It definitely gets easier. I remember the first month, I described urges as “DDOS attacks,” because of how frequent and high-volume they were. It feels uncomfortable to feel the porn urge arise, and having to sit with it. It’s like trying to sit with an urge to sneeze, scratch, pee, or breathe. I don’t know which if any of those are accurate, but it’s like SOMETHING you’re used to going from impulse to response immediately. This normalized over time. Today, I don’t often feel urges to look at porn, and if I do, they are easy to resist. It’s more of my curiosity that I have to worry about.
At the start, I often had dreams that I forgot or failed to honor my commitment. At two months, I had a dream that I described as “Watch helplessly as my boundaries slip until I’m full-blown watching porn again.” I took the time today to Google “dream about relapse,” and found a [source] that says dreams like these are not a bad omen. They are normal, and probably beneficial. They too became less frequent and intense over time.
My thoughts and attitudes towards porn haven’t changed much at all. I quit because I thought porn was complexly harmful to myself, and supporting it was harmful to society as a whole, especially woman. Now that I feel mostly “saved,” my concern is turned outward to the harm it’s doing to others.
Sometimes I still want to look at porn. A seductive argument that I hear that addiction subpersonality saying is “Hey, now that you’ve done so well, why don’t you enjoy a little bit of porn in moderation? Surely you could have your cake and eat it too, by treating yourself to the occasional indulgence.” Rationalizing. It’s actually a pretty rational line of reasoning. I would still be way better off than before.
However, I wouldn’t truly be porn-free, and the pride and self-respect that comes with it is like nothing else. The satisfaction of counterfeit sexual gratification doesn’t even compare. I don’t bring it up unsolicited, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not excitedly waiting for someone to assume that I look at porn, so I can correct them. I know that’s not healthy, and I can’t expect them to respect it as much as I do, but I just can’t help it.
Apart from the supreme self-respect, here are some of the benefits I have received: I no longer over-caring about women’s bodies. I’m more sympathetic towards women for having to deal with men in a porn-brain world. I have a much lower frequency of masturbation, and I’m triggered by libido, rather than boredom. I’m free of any guilt about what’s on my computer or phone, and from an emotional attachment to a porn collection.
I haven’t thought about my collection in some time, but talking about it now brings up a lot of thoughts and feelings. That could be a whole separate writing.
I wasn’t 100% perfect. I had a few transgressions at a few points. Three come to mind. 1.) I once read some erotic literature a few weeks after quitting visual pornography. I was thinking that it was a grey area. I read some quantity, and then masturbated. It was then clear to me that, grey area or not, it wasn’t something I felt good about, so I decided against it. 2.) Once, I was doing some reading about fetishes. My motivation started purely as intellectual curiosity, but of course the subpersonality started subtly redirecting my curiosity, and I ended up on the homepage of a porn site, gawking at some thumbnails. I quickly closed out. 3.) I remember one day just being curious about something porn-related, and just scoping out an answer to my curiosity. I quickly shut it down when I became conscious of it, but there’s no doubt that I was looking at porn for a few seconds there.
I simply choose to forgive these. Yes, I fell short of the highest standard of porn-free. I can’t imagine shaming myself for not being perfect would do me any good. In fact, telling myself I blew it is probably exactly what I’d have to do to get back to consuming porn as before. What’s done is done. I know in my heart that I wasn’t lying to myself. Having made no excuses, I will also mention for perspective that, at this point, I’m probably as sensitive to excitement from porn as I was when I first used it. The pull of porn when it’s in front of me is much stronger than when I was a porn user, and yet I managed to pull away before engaging with it in any meaningful capacity.
If I had to offer one piece of advice, it would be this: This wasn’t my first attempt to quit porn. What made the difference this time is I stopped “trying” or “seeing how I do,” and simply decided and declared to my friends in no uncertain terms that on that day, I quit pornography for life.
I totally get why I framed it as “trying” before. Setting a goal like quitting, and then failing to do so hurts much worse. It crushes self-respect and, far worse, self-credibility. The risk of “trying” is much lower, because when I “failed,” I still kept my word of what I said I would do, which was try. But why protect oneself with this lower-risk strategy, instead of the truly desirable goal of a lifetime commitment? If one wants to quit, then just quit, right?
There were two things stopping me before. First, I wasn’t honestly ready to surrender my attachment to my vice for the rest of my life. Even if I knew that it was in my rational interests, I had to sort that out emotionally first. Second, there was the voice of fear. “What if I declare this, and fail? Maybe it’s better to not risk failure. That would also let me keep my attachment.” The cure for this, as corny as it sounds, was to believe in myself. I had to believe that I could bring all of myself to honoring this commitment and find myself equal to it, OR, if for some reason I failed, I know I could recover because I didn’t lie to myself about trying my absolute best. Although my lifetime isn’t over, I have already proven to myself that I am stronger than I first thought.
I’m nothing special, but feel free to AMA.