OCD Ruined My Sex Life
6 min read | Mar 2022

OCD Ruined My Sex Life

When sexual fantasies meet intrusive thoughts, the results can be torture.

Greatstrides / Millennial / Libertarian / Writer, Actor

My earliest memory of having an intrusive thought was from when I was 7. I had gone to the bathroom during recess and started washing my hands, as good boys and girls do. After drying them off, I swore I saw a baby germ lingering on my left knuckle. It felt icky, like a slimy worm. I had to get it off of me. I went back to the sink and repeated the cleansing ritual three times—my lucky number. No matter how many times I repeated the cycle, my hands didn’t feel clean enough. Every time I touched a door or a desk or a pencil (three times), I was convinced I carried E. coli all over the school and everyone would get sick and die and it would be my fault. 

My intrusive thoughts also made me a pathological truth-teller, to an annoying extent. Every time I did something wrong, the guilt would weigh heavily on my mind. This might sound like a good trait, but it’s not always. When my second-grade teacher caught my friends and me talking in class, part of our punishment was to sign a discipline document. I didn’t sign it, but I couldn’t let it go and, two years later, I was back in front of that teacher, in tears, to confess.

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Puberty Turned My Intrusive Thoughts Sexual

For the majority of my childhood, these were the lengths of my intrusive thoughts. Then, I discovered pornography at the ripe old age of 9. I went from looking up photos of Six Flags Magic Mountain to looking up photos of naked women. I attended a small K-8 Catholic school in Long Beach, California. When we weren’t talking about God’s love, kids in my grade were talking about penis sizes and the real meaning of the F-word. It seemed like all my classmates discovered what sex was right when I did, even if we didn’t know what to call it. My parents knew that I knew, but, in our household, we never had the birds and the bees discussion. Everything I learned about sex, I had to learn about on my own—and porn was my teacher. 

I learned more about human anatomy from Pornhub than I did in class. Sex ed felt like a SparkNotes review compared to what I was seeing online. I learned how to masturbate at the age of 9, and it became my number one coping mechanism for social anxiety. Whenever I was happy, sad, angry or whatever I was feeling at the moment, masturbation seemed like the right thing to do, for lack of a better phrase. 

When I got to middle school and started going through puberty, my intrusive thoughts came fully into fruition. I began developing sexual fantasies about not only my classmates but my educators, as well. I felt like a pervert. No matter how attractive my male teachers were, I should not have had these thoughts about them. Initially, I chalked it up to growing pains. 

“Every kid going through puberty has these thoughts,” I told myself. “As long as I keep them suppressed, I should be good.” But they never let up.

After I reached college, my intrusive sexual thoughts only got worse. My growing pornography addiction didn’t help. I started with straight porn. It felt “manly” to watch women in porn (at least, that’s what felt “cool” to other boys my age). There was a sleepover I went to in middle school with all boys where we watched a bunch of porn when the mother hosting us went to sleep. I remember feeling drawn to it—not to the girl in the porn, but the idea that we can somehow learn from it. When I went through puberty and discovered gay porn, it became my source of pleasure. There would be days when I would spend up to 10 hours watching porn. It got so routine that it became normal. I didn’t want to be social. I would ignore texts and calls from friends. I hid away from my family. I sailed away to Lonely Island and didn't even realize it.

My Sexual Fantasies Made Me Miserable

My sexual fantasies escalated to include everyone around me: male, female, young, old, black, white, it didn’t matter. Coming to terms with my queerness was difficult. I felt like a pervert for falling for a cute, brown-haired soccer player. With my Catholic upbringing, my obsession with sex was also mixed with self-hate. Almost nothing was off-limits for me. It was like a car crash that you’re helpless to stop. I couldn’t avoid the thoughts. I would have these intrusions up to 20 times a day. Every time it happened, I felt repulsed. The fantasies weren’t even sexy; they were graphic and deviant: group sex, public play, BDSM, sexual violence. They frequently kept me up at night. A lot of them didn’t even fit my sexual interests. (I’m as vanilla as it gets.) I would describe myself as open sexually, but not explicitly so. I thought enacting these scenes might get them out of my head, so I started to venture into some in-person exploration.

Almost 30 sexual partners later, I still haven’t found the “cure” I thought was be out there. 

What I have found is how to best save myself. In order to break down my porn-related OCD, I had to go after its roots. Scrolling through Instagram one day, I discovered an organization called Fight the New Drug, which specializes in educating people on the harm pornography does to the consumer—as well as the performers. I realized I had a problem, but discovering them made me feel less alone, considering both men and women suffer from it. 

What makes pornography addicting, in my opinion, is the self-exploration of it. Growing up, sex was never discussed around me. To this day, my parents and I have never discussed sex, even though I’m now a 23-year-old man. I’m not trying to shame them—I think sex was too taboo, even in the early 2000s. I’m also autistic, which makes people tend to infantilize me in a way that winds up oppressive, even if they don’t mean it that way. Open discourse around sex would probably save a lot of children from being exposed to pornography. But in my case, that was only part of the problem. 

I certainly have a problem. When you throw religious trauma, sexual immaturity and OCD in a batter, you wind up with the most toxic cake imaginable. I couldn’t tell what was real and what was fake. I felt like the desires that would manifest in my thoughts meant that I was those things, that this was the reality I was stuck in. I eventually learned that it couldn’t be further from the truth.

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Educating Myself About Mental Health Has Brought Me Relief

Over the last two years, I’ve discovered OCD-related support groups through social media. Educating myself on the different types of OCD has allowed me to feel normal again. During the pandemic, I’ve learned that social media is a true gift for learning about other people’s experiences. I had been following mental health accounts for a while before discovering Instagram accounts dedicated specifically to OCD. These accounts would break down OCD and the thought process of it. There is one girl who I currently follow who is documenting her life treating her OCD in a hospital. It’s given me tools to let these intrusive thoughts sit, without being scared of them. Intrusive thoughts are like waves; you can let them crush you, or you can ride them. 

I wish I could say that I’m 100 percent clean of porn. Over the last year and a half, I’ve made a few different attempts at quitting, but I’ve stumbled each time. The longest I went was three months. At times, I feel like a fraud. But what keeps me going is my desire to let go of control. I found that when I’m obsessing over having control in my life, the intrusive thoughts become prevalent. Since approaching my self-healing this way, my intrusive thoughts have decreased. I’m learning how to have better relationships with men (and not see them as sex objects). I don’t want this message coming off as some random guy acting like he’s holier than everyone. I hope you, the reader, can understand that we don’t have to succumb to our environment. 

In order to do that, we have to trust ourselves. I didn’t believe I was worth healing, and I punished myself for years about it. Do yourself a favor: Give yourself a big hug! You’re doing just fine.

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