Status Update: Taking a longer view

I thought it was about time to write about where I am right now.

Since I begun my latest mission to quit porn, I have ‘relapsed’ twice. The first time I did the usual thing of berating myself for doing it, feeling completely miserable and deflated for a day or two.

Completely coincidentally, I happened to receive an email on the very same day by a twitter user @TheFapman. He was replying to an email I had sent him introducing myself and explaining my situation and goals. He is in the process of setting up some sort of support system and is actively trying to help people in my situation with daily email check-ins and motivational tips (I’ve not taken him up on these yet but am thinking about it).

One of the main points he made (which he happens to have tweeted about this evening), was that recovery from porn addiction can be far more effective if a longer-term view is taken. I don’t yet know the reasoning behind this, but he had an interesting way of looking at recovery.

The traditional view is to go cold turkey on porn. No more porn, no more masturbation. A potential problem with this approach is that if (and usually when) someone relapses, they consider it a huge defeat. It will be a distressing experience as the person will feel let down with themselves, angry, and a wide range of other emotions (at least, that’s my experience and that of many I’ve read about).

An alternative view seems to be instead of going cold turkey and considering a relapse as a failure to get depressed over, start to review your progress on a monthly basis in terms of ‘days clean’. The example he gave was of someone he liaises with who was 20 days clean in the first month, 21 in the second, and 23 in the third. The point is that assuming abstinence from porn is a long-term goal, then one relapse really isn’t that significant. The aim of the game is to reduce your porn consumption to zero, but it is ok for this to take a while. Of course, cold turkey is only one way of dealing with traditional addictions, so why be any different for porn addiction?

If I apply this to my own short journey so far, it looks like this:

Google Calendar showing days clean and days where I relapsed with porn
Google Calendar showing days clean and days where I relapsed with porn

You can see that over the period of 20 days, I have relapsed 3 times. It isn’t great going I suppose, but it is nice to see large bars of green and does put things in perspective somewhat – a relapse isn’t the end of the world and something to punish yourself for. As long as solid progress is being made in the right direction, that’s the important thing.

A risk of this longer-term view that I perceive is that it reduces the pressure to not watch porn. It would almost be like “its ok to watch porn three times this month” or something. And maybe that’s actually ok!? It must be a hard balance to find though of concentrating on removing these thoughts from your head, while at the same time giving a little more weight to the devil on your shoulder saying “its ok just once or twice”.

I’m very interested to hear more about how TheFapman recommends dealing with these challenges and how this method can be applied, and I intend to write back to him.


(P.S. If anyone is interested in the calendar above, I use Google Calendar and it is quite handy. You can also share calendars with others so I’m open to sharing with other people so we can see each others’ progress – get in touch if this is of interest to you)

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