I’m a smart and disciplined guy. I believe in learning from the mistakes of others. I know that I swing into the extremes of things (oh doing magic tricks are cool… so I’ll spend all my time learning magic tricks). I was warned about tobacco and alcohol. I’ve never tried either because I knew that I didn’t want to get hooked and wanted to be happy without them. No one ever warned me about the perils of masturbation.
I probably started at around 14 years old. Without much opportunity or content, it wasn’t really a problem until I moved out for college. With unmonitored high speed internet it quickly became a problem (though I didn’t recognize it as a problem). I really regret that I didn’t get more out of my college experience. I didn’t do much in the way of making friends, joining clubs, or trying to meet girls. I got good grades and a good degree, but there is more to college than that and I deeply regret not taking more advantage of all there was to offer.
I got a good job out of college and lived on my own which didn’t help the problem. It was probably 2 years after college when I found this sub and YBOP. I realized then that I had a major problem. During the next four years, while I repeatedly tried to stop, I had several streaks of a couple of weeks, but then the relapses were frequent and intense.
I didn’t really have any strategies besides “I’ll stop tomorrow”. But tomorrow always had another tomorrow around the corner with another clean slate to tempt me. “I’ll stop tomorrow, this time for real”. One thing I did during this time was take up ballroom dancing. I was very nervous at first, especially when not on a streak, but it did give me a little bit more social interaction and confidence.
I think what finally helped me turn the corner was recording my progress. I made an excel worksheet and every day I put how many PMOs I did. Then I made another column with my rolling 30 day average. I think this helped because I was no longer valuing myself on my streak, but over the last 30 days. If I slipped up, it didn’t set me back to zero, it increased my average a little, but there was still an incentive to stop after one, rather than binge. It also made me really want to improve… I made a graph of the 30 day average and really wanted the graph to trend down.
This made me more thoughtful about what my antecedents were (or triggers). I realized that browsing Imgur, I would get dopamine hits and train my mind that flipping through pictures for stimulation was okay. Then eventually I’d hit something vaguely sexy and that would trigger PMO. So I added Imgur to my spreadsheet in another column and added a 30 day average to that as well. The same went for TV and Twitter. Video games went on the list when I realized it was making me stay up late and tiredness contributed to lack of self control.
I realized that I could put positive habits in the same format. I put washing my face twice a day with my acne creams in the spreadsheet. I added pushups, pull-ups, and flossing. I never added dancing because by this time, I no longer had to make myself do it… I just enjoyed it.
The spreadsheet was a little bit large, unwieldy, and I probably over did it a bit, but on all these aspects I was improving and had the data to show it. This created a positive feedback loop.
Another strategy that I had was to install K9. I had resisted doing this for a really long time (despite knowing about it) because I wanted to overcome through force of will. But eventually I realized it was worth a try. My strategy was to create an unmemorable password. My apartment building has a storage locker in the basement, so I put the password there. If, while browsing, there was something that K9 blocked that I didn’t think should be blocked, then I would have to go down and get the password. It is like a 30 second walk, so not a big deal… but this ensured that I had to have pants on. K9 isn’t perfect but I think that it helped… at least a little.
I met my girlfriend this summer (while out dancing) and that has been a great experience. I hadn’t dated hardly at all due to confidence issues (and why bother when the internet is so hyper-stimulating), so when she seemed really interested in me (despite being obviously out of my league) that also helped boost my motivation. I wasn’t on some insane streak at the time, but my 30 day average was way down from 1.5 earlier that year to about 0.2. Our relationship is extremely non-physical as I know that I’m still healing and she doesn’t seem to be in any hurry, but I find that besides a few moments of frustration, I really don’t mind. I value her as a person, care what she thinks, and how she is feeling.
So life for me keeps looking up. I’m know I’m not out of the woods and I need to stay vigilant. I keep recording my progress on all my habits and that (at least for now) has been keeping the virtuous cycle going.
So when I list my benefits, I don’t know if the clearer skin is due to my streak/low averages or if it is because I’m taking much better care of myself. My muscle definition is way up, perhaps because of nofap, but also because I’ve been doing pushups and pullups every day for months while eating healthier. I play guitar not just because I’m not PMOing, but also because I’m not watching TV or playing video games.
I know that avoiding all my triggers isn’t a permanent solution. I think I can avoid Imgur forever, but the rest don’t feel like things I should need to permanently cut out. I think once I reach my goal of 90 days without each of those things, I’ll change my goal to allow a moderate amount… and keep recording the data. Recording the data is a side-benefit habit that I’m pleased came out of this effort, since it will help me form other habits too.
On the topic of recording data… a friend of mine noticed the changes in me (he said my face shape had changed) and asked me what I was doing differently. I told him about how I was recording my data while forming habits like doing pushups… He really liked the idea… so he went and created an Android app that functions way better than my spreadsheet ever did. I’ve been using it for a couple of months now (as he keeps working on it) and I like it a lot. He expanded on my idea of averages and tracks three different averages for each habit (something I never could have done in my spreadsheet). It also makes data entry pretty easy while being on a device that is always in my pocket. I told him I was a member of a forum (didn’t specify what forum) of people building habits… he said if I wanted I could share the video of his app and if anyone wanted to be an alpha tester (pre-beta) he could add them to the trial. So I’ll probably update this post shortly with a link once I post about his app.
Keep up the good work guys. This is just my story and I’m really not trying to tell anyone what will work for them. I just wanted to share what has been working for me as best I can tell and say thanks to this community. While I haven’t been an active poster, I’m grateful for this resource that I’ve read a fair amount and credit this sub as helping me understand what a big problem it really was in my life.
[The bullet point version]
My Fellow Strivers, The Facts:
- Long time lurker.
- 29yo M
- Trying to quit for about 9 years, really struggling hard for about 5 years.
- Day 103 no P.
- Day 55 no MO.
your progress. Not your streaks. Mark down every P, every MO. It will
be near impossible to go from binge today to perfect forever starting
- Figure out what your triggers are. For me, I also had to quit:
- Watching TV.
- Video games.
All these things had in common that after I wasted a bunch of time, I would feel bad and that would lead to Fap.
- K9 Web Protection.
- Build new positive habits.
- Go dancing.
- Feeling much better about myself
- Feeling actual feelings more clearly (positive and negative)
- Connecting with people more
- More outgoing
- Clearer skin
- Better muscle tone
- I can play guitar
- My apartment is always clean(ish)
- I eat healthier
- I have a girlfriend
*I know that a benefits list is expected, so I put it here, but I want to note that I’m not attributing all of this to just NoFap. I’ve made lots of positive changes in my life concurrently, and so teasing apart causation is a fool’s errand.
I know that as a long time lurker, having content in a list format is helpful, but I do like to write in prose as well and sometimes having more information than the bullet can accommodate is useful. Besides, our brains are wired for narrative… so…[see above]
LINK – 103 Day Report