I’m 26. I first ran into internet pornography in my early teens, and would definitely classify myself as a heavy user. It was rare for me to miss a day. I was until recently still a virgin. I first saw mentions of NoFap when I joined Reddit, and I utterly laughed at the “losers” there. I had always been told there was nothing wrong with masturbation or porn, and watching porn was talked about as being totally normal if it was ever brought up (“oh yeah, everyone does that”).
A year later (a year and 3 months ago) I began to realize there might be some legitimacy to the situation and the issues people are having, especially since I had seriously seen some shit. So I gave NoFap a shot.
I made it 20 days on my first try and thought hey this is easy, I don’t have a problem, I can totally just take a quick peak…Before I knew it I had binged and I felt utterly disgusted with myself. That’s when it first began to dawn on me that this was a real problem.
My list of reset badges on nofap is long. For a year I failed a TON. But I was making progress, and my new normal was at least 10 days of nofap/pornfree at a time, sometimes even longer (record of 1 month).
Until this point I had been using throwaways on the nofap/pornfree subreddits. I realized that this was because I was still scared to truly admit what my problem was, and I wasn’t really letting go. I was still heavily addicted and thought if I could just put it aside for a while, I’d be good to go in a few months and could go back to abusing porn. The brain is brilliant at getting us to do awful things if we’ve warped it through abuse.
After a year of trial and error I finally decided to not hide behind throwaways, and to use my main reddit account. This sense of accountability was very helpful in achieving my goals. It meant I had embraced that this was me, and that I had to deal with the problem head on, not hide behind anonymity nor wallow in shame.
I was on the right track by this time. What tipped me over into what I hope is full success was evolving a relationship with a long time friend of mine. I at this point was fully aware of how broken I was, and that I was suffering from PIED. Since I already was comfortable with my girlfriend due to being long time friends, and very open with her about everything, I early on confided in her about my greatest shame, porn addiction, to warn her that it could have a real, negative effect on our relationship. To my great happiness, she was (and is) very supportive, and that was enough to give me certainty that I had moved on, and that with my previous year of experience figuring out what triggered me and how my brain manipulated my actions at times, along with the increased self confidence from longer and longer successes, I was closing that dark chapter of my life and leaving it behind me.
So here I am, over 90 days in now, and I feel like I’m strong enough to avoid the harmful crap that is porn for the rest of my life. It has no place in my life, that’s for certain.
Also, after 90 days of non-hardmode pornfree/nofap, I can say I see some improvement with my PIED. Nowhere near fixed, but it’s definitely better.
To sum up, some protips that I found useful in my struggle:
1) Accountability matters. Don’t hide behind throwaways. Embrace the fact that this is who you are. You are flawed, but you’re not beyond hope. The fact that you’re here means you’re bettering yourself. Always better yourself.
2) NoFap hardmode is very, very hard for a porn addict. I think leaning more heavily toward PornFree (ie avoiding P, not necessarily MO) is better. It certainly helped me transition from relapsing and binging to the streak that I’m on now (90+ days of both nofap and pornfree, but not hard mode). For me it also helped me realize the depth of my issue as without porn, masturbation alone showed me how desensitized I was, and that I was suffering from PIED. That motivates, trust me.
tl;dr 90 days, woo! If I could do it, you can do it too!