I never thought I’d be writing a success story on the forums. After over a year of reading the forums, relapsing over and over and over again, I decided to get serious and actually join the forum, find an accountability partner,
and start a daily journal (which you can read here). I’m now on day 32 of my hard-mode challenge and well on my way to the coveted 90-day milestone.
The Science of NoFap: A Very Short Summary
To begin, I started NoFap primarily because I was convinced by the science of porn addiction, which shows that negative brain-related changes occur as a result of porn use. Here is a quick rundown of how that works, in layman’s terms:
To do anything as humans, we have to be motivated in some way or another to do it. But what is motivation, actually? It turns out that motivation can be basically reduced to one type of interaction happening in the brain: The binding of dopamine (a molecule in the brain) to dopamine receptors.
So how does porn use play into this? Well, it turns out, as you might expect, that the most “motivational” activity we can engage in is sex. Our brains are hardwired to motivate us to have sex with as many different women as possible. Porn allows us to do that to the extreme! To our brains, using porn while masturbating is like winning the biggest jackpot of all time, so as a result a HUGE and unnatural amount of dopamine is released every time we watch porn. When that dopamine binds to the receptors, we get the phenomenon of “motivation”, or urges, as we like to call it.
Over time, because these receptors are being bombarded by so much dopamine, the brain compensates by decreasing the number of receptors (called downregulation). With fewer dopamine receptors, you now need more extreme forms of porn to get the same effect as before, which is why almost all of us started off with soft porn and moved towards ridiculously hardcore porn. But there is another bigger problem with having fewer dopamine receptors: Less motivation in life IN GENERAL, which manifests as laziness and low-energy.
Also, fewer dopamine receptors have been implicated in anxiety and depression. And so, when you give up porn, your brain gradually reverses the damage that has been done, starts increasing those dopamine receptors, and as a result, “superpowers” emerge as you experience what life without porn is actually like.
My Experience Thus Far
Before I begin, please understand that I am an open-minded but skeptical person: I am careful with my words and I value truth above all else. Consequently, I will try my best here to represent my experience without exaggerating or leaving out any important details.
First off, there are inherent changes that have occurred in my life as a result of not fapping. Even though I was trying to implement other personal-development strategies in my life while these past 30 days (like meditation, exercise, etc), I can say with good certainty that the changes I’m about to describe are due to giving up porn, and not these other strategies, primarily because I did not take these other strategies seriously and so they have had, I would say, an insignificant impact on my life compared to not fapping.
The first and most prominent change I experienced is less social anxiety, and more confidence. If you read my journal, in the first entry you will see that I describe myself as “insecure” and “not comfortable in my own skin.” Now I am happy to say that those descriptions are obsolete. As a result of not fapping, I have experienced a considerable surge in courageous activity. So in situations where I am fearful or anxious, I am now much more likely to act DESPITE the fear and/or anxiety. Therefore, moving into my fear in this way has noticeably changed the way I interact with other people. I now find myself striking up conversations with people I don’t even know, I look at people in the eyes as I walk past them, and I am much more willing to make a fool of myself in front of others. But to be fair, I still have social anxiety. I am still afraid of being rejected by others, but the extent of that fear is, like I said, considerably less. And the most important thing of all, in regards to less social anxiety, is that I see a way out. I know that if I keep this up, things will only get better. For the first time in a while I actually feel that I can master myself and be entirely or almost entirely emotionally independent of what other people think about me.
The second most prominent change (this might even be the first because it’s so obvious) is being sexually charged almost all the time. This translates into having more mental and physical energy than before, and being more motivated to take action in my life. Before, in all my attempts when I relapsed, I used to have this compulsion to expel my sexual energy because I found it uncomfortable to be carrying such a huge amount of life-force. Now, I can happily say that I am genuinely beginning to enjoy the sexual energy and the urges. I think this is what being a man is about: Being grounded in your own energy, and directing it to areas of your life as you see fit (instead of just releasing it every chance you get). On that note, while I am still somewhat compulsive about porn use (I would love to watch some porn right now), I am also starting to enjoy NOT using porn. So if this continues, I expect that in the future, as you might expect, abstaining from porn will become more and more effortless.
For the third change, I have to extrapolate: My challenge is hard-mode, meaning that I cannot even have sex or orgasm, so I have not been able to test out what kind of affect this will have on my sex life. As my journal explains, I only had sex with one girl over a period of 3 years, and our sex life was alright, except for the fact that many times I would get sexually anxious and not be able to get it up. Also I was totally unable to have sex with a condom on and had to make excuses to not embarrass myself. The reason, I think, is because I was so acclimated to have sexual pleasure through only a particular form of stimulation (hand-to-penis while watching porn).
Now that I’m on day 30, my erections are crazy hard and I actually have to put in mental energy to make them go away. Also, my desire for sex is higher than ever before, and instead of fantasizing about porn stars, I’m starting to fantasize about real sex (although to be honest I am trying not to fantasize at all because it increases the chance of relapse and slows reboot). So, what I am trying to say is that I think if I was to get into a relationship that my sex life would be much better than if I were to get into a relationship 30 days ago. On that note, I’m starting to forget what porn is actually like. I have a vague memory of the pleasure of masturbating to porn, and porn itself seems like something I did so long ago. Again, as time goes on, I expect this will manifest even more so, ultimately to the point that association between porn and sexual pleasure will be gone entirely or almost entirely.
As for the rest of the changes, I’ll sum them up in this paragraph: My voice is noticeably deeper than before. My workouts are explosive. I have more self-respect and higher self-esteem, and I demand to be treated with respect. I am more comfortable with saying “no” to people without having to explain myself. I took the position as team manager (of an 8-person team) for a year-long business project that we have to do in pharmacy school. My motivation in life has increased but my self-discipline is still lacking; this is something I will be working on actively for the next 3 months and beyond. There are other changes, too, and some that are just starting to emerge, and others, I assume, that have not yet begun to showcase themselves.
One key take away from my 30-day journey so far is the realization those 30 days is not enough. Over many years, for some of us decades, we have programmed our brains to seek porn use as a form of pleasure, escape, and sexual release. To undo this, to rewire our brains, to change our subconscious minds, 30 days is not enough. I expect that 90 days is the minimum amount of time needed to solidify change, and the minimum amount of time anyone should go if they want to give NoFap a fair try. Keep in mind, also, that changes are on a spectrum, meaning that they don’t manifest all at once, but in fact become more apparent as you progress further along the NoFap journey.
My Advice for All Fapstronauts:
NoFap Forums and Accountability Partner: First and foremost, NoFap is a very useful community for anyone looking to give up porn or improve their lives in general. But if you only read NoFap posts and lurk on the website, then I would highly recommend that you get actively involved by making an account, or, if you haven’t already done so, start a journal or at least be actively engaged in thread discussions. Further, finding an accountability partner (AP) can be the difference between success and relapse for most of us. I know that for me it has been a pivotal part of my success. Most certainly, I would not have been able to get to 30 days without the help of my AP. There were many days in which I really wanted to go back to porn and give it all up, but I chose not to because I didn’t want to let my AP down. Now we Skype everyday and we have a strong relationship, supporting each other and being open about anything.
My advice for you guys would be to advertise yourself in the ‘Accountability Partners’ section of this forum by describing yourself, saying that you are looking for someone really serious, that you want to call or Skype every day, and how long you want to go with this person (for example, my AP and I agreed on the entire month of September and recently extended it to November and October). The goal with an AP is to develop a strong bond based on trust and openness–once you have that, the likelihood of relapse plummets. It can be the single most effective tool at your disposal for overcoming porn use. Understandably, however, some of you are hesitant to become open with someone regarding your porn use. It can be a little awkward at first, yes, but please understand that the small amount of initial anxiety is worth it. Face your fears and be willing to be vulnerable; if you do that, your AP will also open up and the journey will begin on the right foot.
Perspective: Proper perspective is everything. To do well in NoFap, you must think the right kinds of thoughts during urges. I suggest writing a letter to your future self who is considering relapsing. In the letter, explain to your future self why he should not give up on himself by reminding him of why you started in the first place. Tell him about the regret and shame he will experience after a temporary feeling of pleasure and about all the progress he will be losing if he relapses. Then, when you consider relapsing, go outside and read the letter.
If a letter to your future self is not your thing, that’s fine. Just adopt the right perspective anyway: Understand that the higher version of yourself DOES NOT engage in porn or masturbation. Therefore, to become that higher version, you must let go of porn; there’s no other way. Further, a really critical component of doing well is patting yourself on the back for all the progress you’ve made so far. Be in the habit of getting pleasure and joy from thinking about the fact that you made it X number of days without porn so far. ENJOY the fact that you are porn-free!!! Further, realize the fact that even if you do relapse, you’re probably not going to give up your challenge to not fap entirely. You already know and believe that not fapping will bring considerably good change to your life, so why repeat the X number of days you’ve already conquered? And if you do decide that you’re going to keep using porn, and then ask yourself, how long? How long will you keep using porn? 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? The amount of damage you will do to your life in the long-run will most certainly not be worth it. If you are able to stop now, you will save yourself so much trouble.
Besides, most of the suffering associated with quitting porn is concentrated in the first 90 days. After that, it should be smooth sailing. Even at 30 days it’s much easier than on day 1. As long as you’re participating in the challenge and actively trying to quit porn use, then you are part of the 0.001% of the population that has awakened to the negative effects of porn and is doing something about it. You should be proud of yourself just for getting that far. And lastly, contemplate your mortality: You will one day die (probably sooner than you think). What will your life look like from your deathbed? When you look back upon your life, will you see decades upon decades ruined by porn addiction, or will you see a pattern of self-mastery, of taking the hard way, of living a meaningful like? Think about it: you’re going to die anyway. Might as well do the right thing.
Miscellaneous: Remember how I said that porn use decreases your dopamine receptors which in turn makes you less motivated in life, and can make you more anxious and depressed? Well, it turns out that, in addition to quitting porn, there are other ways to increase your dopamine receptors and hence reverse the damage. One way is to meditate. Meditation can increase these receptors up to a whopping 65%. There are countless guides on the internet on how to meditate. The problem that most people face is that when they first start meditating, they become frustrated by the lack of results and give up. Just like NoFap, just like anything in life, you have to keep moving forward even if you are having difficulties; you can’t expect a McDonald’s sort of life where you get everything in an instant.
That also applies to exercise. Any sort of aerobic exercise 5 times a week will also increase dopamine receptors, but you have to stay disciplined. My suggestion is , if you’re not already meditating and exercising regularly, then just focus on NoFap until you can make it to between 30 and 90 days and then you can start adding on a routine of meditation and/or exercise. In my view, not fapping, meditation, and exercise constitute the tripod of personal success. Another activity not to be discounted is reading. If you are not already reading, I would recommend doing so for at least 30 minutes per day. I would recommend that you stick to personal development literature almost exclusively, because it is the most efficient way by which to develop yourself.
Guys, listen to me. If someone like me, a self-proclaimed “extremely lazy undisciplined” individual can do it, anyone can. And if you have relapsed many times in the past, well guess what, so did I. But here I am: I have no doubt in my mind that I will make it to day 90. What changed? Well, I smartened up and started taking actions that increase the likelihood of success instead of relapse. Posting on these forums, reading about the benefits of quitting porn, finding an accountability partner, meditating, exercising, and shifting my perspective all helped tremendously. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it can be done. It can most certainly be done.
If you have any questions, please post them in this thread and I’ll be happy to answer. Otherwise, if you want to keep up with my journal and watch my journey, click here; it would help me a lot. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and good luck to everyone!
by generic John