Age 24 - Sexual/relationship development rebounded after quitting porn

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lovers' hands This post is basically to summarize my whole experience so that it may help others. The amount of information in this forum and in yourbrainonporn.com helped me solve a lot of my issues so I'd like to give back.

The post is huge, so jump to "Observations" for the most important things. So here's the story:

  • Background:

I'm the youngest of five. We never went out much, so much of my social life was mostly inside my home. During most of my early school years I only had a few friends and spent most of my time with my twin (not identical) brother. - I'm telling you this, to show that porn alone didn't cause all the problems. In my case, this lifestyle also helped make me less comfortable around girls. During middle school, I started to become more popular (I wasn't good at sports and being good at sports was less and less the most important to determine popularity). I enjoyed making people laugh and started to make more and more friends. Occasionally, it would come to my attention that a girl liked me. There was however a certain inhibition to admit attraction to girls. I felt I was too young and that it was stupid to pretend we were already adults. The fact that my brother was always around me made me feel uncomfortable in changing the image of myself (that I didn't care much about girls) that was known in my family. This was due to family culture. I believe my brother felt exactly the same. Also inhibited because I was around.

  • The porn:

I started having DSL internet when I was 15. This was in 2003, back then I used software like kazaa to download poor quality porn. Eventually, I went to college. In high school I never really cared that I wasn't getting involved with girls. I still felt that I was too young and that I didn't have to worry about that. That in itself isn't bad at all obviously, but I would take it too far. Then in college streaming porn sites started to become popular.

  • The addiction:

I never really felt comfortable in college. I didn't like my degree and felt somewhat displaced. I was also still studying with my brother (we were taking the same degree). More and more I would watch porn. Since there was 7 people living in my house, I would watch it mostly at night. I also got fascinated by porn videogames. I wasted a lot of time searching and consuming porn. Even though I still had some friends, college was hard for me and I started to withdraw a bit. I would pass most subjects by just passing the final exam and without attending classes. I was also ambitious (wanted to be a filmmaker), but incredibly lazy. At this time, I was still assuming that eventually, people would see how "awesome" I was and I would become successful and then girls would love me and hit on me. I never really felt motivated to pursue a girl. It always felt like too much work. I would also overthink it to much: "I'm just slightly attracted to her. What if she falls for me and then I'm the bad guy? What will other people think? Do they think she's attractive?" I spent most of my life assuming I would find a perfect girl and that was it. Hollywood movies probably made me have a distorted view of reality.

  • Finding about yourbrainonporn.com

So eventually I started to feel uncomfortable with being a virgin. It started to hit me. Even if I would end up with a girl, she would probably have been with a few guys and I might feel inferior or something. So when I was 23/24 years old I was starting to become very worried about a few problems: I was a procrastinator, I felt that pursuing girls was "too much work", but wanted to get sexual experience, I was a chronic overthinker, I didn't know what wanted to do with my life. I started reading a lot of self help books. The kind of books written by Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Stephen Covey, etc. At the same time I started learning about dating. I didn't want to become a pick up artist, but I felt like I didn't know anything at all about how romantic interactions worked. I felt that if I really really really thought that a girl was perfect in every way, I would feel motivated, but I knew that this didn't make sense. I couldn't be such a perfectionist. I had to meet girls and flirt and see what happens. Some of these books actually helped. One of them was "The Game" by Neil Strauss. It's not a manual. It's more like a report, a true story about pick up artists, including all the negative stuff. It was an interesting read for anyone I think.

I also started to learn a lot about psychology. I wanted to manipulate myself into being the person I wanted to be. I watched a lot of Ted Talks and found Gary Wilson's talk. I would experiment with not masturbating for a few days at first. During 2012's summer. I went to a musical festival and spent 10 days without masturbation and porn. It felt incredibly challenging (eventually 10 days become normal). A few months later in a situation with a girl in which I had to be really really terrible with girls not to kiss her, I awkwardly did it. We made out. It was the first time I kissed a girl. A few days later I started to read a lot more about stopping porn consumption, yourbrainonporn.com, reddit, etc. Just so you to know how bad I was with girls before: when I was 19 a girl was dancing with me in a college party. I became popular (even if I was very shy at college), because as a freshmen I was involved in some fun activities in which I had to act and do silly stuff. A lot of people thought I was really funny, so I became one of the most popular new student. Anyway I loved the idea that she was attracted to me(as an overthinker, I wasn't sure if that was the case). She was actually one of the cutest girls around. I was overthinking so much that when she got her arms around me and stood on her toes (obviously to kiss me) I thought "hmm what a weird hug. what does she want??) Part of me knew but I was so self conscious that I couldn't think straight. I only realized what was happening the morning after when I woke up at home.

Anyway, I learned about HOCD. I would watch gay porn more and more as time went by. Occasionally I would also watch animal porn.

I also started to finally try and see how far I would go without porn. 3 weeks after my first attempt I made out with a girl at a club. I was drunk, she wasn't pretty (I then saw her on facebook, and in fact she wasn't good looking at all), but... I was still happy. I was just happy that I could do it. That it happened. Something that's supposed to be normal but wasn't to me.

In a way I wanted to feel motivated to pursue girls that weren't perfect. I wanted to not care. Not feel embarrassed, etc.

A few months later, some friends asked me if I wanted to join them on a spring break trip to a Spanish island. I said yes. I just wanted to keep developing my "flirting" skills, feel comfortable with girls and hopefully lose my virginity and get on with it instead of putting the whole thing in a pedestal. I did lost my virginity (and kissed two other girls) on that trip about 6 weeks before my 25th birthday.

It's funny that, since I looked normal and sometimes popular, most of my friends would be shocked to know that I was a virgin at the time.

Anyway, I kept feeling more and more comfortable with the whole girl connection thing. A few months ago I was very close with a girl. We were friends with benefits, but almost boyfriend and girlfriend. I always told her that I felt uncomfortable with the idea of having a serious relationship, since I wasn't at all used to it. It was still weird to me and I would still overthink it. I was aware of my problems, but being aware isn't enough. We did become a couple for a while, but it didn't lasted. She needed someone more present and I couldn't stand the pressure. So I was definitely very immature. Which is normal, given the circumstances I guess.

  • How do I feel now:

Currently I'm fine. I don't feel that frustration of not being experienced and I'm feeling much more comfortable with the idea of having a girlfriend. I don't really feel the need to have one, but I'm ok with it if a situation arises.

Observations:

Now, I always loved science. And I enjoyed learned about scientific studies about all of this. One thing I wanted to learn was if masturbation alone was also bad, of it had to be masturbation to porn. Throughout these several months I went through different situations as I was learning.

  • First of all, before trying to stop, I would masturbate 2 to 4 times a day. Mostly to hetero porn, but sometimes gay and rarely bestiality. Occasionally I would engage in other sexual practices involving anal stimulation. Imagining gay sex. The thing is I was much more "attracted" to the sexual organs and the penetration. I didn't really felt attracted to men, but I did feel attraction to erect penises.
  • The first attempt (3 weeks) was actually easier than I thought, although I would edge occasionally. I was very motivated as I felt that this could solve my biggest problems. I started to want to go out more and felt much more motivated to meet girls. After this first attempt, it started to get more difficult to sustain long periods of time without PMO.
  • Eventually I would not masturbate, but still watch porn occasionally. The not-masturbation is what felt like was giving me the drive. I did have much more drive and motivation to pursue girls, but sometimes I would have a lot of brainfog. Even headaches. I also felt much more desire to pursue gay sexual relationships even though I could never do anything to start one. I wasn't natural. I found out that in a way my brain just wanted the sexual release. With anything. For a while I even learned about gay cruising and things like that.
  • Then I started to stop PMO. I would last usually 2 weeks. Eventually I would start edging again and then I would just watch porn again. I spent a lot of time in these cycles. Even though I didn't stopped altogether, the fact that I was watching porn and masturbating much less frequently than before (2-4 times) had a lot of benefits, so my life at this point was already much better. I had already been with a few girls and kissing a girl wasn't something from another world.
  • I never stopped learning about psychology. Eventually I started meditating, not to stop porn specifically. I wanted to become more disciplined (give more power to my prefrontal cortex and diminish the amygdala's activity). I did it so I could feel motivated to work and me more productive. And it worked. I started "seeing" what was important and doing what deep down I wanted to do. There was still room form improvement, but I was very happy with the results. Not watching porn became much easier as well. I read several books on the subject. An easy book to read that I would recommend it "Search inside yourself" by Chade Meng-Tan - it's a nice summary of what meditation is and how it works. It's based on a google project on improving emotional intelligence that was very successful.
  • When I made it to one month without ejaculation or porn (thanks to meditation). I let myself masturbate without porn. I felt that not masturbating was starting to become detrimental. I would feel the desire to get some release and I would accept any sexual encounter as something to look forward to just to obtain it. I started to allow myself to masturbate if the feeling arose naturally. That helped.
  • I experimented with masturbating to porn again recently (after a couple of months without porn), for the sake of learning. Again I feel time being wasted and I feel that porn just made my life a bit worse again. The correlation is obvious. I'll just stop again.
  • Finally, during some sexual encounters, when I had masturbated to porn no more than a couple of days before I would feel some issues getting an erection. Part of it could be anxiety for being with a new partner for the first time, but when I hadn't seen porn in at least a week I wouldn't have any problems.

In summary, I'm a normal guy who could easily have had relationships, but just couldn't. It was weird, I didn't suffer form social anxiety and there was nothing wrong with me. I would just overthink too much and eventually it would just be too much work. Most people assumed that I would have a lot of girlfriends. In fact I never even kissed a girl up until a few weeks before my 25th birthday. Part of it was my upbringing and a lot of it was porn consumption. I now I feel normal. Meditation was what finally helped me cease porn for more than a few weeks. I also accept the idea of masturbating occasionally without porn.

I know this was a huge post. I just wanted to write any information that I thought could be relevant to someone who could have had a similar background. I need to thank this forum and of course Gary and Marnia for their wonderful work on helping so many people who had no resources to learn what was happening to them.

Like I said before, porn wasn't the cause of all my problems, and stopping porn didn't solve all my problems. But porn did made my life significantly worse, and since I started to try to stop watching it, my life improved drastically.

Thank you all.

LINK - I've always had girls like me ocasionally, but after ceasing porn consumption I finally lost my virginity and kissed a girl for the first time at the age of 24.

by phol1