This is just one of millions of stories, and not the most extreme I’ve seen on here. I’m committing this to paper mostly for me, but putting it here because it might help someone else.
I’ve been watching porn since around the end of middle school/beginning of high school (2006 or 2007-ish), and was a heavy user but also had control over it–it wasn’t any more unhealthy entertainment for me than watching TV, or at least it didn’t feel that way. When I moved into a double room in college, I cut it out almost entirely (and cut down on MO a lot too) and didn’t particularly miss it.
It started to become a problem for me around early 2013, when I was in an unsatisfying relationship with a girlfriend who had a lot of mental and physical hangups about sexual intimacy. I don’t blame her for this at all–on top of preexisting issues with mental health and body image, an ex-boyfriend had sexually assaulted her. So I was ALWAYS extra-careful about consent and stopped right when she told me to, because I’m not a rapist or a creep. But the fact remains that I was crazy about her and turned to porn as the sexual outlet that I wasn’t getting with her.
Porno wasn’t fully in control of my life–I still went to class and had a social life–but it went from a source of entertainment to my go-to vice and my main sexual release very quickly. It first only hurt me by making me uninterested in pursuing real-life relationships, but by the summer of 2014 I had spiraled into a severe depression which hurt my schoolwork, job performance, and social life, and landed me in therapy for a few months. My shrink was great and helped me a lot, but would always brush off my concerns about how much porn I was watching. He was convinced, rightly, that I had an unhealthy Puritan work ethic, but he thought that my concerns about my porn usage were an offshoot of that and that I was being too hard on myself.
I made a few brief, half-assed efforts at starting NoFap; the longest I lasted as 5 or 6 days. I climbed out of the worst of my depression, slowly, but was still watching a lot of porn.
Between college and my new job in a different city, I stopped home for a month. I planned to hit the bar with my friends one night, but in a fortuitous fluke, all of them ditched, except for one girl I knew in high school but hadn’t seen in 4-5 years. Long story short, we ended up hooking up that night, although I had an impossible time reaching orgasm, and was pretty disengaged otherwise (didn’t help that I was drunk and had PMO’d earlier that day). But we saw each other a few more times before I left and stayed in touch, and two months later we’re still together.
I started my job at AmeriCorps in July, which basically forced me back into NoFap: We lived 16 to a room during training, and accessing porn over the federally-provided WiFi is verboten. When I visited my now-girlfriend over a weekend, the sex went from kinda-nice to absolutely fantastic (we both noticed the difference) and I had no trouble getting off.
A few days ago, past the 30-day mark, I snuck one in the shower. There wasn’t even a good reason for it; I didn’t agonize over it or feel compelled to do it. I just kind of felt like it. I did it again twice in the next two days. But I’m back on the NoFap plan again starting today, and feel perfectly confident that I can keep going indefinitely if I want to. And, frisky Snapchats with my IRL lady-friend aside, I haven’t watched porn since July. I might go back one day, when I’m older and wiser, but it’s done me a lot more harm than good, so maybe it’s best if I don’t.
SO! Here are some notes towards a picture of my NoFap experience so far: -You have to really WANT to stop. I said I was basically forced into stopping, but I could have kept going with PMO if I really wanted, with the magic of bathroom stalls and 3G internet. But I knew that it was time.
-I DO feel a little more energy, and just this week I took my last Wellbutrin (antidepressant), which honestly had helped me a lot when I felt like I was beyond help. I had been planning to go off it before NoFap–there’s a long weaning process to prevent withdrawal–but it’s nice to finally close the book on that part of my life.
-Sex has gone from a visually-oriented experience to a full-body experience for me. Everything about it feels significantly better since I stopped watching porn. I also feel a level of connection with my girlfriend which I’ve never noticed before during sex, and as wonderful as she is, I think it’s mainly because I’m focusing all of my sexuality on her now, something which I never pulled off with any of my exes.
-My skin DID clear up a bit, but I doubt it’s biological. More likely, I just used some of my extra energy to stay more on top of personal hygiene and doing my laundry regularly–two things that went way south when I was depressed.
-I don’t know if NoFap has improved my bench press numbers. Probably not. But again, the extra energy has made it easier for me to work out regularly.
-Apart from the time saved from not watching porn, I think abstaining from PMO has cut down how much time I feel inclined to spend on the computer in general. After fapping, that spent, shameful feeling was best pacified by screwing around on the rest of the Internet.
-I may have skipped the occasional party or put off my homework by a few minutes for porn, but most of the time I was very functional when I was watching too much porn. Think of the alcoholic who does his job well, takes care of his kids, is well-respected by his friends and colleagues, and drinks a six-pack every night while he does it. Being addicted and having your shit together are not mutually exclusive. I’m not going to tell you what to do, but if you watch a lot of porn, it might be worthwhile to reexamine just how much control you REALLY have over it.
And if you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading.