Similar to how it happens to many guys growing up with the internet, it started out as innocent hormonal curiosity. At age 12 I was absolutely captivated by Victoria’s Secret magazines (which obviously were not mine) and racy scenes from anime shows.
This eventually led to me searching for “sexy anime girls” on the internet and masturbating to pictures of anime girls as well as real girls in bikinis. This progressed into a habit of masturbating to pictures on the internet. Overtime this requires racier and racier images until eventually I was looking at porn.
I remember the very first time I saw porn I found it on the internet by accident and I was repulsed by it. However, since I required increasingly more mature content to masturbate I eventually ended up seeking it out intentionally. It’s safe to say that by age 13 I was addicted to porn and masturbation, I just didn’t know it yet.
Since sex is not discussed openly in most American families, I kept all of my activities a secret from my family and even my friends. Nobody knew. Not only had I become addicted but it was a secret and one that I was ashamed of. I didn’t know my curiosity was normal and I also felt it was morally wrong. Our societal views of sex left me feeling deeply ashamed. I wanted to interact with real girls my age but the porn just made me more afraid of the opposite sex.
By age 15, I already wanted to stop using porn. I tried to stop and when I failed numerous times it became apparent that yes, I was addicted. My failure to overcome the addiction and stop porn lead to further shame and low self-esteem, which naturally lead to more porn to medicate how bad I felt. This is a vicious cycle that is hard to break free from and greatly harmed my confidence.
My early attempts to beat porn addiction consisted of repeatedly trying to stop “cold turkey” and using my will power to quit. This did not work. Cold turkey is a flawed method for overcoming addiction because when you fail to win you will look internally for what went wrong. You ask yourself “what is wrong with me?” or “why am I not strong enough?”. This is self-defeating and again will result in medicating with yet more porn. This was really the only method I tried for years (talk about not learning from failure). My addiction lasted for 10 YEARS.
So, how did I finally overcome my addiction? Here’s the process I went through which eventually led to my ability to overcome porn addiction. First, at age 20 I had my first girlfriend (don’t judge) and decided to tell her about the porn addiction. She was the first person I talked to about it so I had been bottling it up for 7 years! Talking about it really helped to lift a weight off my shoulders and lessen the shame. It actually didn’t bother her that much but I was still determined to quit. This led me to try some deep research and new techniques. I bought several books on porn addiction including The Porn Trap: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Problems Caused by Pornography and the eBook Ten Keys to Breaking Pornography Addiction. I also used X3watch free online accountability software with my girlfriend as the accountability partner. This software would send my girlfriend emails detailing any suspicious websites I visited. This greatly discouraged me from watching porn but I would occasionally find ways around it such as using my cell phone or someone else’s computer to look at porn. I kept trying but… I kept failing.
I finally realized that all of my approaches were very reactive in nature, almost like responding to an emergency. They were also negative and very much like trying to focus all of your energy on NOT doing something. But as we know, human nature doesn’t work this way. So, at age 24 I did a ton more research into really understanding porn addiction. I researched questions like is it a real addiction, how does it work, and what are the side effects. The highlights of my research can be found in my other blog posts (links, videos, and resources). From really understanding porn addiction, I was finally able to forgive myself for the addiction and just focus on what I would be achieving instead.
At this point I implemented a strategy that allowed me to quit my addiction for good. I looked at each day independently and would say “I will beat porn addiction today”, and count each day I overcame it. My research made me start to look at porn repulsively after realizing how the industry works. It’s all acting, the porn stars are on drugs or alcohol, and the women are exposed to terrible treatment and manipulation. As if this wasn’t enough they aren’t even allowed to practice safe sex. This started to crush my desire for porn. Additionally, I made positive goals for why I wanted to overcome porn addiction. My goals included being a better partner (to be better at sex and intimacy by removing the influence of porn). Additionally, I wanted to overcome porn addiction to increase my productivity and be a better person. Porn was not who I am and it was time for me to be true to myself. I began using the substitution trigger; anytime I got a desire for porn or started to search for it I would immediately stop what I was doing and go do something to expend my energy (run, workout, work on my car, hang out with friends). All of these strategies together allowed me to end a 10 year struggle with porn addiction and come out of it feeling like a different person.
I suddenly felt confidence I never knew was possible. My self-esteem was greater than ever before. I was doing new things with my life and I finally became comfortable with the opposite sex. There was one negative symptom after quitting and that was trouble masturbating using my imagination. My sex drive had been impacted by porn but this healed within a few months and was not permanent. Ultimately, overcoming porn addiction is the best thing I ever did for myself. It’s like starting with a clean slate and suddenly I feel like I have my whole life in front of me… and I can do anything. No limitations.
BY – p.enlightenment