Porn addiction – what is it? How to know if you’re addicted? What to do about it? Is there a cure? How can you overcome it? Stick around – I’m going to address all of that!

 

I regularly work with men who struggle with porn use and porn addiction

 

Some men who come to see me are self-proclaimed addicts. Others simply want to learn to reduce their porn usage or to stop it completely.

 

And there are fairly consistent reasons for their desire to quit porn. These men mention feelings of shame and guilt, they tell me about the negative effects of porn on their sexual performance like premature ejaculation or erectile difficulty. Watching porn often affects their mood, their focus and their overall wellbeing. And on top of all that, their relationships often suffer.

 

I really want to point out here that porn in itself isn’t good or bad

 

Watching porn isn’t always harmful. Many couples can successfully use it to bring a new sizzle and spark into their bedroom routine, particularly in long-term relationships. Many single people can use it to create more pleasure, arousal and fun for themselves.

 

Porn is just a tool and all comes down to HOW we use it. If we use it in ways that negatively affect our lives and our relationships, then that becomes a problem. Plus, porn can be highly addictive which is why so many people struggle with it.

 

So first of all, how can you tell if you’re addicted to porn?

 

1/ tolerance to porn

Is your tolerance to porn increasing? Are you finding yourself spending more and more time watching porn? Or have you started seeking more shocking or extreme type of porn videos?

 

2/ withdrawal symptoms

How do you feel when you don’t watch porn for a while? Are you experiencing frustration, irritability, anxiety, do you struggle to focus or to remain clear-minded?

 

3/ controlling your use

Are you able to control your porn usage? Do you use it more than you’d ideally like to?

 

4/ your wellbeing

Is watching porn affecting your mood, your clarity of mind, your wellbeing, the quality of your sleep, your daily life, your effectiveness in performing tasks – both at home and at work?

 

5/ desire to cut down

Are you feeling disappointed with yourself? Are you experiencing a desire to cut down your porn watching habit?

 

6/ secrecy

Are you hiding your porn use from others in your life? Do you feel like you need to sneak around in order to watch porn?

 

If you answered ‘Yes’ to at least some of these questions, that means that you might have a problem. But don’t worry, there are different things that you can do about it!

 

I’m going to break down my tips into two groups. First of all, the mindset changes and shifts you can create to reduce or end your porn watching habit. And secondly, practical things you can do while you’re watching porn which will help you wean yourself off porn over time.

 

A/ the mindset

 

So whenever you feel tempted to watch porn, think about how you will feel afterwards. Because yes, porn will give you a temporary pleasure, but it will probably make you feel shit about yourself afterwards.

 

Is it worth it? Is giving in to porn worth the shame, guilt, headache, low mood, foggy brain, poor sleep, etc? Or will you be better off walking away from it?

 

Also remember that the more you walk away from porn, the easier it will become to leave it. This is because you’ll start forming and strengthening new neural connections in your brain, allowing you to more easily give up the porn watching habit.

 

Make sure to also create more rewarding habits in your life to replace porn. Ultimately, you reach for porn because you want that hit of dopamine, of pleasure. Because you’re feeling low, stressed, lonely, depressed, etc. in the moment.

 

And porn offers a quick fix. However, you can reach for other rewarding behaviours like exercise, catching up with a friend, watching an entertaining movie, investing in self-improvement books, articles, workshops, etc.

 

All these things will also give you pleasure, but without the heavy burden of a bad mood, poor sleep or lower quality relationships in your life. So it’s a matter of swapping certain habits and behaviours (in this case watching porn) for other habits that will increase your wellbeing and make you feel good about yourself.

 

B/ new way to watch porn

 

If you can quit porn cold turkey, then good on you! This second part won’t concern you. However, if you’re struggling with that radical approach and you’re still finding yourself giving in to pornography, here are some tips to wean you off porn over time.

 

1/ stand up

People usually watch porn while laying or sitting down. This means that they cannot really move their bodies much. So you’re going to do something different. You’re going to stand up and place your phone or laptop at the level of your face. This will allow you to actually move your entire body as you’re masturbating.

 

2/ conscious breath

Stay connected to your body. Instead of losing yourself in the images on your screen, use your breath to stay connected to the sensations in your body. Make sure to make your breath deeper, slower, more relaxed. A conscious breath will help you stay more embodied.

 

3/ shift your attention

Every few minutes, pause the porn movie, turn away from the screen and continue masturbating, while paying a close attention to the pleasure in your body. After 5 breaths or so, you can come back to watching porn.

 

Part of the problem with porn is that it puts us in a sort of a trance, numbs us down and pulls us away from reality

 

This is why this alternating approach – where you’re moving your attention between porn on the screen and the physical sensations in your body – will start to retrain and recondition your body and mind to stay in your physical reality.

 

Over time, try to reduce the amount of time you’re watching porn in each session and keep increasing the amount of time you’re pausing porn and masturbating without it. This is a very powerful approach to help you let go of the need to watch porn.

 

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