Getting off pornography lifts brain fog, real-girl terror
Dear Straight Talk: Until recently, I experienced social anxiety, concentration problems and was terrified by real girls. I got into porn in fifth grade and became addicted like so many guys. Last year, I decided to stop. I relapsed a lot, but I'm at 90 days clear, my longest stretch. Not only have I gained confidence talking with girls, but my constant brain fog and social anxiety has lifted. I'm focused and excited about life, which seemed impossible. Many guys defend porn, but it's actually a nightmare. The support of the NoFap community on Reddit was/is vital. I hope my letter helps others break free. —21 and Finally Living
Editor's Note: This is your brain on porn: brain fog, social anxiety, lack of drive, inability to concentrate, awkwardness around girls. Which sounds a lot like your brain on drugs. It also sounds like many of today's teenage and pre-teen boys making one wonder about the rise in ADD diagnoses and if they could be related to porn viewing. American children start seeing/watching porn as early as age 6 and the average age for consuming hardcore pornography is 11. By 16, four out of five kids regularly access online pornography. It is very addicting and difficult to quit, particularly for boys who are hard-wired to be attracted to visual sexual images.
According to the book "Your Brain on Porn," porn actually can rewire the brain and affects many traits associated with manliness: confidence, clarity, drive, libido, erectile function, good posture, muscle tone, hair growth and low voice tone (associated with increased testosterone) — and finding natural women beautiful and exciting (as opposed to comparing them to porn standards).
I'm glad the NoFap movement is gaining momentum. Questioning porn still leads to the "prude" or "anti-sex" label and shuts people down from discussing it, but the more men who recover and are willing to talk about it (and hundreds of thousands are doing just that on these sites), the more the dangers are exposed and the more men "get a new grip on life".
Below are a few comments from the NoFap comment board on Reddit. They match what our panelist, Gregg, said in a 2011 porn column: "The top ‘man stud’ at my college doesn’t watch porn." Go to Reddit and read for yourself the comments from the supportive, inspirational NoFap community, or send someone there that you love. —Lauren
• "I've always had a weird relationship with girls. I'm nineteen and I have never even kissed a girl, or held a girl's hand. Yet I had ridiculously high standards of both looks and personality and felt a weird kind of... contempt, almost, for anyone who was beneath them, which was nearly everyone. But guys, thank God, that insane attitude has just completely dissipated over the last few months. Everyone looks beautiful to me, to the extent where sometimes I'll just say to friends, "all the girls here look really pretty today," or even once "all the girls here are dressed really beautifully today." This is probably the best thing that has happened, to have dragged my mind free from that filthy mire and be able to appreciate real, natural women. That alone has made it worth it. To have girls noticing me back, and a friend (a girl who is in a relationship), smile at me while the group was talking about relationships and say "no-one would break up with you," makes the whole experience even more amazing."
• "For me, whilst on a relapse streak, a week passes by without me realizing it. Meaning that when I look back at my week at the end of it, all the days blur together because I did the same boring, lazy, unproductive crap everyday. However, on an abstinence streak, everyday is memorable. I sometimes forget I even use to watch porn, masturbate and the likes. At the end of a week it feels as if a whole month passed by because of all that was accomplished throughout it. Anybody ever felt the same? Reminder to myself: I cannot turn 17 and still be addicted to myself. Grow up."
• "Hey guys, day 5! and yesterday already start to feel a base energy in my pubic that makes me feel good about myself. It's like feeling more secure that there is tremendous power in me. Amazing. I noticed my voice is deeper. And my dad who used to not respect people and nags at people, seems to nag at me less and in the past few days hasn't been finding fault with me. . .
• "When I had my most recent [NoFap] streak I felt more relaxed in social situations and my erections were stronger when I had sex. I also definitely felt my voice get deeper as well."
• "Been able to eat healthy and exercise consistently since starting nofap. Lost weight (20 lbs so far), might be in the best shape of my whole life. Music is AMAZING now."
• "i was doing a lot of reflection this past weekend and i realized i had erectyle disfunction since i was 18 years old, 33 now. I remember it because now (i'm married) if my wife even kisses me i get as hard as a brick. when i was 17 or 18 i was dating this girl and. . . when we would make out, i don't ever remember being hard or wanting to devour her. Last night my wife made out with me and i swear i felt like an animal. . . so i definitely can pinpoint now to 17 or 18 years old, that's how far back this disease had a hold on my life :( wow!"
• "90+ days free: I used to have skin issues, which included acne, seborrheic dermatitis, and folliculitis, and dry & oily skin... they are gone, and my skin is perfect. . . I was always grossly skinny, and had a weak flimsy body now that I remember it. Without any difference in exercise or diet, I'm muscular, stronger, fuller and have a sound body, which also appears taller. My voice is deeper and clearer. Clear mind, not anxious or depressed or confused, confident, energetic, no fatigue, and so on.