Today I share a redemption and recovery story from someone who developed severe porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED) before he ever had a relationship, then struggled with it in ignorance for years before discovering my work and what was really going on with him. He gave recovery a 90-day attempt before lapsing again back into pornography use for three years.
The full text of Anon’s story is below in italics. My comments are in bold.
I am writing to let you know that the information I got from your Youtube videos and book have finally led me to fixing my PIED issues!
Some backstory — growing up I was exposed to internet porn around the age of 13. I immediately latched onto it and became a daily user of porn for all my teenage years and the majority of my 20s.
A story shared by millions of young men. This is why we must educate and protect our youth from the sticky fly trap of Internet porn, which is designed to be irresistible to the immature male sexuality.
I was kind of a nerd in school and wasn’t interested in relationships so I ended up being a late bloomer in life and didn’t have my first real sexual experience until I was 23. And wow, it was an eye opener. I couldn’t get hard at all. We tried for 2 hours and it ended up being an incredibly awkward and demoralizing experience. Needless to say that girl did not stick around.
When an immature sexuality becomes bonded and conditioned to a screen rather than to real intimacy with real partners, this can be a common result. You’re not alone, Anon. Watch this presentation to understand why.
From that moment, my ego was shaken so badly that I didn’t attempt to date for another 4 years. I had no clue what the cause for my ED was, but I chalked it up to “not being attracted enough” and “nerves”. It wasn’t until I was 27 when I threw myself back into the dating pool. But what would happen next would only lead to more depression. I clicked with several women on dating apps, but every time it came to being intimate, no matter how attractive I found them, I could not get hard at all. I just felt dead inside. There was nothing “exciting” about it. I would actually feel resentment that others could enjoy this, and I couldn’t.
Long-term pornography use can deaden not only sexual arousal with partners but also the very ability to feel love, affection, and excitement–speaking from the personal experiences of myself and my clients.
Some of the women tried to support me, but it was too much for them after a while. I kept suffering breakups and I never fully felt like a man. This caused my anxiety to grow every time, and made my brain associate sex with only negative thoughts.
The more painful sexual experiences you have, the more you will associate that emotional pain with sex, and the more dread and anxiety you will feel upon future opportunities. Even after recovering from a porn-induced sexual dysfunction (PISD), this new anxiety can prevent you from enjoying sex. Read/watch how to overcome this here.
I had no clue what was wrong. I went to the doctor and they told me I’m perfectly healthy and I should try Viagra.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that story. For those with PISD, I very rarely recommend use of sildenafil-containing pharmaceuticals like Viagra. They are not only unnecessary for recovery but can delay it. Think of it like taking a painkiller after spraining your ankle so that you can continue to run, when you should just rest and allow healing to happen.
This was not what I wanted to hear and I legitimately thought of taking my life because I felt like such a failure.
There is hope. The reason I do what I do is to provide answers and hope to those like you who don’t see a way forward. That way forward does exist. I have seen many men in your position them turn their lives around and start living up to who they want to be. You can do the same and there is so much to look forward to.
However, it was around this time that I came across your book, and the book “Your Brain on Porn“. I learned so much from both of those books and realized that I need to make a change. It was around this time that I got my first 90 days. However, it was not “hard mode” — I was still masturbating weekly. I did meet one woman during that time but I still suffered from the same problem. It was disheartening to make it so long without porn and not see results, so I ended up going back to porn to make sure “everything was okay”. What a mistake that was.
90 days is a great start and a solid foundation, but it is only the end of the beginning for most in recovery.
Once I went back to porn, I fell off the wagon and used for another 3 years. I knew that what I was doing was wrong though, I never felt okay after using porn once I knew how harmful it could be.
Even after realizing that your porn use is what sabotaged all of your attempted relationships, you continued using porn for years. This is the danger of addiction, that even once you realize you are destroying yourself you continue to return again and again. But the cycle is not inescapable. If you’re struggling out there, don’t continue drowning alone. Seek some help and support.
Finally in the present year, once the quarantine hit, I came across your Youtube channel and watched some success stories. I was so inspired, and knew I could also achieve success if I just tried. That was the spark that led me to dropping porn for good, and really taking it seriously. I decided “hard mode” was the right approach for me. So I began, and very quickly entered into an incredibly long flatline. It was so bad, and there was constantly a voice in the back of my head telling me I should use porn just to make sure everything was okay. But I knew what would happen if I did that — I had experience falling into that same trap 3 years ago. So I just accepted that my dick was “dead” for now, and left it alone.
That addicted part of ourselves will whisper any lie it can think of to circle us back to our addicted behavior. Try writing all of them down that you can remember, and then next to each one write the real truth of the matter. Next time it should be easier to recognize the lie for what it is.
During this time, I met a wonderful woman, and after failing to be intimate with her the first time, I was just honest and told her what I was struggling with. I told her we need to be patient and trust the process. I’m lucky that she agreed, because we ended up failing quite a lot while I was in the flatline. The path to success is a lot of failure. But just recently, after 99 days of no PMO, I woke up harder than ever. It was like someone turned on the light switch and it felt different.
99 days! Progress along this journey is not linear. It can feel like nothing is happening for a long time, then suddenly things change. A few days later it can feel like all your progress is gone, even–but it’s not. Expect to ride the waves of recovery.
I knew that day something changed. When I saw her just kissing her started to make me hard. That night we were able to have successful sex with no dysfunction at all. I couldn’t believe it. After so many years of failure, depression and shame — it worked. We proceeded to have more sex without any issues at all. All of this is possible because I had the resolve to stop looking at porn. I understand now how important it is to keep that toxicity out of my life.
Looking forward, I believe I can have the life that I’ve always wanted. I no longer feel like a failure, I actually feel stronger than ever that I was able to stop such an intense addiction in my life.
Thank you so much, and keep spreading the good message. You are changing lives for the better.
Congratulations to you, Anon! You will likely continue to see progress, though there may be downs as well as ups yet to come. Never forget what you have endured to gain this freedom. As you know, it is all to easy to slip back into self-destruction if you lose sight of that.