From fetish porn and loneliness to relationship with long-time crush

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After being a lurker for the longest time, I finally decided to make an account and post here, to give back to this helpful and supportive community. This will be a long post, detailing my journey, starting from the why, then narrating the hardships I faced and the ways I found to overcome them, followed by what changes I felt afterwards.

I sincerely hope that my story will motivate some of you and also give you some kind of insight into your life.

Why I decided to Quit

Porn is far too normalized everywhere these days. You will find people reiterating everywhere that it is perfectly okay to consume porn as long as it does not disrupt your social life and does not interfere with your professional life. This had always comforted me that I did not have a problem. After all, I have a bunch of close friends that I talk to often (even though we live in different cities after graduating college pretty recently). I am close with my family as well and I speak with my parents on the phone everyday. I graduated with Distinction and have a well paying job lined up. All this made me feel like I was not going wrong anywhere with the amount of porn that I consumed.

Before I quit, I was regularly masturbating to porn at least twice a day. Once in the morning and once right before bed. It was like a routine set in stone. But I never had any problem listed above and also never had any medical issues, so I had to be fine, right?

(Trigger warning for the next paragraph)

But then I came across this article (slightly NSFWish picture inside) which detailed the desensitization that one feels towards vanilla porn as time goes on, and that suddenly rang a bell somewhere in me. I started reading more and more on the effects that porn had on the brain. I realized how I myself starting from the most vanilla of porn, had moved to foot fetish porn quite early. Then slowly went on towards transgender porn, seeking novelty. Then when I felt like I had scoured most of it (at least most of the "good" ones anyway), I decided that even some crossdresser/sissy hypno clips do the trick for me, and so I wasted hours and hours searching for the perfect clip till I found one to my liking. Add to that, that I am a virgin, and I have no idea what "real" sex is like, and so these clips often made me feel unsure about my sexuality.

All this, combined with some failed previous (half-hearted) attempts to quit made me see the signs of addiction somewhere. I felt ashamed of myself and lost all self confidence for not being in control of my own mind and desires. This is what drove me to change.

How I started the Journey

The first step, and perhaps the most important one was to realize and admit that I had a problem. Once that was taken care of, the other things fell in place with some effort.

The first decision I made was to quit masturbation for the streak too, because porn and masturbation had become so intertwined in my head that I could not see one without the other. Every time I masturbated without porn I was still imagining scenes from my favorite porn movies, and it is said that it has the very same effect on the reward circuitry of the brain as watching porn directly. (I will use the terms porn and masturbation interchangeably from here on.)

I wasn't thinking too much about the future or even what I will get from the "reboot". I would simply push my will power to reach 90 days porn and masturbation free, that was the aim. What to do after that was a matter of later consideration (this helped because if the target seems to big then it is difficult to even start).

Once I had a clear goal in my head, I resolved with the utmost sincerity that I would keep working toward it. I had been so ashamed of my habits up until that point that I knew that if I did relapse after all that determination it would be really hard to look myself in the eye. This took the "safety net" away from me and the stakes were definitely higher this time around.

I decided to develop my will power like a muscle, gradually pushing it more and more. Without thinking too much about streaks, I realized that every time you deny yourself a porn session, it increases your self control. So for the first day I said to myself, that I will not masturbate the whole day that day. And I didn't. Then after a day or two, I went for a streak of 2 days. Then again after a few days, I started a three day streak, but then decided that I will continue that one for 90 days.

The Difficulties and Realizations

I admit that this was one of the hardest things that I have ever done in my life. I had non-fatal but very real withdrawal symptoms. There were a few days when I would just lay on the bed experiencing the strongest of cravings and feeling like screaming into a pillow. I was wincing and writhing in agony, but I also had a smile on my face. Because for the first time in my life, I was in control. I felt like a cleanse was definitely happening. It felt good.

Self denial thankfully got easier, one avoided porn session at a time. I felt more and more in control of what I was doing. Every day of the streak took some of my self loathing away and replaced it with a sense of pride and achievement.

Only a few days clean of porn, a major realization dawned on me. I noticed that I got horny when I took showers. I also felt the compulsion to turn to porn when I was happy. Then it hit me. I was not just masturbating twice a day. I was doing it way more than that without really paying attention to it. Showering was basically another word for masturbating in the shower to my mental "Best of" porn collection. In more stressful times like during exams, I looked to porn for relaxing and taking breaks, and the number went up way higher into the 4-5 times a day zone. When I was overjoyed I celebrated with porn. When I was sad I sought comfort in porn. When I was bored, I watched porn to kill time. Porn was my one stop coping mechanism for everything.

I also understood very clearly that I was not addicted to masturbation. I was very clearly craving the visual stimulus of porn. This is one piece of clarity that I had never seen coming. I had always thought that I masturbate more than some people because I have a higher sex drive, and that I merely watch porn to aid masturbation. Turns out I was absolutely wrong about that. It was actually porn that my addiction was feeding off of.

The most recent realization was also pretty interesting to me. When porn was suddenly gone from my life, I could feel the void of loneliness very clearly within me, that I had been trying to fill up with all the porn. I had never realized that I am a lonely from within (I often spend large periods of time away from home, friends and family for my studies and work in different countries, often experiencing major language barriers) and thus I had never even tried to take care of that problem. Instead, I unconsciously kept it submerged under an ocean of porn. Now that I knew about the real problem, it was one step closer to getting fixed.

The Steps I Took to Help My Streak

When you quit porn, you will be left with an overwhelming amount of time at your hands. It feels as if you are living 30 hour days somehow. It is very important to keep yourself occupied through that time. And here is the good thing about sudden urges, they go as fast they appear. So if you have a go-to response to an urge, it can pretty much be used every time to deal with it. The go-to action can be as simple as walking around for a few minutes, or drinking a glass of water, and in that way you can develop good habits while you break bad ones. The double joy translates into double motivation to keep going.

I made it a point to keep myself in public spaces like libraries, and in company as much as I can. This not only helped me in keeping myself in check, but also helped with the deeper problem of loneliness. Calling up old friends while you feel the urge is also a nice way to help in making you feel less lonely, and also taking away the urges really fast.

As another measure to fight urges, I always carried a book with me. One that requires a little bit of active work so that merely reading passively would not suffice. I used "Word Power Made Easy" by Norman Lewis. It was something that I had been putting off for 4 years literally, and I completed it in the 3 months of my streak. It was also another motivator for me to keep pushing.

If you have trouble sleeping without porn, you can start doing some physical activities, if you don't already. I started playing basketball for a while. It again helped in better socialization, better physique and overall health, and much better sleep at night.

As you can see, it was not only that I was not watching porn anymore. I went through a complete lifestyle change as a byproduct. I got so much more done during the day. I read a lot, wrote a lot. Started taking better care of myself by exercising. Made new friends, and strengthened old friendships. Taking a moment to recall and appreciate all this helped me continue my streak on the toughest of days.

But perhaps the biggest and most important thing that I managed to get right this time around was staying honest to myself. Previously when I tried to quit porn, I ultimately fell back into it because I tried to be all technical with it like "What is porn exactly?" I tried to define the boundaries, just so I could inch as close to them as possible. This is the single worst thing that you can do to yourself. You feel that sense of relief, while all you are doing is making the whole thing harder on yourself. This time I went with the rule that "If I need to ask about it, I am not going to watch it." And contrary to what I would have imagined, it is much easier to quit cold turkey like this than to pathetically try to fool yourself with some sort of justification as to why this clip of a nude lady is okay for you to watch. This might be challenging in a way because of the ubiquity of the porn in the mainstream culture. Everything from music videos, to TV shows, to Reddit AMAs often have a lot of pornographic content. At the first glance it may seem like there is nothing left for you to spend your free time on. But when you think about it there is a very big world outside movies and TV shows. Maybe pickup a guitar. Maybe start gardening. You do whatever you want to, but just stay away from anything that teases you. For those of you who take the badges seriously, this means that if you need to reset it, you should be honest with yourself and not indulge in a day of incessant porn watching as you have to reset the counter anyway. Realize that doing that you are only fooling yourself and destroying all that will power muscle gains that you have had to that point. Every porn session avoided is a step forward, even if it is right after a relapse.

One last crucial thing to keep in mind is to not only monitor your porn habits, but your behaviour in general. In my experience, when I left porn, I started eating more, until I realized that I was doing it as the alternative coping mechanism. So while it is important to keep your porn addiction in check, it is equally important to understand what void is porn filling in your life and start working towards healing it, so that you don't develop other addictions like gluttony or alcoholism while battling porn.

The Aftermath

I reached the 90 day mark on 4th of December 2017. It was not even a difficult decision to keep going from there. The benefits were immense. Showers were finally decoupled from porn imagination sessions. All the porn videos that seemed to be seared into my brain were now merely vague outlines, which would disappear completely in some time. The words like blonde and brunette no longer remind me of PornHub thumbnails of these categories.

About 5 months of being porn free I found a loving girlfriend and when I mentioned about my struggle and recovery from porn, she told me that porn consumption is a deal breaker for her, and that she was ecstatic that I was free from it. I felt really lucky that day because this girl had been a long-standing crush of mine.

11 months into my journey the hardships are really few and far between. Sometimes I feel a residual triggering when I hear even innocuous mentions of transgender people. Sometimes I click on an NSFW AskReddit for a juicy sex story. But fortunately, I am now able to realize when I am trying to fool myself and back out of there immediately without doing much damage.

One last positive change that I felt was towards the way I looked at women. Now I am much more respectful and no longer imagine every woman I see around me as a character in my sexual fantasies. It's funny how as soon as I learnt that my life didn't depend on porn, my stance on exploitation in the industry went from a ignorant and dismissive "No, everything is consensual and properly choreographed and the industry is spotless for the most part" to a compassionate and sympathetic "Yes there is a lot of exploitation and objectification going on in the industry".

I hope this description helps you understand yourself better, and maybe acknowledge if you have a problem. I recommend everyone to try staying porn free for a while, even if you don't feel like it is causing any issues. In most cases you will learn a thing or two about yourself. I certainly feel all the more resolute to keep going after recollecting from where I started and all the progress that I have made.

I wish you all the best in your own endeavours.

LINK - The How and Why of my 11 Months Free of Porn

By no_pmo_throwaway