For a long time I was fascinated by porn. Then, when I decided to quit, I was fascinated by quitting. I am not fascinated by writing here, but I write here to tell guys what no one told me when I made the decision to quit. You can quit. It will hurt, it will difficult, and then, when you finally get free, it will easy. Not life, per se, but not relapsing. I go weeks now without even thinking about it, and when I think about it, it just is not a big deal anymore. If you will just commit to the reboot, you can be here too.
Thanks for continuing to write here William. You are an inspiration to me and many others. Thanks to your advice, more are free. It is the eve of my 30th day with no PMO and I am happy to be free of the beast!
I am looking at your counter Phoenix; looks like you made 30. There will be some bumps in the road but once you get to 90 and stay clean between now and then things will become much easier.
So, what does rebooted feel like? It feels back in control of my sexuality. More technically, my brain's sexual reward center is balanced. Sure, I can still feel sexually aroused, but it is normal, I don't have to spend hours in front of the computer searching for porn. All those triggers I had to avoid in the reboot--they don't trigger me now. In the reboot I had to look away from R movies, which is bad because a lot of the movies I like are R movies. Not for the sex, just because some of the more interesting movies out, like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, have strong sexual themes. But that is a movie I can watch now without triggering. It is not that I trigger but control it; I just simply no longer trigger. I stay away from porn, it is a lifestyle now, but if I did see it, it would not trigger me. Things are easy this far out. You know the feeling, in the reboot, where all you want to do is hit the computer and down load porn? The days that seem endless where you are fighting it, saying to yourself, "no porn, no porn, no porn?" The days where you are fighting any sexual thought coming into your head? I don't have those days anymore.
You can be where I am. For anyone reading this, prepare yourself first, then do the 90 reboot, and for many of us, doing that gets us back to normal or at least in control again.
So I'm fighting on in the theme you set. It's great you shared some of your "reboot school" here, because it was something badly needed. All rebooters have very good intentions and want to move forward in life. What is often lacking is the method - and I like the one you propose.
I was recently thinking about one of the ideas that you shared in this thread - that the reboot is to help with dopamine addiction and dopamine addiction only. That is not a good idea to brag about and get out all the issues in life. This is a very good principle and I think it is deeply rooted in all addiction recovery programs - it is inherent in the 12 steps, for example. I benefit greatly from that. I think I got seriously deconcentrated with many personal issues instead of working on the reboot. I also noticed the tendency to "discover" personal issues that aren't really there, when one is not sincere in the reboot effort. When one is using dopamine kicks then suddenly things screw up in life. Which I think, by the way, is really not that complicated. But it gets massively complicated for addicts.
I have a question regarding triggers - you say they stopped being triggers. This sounds great - but, is it really so? To put in a perspective - I just understood that my way of using dopamine is connected with staring at women. I have really strong cravings when I come across a pretty lady to gaze at her, to turn my head, to make moves so I can see her, to observe her. Creepy, I know, but I'm afraid this is very much built in PMO/dopamine addiction model. Actually, it is voyeurism - and maybe some don't know that but in the classification of sexual addictions voyeurism is just one of the 6 (if I remember correctly) behavioural models but it covers ia. porn. So, all porn addicts will have a knack on voyeurism. But, to be back at my question, I just discovered how deep a problem this is for me and I am just thinkig: will it ever be "safe" for me to actually really look at pretty women? I mean, I do see with the renewed reboot thus far, that it is getting better and that the urges fade away at times, but I just know that this one of my ways of "using". What do you think? BTW, did you have a similar problem with gazing and staring at women in your addiction?
Hi jkkk, thanks for the post. You raise some very interesting and relevant points, and I will give you my opinion.
Yes, I think that for an addict quitting porn, they must walk the narrow way. This means they must focus first on quitting/overcoming the addiction and worry about improving other aspect of their lives later. I have been here and NoFap long enough to have debated it. First, this is for guys who 1) know they are addicted, and 2) are dedicated to quitting it. There are a lot of guys who don't conceive of themselves as addicted, or who do, but have not dedicated to quitting it. There are a group of guys who love porn, but want to control it, to get it and their porn use under control and some of those guys take a sort of holistic approach to the problem, meaning they are not here to fix their porn problem per se but see getting it under control as one thing among many they are doing to "improve their lives." Some of those guys are the greatest guys in the world, but I have pissed a few off by telling them to use the reboot to do one thing and one thing only--get clean. Use the reboot narrowly to overcome your porn aka dopamine addiction first, then, afterwards, once you have fixed this problem, if you want to address the overall quality of your life, you can do it, and I promise fixing your other problems will be much easier without this monkey on your back. Guys have argued about this with me more than once, the reason being the same reason any addict argues about giving up their addiction: They love it, and they hate quitting because quitting hurts.
Gary Wilson asks the million dollar question: Why would any porn loving guy give up his porn? There is only one reason to give up something we love that causes us so much pain in the process of giving it up, and that is it has caused deleterious side effects, the biggest of which are erectile dysfunction and delayed ejaculation (DE being code for you can't come unless you are sitting in front of a computer with porn on the screen and Mr. Righty doing all the work). OK--I never really called my right hand Mr. Righty, that would just be weird.
Your question about triggers and dopamine is an interesting one for porn addicts or those quitting porn. Let's start with a few simple basics. Gary Wilson talks about our "primitive brain's reward system." That is where the problem begins and ends for porn addicts. Everyone on the planet has that brain system. By everyone I mean every healthy mammal that reaches sexual maturity. For humans that process of reaching sexual maturity starts about 10 years of age. It is somewhat deceiving to call it a "reward" center because it really does not reward anything, rather, it might be better to conceive of it as an "encouragement" center; it encourages perpetuation of the species by encouraging us to seek sex. That system, for porn addicts, gets hijacked by High Speed Internet Porn which the system cannot distinguish from sex, and due to the endless novelty, turns on the dopamine spout and keeps it running on high, no pun.
During the reboot, especially during the reboot, I advise guys who are quitting to avoid sexual thoughts, which for a lot of us can become hypersexual thoughts, at all costs. This translates to "avoid a dopamine high." But after the reboot many of us want to "rewire". If the reboot is taking a minimum 90 day period to avoid a dopamine high, the rewiring contemplates getting a normal dopamine spike from seeking sex, as in the real deal. I have said it before and I will say it again, I think there is a beginning, a middle, and an end to quitting porn. In the beginning of quitting and through the reboot all sexual thoughts should be avoided. Of course, it is impossible to completely avoid them, but we should try. This means avoiding triggers, and the biggest trigger of all would be high speed internet porn. The thing we are actually avoiding, though, is a dopamine high. And we always must remember, especially during the reboot, that porn is a chameleon; by the time a guy has determined he is going to quit porn he has often arrived at the porn categories that are so shocking he no longer sees any of his own natural sexuality in what is on the screen. What is easy for those guys to forget is that during the reboot the brain will become so dopamine starved it will start to trigger on things other that that final porn category they were using. Those guys will or can start to trigger on vanilla porn, or things that society does not even deem pornographic, say a swimsuit calendar. Gabe talks about knowing you are addicted to porn when you cannot MO without it. That is true, but a lot of porn addicts have reached the place where they cannot PMO to vanilla porn or just porn with two people having sex because they have, through desensitization, rewired the reward system to reward porn that is, even by their own standards, totally fucked up and weird. By that time they have desensitized their brain reward pathways basic hardcore and have sensitized it to some pretty out-there porn. The point of the reboot is to get our brains resenstized to what is normal. And "normal" for most of us is two people having sex.
Do I think you will reach a place where it is "safe" to look at pretty women? Yes I do, it may not be just yet, and if you doubt it is, you should probably follow your instincts, but I think that looking at pretty women is normal. Gawking at them--no--having spontaneous lascivious fantasies--no. It is not just that gawking and spontaneous lascivious fantasies about women is generally not a good thing, but also, for guys like us, they can result in a dopamine spike, and we only want our spikes to come from the real deal. Normal, natural, human sexuality does involve pursuing our sexuality AND enjoying it. But our problem was never about looking at pretty girls, or if it was, it wasn't a problem until we met our real problem, High Speed Internet Porn. During the reboot you should avoid anything that will trigger you, "trigger" being a word for anything that gives you a dopamine spike, and that usually means hypersexual thoughts. Now, at this point, for me, I can look at a pretty girl and admire her, I may actually think the thought "pretty," but I am not having sex with her in my head. Remember, quitting porn addiction is not only about giving up High Speed Internet Porn, it also about getting back to normal sexuality, and normal sexuality does involve normal dopamine spikes in response to normal stimulation. Sexuality, normal sexuality, is not the enemy, the enemy is using HSIP to abuse the dopamine reward system. I know that during the reboot it is easy to fear normal sexuality, and I encourage avoiding any sexual thoughts during that brief period, but there will be a time, after you have rebooted, where you will want to enjoy your sexuality, your life, the feeling of being alive, and you should not be afraid of that; that is one of the reasons you are here, to feel good about your normal sexuality.
I hope this helps. I enjoyed reading your post and replying; replying to posts are one of the things that keeps me writing here, so post anytime. Who knows, maybe some guy at the very beginning, some guy who does not know what the problem is, or even if he has it, might read these posts and get something positive out of them. Maybe you and I just helped that guy. It would be nice to think so, wouldn't it?
Great question jkkk and, as always, a fantastic post William.
I'm going to do something I vary rarely do, and that's disagree with you on a point you made, William. I think it's incredibly difficult for someone to 'suspend their life' (so to speak) during a reboot and focus on getting clean. My motto is 'live to quit porn, don't quit porn to live'. Truth is, a whole lot of guys with this addiction are missing something big from their life, and until they work at finding out what it is, they're using porn to fill that spot. When we quit, it leaves that gaping void wide open, like trying to push a boulder out of a crater, if we fill the crater with sand it'll be less likely to fall back in. I have found that focusing more on my life and less on my addiction I have had twofold success: 1) progress towards my life goals 2) making it easier to focus on things other than porn.
Don't get me wrong, you need to pay heed to your addiction, note what triggers you and find tactics to help you avoid those dopamine spikes, but overall I think working on your life is an incredibly healthy and helpful thing to do.
I'm looking forward to hearing your views on the issue, I'm not trying to be confrontational or strident on the issue, for I am open-minded, I'm just laying out what I've found to be true so far.
Promise, my experience is my answer. I didn't wake up one day in the middle of porn addiction and say to myself "this is day one, I am quitting." Rather, I began trying to quit before I acknowledged I was addicted, before I believed porn could be addictive, before the concept of porn addiction was accepted, and it has only really been accepted in the last two years. I really did not begin trying to quit; I began by trying to "cut back." When I talk about the group of guys who want to keep porn in their lives but control it...that was me. This was well before I had heard of dopamine or the Coolidge Effect, sensitization, desensitization, ED, DE, rewiring, etc. I just did not like how heavy my porn consumption had become and I wanted to cut back. Like many guys I did not actually think of porn as harmful in any way. I considered myself a fairly liberal kind of guy and I felt most limitations of sexual activity to be somewhat prudish, and that included porn. It was free, I thought it was harmless, I looked at like a private little amusement park that I could go to relieve stress every day, and I did go there--every day. On some level I even told myself I am a liberal kind of guy, unlike the prudes, because I did use porn every. I guess I felt a little rebellious using it, a little bit like a bad boy, and I liked being a bad boy.
But then came the moment when I realized that quitting porn was not going to be like, I don't know, learning to close my mouth when chewing. It was not something that I decided to do, and then did it. I did not know what a withdrawal was, but I found myself wanting to bounce off the walls a few days in, say days 7 to 12. I did not know what a "relapse" was, but I found myself relapsing constantly. This pattern of going a few days, going a couple, three, weeks, then relapsing because it relieved that overwhelming feeling of anxiety and stress--I did that for 14 months before I developed this approach. I developed this approach in response to two things: The Gary Wilson TED talk, and the porn addiction forum on NoFap. Like a lot of guys I hung around and read in that forum before I joined it and began posting. Once I read Gary Wilson I understood I was addicted, and I was not addicted to porn, I was addicted to dopamine. Once I understood I was addicted to dopamine I suddenly understood I was having withdrawals; until then I did not have a word to describe them, I just felt like hell. One of the frustrating things in the forums, for me, was seeing guys going one, two, three weeks and relapsing, and not understanding why. It was then I developed my method to quitting which is Get Educated (study the problem, understand what is going on in their, why you like porn, why you hate giving it up==dopamine and dopamine withdrawal), Get Tools (don't quit with will power alone, find tools to help, like porn blockers and writing in the forums), and Learn to Love Withdrawals (they are inevitable, they are why we fail, they are a good sign actually because it means your brain is rebalancing--it is fighting that due to the addiction, but it is happening).
Promise, I don't believe in suspending your life to quit porn. I did not suspend my life to quit porn, my life went on much the same way it had before, but without porn consumption. But, I bumbled around for 14 months before I developed what jkkk has described as a system, and then I went "hard mode." I did not invent hard mode but many have said it is the best, most efficient, quickest way, to overcome this addiction. By going hard mode I quit trying to fix my life and started to fix my addiction. I know, Promise, you indicate you have had some success, but, that said, you are here in your fifth month and if I recall you have seldom, if ever, gone much beyond two weeks without relapse. Had you gone hard mode from the beginning, and managed to sustain it, you would have been 90 days clean in the firsts half of September. You might have been rebooted, for life. I see your motto, and respect it, but I think you might want to alter it a bit, because I could not live until I quit porn, and once I quit it, I am indifferent to it. All I am saying is, if you want to get cured, get cured, take the medicine, do it now, put it behind you, and live porn free for the rest of your life. I don't wake up everyday and struggle with porn addiction anymore. I did, for the 14 months I was stumbling around in the dark, and I did on many days during the reboot, but for a long time now I am indifferent to it. I will say to you the same thing I would tell anyone who asked my opinion: You can continue to stumble through life with this problem on your back, maybe making two, three, four week runs and relapsing, or, you can take the hard medicine, go hard mode, kill the addiction by starving it to death (the only way to kill it), and then, for the rest of your life, never be bothered by it again, never be controlled by it again, never be afraid of it again, never struggle with it again, never be adversely affected by it again.
Promise, there is no easy way out of this addiction. I wish there were, I wish meditation or life improving hobbies or religious texts or worship or sports would take the addiction withdrawals away. They won't, those withdrawals are simply something that must be experienced to get to this side of clean. When you relapse there is only one reason--you are self medicating yourself with a dopamine high to push the withdrawals back. Dopamine is the only reason we watch porn and become addicted, it is not 99% of the problem, it is 100% of the problem. While there are tools and methods we can employ to beat the problem, ultimately there is only one way to beat the problem for life and that is to reboot and rewire and that takes, most say, 90 days hard mode. You won't get it by adding up streaks, you won't get it by doing 80 days, relapsing, then doing 10, you can't do 45 and 45; you have to set that goal and achieve it. During that 90 you won't be abandoning your life, you will just be abandoning porn. I know that due to the withdrawals it will feel like you can't make it, but you can and I promise you, it will not kill you. It will feel like it, but it won't. Porn addiction can be starved to death but the smallest amount during the reboot feeds it, keeps it alive, so you need to keep it out of your life. I think that if you can get to the hard mode 90 you won't be asking if you can beat porn addiction easily or while improving your life in other ways because I think that by then you won't need to, you can just go about your life improving your life without porn addiction being a bother. I hope you do not take 14 months to understand this, like I did.
I've been fighting the addiction actively for 4,5 years now.
I only came to know YBOP a half year ago and I only came to understand how the "system" employed by those recovering successfully in this forum works a few weeks ago.
I wish I knew all that sooner.
What I learned during my earlier recovery was the 12 steps program.
12 steps are very radical. They basically make your sobriety the center of your life.
The "system" is a bit different - there are no 12 steps in it, obviously. But it also makes sobriety the center of your life. So I think it is also quite radical. Or simply - it is radical.
There is no escape from being radical if you want to get rid of this addiction. I learned it the hard way. I understand why we, addicts, "negotiate" with this simple truth. It's the addiction itself rationalizing with us. Sabotage sits in each one of us. It is very scary, but true. It is also true that many people think of radicals as unintelligent, confined people.
But hey. Don't negotiate with what controls you, you're not on par level - what kind of outcome do you expect?
This rationalizing voice inside of us must be silenced and a conviction must be established that the only winning strategy towards dopamine addiction is a take no hostages approach.
It is a radical addiction. It needs radical action.
And I still stand a bit more radical, in a way, than William, because I think 90 days is not enough - in the sense that there is work to be done afterwards to upkeep, maintain the good fruit of the reboot. The sensitized pathways grow over like grass over an unused footpath, but it certainly takes a while before you cannot see where the footpath treaded.
Thanks jkkk for your very insightful comment. For anyone reading here, 90 is a number that a lot of guys like. I will confess I never set out to do a 90 reboot. I use that as a framework because I have seen a number of successful guys use it. My goal from the beginning was to quit porn, period, forever, absolutely, for life. I do think around 90 days in the reboot, you start dictating to the addiction, and not the other way around. But even this far out I can have a bad day. I will never relapse, I will never have the thought that I am less than in control of myself, but, even this far out I can have a bad day. This is what jkkk is saying. I agree with him, dopamine addiction is about the addiction taking hostages, and if you are addicted, you are the hostage, and for you to be free, you have to have a "no negotiation with hostages" mindset.
There is no grey in porn addiction recovery, you are either clean or you are still using. It is black and it is white.
Anyone reading this, I invite you to step to this side of the line. Clean.
Keep going, porn is not an option.
jkkk, thanks again for posting. Maybe someone reading this will be helped. That is why I write here, and I know why you write here too. Thanks for teaching. This place has enough students, it need more teachers.
I'm still an addict with tendencies towards my addiction, but at the same time I have a life that I'm working on, and that's my main focus. Don't get me wrong, I'm very serious about my hard-mode reboot, which is why I come here and discuss it so often. I just wouldn't want my life to stagnate as it was until after the reboot. Honestly, I think we can start living our lives during a reboot, and maybe I havn't had the best success, but I've certainly had MORE success since I started rebooting with this point of view.
The comments in my other thread about loneliness seem to parrot this; focusing on self-improvement is a great way to avoid thinking about the monkey on your back.
Overall I believe it's all about that 90+ period of hard mode abstinence (excluding genuine healthy relationships), and we use every tool in our armoury to achieve that, whatever works best. I know for me, working hard, working out, socializing, housekeeping, working on areas of my life that I felt were not satisfactory has made this journey go more smoothly than when I spent hours playing League and feeling sorry for myself.
This is the only identifiable point I can say I disagree with you though. Your posts are still very inspirational to me.
Hi Prom, thank for the nice words, and if I have helped at all, that makes me feel good. Don't give any disagreement a second thought. Even Peter and Paul debated. You can Google it. Everyone walks the Road to Damascus, and we all, sooner or later, end up at Antioch. It is called living life.
Radio Will I AM broadcasting to anyone with the problem. If you want to get clean you can get clean. That is what all of us here are saying.
William here. I have only one thing to say. You can beat this. You really can.
This video has absolutely nothing to do with quitting porn addiction. It just happens, I like it. Once you get clear of the problem you will find there are all kinds of things out there to like. I am going to run three miles now. At some point I promise you it will hurt. I also promise you I won't quit, and I will feel better for having done it. Sound familiar?
I have been pondering recently the freedom of getting clean. Back when addicted I planned my day around getting a fix. No longer, and not for a long time, but back before I quit, I probably could not have started my day without knowing that, somewhere during the day, I could fix, and by "fix" I mean PMO. Back then, if I had woken up and thought that in the next 18 hours PMO was not possible, I would probably have freaked out. Back then, it was a comfort. It was a comfort, in the sense getting high is a comfort, until the moment I wanted to quit, but found I could not. I honestly thought quitting would be easy, like turning a television off; I completely failed to understand how screwed up my brain's reward center had become. But after that initial failure in quitting, PMO became a choir, something I had to do every day because I really did not believe I had an alternative. It was only when I tried to quit and couldn't that I understood how serious my problem was, and, honestly, in the very beginning of this, it was inconceivable to me that I could quit; that concept was so alien to me that I really never entertained it, I thought quitting was impossible.
If you are where I was I am here to tell you can can take charge of your life again, porn does not have to rule it. You can be in charge again of your sexuality. You can get to this place, where you do not have to plan your day around your porn consumption, you don't have to be where seeing porn or PMOing is a daily necessity. At this place I am indifferent to porn. It is not that I hate it, it is just that it does not rule me any more. I still don't watch it, but I am rebooted and rewired to real sex now. It's good. You can have this too. Quitting porn won't kill you, it will only feel like that for a bit, I promise.
Standard just posted this. Take it as inspiration. It inspired me.
Hi Guys, and Ladies
Its been a rough ride since leaving home...
Long hours on the plain...
Connectivity problems, etc.
For now I'm back!
Some of might have noticed that I started posting again on some of the other posts.
I have grown to love spending time here on the forum, reading and posting that I have actually missed it a lot since a week ago.
All the encouragement and support still plays a big roll in staying positive and PMO free.
I hate that all the 12 step programmes start by saying, "Once an addict always an addict."
Let me explain.
As a Christian and believer in the Saving power of Jesus Christ. Having experienced it in my personal life. Of which victory over PMO is but one and the most recent example. I am convinced that there are strength in numbers. And that full recovery of the mind are still in the distance.
A forum like this helps you to stay focused and have a more personal relationship with others. And this is what we as humans need. The chances that I will ever meet some of you in real life are slim. However, I know you are out there and that you respond to what I say. This type of experience are not that responsive when it gets to spiritual things.
Having said this, I by no means want to discredit spirituality. Or give that impression.
Actually I see an analogy in the experience of this forum and spirituality.
It works like this.
I need to spend time in the word of God reading and finding things that apply to my life and situation, like I am doing here on Reboot Nation. Even some times read things that are not relevant to my situation helps to educate me and identify pitfalls. This enlightens me and build confidence.
Then I would pray to God to help, strengthen and guide me. In the same way that I would cry out for help here on the forum by posting something in it.
After a while I will get a response to what I have said and asked for. Not always in the way that I expected it to come. At times someone might even PM me and give more personal advice to what I need to hear. This is great and helps me in overcoming temptation and heart ship.
Isn't it wonderful!
Getting back to my progress!
I'm doing very well. It's been almost 6 months now...
A lot has changed since!!!
Most of it not in the way I expected it to.
Remember I never had ED, but were very much over used down under.
The most significant changes I have noticed were that I am more responsive and a lot more sensitive to pleasure.
Making love to my wife has also taken a deeper meaning to it. It is not about just pleasing myself anymore, but first and foremost pleasing her and by that the satisfaction for me is so much greater.
I have also during the past week noticed that I would wake up during the night, say any time between 2 - 4 am with the most amazing strong erections. They would just last forever. I have never experienced something like this before. What a great feeling... 8) Obviously not allowing it to put me into a downward spiral of PMO, I perused my wife and had the most amazing relief making real LOVE to her.
I have been thinking of this and I have realised, and please correct me if you think that I am wrong...
This sure are as close as it is supposed to have been designed by the master designer.
What a blessing it has been.
How could I have allowed myself to miss out on this by being so selfishly trapped in the PMO habit....!
Foolishly thinking that the more I did it the better it would have become...!
Like a dog chasing a car... then when the car stops, it does not know what to do with it... :-\
So this is my plea to anyone that may read this and are still battling to beat the PMO dragon and asking himself is it really worth it?
Yes my Friend it is!!!
And yes, much more than what you can imagine!!!