(From June 2014)
I’ll try to keep a long story relatively short. I’ll probably fail.
I’m a 24-year-old man who started masturbating to fantasy earlier than I can remember (at the latest age 2 or 3) and started on Internet porn at age 9. Unlike a lot of people here, no one introduced me to porn; I sought it out. Porn was awesome, and along with video games, books, and TV I used it to experience life without the risk of actually going out into the world and living life. These habits partially held me back from growing up for awhile, but by the last year of high school they weren’t enough for me anymore, and I started to make things happen in my real life. That’s when I discovered that I was totally incapable of having sex.
I tried to have sex with my then-girlfriend about a dozen times, but I just wouldn’t get hard, and if I did then it would go down before we could put the condom on and start. I was very attracted to her in my mind, but my body just didn’t respond. I couldn’t understand it. I searched for answers on the Internet, but back then none of this information about porn addiction was available, and everyone said it must be performance anxiety. I was anxious, but my anxiety was because I couldn’t maintain an erection—not the other way around. I thought I was broken. I knew it wasn’t a physical problem as I could easily get hard to porn, so I figured I had been a masturbating virgin for too long to get comfortable with real sex. Driving home from her house, I would literally roar and beat the steering wheel with my fists.
I did think it would help to stop masturbating for awhile before seeing her, but this didn’t work either. My impotence as well as my shame and embarrassment over it was a big factor in ending our relationship. Over the next several years I tried again and again with several different women to get comfortable enough to have sex. I never succeeded. Obviously this was crippling to my sexual confidence, and my impotence along with my inability to understand it and talk about it ended every romantic relationship I had.
Six years after my first episode of erectile dysfunction, I saw Gary Wilson’s TED Talk explaining how porn addiction was affecting young men, including how consistent masturbation to porn could cause porn-induced erectile dysfunction. This video changed my life. It has now been 158 days since I have looked at porn or masturbated. Here’s a brief summary of how my life has changed:
- I now achieve and maintain a strong erection during sex without having to constantly imagine porn scenes. I still go soft occasionally but it’s not long before I’m back and it feels like part of the natural flow of sex. For quite awhile after regaining my erections I still had severe porn-induced delayed ejaculation, but now that is subsiding as well, and I am able to orgasm during vaginal sex with a condom. I was totally orgasm-free for the first 72 days, then again for about another 60 days after that (though not for lack of trying with my then-SO).
- My emotions are richer and have more depth. For about 12 years I didn’t cry once, and now I realize that that period of my life started about when I started watching porn.
- I have no shame. Before this journey I had learned to talk about porn with friends and knew it was a common activity, but I was never proud of it. Now, for the first time in my life, I am completely honest with the people I love and even with strangers. I have told many people about my past history with porn addiction and how it harmed me. Some judge me harshly for it, but that slides right off of me. I am completely secure in myself. This translates to social confidence and a complete lack of social anxiety, which sometimes used to plague me.
- My appreciation (both sexual and emotional) for the real women I meet has skyrocketed.
- I fell in love, which is something that never happened for me when I used porn. I met her five months ago. I was completely honest with her about where I was in my life, which I think is a big part of why she loved me. The relationship is over now, but it was a great experience for both of us.
- I have more mental and physical energy and certainly more time.
- My motivation and willpower are leagues ahead of where they were. I still sometimes surrender to procrastination, but in the last five months I have written a 60,000-word book, started a business, pursued and fell in love with a beautiful woman, adopted a consistent workout and meditation regimen, and made a dramatic diet change that has me feeling healthier and stronger than ever. I realize now that porn—along with video games and TV/movies—was a tranquilizer that served only to hold me back from pursuing my dreams.
As for the future, I will never, ever use porn. It is an unnatural drug-like stimulus that has caused me great harm, and it is no part of my life anymore. I do not think that masturbation is inherently bad, but I associate it with porn and wasted time and potential, so I have little desire to masturbate again either. Maybe years down the road I’ll be able to enjoy masturbation again, but I kind of doubt it. The whole act is distasteful to me now.
I have loads of advice for those who are struggling against PMO addiction, but for brevity’s sake I’ll just share the two tips that helped me the most:
- Do a lot of reading and research to find out just how much PMO addiction has harmed you. Get angry at those wasted years, and get excited for how much your life can improve without porn’s influence. TRULY COMMIT to never, ever using porn again. This is not a goal. Goals can be missed. That you will not use porn is simply an underlying fact of your reality. With this mindset, cravings will be nothing to you. It is the possibility of using that eats away at us. Make it an impossibility and you will be much better able to just forget about it and focus on other things.
- Don’t tease yourself. For awhile I got a bit complacent in this journey. I would indulge in fantasy, especially when waking up. I would rub myself a bit for a couple of minutes but not even approach orgasm, so I didn’t count it as edging. I also started to click on some sexual—though not explicit—links and get turned on by these false stimuli. I knew I wasn’t going to masturbate to these things; it was more about satisfying a curiosity than anything else. Then a few weeks ago I realized that I was slipping down a dangerous path and also felt that my progress with DE was stalling. I needed to change something, so I went back to how I started this journey: no fantasy, no self-touching, no pixels that turn me on. Trust me, it is so much easier this way. No longer do I have to struggle with myself to decide whether or not to pursue some borderline material or fantasy: I just don’t do it. I now only express my sex drive with a real woman, and that’s the way I like it.
If you want more strategies and information, that book I wrote is called Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn, and it contains my story and others’, a scientific examination of porn addiction, and a comprehensive guide to quitting porn for those who need help.
Ask me anything. After undergoing this journey for myself, talking with about a hundred porn addicts, and reading more than a dozen books and hundreds of articles and anecdotes on this subject as research for my book, I may be one of the most knowledgeable people out there on PMO addiction.
tl;dr: Had great success, wrote book.