Age 45 - ED - Emotional health returned after years of numbness
About myself. I'm 45, with a 15-year PMO habit, and when I started NoFap I'd recently ended a long-term relationship. I was depressed and feeling sorry for myself. Among the main reasons for my separation were persistent ED on my part, extreme difficulty in having and expressing feelings, and self-esteem and confidence issues.
Just as things ended I watched the Great Porn Experiment video and connected the dots between sexual problems and porn use for the first time. This was good, because instead of going on a self-pity binge that could have gone on for months, I decided to start the 90-day challenge without delay.
The first two weeks were really hard. I was very horny all the time, and I basically had to power through, hour by hour and almost minute by minute. I followed two rules: not to direct my eyes to anything that found arousing, and not to touch my genitals.
Over weeks 3-4, and I started to become conscious of my main triggers, which surprisingly were not sexual desire, but sadness and anxiety. At this point my feelings seem to have thawed out for the first time in years, and I was emotionally all over the place, and crying very frequently.
Around day 35 I had a sexual reunion with my ex, just the one night, and was able to verify that my ED problem was a lot better, and that I was much more emotional than before during sex. This didn't save the relationship, but allowed me to see that things were moving in the right direction, which motivated me for the long haul ahead.
After around day 20, I seem to have gone into a strange flatline from which I have not yet fully emerged. Meaning my body is responsive in sexual situations, but outside of that I don't have any desires and I never have morning wood or spontaneous erections. Well, I do have desires, but they're not sexual; I feel a strong desire for warmth and affection, and that's what pulls me to women more than straight physical attraction.
After day 35, and up to day 60, things went well. Nofap still felt like walking a tightrope, that if I let down my vigilance I would fall off and relapse, but the rope widened to a plank, so that it took less effort to balance and I would only relapse by conscious choice. The main challenge was not fapping per se, but dealing with the big triggers, namely the continuing depression and loneliness of separation.
Around day 65, something changed. I felt I was coming to terms with being alone. That I could live the rest of my life without a woman or sex if necessary. The prospect felt a bit sad and cold, but it no longer agitated me at all. I read some Stoic texts at this time which were a big help.
At day 75, I met a woman at a friend's birthday party - she was very attractive, and also a recent divorcee. I didn't feel exceptionally confident, but neither did I suffer from any lack of self-esteem as before. I just felt good to be in my skin. I also felt capable of talking about my feelings, both in relation to my situation and in relation to her. And I felt confident enough to get her number, and to follow up on the initial contact, so that despite some initial resistance we became friends and started seeing each other every day, or almost. She said what made the difference was my capacity to express my feelings so well and to be so natural.
Yesterday, on day 90, we slept together for the first time. My performance was not great, because I'd drunk a fair amount at dinner, but she didn't seem to notice and looked like she really enjoyed herself. Somehow the whole ED issue just didn't seem like such a big deal any more. We'll see where this goes from here.
A couple of other things to mention. I did hard-mode throughout these 90 days, with the exception of that one night on day 35. I did not edge or watch porn at all.
What I did do, and I feel it set my progress back somewhat, was look from time to time at a stash of erotic pictures I had of my ex. This didn't count as porn, as these were pictures I'd taken - but, well, it was borderline. I deleted them several times, but then used file recovery software to get them back later. I guess I was still too attached. Now I intend to get rid of them for good, with some proper erasing software. So that was the weak spot in my 90 days. Not perfect by any means.
What also helped me a lot was doing art therapy classes every week, sometimes several times a week. This taught me to get in touch with what was going on inside and give it a concrete expression on canvas. All my emotional states became more fluid, and I felt a direct benefit in communicating with people because I could get in touch with my feelings and put them into words so easily. Of course, the only reason it worked in the first place was that nofap moved me out of the state of emotional numbness in which I'd been years. Exercise also helped - I've been doing martial arts regularly through this period.
One area in which I've had a lot of difficulty is work. My concentration is down, now that there are no quick fixes for anxiety or depression; and also my motivation is down, because it seems more important to spend time with other people than hanging around alone with my laptop. Still, I'm doing enough to get by.
In retrospect, the whole business of masturbating for hours in front of a screen, alone in the middle of the night, while my partner and children slept, seems so sad and such a waste of time and opportunities, whole years that I will never recover.
All my gratitude goes out to you, fellow nofappers, for your wisdom and support in getting me out of this self-made hell. I hope this post helps motivate someone, so I can give back a little to the community. Thank you.
LINK - 90-day report (older guy)
by draconis 91 days