she'd look hurt, and refused.
Eventually this annoyance turned to resentment. Sometimes I'd lose my erection, or be unable to keep it. We'd have sex, but it'd be porn that would give me a heightened sense of pleasure: with porn, I'd never have problems with my erection. With porn, I could do anything I wanted to a woman – vicariously, of course. It got to the point where I'd look forward to my porn sessions more than I would sex with Clara – because she wouldn't let me act our my desires on her, and more often than not I'd become soft, or even disinterested.
One day she found porn on my laptop. She was catastrophically upset. She'd always had insecurities over her weight and appearance (as is often inculcated in young women by our culture of commodities) and this brought them all to the surface. On top of this, she was bitterly upset by the fact that she wasn't enough to sexually fulfill me, or even arouse me. She felt like I'd betrayed her.
I have never felt like more of a shit in my life. But what did I do? I kept on watching porn. This trend of PMO being my primary source of pleasure – more intense than sex itself – stayed with me into my next big relationship. This time however, things got bad. In the beginning, I had one hell of a problem getting an erection. A couple of months went by before I could engage in sex properly – and by god, it was out of no fault of my girlfriend. This was incredibly hurtful for her, but to my endless retrospective gratitude and respect, she bore with me. Even when I could get it up, our sex was far from spectacular. I'd ask her to do things – and while she did once let me come on her tits, she wasn't a fan of the rough face fuckings I wanted to give her, so the cycle of resentment started again.
And hell, I was nineteen. I should have had my act together by now. I owed her so much more than I gave her. I should have been so much better to her. She deserved better. So had Clara.
We eventually broke up. I went back to endless cycles of PMO, still watching endless clips of unreal parodies of sex.
Life slapped me across the face one day when I was twenty-two. I'd been on a night out with some mates, one of whom had an old friend from the States over to visit. She was a gorgeous all-American girl, a true stunner. As the night wore on, the flirty tension rose, until we ended up kissing, and then making our excuses to the others.
We got back to the hostel she was staying at, and we decided to take a shower. She was sexy by any standard, and I really, really wanted her (a part of me did, anyway). But something was wrong.
For the life of me, I couldn't get it up.
Plus, I felt almost intimidated by the situation. This naked girl, hot water streaming over her gorgeous body, wasn't just a vehicle for my warped desires. She was a person, who didn't want pleasure from vicarious masturbation. She wanted mutual pleasure, from the intercourse of our two bodies.
And I was mentally and physically unable to give it to her.
As I walked back home, angry and resentful at myself now, it all came clear. I'd been PMOing myself into being unable to have real sex. I was a young, red-blooded male – but I couldn't be with an actual woman. Over a decade of porn use had done me in. It had warped my libido, my conception of what 'sexy' was, what even sexuality itself was.
That night, I vowed I'd never watch porn again.
I went online, to see if others had experienced similar issues. They had. Many people had. There it all was, played out again and again: the resented partners, the pleasure-reward systems that eventually superseded actual sex, the ultimate inability to get it up, to have sex at all. There were support communities online, guys and girls who gave each other useful tips on breaking the habit, on reclaiming our sex lives. Some guys, like me, who were rock hard when watching porn but couldn't get it up during real sex, suggested abstaining from masturbation as well as porn, or at least cutting down how often you do it. At the time of writing, it's been a year since I've turned it all around, and I'm now well on the way to reclaiming my sexuality – I can be aroused by actual women, and can have good sex with them, without resentment or feeling the need to act out porn moves on them. It's getting better.
It's funny, when I say "reclamation", as in "reclaiming my sexuality" - that's actually not what it is at all. I've never even had a proper, healthy sexuality to reclaim in the first place; up until a year ago, porn's always been my predominant experience of sexuality, my primary means of gaining pleasure, just like it is for many young men and women (although mainly men) who live in Western countries, especially in areas of high-speed internet.
In a sense, I’m discovering my sexuality for the first time.
And what a beautiful journey it is.
Two years ago I was flying high. I'd conquered my porn addiction and was experiencing a life of wonders. I was finally a normal human being, enjoying intimacy as nature intended. No more PIED, no more anxiety, no more feelings of worthlessness. No more crushing embarrassment when I couldn't get it up. All that crap was in the past. Gone.
I moved to another country and met an amazing woman. Our connection was incredible: the best I've ever experienced. Amazingly fulfilling, including on a spiritual level. I was a Homo sapiens, engaged in an act of worship which all life (or most life, at least) partakes. How ridiculous porn seemed! How small-minded and weird, how limited, unimaginative and fake!
Until one day I looked up a video of women with big butts twerking. It's fine, I told myself. They're clothed! This isn't really porn. Anyway, it was so different from my old tastes, it couldn't possibly impact my brain in the same negative ways. The country where I now live (the entire continent, in fact) has very different conceptions of what's sexy compared to the West, and I've basically come to find (either by acculturation, or because it's what I've always found attractive and was only just realising it) that it's exactly my thing. The fact it was different (or so I thought) made it okay, in my mind.
So I continued my relationship, but started watching these videos too. Soon I was back in the PMO cycle. This isn't porn! I'd tell myself, as I'd smoke up and have an hour long session watching butt videos on the internet.
Months started to go by. I didn't see the wood for the trees. It's different! I'd repeat to myself, even when I started watching videos where nudity was involved, and then videos that would be classed as porn even by the most conservative definition.
Long story short, my girlfriend and I went on a break. Our relationship had been strained for a few months, and no doubt my renewed porn habit had something to do with it. We both decided taking some time for ourselves would be the best thing.
Yesterday, I met someone great on a work trip, and one thing led to another. You can imagine what happened. All those years of progress were worth nothing. I was that anxious teenager again, the one with the limp, shriveled dick, moments away from tears. It sat there between my legs, numb and dead, while I tried to make up for it by doing other things for her. The familiar cycle of thought-patterns re-emerged. The anxiety, the embarrassment, the rage; a feedback loop that only made everything worse.
I have never felt more worthless in my life.
In about half a year I've managed to undo everything I worked so hard for. I'm back at the bottom of the mountain, staring at the summit, just like in the bad old days. My relationship, my confidence, my self-esteem - all thrown away. So don't make my mistake. Don't be overtaken by a false sense of security! Our addictions are insidious, and they'll do anything they can to claw their way back into our minds.
At the same time, it's my new Day 1.