I Quit Watching Porn and It Changed My Life
4 min read | Mar 2022

I Quit Watching Porn and It Changed My Life

It took a while to rewire my brain, but I eventually learned how to see women as more than sexual objects.

NiceDonut / Millennial / Socialist / Environmental Engineer

When I was 10 years old, in the middle of playing a computer game, I clicked on an advertisement that led me to a porn site. I was quickly thrust into a world beyond my comprehension, unable to find the vocabulary to describe what I was scrolling through. The deeper I searched, the more entranced I became. My eyes locked onto these images, previously unknown to my imagination, and I was hooked. What started as a childhood infatuation shortly became a harrowing addiction. 

My experience with pornography started as an occasional glance when my parents were out of the house, but it gradually became a daily ritual—sneaking a minute of a video here or a glance of an image there. Because I couldn’t understand what I was witnessing, I couldn’t seek any support around my new fascination. I had incredibly strong emotions about what I was watching, but I couldn’t differentiate what was good and bad. I only delved deeper and deeper.

Over time, I began spending more and more time browsing the internet for what would satisfy my constantly evolving sexual desires. What looked like extra-long bathroom breaks and showers were the start of something I would struggle with for half my life. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have had such unrestricted access to the internet when parental control settings didn’t exist. But at that time, no one knew the full scope of the internet’s damaging capabilities.

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I Couldn't Stop Seeing Women as Sexual Objects

Some people will say that porn is healthy and non-problematic in moderation. While I disagree, I won’t spend time trying to argue the contrary. Some people may also believe I have religious motives to be writing this article. I will admit my religious beliefs played a part in wanting to quit viewing porn, but they were not the paramount reason. 

By the time I was 18, I was spending upwards of one to two hours a day viewing explicit material. Regardless of my intention to masturbate or not, I would spend time just staring at it to feel connected to something intimately. This not only had immense impacts on my time but it affected my mental health and my relationships with other people. 

As a straight male, I couldn’t keep eye contact with women without sexualizing them. I've had a few female friends throughout my life, but I was never able to feel too close to them—I always felt a sense of shame for not being able to just be their friend. My greatest desire was to be with a friend without viewing them as an object, but I couldn't quell those parts of me.  Relationships were out of the question, since I had no capacity for a healthy one outside of having sex. When I tried to get close to a woman, I would push the sexual boundaries and keep all my emotional components to myself. 

Eventually, I became more isolated, recognized my problem and tried to reduce and quit my porn consumption. Easier said than done. A friend had advised me to shorten the amount of time I spent on porn websites, and I learned to wean myself down to a few minutes per day. The largest hurdle I faced was that the addiction was tied to feelings of shame and guilt. When I watched porn, I would spiral into more and more consumption as a way to cope.

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My Decision to Quit Porn Has Changed My Perception of Sex and Intimacy

It took a new mindset to start pushing me away from this addiction. I started to imagine what I wanted in a lifelong partner and how it would make them feel to know that I would see them as an object. I recognized the paradigm I had created, and I began to imagine that I could change, that despite my unrealistic cravings for sex, I could desire to be intimate with an individual beyond having sex. To really know someone. I was no longer searching for my perfect sexual experience; I was working toward having a positive connection, not with someone that could fulfill my desires but with someone I could grow with as a person. I had to rewire my brain. I wasn’t a bad person for having a porn addiction; rather, I had been seeking intimacy in the wrong way.

I hold an unpopular opinion that porn is harmful and should be excluded from people’s lives and relationships. This comes from experience, knowing how it can lead people to treat others as objects for their sexual desires and in the way it's also damaged my friendships and relationship with my now-fiancee. Because of my deep-rooted exposure to porn, I still have doubts and insecurities that if my partner doesn't want to have sex, I’m not wanted or have done something wrong. I’ve had to work on completely rewiring my brain to combat these thoughts.

For the last three years, I haven't consumed porn. I would recommend it to anyone, as it allows you to improve your view of sex and relationships. It taught me that I could be selfless in love and sex and that the end goal didn't have to be my pleasure. While my experience isn’t widely recognized as an issue or a problem at all, I hope others can examine their porn use to determine its impact on their sex life and relationships with others. Porn may not affect some people as negatively as others, but it does affect our attitude about sex. Three years later, I don’t regret my decision to quit. I can be open and free to love my partner without the worry that I’m thinking about an idealized sexual image of her. I can focus on loving her.

Quitting porn changed my life for the better. To the skeptics out there: It’s worth a try.

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