Hi Doc, I’m a big fan. I’ve been reading your work on and off for years, and it’s helped me make a lot of sense of stuff. Thanks for what you’re doing, and please keep up the good work.
I have a problem that I think is unfortunately pretty normal, but I’m not entirely sure how to find resources to counter it that don’t simultaneously demonize it. I have a really hard time not looking at porn when I’m alone.
I know your stance on porn addiction, and I’m inclined to agree with it. I don’t mean that looking at porn, in and of itself, is the problem. I’m a healthy, red blooded dude, I’m not asexual, porn is going to happen. And this isn’t yet to the point where I think most folks would say it’s affecting my life, because it hasn’t yet started affecting my job. I’ve never looked at porn at the office or in a public place. From what I’ve read, that’s one of the main markers of addiction.
Thing is, I would argue that it is affecting my life, and has been for almost as long as I’ve had access to it- it’s just that I’m either so good at hiding it that nobody realizes, or people have noticed something is wrong but haven’t said anything out of propriety. I’m consistently late for things, my sleep schedule isn’t regular, and I haven’t been on a date in years. I’ve also never had penetrative sex, because I haven’t been able to get it up when with a woman.
It’s hard to know where to start with all of this, because it’s been a part of my life for so long I can barely imagine what things were like without it. I was touching myself I think as young as eight without really knowing what I was doing, and I was looking at porn in the days of dialup before my parents cottoned on to what the internet meant for me. I’ve had a very strong libido my whole life, and I found porn before I figured out how to talk to girls. It was just always so much easier.
I’m not saying I’ve been a complete martyr to this- I’ve assembled some accomplishments I’m proud of, in spite of it. I have a good job, and I’ve had some mild creative success nationally that I won’t go into specifics about (for obvious reasons.) I’ve led an active lifestyle and participated in a few sport events that have kept me healthy. I’m very fortunate, and I’m making an okay life for myself.
But this shadow hangs over everything, and it feels like it’s holding me back. There have been times when I haven’t had access to porn for brief periods, and I felt like I transformed into this better version of myself. For a few weeks in college my laptop stopped being able to access the internet, leaving me no access to fresh whacking material. Suddenly, when masturbation became this thing that just had to be accomplished to clear my head, instead of a pastime involving the inspection and collation of entire corners of the internet, I was twice as productive, and much more likely to go out and speak to people. I felt more engaged, and my schoolwork improved dramatically. I was still beating off, but it became something to finish, not to extend.
Fast forward to now. I’m living on my own. I don’t have roommates or family to keep me away from the internet, or to provide the social pressure to at least appear like I’m not addicted (or your word of choice) in my own home. I’m on my computer all the time- I have work I do at home that requires a screen and internet access. Porn is right there, just a click away.
Gradually, as I’ve lived on my own, it’s started to get worse. Now, for the first time, I’ve paid for porn, instead of just looking at clips or snapshots. Not that paying people for their work is a bad thing! It’s the way I’m doing it that bothers me. I’m dropping upwards of two hundred dollars in an evening without thinking about it or considering how it affects my finances. It’s only been a few times over the last year, and so far it hasn’t been anything other than a cautionary tale in the light of day, but it is a dangerous precedent and I’m worried about losing control over it.
Over the years I’ve tried a lot of the things that I’ve seen suggested- I’ve used blocking programs to make myself think twice. I’ve deleted all my bookmarks and reset my browser history. I’ve sworn off masturbation altogether. I’ve tried just rubbing one out without porn. I’ve attempted all of these more than once over decades, and none of them last more than two weeks at the outside, usually less than three days. The other standard suggestions- eating healthy, exercising, finding hobbies- are all things I already do. I live on salad, avocado, and light fish, I exercise for 45 minutes to an hour every day of the week, I have a hobby that takes up most of my free time that doesn’t go to porn. The standard stuff is not working for me.
It’s not that I lack willpower. The other stuff I’ve done shows me that I can make myself do a lot of things. It’s keeping myself from doing something that’s proving the challenge. At this point, I don’t think I can do this on my own. I need help.
I just don’t know where to look. How do you ask for recommendations for sex therapists dealing with this sort of thing? I can’t go out and ask my friends or family what’s worked for them- none of them know this is something I’m dealing with. I’ve been in therapy before but it was for completely different stuff, and the organization that was providing it was faith based. There’s google, but I don’t know what resources to trust or how to judge them, and I’m worried they’re just going to give me more of the same advice I’ve already found for myself, or it’s going to be some black and white, moralistic, porn-is-evil stuff. I don’t think porn is evil, I don’t think beating off is evil, I don’t think my urges are anything unnatural or wrong. I just want to be able to exercise some self control once in a while. Have some power to determine how I use my free time. Maybe dial it back a bit so I can start actually seeing, and getting turned on by, a real woman, with real sex.
Whaddaya think, doc? Got anything for me?
Thanks a ton,