'I can’t get stimulated unless I watch porn with my girlfriend'

Q. I’m 25 and am addicted to porn. I have a new girlfriend but I find that I can’t get stimulated by her unless we watch porn.

She’s very understanding but I feel disgusting — should I go cold turkey? How should I rehabilitate myself? 

I don’t want to lose her.

A. Porn is not a new invention. 

It is notoriously difficult to estimate the number of people who use porn but a survey carried out by the University of Southern California found three quarters of men and more than a third of women had intentionally viewed or downloaded porn. 

Those figures suggest that the majority of people who use porn come to no harm but a minority, men in particular, become hooked on the novel sexual stimuli porn provides abundantly.

“Compulsive” porn use is defined as more than 11 hours of viewing a week. 

Any man who spends that amount of time searching for and masturbating to porn is likely to experience sexual difficulties, from loss of libido and erectile dysfunction to delayed ejaculation and/or genital desensitisation, when they try to have sex with another person rather than on their own.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a good treatment option, but if you are determined to kick the habit you should also try the NoFap (www.nofap.com) porn recovery method. 

Developed by former porn addicts, Alexander Rhodes and Mark Queppet, the online programme is free and the approach is practical and straightforward. 

On the website, compulsive porn users describe how their increased tolerance towards sexual novelty, super-stimulation and exaggerated sex acts eventually rendered them physically incapable of performing during normal sex. 

Some, like you, were motivated to change because they met someone special and they wanted to have a normal sex life. 

Others had no choice because their addiction had taken over their lives.

NoFap advocates a 90-day abstinence programme to reboot the brain and get you back to a state where you respond to sex in the way you used to. 

It will not be easy because rebooting is not a linear process. 

There are highs and lows and some days will be easier than others. 

Previous research has also found people who used a lot of porn experienced higher rates of depression, anxiety, impulsiveness, and vulnerability to stress.

Whether those findings ring a bell with you, or not, it would be worth asking your GP for advice about what to expect before you start. 

Although your doctor might not know much about porn addiction, he or she will know about the best ways to cope with the withdrawal symptoms you are likely to experience. 

Going cold turkey from any dependency is physically and psychologically stressful, but the more support you have, the more likely you are to succeed.

Distraction is important. 

Plan your time so that you keep active; take exercise, do yoga, eat well and avoid spending long periods of time alone.

Porn users who have rebooted their sexual selves report a surge in energy, a reduction in anxiety and an improvement in sexual function, however, they also experience strong urges, discomfort and spontaneous emissions while they are awake and asleep. 

Some also describe a complete loss of libido, which can panic them into using again to ensure that everything is still working. 

Avoid this trap — it is temporary, your libido will return.

Your girlfriend is obviously aware that you have become porn dependent and she knows your decision to detox is an expression of commitment to her and to your relationship. 

Being able to talk to her about what you are experiencing improves your chance of success, and if you can overcome this challenge together, you are likely to feel much closer as a result.

* Send your queries to suzigodson@mac.com 


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