Age 30 – ED & girlfriend: 52 days we reached our goals

So, I guess y’all know why I decided to write this up. The same reason you’re currently reading this. On september 5th I started this reboot with a good mind, fully determined, hopefull, fearful – and most importantly as it turned out: the full support of my girlfriend. 52 days later we reached the goals we’d set.

I’m a 30 year male, just a normal guy like the rest of you. I’ve seen the same progression as most of you have, starting with innocent nude pictures in magazines, progressing into downloading hardcore photo’s from the internet over an annoyingly slow dail-up connection. That turned into VHS and DVD once I was allowed to have a TV in my room, then came high-speed internet. Now at the age of about 16, I could access all the porn I wanted, anytime. About a year later I met my first real girlfriend and everything was working as it should. At this stage, I’d describe my porn usage as normal. It was just something on the side, it didn’t affect my life in any way… Then about 3 years later, after breaking up with my second girlfriend, I concentrated on finishing school and getting my life organized. What followed were 7 years of exclusively getting off on porn. I didn’t see the harm in what I was doing. I would normally masturbate 3 or 4 times a week, with an occasional bout of “binging”: 3 times a day, or multiple times over the weekend… I was lucky enough not to descend into the darker sides of this addiction, and although lesbian porn would not do it for me anymore, a good compilation of “endings” would definitely get me off.

I didn’t see the errors of my ways until I finally met my current girlfriend. What happened there, well… read on. I started keeping a journal but kept it offline, as I didn’t know for sure if I wanted to push it out into the world. We both decided that I should, not in the least to give back to the community that helped us make sense of a lot of weird stuff that was happening along the way.

The Beginning:

What should have been a great night with my girlfriend of two (very intense) weeks ended with the both of us in the bathroom crying, frustrated and confused. We had been trying to have sex several times over two weeks, and during that time my frustration about my failing performance had been growing. I didn’t know what was happening. I used to get rock hard just watching a topless woman on the beach. I used to fantasise in the shower and masturbate on fantasy alone without a problem. I even used to have sex without a hiccup and to orgasm without exception. And here’s one of the most beautiful, sexiest, hottest girls I’ve ever seen right next to me, naked. Giving me head. Having sex with me… Why the hell isn’t it staying hard now??? It should be enough for her to sit on my lap – fully dressed – to get me going! I was really doubting myself and trying to find an explanation. Maybe it was too soon; we didn’t know each other that long after all. Maybe it was the legacy of my previous relationship two years earlier, which ended on a very bad note. Whatever it was, it wasn’t her; after all she was everything a guy could want in a woman. Like one guy said: in my mind I know she is hot and I should be hard, but it doesn’t reach my penis. Somewhere the cable is cut, or being diverted. So it had to be me…

In any case, fortunately we had the chance to talk a bit before she had to leave, and we got a grip on it – sort of. I finally confessed I didn’t have a clue what was wrong (something I should have done much earlier), which she accepted. But inside I was still completely off. I was struggling to find an answer and I couldn’t. I wanted her to know that too, but I couldn’t even put it into words in my head – let alone say it to her in a coherent sentence. Something had to change, that we both knew. And it had to change fast or our budding relationship would be doomed.

DAY 1)

I woke up after a night of sleeping like a rock, but emotionally I was done. I had some errands to run in the morning, and that went fine, but alone in my car thinking about what had happened, how I felt and worse – how I made my girl feel, I couldn’t keep my eyes from tearing up. Around noon I finally got the chance to start asking Google to find some answers – and through some forum I finally got to I started reading the articles and suddenly things started to fall into place. I was ticking a whole lot of boxes that finally led to that OMFG moment. I used to get rock hard just watching a topless woman on the beach? Yes, that was 15 years ago. I used to fantasise in the shower and masturbate on fantasy alone without a problem? Yes, but I can’t even remember when that was. Certainly not in the last eight years. I even used to have sex without a hiccup and to orgasm without exception? Yes, that was seven years ago. What happened in the meantime? I was masturbating, and I was doing it to porn almost without exception. And although I didn’t have the progression that some report, I can see a clear difference between what got me going ten years ago and what it takes these days. These days lesbian porn simply doesn’t do it for me, but I can remember it made me cum again and again. I can also see a clear difference between the degree of erection, it went from rock hard to maybe 70~80% hard at today’s porn stimulation… Morning wood? Used to have that much more frequently than I do now, although I sometimes do have one. Sometimes.

One overlooked side-effect also plays a role – I’m positive it does. When masturbating, I use quite different pressure than a woman would, either with her hands, mouth or vagina. Figure it out: seven years of exclusively masturbating with too much pressure compared to the real deal… My sexy, hot, beautiful girlfriend didn’t stand a chance replicating the sensation I was used to and expecting – and… requiring. No woman would be physically able to do that!

So basically I had been sabotaging my libido and brain for half my life, and setting myself up for failure and frustration with a real-life partner. When I realised this, and how much pain and hurt could have been avoided for myself – and more importantly my girlfriend, I was disgusted with myself. I don’t know why, since everybody seemed to think it was harmless, me included. I did know about porn-related ED, but in the documentary I’d seen they were talking about porn addicts. By no means did I consider myself an addict and compared to the people in the documentary I think nobody would have labelled me an addict. But it became clear to me from reading online it’s not only the frequency that does the damage. It’s the longevity that’s just as damaging.

By the end of the afternoon I had emailed my girlfriend that I found something, but couldn’t tell her what just yet. She insisted to send her some links and finally I did. I had confidence she wouldn’t freak out because of how she is, but I wasn’t completely sure of it either.

That night I called her on the phone, and we basically didn’t talk about it – I had asked her not to talk about it on the phone earlier because I wanted to do that face-to-face. She understood, but did tell me not to worry too much about it. That was really good to know. Although she would be able to come over and stay the night, we kind of both agreed that it would be best for both of us to sleep alone to let everything sink in and get some rest. Then she’d come over Thursday morning and stay until Sunday, and we’d talk about everything face-to-face.

Side note: If you’re in a relationship, tell her! I cannot stress this enough. Do NOT keep this from your partner; she isn’t stupid and will either figure it out on her own and resent you for not trusting her, or she will sooner or later recognize something is wrong and will leave you eventually because you won’t share with her. Yes, she may run for the door if you tell her, but she will definitely do that if you don’t. (my girl confessed to me that if I hadn’t opened up or hadn’t involved her she would probably have been on her way out in a couple of weeks – which would have been devastating to me. I really believe she and I click on so many levels, I truly believe she’s the one for me – something I haven’t felt before with anyone. So if you feel even remotely the same way about your partner, do NOT chance it. Just tell her!!)

Make sure she understands it’s got nothing to do with her personally or physically. Your brain is messed up and nothing she did or didn’t do, nothing she did or didn’t say could have made any difference. Make sure she understands this is something that you can fix and that you need her beside you for that.

Agree to a number of intimacy rules that you and her will not allow each other to break – however tempting. At the time I’m writing this, I just told my girlfriend three days ago. She was wonderful in dealing with it which was very comforting for me as well. As situations come up though (like last night in bed after showering together), she’s slowly realizing it’s going to be tough for her as well. She is a very sexual person and she sees that no sex is going to be hard for her. So make sure your girlfriend understands she needs to be in as well. But whatever she does or doesn’t do, you should keep your resolve to reboot.

Personally, I have no doubt at this point the next few weeks will not always be smooth sailing in our relationship, but I’m also sure she is going to be key in getting through this and that she will be there alongside me all the way. And I just know that when we emerge on the other side, it will bring the two of us even closer together. We’ve talked about all of it – from how the signals she was receiving from me fit into this to how messed up I felt after that fateful Tuesday night – and have searched all over for tips on rebooting while in a relationship. We noticed not a lot of information is available on the subject, so we’ve talked about that as well – in fact we kind of decided on a framework of rules last night.

Basically, I will not stimulate myself in any way on my own. If I do, I should tell her (actually, she made me promise, but I already decided for myself I would do that whether I had promised it or not) and we’ll talk about it and try to find a way to avoid making the same mistakes over and over. When we are together, whatever happens from kissing, cuddling, skin-to-skin contact between our bodies, happens. We consider this to be good arousal, since it stems from her interacting with me. We believe this will help my brain re-learn that this is the kind of stimulation it needs to respond to. We also agreed that orgasms for me are out of the question for the first few weeks, and that as time progresses we will re-evaluate how to proceed. In the meantime, I can do anything short of penetration to her. We both know she is going to need that, and for me again, it might help my brain re-learn that this is the kind of affection that it should react to.

In closing, I like to share what I did to make sure I don’t get tempted: as soon as I made the decision to stop PMO, I threw away all my nasty bookmarks, I deleted any porn from my computer and downloaded a filter (K9 Web Protection) to cut off the internet-based crap. I even gave my girlfriend my poster of Keeley Hazell to stash away somewhere safe. What I could only do with my girl present the next day though, was delete the big stash on my network drive… But I did it too, so I can say my house is now completely free of porn.

Day 12 – Sunday

Well, it didn’t happen yesterday, but it sure did today: we had sex for the first time since starting the reboot. It was really something! My erection was strong (not full 100% but definitely stronger than before) and stayed that way all through the “deed”. And she was even riding on top of me the whole time – something that would be an erection-killer not too long ago. When she came, we decided to stop there (I couldn’t cum anyway, so there wasn’t really a reason to continue). When she dismounted, we were both a little surprised to find my little friend still saluting with pride! That, my friends, was a change from before!

Other things I noticed were my body was much more “tuned-in” to the whole experience. It felt good, I could feel that arousal surging through me. I concentrated on that feeling and found it helped keep my erection going. I would look at my girlfriend and see her horny look and feel her body on mine, which was a major turn on. Before, I would have been concentrating on keeping my erection, which then of course I couldn’t… I also noticed more sensation in my penis when I was inside her, which was great. But it wasn’t yet where it needs to be… but hey, we’re only a week-and-a-half in; can’t expect miracles to happen over-night now can we?

Day 16 ~ 22

Well, I’ve hit withdrawal that’s for sure. What a week. Good days, mixed with completely shitty days, sleepless nights, cravings, mood swings… I’ve been alone for a few days and that scared the crap out of me, since that was a bad combo: tired from night shifts, cravings and being alone. How I got through that without M’ing I don’t know… All I know is since my girl got back on Saturday (and staying until next Tuesday) my head is somewhat straight now.

 Day 22 ~ 36

Well, so far there are a few observations to make that seem to trend throughout the process so far. First, emotions. They’re all over the place. I can go from not giving a shit about anything to getting ticked off by the slightest stupid thing in a matter of hours. One day I feel great, only to feel like crap the next. Funny thing is, these seem to be inversely related to the quality of sleep the night before: after a good night’s sleep I typically have bad days (strange as that may be), while I have great days after a night of sleeping crappy.

Second, erection strength is still improving. I can have sex with my lovely girl and still have a raging boner (even when she’s grinding on top) when she’s done. It stays hard for longer, that’s for sure. I do notice the regular morning wood of a week or two ago has subsided, so far as it happens only occassionally. Although strength is improving, sensibility is lagging behind a bit. I do feel more than I did at the beginning, but I didn’t have a moment during sex that I came close to orgasm. I do feel the first signs, that slight increase of arrousal, but I can still go on for longer than I would like to.

I also really felt what a dopamine rush feels like. You don’t know what it feels like if you’re hooked on porn and do PMO multiple times a week. Now that I’ve been off of that for a couple of weeks, I could immediately say it was a dopamine rush when I had one. The way it happened was kind of stupid. I fell asleep one night with the TV still on. It was about two hours later that I woke from the sound and there was a program on that is kind of sexually oriented. It’s one of those that shows you a girl getting naked slowly while they try to have you call a sex hotline or something like that. Needless to say, in the state I was in (half asleep) my body reacted to the imagery on the screen with a boner. Before I knew what was happening, I was jerkin’ the turkey. Two things saved me from a full orgasm: first I wasn’t using a full hand grip. Just two fingers lightly stroking. Second, as soon as I felt the rush of dopamine, I realised what I was doing and it actually felt uncomfortable. You feel it in your head, in your chest and in your penis. Your heart starts racing and your penis gets what feels like a shot of blood to make it stiffer and more sensitive. As I said, I didn’t actually orgasm, but here’s the thing: I think I got enough of a chaser effect from the dopamine that I was feeling it well into the next week.

My girl also noticed it. It happened on Thursday night and I told her the next night. Four days later she sat me down and told me she was noticing a definite increase in sexual interest from me. She actually felt somewhat uncomfortable about it, and felt a bit pressured. The thing is, I got hard from the slightest kiss and then got horny as we continued to make out. I thought she was overreacting at the time, but then I realised she had a point. I think it has to do with the dopamine.

One last thing I want to note: having my girl by my side is key. If it wasn’t for her, I would have relapsed and probably given up weeks ago. But the thought of having to tell her I relapsed and see the hurt in her eyes and on her face, that would just break my heart. And that’s keeping me from going off the cliff. I’m really lucky to have her. She puts up with all my crap and still is right there to comfort me, to love me… she’s just incredible. I can’t imagine having to go through this alone and be successfull. I take off my hat and bow deeply to those who have to go through this alone. You are stronger than most, of that I’m sure.

Day 37 ~ 52

Well, another two weeks past and the improvements are becoming more and more obvious. These days, my erections are pretty close to 100% and they last – boy do they last. They start during foreplay, heated kissing and cuddling, and they last all the way through sex, in basically any position. Then they still hang around for some time afterwards (since I didn’t orgasm, there’s no reason for them to deflate instantly). So I’d say that’s a 100% success. I guess you could say my ED has vanished.

Cravings, well… I did have some occasionally, but it seems to be easier to deal with them. One thing I did notice: I recently got a new tablet, and there isn’t really an effective way to block porn on those things. Basically, there are apps out there that either function great or not at all, but all are easily circumvented which defeats the whole idea to begin with. So, while this tablet was sitting around with no protection on it, it seemed I had more instances where I was thinking about using it to look up porn. Luckily I didn’t, and in the meantime I found a way to effectively block pretty much all access to porn from my home, no matter which device I’m using: OpenDNS. I just entered their DNS servers into my router configuration and presto! Now, that may seem to be a weak protection… just change the DNS configuration again and that’s it. But in practice, it takes a few steps to do that, and since I don’t know (nor want to know) the IP addresses of my old DNS servers, I have to find those first. I find it to be too much hassle. This simple step (K9 is still running on every Windows PC in the house) works remarkably well: it gives me peace of mind. I simply don’t have the urge to look up porn because my brain seems to have accepted the fact it can’t be done from my home. And so it thinks about other things – usefull things.

The only point I’m desperately wanting more improvement is sensitivity. My ED is basically gone, but my sensitivity is such that I still have DE. There are two positions me and my lovely girl have tried recently that can get me there if continued long enough. What’s bothering me (and my girl for sure!) is my sensitivity during a blowjob. It feels good (and much much better than two months ago) and an erection is pretty much guaranteed, but I wish I was more sensitive – to the extend that I can actually cum from a blowjob alone. That’s not the case yet, and I know it weighes on my girl. She prides herself on her BJ skills and I can definitely say it’s better than I had anytime before. But she’s noticing as well it’s not going to make me finish just yet. She tends to take it personally by thinking it’s her skills. But it isn’t, it’s my sensitivity! And while I told her as much, it still is a painfull issue for her. So I hope my sensitivity returns soon – as in: yesterday please!! Not just for my own pleasure of course :-D. I also want her to feel as proud as she should be feeling. She deserves that. It has been too long for her (not her words, but I really wish I wouldn’t have to be doing this to her).

One more note: today (day 52) we had sex and tried a new position that is very hot (we both like it, so I guess it’s a keeper 😛 ) and I actually had to stop to avoid orgasm. While that is great news in itself (and made my girl smile) it also triggered a feeling I’ve been carrying around for about a week. I want to. I want to orgasm, I want the both of us to feel satisfied after sex. I want to give her that ultimate confirmation that things have improved to a level that makes normal sex possible. I’ve been carrying this feeling around for a few days but I’m torn between the urge and need to go for it, and the fear of ruining a good run. What if I get a chaser effect? I had that before after the midnight-TV incident and I’d rather not repeat that. On the other hand, with all the filters and DNS protection in place, I wouldn’t be able to relapse to porn anyway even if I wanted to. Besides, judging from various forum posts on the subject, more than a few people are have sex to orgasm while rebooting. Then again, what else in terms of progress would be affected? I know, and my girl said this as well, you can’t tell in any case. If I do it, I’ll never be able to compare it to what would have happened if I hadn’t, and vice versa. So… what to do? I’m leaning towards going for it. I’ll report my findings later 😀

Day 53

So… this is very positive. We had sex, and I orgasmed. In the days following the orgasm, I didn’t experience any chaser effect. I think we can call that a result. The goals we set 2 months ago, I think we can consider met. I am able to have normal intercourse with my beautiful girlfriend and I am able to finish without having ED, PE or DE. I still think my sensitivity can improve, but I think this reboot is almost done. Obviously, I should stay away from porn. I also think I still have some of the addiction pathways remaining in my brain – don’t ask me why I feel that way, I just do. As long as I’m not convinced my brain has erased every last bit of “bad wiring” I will leave all my protections in place. It might be overkill, but the last thing we want now is to muck about and “relapse”.

So what happens now? Well, like I said, porn is out and I want it to stay that way. I will also keep the counter going until I reach 100 days. All my filters will remain in place at least until then as well. When I get there, we’ll see…

And of course, I cannot end this journal without a little tribute to the most special girl in the world, who stood by me every step of the way and gave me support, understanding, love, advise. Who didn’t run for the door when I told her, but settled in to face what was coming even though she had her own fears and worries about the whole situation. She has written this before and she’s absolutely right: this whole process has made us both stronger and took our relationship to a level that few will reach. It will be able to withstand anything after this.

I guess I’ll report back on day 100.

From my girl’s journal:

Reading everything again, I feel love flowing through my body. The past few weeks haven’t been easy. Not for me, but certainly not for him. I have struggled with an addiction in past myself. I don’t want to go into detail, but I could fully understand what he was feeling, and actually I knew it was probably worse for him. Many times I wished I could take it all on myself. Many times I worried about him while I was working. I didn’t sleep well, I was tired a lot of the time. And it came to a point he would just keep stuff from me for a couple of days, just so I could relax a little and get some rest. I didn’t want that, but I think it was necessary now and then. The biggest problem for me, was the fact I could only talk to him about it, but around him I wanted to be strong for him. I wasn’t the victim, he was. I had to be strong, to be there for him.

I never had any regrets. I would do it all again, for him I would do just about anything. Because this whole thing has really brought us closer together. So close in fact, we picked a date to move in together. I don’t know if all this made us want to be together even more, or if we already were a super match. I don’t know. I guess we’ll never really find out. I’m really, really proud of him. I think it’s great what he’s done. Anything I went through pales in comparison.

 LINK TO JOURNAL -Releasing the demon – success after a little over 2 months

by sgtbean