*tl; dr: Success story of dealing with pmo, depression and fetishes. *
Hey guys and gals, I thought I should share my success story with you. Whilst it probably describes a rather lengthy progress, I guess that it may be inspiring to some people who are doing nofap and who are still not seeing the amazing progress some people have reported. In short, I did see some progress, but it took me a few years to get from a male virgin who faps on an almost daily basis to somebody who enjoys sex with his gf and whose fetishes are (pretty much entirely) gone.
I started on my nofap project back in 2012. I was at that point in time in a position when I fapped almost daily, and I was exclusively turned on by pornography of the BDSM kind to the extent that I would not get aroused by a hot woman walking in front of me or on some posters. I realized that something was deeply wrong, but did not know what to do. In the end, I spoke to a friend of mine from church about stuff, and lo and behold, it turned out that he also struggled with masturbation and pornography. We both agreed on a challenge that we would check on each other daily to see if the other person had ended up looking at pornography or had masturbated. Also, we agreed to have a weekly chat on Skype (we do not live in the same place, so we cannot easily meet up), and we both set up some accountability software (CovenantEyes).
For me, having this aspect of a challenge, and also not wanting to let my friend down was a huge boost to my motivation, and I almost immediately had a three month streak. As for superpowers, I realized that I was much more energetic and had a significantly higher self esteem (low self esteem is a continuing battle for me), and I did notice girls a lot more. I also started online dating, but did not get very far with it. However, since I was fairly busy with work (and since I am quite a typical iNTj), I did not feel that I was missing out on much.
About a year later, an issue started kicking in which I had been struggling with in the past, namely low self esteem, coupled with what I now know to be dysthymia (basically a less intense, but still pretty unpleasant depression). Furthermore, since the novelty of the whole nofap experiment wore off somewhat, and since it sometimes feels all too easy to “lend yourself a hand” when you are feeling particularly depressed, I struggled a whole lot more with nofap. Whilst I did not look at pornography as such, I certainly did look at stuff which was not exactly pornography yet still unhelpful, and I ended up masturbating somewhat. I still had the accountability relationship with Arthur, which was hugely helpful, since I could also share the low self esteem aspect of myself.
Things continued like this till early 2016. I masturbated somewhat, I did not look at pornography, and whilst I tried to meet some girls, I did not get very far with it. Since I was 34 by that time, people started asking questions, and my grandmother once helpfully suggested that I must be gay since I was sharing a flat with a male friend of mine. Every so often, dysthymia kicked in, and I felt pretty shit for a few days. Whilst this all sounds pretty dire, I have to say that I had some amazing friends (and, to a lesser extent, family) to support me through all of this. In the midst of all of this, I started online dating again, because I felt that something had to be done. For someone with low self esteem, this can sometimes feel like entering into a boxing match, where you know that nine times out of ten, you will be knocked out in the first minute. After a particularly nice date when I was dumped by text on the way back home, I caught myself making detailed plans about how to end my life. Luckily enough, I realized that I should better be making plans about how to fix my psychological issues.
Pretty much immediately afterwards, two things happened (this is where the happy end comes): firstly, I started seeing a psychologist, who is helping me work through things as regards depression, dysthymia, … Secondly, I did have a really nice date with a really nice girl who hit on with me pretty much immediately afterwards. For me, immediately after seeing her and after realizing that this was developing into something, it was clear that masturbation was out of the question. It was clear to me that I want to dedicate that part of my personality (that is, sexuality) to her, and masturbation is thus not an option.
A few weeks later, we were a couple, and a few weeks later, we ended up in bed. The thing which then hit me was that, in spite of me not looking at pornography for quite some time and not masturbating for almost two months, I did not manage to get aroused. Having gone through all of this, this was a major disappointment. Since I was (and am) in the general mood of trying to fix things in my life, I felt that this is a problem I should solve. I did discuss this with my accountability friend, I did talk to my psychologist, and I also saw a GP.
The one thing which did help in that respect was to be more assertive of my wishes. For me, not having slept with a girl before, I felt somewhat overwhelmed when she was naked in front of me. I guess that for any relationship (or sex) to work, you have to make sure that both parties, including yourself, are happy (and aroused). It may sound silly, but realizing that I should, to some extent, also try to make sex fun for myself took some learning. Once I had implemented this, things went more smoothly (even though even so, the first time we had sex was not as amazing as people may think it is – I once said to one of my friends that he should look forward to his honeymoon, but not necessarily to his wedding night).
As for lessons learnt, I think there are several key things:
- Firstly, by all means cut out pornography. Completely. Using whatever means. Pornography distorts your view of sexuality. As I said earlier, it completely distorted my view. Plus, if you go into a relationship with a sexuality which only gets aroused by fetishes, expect to have issues in getting an erection.
- Be assertive of your own needs. This is not so much a sexuality issue but a general life issue. Even now, when I am in my first real relationship (as a 35 year old), things don’t always go smoothly. In any relationship, there will be conflicts, and it is all too easy if you are desperate for a relationship to do whatever your gf wants you to do. Don’t. A relationship should work for both sides. (Of course, one should also not do the opposite and be a complete egotist.)
- If you find yourself being depressed, sad, low on energy a significant amount of time, do go and see a psychologist/counselor/… Seeing a psychologist is not a sign of not having your life sorted, it is quite the opposite. Also, it is by no means a sign of being a loser. I am not going to go into detail (since I do not want to lose my anonymity), but nobody who sees my CV would consider me a loser.
- Try to open up to a friend, ideally somebody in real life, and ideally somebody you respect. For me, this has been beneficial on several fronts. Firstly, you will have somebody to share your struggles with. Secondly, sharing something that personal will also serve to bond you together and will improve the “quality” of your friendship. It may also open up the door for deeper conversations on other topics. Thirdly, in most cases, also your friend will appreciate it – most guys masturbate, and most guys don’t think it is ideal. If you are from a Christian background (as I am), this will be even more so the case.
- Don’t expect too much from your first sex. For some people, it is amazing, for most, it isn’t. The second time gets better, and the third time even more so.
- Don’t give up. For me, the main point behind sharing this story is to show that even if you do not see any initial results, things will improve. I sometimes had the feeling of being left out when people wrote about getting laid after doing nofap for a few weeks. Things may take a while.
- Getting a girlfriend does not solve all of your issues. It solves some, it creates others, and it leaves most of them untouched. I am still seeing my psychologist, I am still having fits of depression, and sometimes, things don’t work in the bedroom. That’s life.
Maybe I shall close by quoting William Ernest Henley, whose poem “Invictus” I found pretty helpful and inspiring:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.