In this video coaching newsletter I continue the story from the last Coach Church article, of the Anon whose addiction and porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED) had ruined several relationships and destroyed his sexual self-esteem. Eventually, the pain got to be too much and Anon decided enough was enough. He found my work and pledged to become permanently pornfree. From the last entry we know that Anon was able to recover from his PIED, meet a wonderful woman, and enjoy a brilliant emotional and sexual connection with her. I asked Anon to write me a detailed account of how exactly he got there, so that we can learn from his experiences.
The full text of Anon’s story is below in italics. My comments are in bold.
I’m 22 years old, turning 23 next week, and I can confidently say that I’ve successfully and completely cured my porn-induced erectile dysfunction. It’s been a painful journey at times, but it’s the most amazing feeling to finally be free from this problem. I started watching porn on my parents’ computer when they were out of the house, at around the age of 7 or 8, and my usage escalated out of control when I got my first mobile device.
This is unfortunately a common story. The average age of first exposure to pornography is 11, but that means that many people encounter it earlier in life and are at risk for developing at variety of problems stemming from pornography’s influence. I myself was 9 or 10 at first exposure to Internet porn. Though anyone at any age can develop pornography-related problems, early exposure like this is a big risk factor. Parents and education professionals must be aware of these dangers so that they can protect against them and prepare children to make healthy choices.
Having unlimited access whenever I wanted caused me to consume porn in extremely long binge sessions that lasted several hours, and I did this almost daily. I would stay up all night, scouring the internet and checking out every kind of porn that was out there. I was voraciously curious and hopelessly addicted to the rush I was feeling.
I fell into this same pattern, as do many of us. For me, porn was endlessly fascinating but always unsatisfying. However, use doesn’t have to be this frequent or involved in order to cause problems. People who only use a couple times per week for 10 minutes can still develop sexual dysfunction and/or addiction.
At the time, I was not very social and I was pretty introverted for the most part. I didn’t play sports, I wasn’t in any clubs or after school activities. I didn’t have many hobbies and I didn’t do much; I preferred to be by myself at home and listen to music, play my drum set, play video games or watch TV and movies. I found porn to be more stimulating than any of these things, so It became my main hobby so to speak.
Pornography can tap directly into our most powerful and primal drive to reproduce. That makes porn potentially very powerful and compelling, and consistent use of pornography can overwhelm our neurochemistry with unnatural super-stimulation, that ultimately desensitizes not only our sexual responsiveness but our brain’s reward-response system as a whole. What this means is that porn addicts (and addicts of other behaviors and substances) tend to lose interest in the hobbies, relationships, and ambitions that used to excite them. As we heal, that passion for our daily lives tends to return. Learn more about the neurobiology behind these effects from my presentation below.
Damn, that’s pretty awful. I sure am glad I don’t live like that anymore. Anyway, despite being introverted, somewhat socially awkward and shy, and watching crazy amounts of porn, I had my first girlfriend and first kiss at around age 13. We didn’t do anything sexual beyond that. She ended up breaking my heart, which seems silly now looking back, but at the time it really affected me.
Adulthood is built on a foundation of broken hearts. Our hearts get broken because we expect things to be or work out in a certain way, and then reality steps in and dissolves our illusions. Pornography addicts are lost in fantasy, and this stunts our emotional growth. To become emotional adults, we must learn to see the world and the people in it for what and who they really are. When we expect reality to live up to our fantasies, we invite disappointment and bitterness into our lives. But when we ground ourselves in the real world, we can act without attachment to the outcomes. We recognize what is within our control and what is not, and we focus on the former, accepting the latter.
I continued watching huge amounts of porn as a coping device and as an escape. A couple years later, at the age of 15 or so, I started dating another girl and she became my girlfriend. She gave me my first hand job, and I’ll never forget it because I barely got hard and I had a really difficult time reaching orgasm. I actually finished myself off, because It just wasn’t going to happen with her touch. This is a painful memory for me, but it’s also pretty funny, because my parents called me right in the middle of it; here I was, talking to my Mom, with my pants down and a girl’s hand on my dick. I’m glad there’s a bit of humour in this memory to balance out the shame. She gave me a few more hand jobs and I always had the same problems. This girl broke my heart as well, and just like the last breakup I turned to porn to feel better.
Without exception, I see this pattern of use within my addicted clients. Not everyone I work with is addicted, but among those who are, every single one of them has come to use porn as an emotional coping mechanism. Masturbating (whether with or without porn) because you’re horny and it feels good is one thing, but using your sexuality as an escape from pain is a big red flag.
Not long after this breakup, I began a relationship with a girl which lasted close to three years. She gave me my first blowjob, and like the memory of my first hand job it’s not a very good one. I can still remember that it was not long after one of my big porn binges, so I barely got hard at all. Here I was, getting my dick sucked for the first time, and I was not enjoying it. I felt horribly ashamed and embarrassed for not getting hard, and she was really upset. She thought she was bad at it and it made her feel self conscious. I felt horrible for making her feel this way. I was able to get hard for hand jobs and blow jobs after that, but I was still never fully enjoying the experiences because I would almost always have trouble maintaining my erection and reaching orgasm.
It’s very common for partners of people with porn-induced sexual dysfunction (PISD) to feel as this woman did. Almost always, your partner will take it personally if you don’t get aroused with them, unless you foster good communication about your dysfunction and recovery. This is also how people with primary PISD develop performance anxiety as well. If every sexual experience you have had has been characterized by disappointment, shame, embarrassment, and pain, then naturally you’ll start to dread intimacy.
The first time we tried to have sex is a horrible memory for me. I feel sick to my stomach just thinking about it. We decided that for our first time, we would pitch a tent in the woods so we could be completely alone. We packed a picnic, a bottle of wine, some romantic lights; we made it into this big event, and a lot of preparation went into it. There was a huge amount of build up and I felt an enormous pressure. When the time came, I couldn’t get hard at all. Both of us were very upset and devastated. She cried a lot, saying things like “well I guess you don’t want me… I thought you said you loved me…” , she was incredibly hurt, but also seemed angry and resentful towards me, which was hard to take. I felt like such a failure, so I was a complete mess as well, crying and shaking and I felt like I was going to puke. It was a pretty bad scene. I tried explaining to her that I did love her, that I really wanted to have sex with her, and that I didn’t understand why my penis wasn’t working. At the time, I truly did not know why I was having this problem. This was one of the worst feelings I had ever felt in my life.
The next day, I did a lot of googling to see if other young guys had experienced this. She did the same thing, because when we met up again she apologized and said she now realized that it’s a common problem for guys to get nervous and not get an erection, especially if it’s their first time. This was a big relief, so we relaxed about it a bit and just kept trying. It took quite a few tries for us to have sex that actually worked; I would always lose my erection at some point. It did end up working, and our sex life was pretty good for both of us, some of the time. But, I still watched a lot of porn, and I now realize how seriously this affected our relationship. I would almost never initiate sex, because I was getting my release from porn. When we did have sex, I wasn’t that into it, because it wasn’t that stimulating to me compared to the extreme porn I was used to watching. This made her feel unattractive, unloved and neglected. Because of this, she broke up with me and asked me to leave the apartment we were sharing. This absolutely crushed me and I felt extremely guilty for making her feel unloved.
By practicing intimacy and building comfort, Anon was able to achieve functionally successful sex even while still using porn, but his PMO still severely limited his desire, his erectile function, his sexual enjoyment, and the intimacy and stability of his relationship.
At the time, I naively thought that this girl was my soulmate, that I was going to marry her someday. The worst part about it is that I actually became aware of the affects of porn while I was in this relationship; I turned to the internet to try and figure out what could be causing my erectile difficulties, and I came across Gary Wilson’s video and the NoFap community. My biggest regret is knowing full well what I was doing to myself and to my relationship but not stopping because I enjoyed porn too much.
Ultimately, I chose porn over this amazing girl that I loved. I’m very ashamed to admit to this and It’s one of my biggest regrets. Being so crushed by this breakup, you guessed it, I turned to porn to cope again. I went through around a year long period of almost completely avoiding contact with girls. It was easier for me to stay away. I was bitter and resentful towards girls and deeply hurt and guilt-ridden by my experiences with them, so I kept to myself, focused on my studies and continued watching lots of porn. I became very cold, and I made less and less time for being with friends and family. I became less social than ever. Unexpectedly, I found out that a girl that was one of my housemates, and was in the same program in university as me, had feelings for me. I had always had a crush on this girl since I met her, but at this point I was purposely avoiding girls because I didn’t want to go through the pain and embarrassment that I had felt previously. I had convinced myself that porn was more enjoyable than real sex anyway; why go through all of the trouble and heartache of having sex when I can just have porn to fulfill my sexual urges, quickly and conveniently? I preferred it this way, or so I was telling myself.
That’s a dark, unsatisfying road you chose for yourself. Fortunately, life keeps on giving us new chances to choose a different path.
Anyhow, a relationship developed with this new girl, and when the time came to have sex, I of course couldn’t get hard, and it was very upsetting. Same thing all over again. Every attempt at having sex ended in me being completely devastated and crushed. I just shut down and didn’t say much. It must have been awful for her. At my lowest point, I can remember being really excited when she told me she was on her period; this meant that we wouldn’t have to try having sex and It felt like a huge weight lifted off me. This cycle continued and we never had much of a sex life at all. The time came for us to break up; we did it amicably, and the reason was we would be living a huge distance away from each other and we both agreed that we did not want a long distance relationship. We also weren’t going to be living in the same place any time soon, maybe even never. This changed when I got offered a job in the same city that she would be living in; I asked her if she’d be willing to give our relationship another try in a few months when I would be moving, and she basically told me that she would love to spend time with me, watch movies and cuddle, but she had no interest in having sex with me. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak and I became very depressed for a period of time. I decided enough is enough, and vowed to quit porn and do everything I could to have a healthy, satisfying and fulfilling sex life.
Noah, I found your videos, read your book and spent time on your website, which is what helped me the most on this journey. I ended up getting to 90 days without porn or masturbation on my first attempt, so I kept going and I think I hit 115 days or so, I stopped counting. It was a difficult decision to make, but I decided to start masturbating again; I used a “training session” approach that I found online. I’m sure you must be familiar of these techniques; familiarizing yourself with your ejaculatory point of no return, using breathing techniques and awareness to train yourself to last longer. I had heard that masturbating and fantasizing during the reboot phase would hinder progress, but in all honesty I was so afraid of finishing too quickly with a partner and being shamed for it, so I decided to do these training exercises to prepare myself for the next time I would have sex, whenever that would be. I found myself easily getting rock solid erections without porn, which I had rarely ever experienced. This is a huge difference when looking back to the last time I watched porn before quitting; I was watching some very extreme fetish porn and I couldn’t even get hard to that.
As I often say and contrary to what many people may tell you, pornfree masturbation is not universally bad or harmful even while recovering from PISD. It can serve as a stepping stone toward enjoying real sex, can offer a sexual outlet that makes abstinence from porn easier, and can help us reconnect with our own fantasies and desires rather than the ones conditioned into us by porn. And if you’re able to maintain a full erection with pornfree masturbation to realistic fantasy and easily orgasm by doing so, then there’s no physical reason that will prevent you from performing well for sex. However, rewiring is still an essential aspect of recovery, as Anon is about to find out.
After a few weeks of doing these masturbation training sessions once per week, I met a woman in a bar, added her on social media, and I went home with her the following night. I wasn’t able to get an erection to have sex, which was extremely worrisome and I feared that I had ruined my progress by masturbating again. I kept meeting with her and continued having trouble getting and maintaining an erection, but every time we tried I noticed I got harder quicker, and stayed hard for longer, even though I would lose it before penetration could happen. I also started getting erections from just kissing her, and I realized that the rewire process was working.
Rewire is essential. Don’t be disheartened if your body doesn’t perform as you want it to at first. We need time and practice in order to condition ourselves to respond sexually to all-new stimuli that are nothing like what a computer screen can provide, such as the touch of a partner’s skin, the smell of her hair, the sound of her voice, the feeling of her warmth in our arms.
On the morning of the third night we spent together, I finally kept my erection and we had sex. I was almost in disbelief, I felt on top of the world. For the past few weeks now we’ve been meeting regularly and I’m having the best sex of my life, without any issues at all. I am enjoying sex more than I ever thought was possible or attainable for me, and she is always satisfied. I felt like this day would never come. During the darkest times of my porn addiction I never thought I would be able to have this kind of sex. So, thank you so much Noah, and for everyone out there struggling with this, don’t give up. Keep going, stay positive, stay optimistic and know that you will not have this problem forever. It may take time, and it can be a really painful and lonely process, but the outcome is so incredibly worth it. I wish you all the best to whoever is hearing this. You’ve got this. Good luck.
There you have it. Anon lost years of his life and many promising relationships to porn. Even once he realized that porn was likely the source of his sexual problems, he chose porn over his girlfriend. But eventually he made a different decision, fought through difficulty and discomfort, and found what he was looking for all along. If he can do it, you can too. I’d like to help you get there if you’re looking for guidance. You can discover ways to work with me here.