I joined RN at the beginning of 2015. I’d been looking at porn since about 1996, and had been struggling for a few years to give it up. I hoped that coming here and hearing from others who also struggled with porn would help, and it did! I admit I haven’t been real involved with RN lately, and I hesitated to share my story. But I didn’t want to fade away without saying something as I do feel RN was a big help. So here’s a 5-minute version of my story.
I looked at porn (and PMO’d) for 20 years, starting when I was around 14 or 15. For years, I struggled with whether or not it was a problem, but my excuse was generally that the material I viewed was mostly soft-core, and it was my business, so whatever. It became more of a problem in my late twenties as I found my way back to my Christian faith and began struggling again with the fact that I couldn’t reconcile this behavior with Christian faith.
I’d say the following have been the most beneficial to me giving up porn:
- Understanding the science behind porn. Knowing how dopamine affects me, and how giving up porn would require a reboot. This forum and several books helped me better understand this.
- Telling a friend. I finally told a close male friend about my struggle last year, and it was a big help having someone else know and keep me accountable.
- Giving up my “pseudo-girlfriend”. There was a girl I often dated (strictly platonic) whom I loved dearly but she did not want a romantic relationship with me. My relationship with her was more damaging than I could have ever realized when I was seeing her, as it held me back from seeking out “real” romantic opportunities with other women. She started seeing someone else just a few days after I joined RN (they’re married now), and while it was really hard at the time, I know now it was probably the best thing that could have happened. Porn was a crutch and so was my strange relationship with her, and giving up both was best.
- My faith in God. I know this forum is fairly secular, but for me, this was big, and it drove me to take some of the actions I did, and I feel it’s no coincidence that I lost the pseudo-girlfriend at the same time I decided I was going to give up porn. God knew it was time for me to move on from both. It wasn’t easy having faith that thing would work out, and those first few months were horribly depressing, but I think I’ve come out better on the other side and I thank God for that.
- My friends. Giving up porn and losing the girl was a huge sucker punch, and having friends to talk to and hang out with was crucial. I really learned who some of my friends really are during that dark time.
After this past Valentine’s day had passed, I decided I was ready to start dating again. After struggling on one dating site, I decided to try another site which is focused on Christian dating. I had hesitated before, feeling that I wasn’t a “good enough” Christian, and it’d been only a month since I had last looked at porn. And I think I was maybe a bit scared too, because this would mean I was really dedicating myself to being and acting like a Christian man, with a Christian woman, which means no more porn, and no more excuses. But this time I felt ready. And after a few failed starts, I found a woman who I really seemed to be hitting it off with.
We talked online and on the phone for a few weeks before finally meeting, and we very quickly started developing a deep relationship. She scared me a bit at first with how quickly she wanted to discuss very deep and serious topics, but I was feeling I could trust her. On our third date, while taking a walk in a park, we sat down for a bit to rest. And we discussed a few important topics, one of which was porn usage. She said it was okay if I didn’t want to talk about it, but I opened up and told her exactly what I’d been through, and how I had worked to give it up. My darkest secret, and I shared it with her on the third date! And I think since then it’s been much easier for me to avoid porn, and not think about it. I can’t say I haven’t been tempted, but it’s been only once or twice, and it wasn’t that strong.
So that’s basically it, I went from thinking the world was hell and nothing would ever get better 18 months ago, to having a wonderful girlfriend now. It’s challenging, getting to know her, taking her feelings, hopes, dreams, etc. into account and working those into my life as well. But it’s a good challenge, it’s so much more meaningful and satisfying than looking at porn. I’m looking forward to continue to get to know her, staying away from porn, growing in my relationship to God, and making my future brighter without the blight of pornography clouding it anymore. I’m sure I may be tempted to return to it in the future, but I feel I’m in a stronger position than ever to fight back.
Thank you fellow RN members for your help, especially those who responded to my journal. I really appreciate it! I wish you all luck as you work to overcome porn or keep working to stay away from it.
BY – AoMSentMe
INITIAL POST – 18 year struggle
Hi. I’m here because I’ve wasted too much of my life looking at porn, seen how it’s interfered and destroyed good things in my life, and it’s high time that I quit. I probably started when I was about 14 or 15. I’m now 33, so this has gone on at least 18 years, which is most of my life at this point. 99.9% of it has been Internet porn. Most is what would generally be considered “soft-core”, which I think is part of the reason I have tried so many times to make the excuse it isn’t a big deal. But I always have fallen into the PMO path, and I know damn well what a problem it is, it’s just convenient to deny it when I want my way. But I know it’s a problem, and quitting has been hard.
I’ve been through some tough times, as has most any one, and have self-medicated with PMO too much. I was engaged to be married about a decade ago, and while there were several factors that resulted in our wedding never happening, I know now that my porn use was a bigger problem than I realized at the time, and that it prevented me from ever being as close to her as I should have been. If it was bad before the breakup; it was even worse after. I did not handle the breakup well at all, as she was my first and only girlfriend, and I’m very socially anxious and introverted. In retrospect, it was good it happened, but at the time, it was absolutely crushing. While I did well on the surface (getting my career back on track, finishing a college degree, eliminating all my debt, etc.) below the surface I was a wreck. Lots of drinking, and lots of PMO. It was pretty bad for a few years there.
Things are a little better now. I’ve got good friends, more of a social life, and I’ve been successful, building my career and buying a home. I don’t PMO as much as I used to, and I can sometimes go several days without porn. But when I do, it can become a binge that lasts several days. That’s where I am right now. I went 20+ days without porn in December – the longest I’ve gone in a long time. It was great! But it didn’t last, and now I’m on day 8 or 9 of a binge, and it’s getting old, as it always does. I’m tired of this cycle.
I’ve prayed on this a lot. I was raised a Christian, but turned my back on it in my early adult life. I came back to Christ a few years ago, and many positive changes have happened in my life as a result of my newfound faith, but this one still gets me all the time. I think part of the problem is how accepted it is in our culture – it becomes so easy to think it’s okay, or very normal, but in my heart, and in my prayers, I know it’s just not right for my life. I’ve sometimes felt like it’s just “Christian Shame”, but I know better than that as I’ve found plenty of secular sources arguing against porn as well – the book Pornified by Pamela Paul is an excellent example, and a source of strength for me in addition to my Christian faith. When I really search my soul, I do feel that God wants me to banish this from life, but when the itch is there, it’s so easy to ignore that unfortunately.
I really feel that to conquer this, I need to reach out to others, and that’s where God is leading me. I’m quite ashamed about it though and what people might think, so I’m starting here, with strangers, and hoping it’s a step in the right direction. I hope in time, that when I’ve met some of my goals, and I feel that I’m making progress in turning from a guy who look at porn to a guy who doesn’t look at porn, that maybe then I can share this struggle with my closest friends. But for now, this is a huge step, as I’ve never discussed my addiction with anyone except my old girlfriend.
I would like to find a wife and get married someday, and I feel that porn has been a huge barrier to this goal. I’ve dated some over the last several years, but not had a proper girlfriend since my engagement feel through. I hope that conquering the addiction of porn and PMO will help build the confidence I need, as I’m still rather introverted and not terribly outgoing.
Besides keeping a journal and counter on this forum, my other plan is to find other things to do when the itch to PMO strikes. Right now, I plan to do one of a few things, which are praying, reading or exercising. I need to lose some weight, and I don’t exercise enough, so I hope to improve on that along with beating my porn addiction. I’m going to weigh in later this week and plan to make a note of how I progress on this in my journal as well. I also wish to read more, and deepen my faith in Christ, so reading, especially the Bible and other books will help me in that goal as well. I think setting up some positive goals to replace my porn use and actually seeing them through is what I need, and now I have a place to make myself accountable.
Thanks for reading, I look forward to participating in this forum and I pray it is the first step to finally conquering this evil in my life.
(Edit: I should add, my current goal is 30 days, as seen in my counter. I’ve never gone without porn or porn substitutes for a month’s time in the last 18 years, so 30 days is a big goal for me. When I meet that, then my next goal is 60, then 90, and so on. When I can make it to at least 120 days, then I plan to discuss my progress with a close friend whom I trust.)