I was chatting to one of my therapists earlier, and trying to explain a particular situation that sometimes leads me to relapse. What I described was a scenario where, over a number of days, I’ve had regular, persistent, sexual thoughts and a desire to use porn, that I haven’t been able to shift.
Not a trigger…
In these situations, I had a clear head and wasn’t being triggered. The environment, time of day and my mood would change, but still the sexual thoughts would return again and again, regardless of what I did to counter them.
The best way I could describe it was that I missed my use of porn. It wasn’t that I needed it, but I felt that there was a hole where it had left me and nothing else had filled the space.
“How are you meeting your sexual needs?”
My therapist asked whether I had a healthy outlet for my sexual desires. I said that I did not, as my wife and I aren’t currently sexually active. The therapist responded by pointing out something that I think is forgotten a lot of the time in the way the Nofap debate is discussed on this forum:
"Everyone has genuine sexual needs that they must meet. If you aren’t meeting them in a healthy way, can you really blame yourself if you keep returning to porn?"
I had to confess that I hadn’t really considered this before. So tied up in the battle to give up porn was I, that I hadn’t stopped to consider what to replace it with.
What is real?
I’ve been a porn addict for so long that I can’t easily say what counts as my actual sex drive, which all humans have, and what is the habit caused by my addiction. Up until now, I’ve been treating all urges as bad, but, just as a dieter still needs to eat, a porn addict still needs some sort of sexual fulfilment in life.
In the therapy session we concluded that if I am able to rule out any triggers (mood, emotions, environment etc) and any other unmet needs (Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, Tiredness), and if the desires don’t disappear when rational thought is applied, it’s reasonable to assume that what I’m feeling is a genuine sexual need that I need to act on.
Meeting my needs
Regardless of how genuine the need is, I don’t wish to meet it with porn, if I can avoid it. I don’t feel good about using porn and I don’t think it’s helpful in allowing my brain to rewire itself. Masturbation is a better option, but I can’t really do it without feeling guilty and ashamed. That leaves me with only one good option: sex.
I know that most people on this forum are young, and often, single. I wonder though if anyone here has found themselves in long term relationships where their porn addiction has effectively killed their sex lives? Has anyone managed to successfully re-engage with their partner and form and loving and healthy sexual relationship to replace porn?
In my own case, I love my wife dearly, and she’s exactly my type, physically, but I’m so used to flitting from one fantasy woman to another, always looking for something new, that I find it difficult to focus on her and pay her the attention she deserves. How to pour all one’s sexual energy into one woman, when one is used to splitting it a thousand ways? And how to encourage that woman to begin to reengage with you, sexually, when your habit has killed her sex drive, as well as yours?