The Ultimate How To Quit Porn Guide

Quitting porn is one of the best decisions of you life! Porn has a toxic influence on your mind. It takes away your masculinity. It makes you impotent eventually. When you quit porn your life improves drastically. The problem is how to quit porn.

(I assume you’re addicted to porn or you realized that porn is a problem. At least you opened this page on how to quit porn. But, if you’re still unsure, read first my article on the toxic influence porn has on your mind (and Part 2). Even without a clear addiction symptoms I recommend quitting porn.)

Basics Of Porn Addiction

To quit porn for good we need to understand why porn is so addictive, how to approach quitting and the obstacles.

Porn Is A Habit

Quitting porn is hard because watching porn is a bad habit. Thus, if you want to know how to quit porn, you first need an understanding of habits. To break the habit you need to understand what habits are. You need to understand why they exist and how they work.

Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter. In 2012 he published his best seller “The Power Of Habit.” In the book he explains in-depth the science of habits.

The good news is that Duhigg agrees that habits can be changed.

“However, simply understanding how habits work—learning the structure of the habit loop—makes them easier to control. Once you break a habit into its components, you can fiddle with the gears.” – Charles Duhigg

More on that later. First, let’s define what habits are.

“… habits as they are technically defined: the choices that all of us deliberately make at some point, and then stop thinking about but continue doing, often every day.” – Charles Duhigg

The core idea behind habits is energy conservation.

“Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.” – Charles Duhigg

Every decision costs a little energy.

“When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making.” – Charles Duhigg

We don’t have to make simple decisions all the time, like how to use the toilette. Instead, we use habits.

Now, let’s go back to the already mentioned habit loop. Let’s break habits into its components.

“This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future” – Charles Duhigg

Before we discuss the actual loop let’s break the components further down:

  • Cues can be almost anything. Seeing a ice cream truck or an advertisement. It can be a smell, a place, or a certain time. Or, a combination of other cues.

  • Routines can be physical, mental or emotional. They can take long time or very little. They can be obvious but also very subtle.

  • Rewards can foods, drugs, physical sensations, or emotions.

These 3 components don’t add up to a loop; rather a process. Cue triggers routine brings reward.

When cue and reward become intertwined, the craving for the reward can trigger the routine. The craving closes the loop.

“Over time, this loop—cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward—becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges.” – Charles Duhigg

Porn follows the same pattern. A cue triggers the watching and masturbation routine. The orgasm, more specifically the released dopamine, is the reward. Our brains can’t tell the difference between a good and a bad habit. It’s just a mechanism to conserve energy. We can use the same mechanism to change the habits.

Mindset Change

If you searched for a how to quit porn guide with easy step-by-step tasks, I have to disappoint you. It isn’t so easy. Habitual problems require a mindset change to find a permanent solution.

Systems Approach

To quit porn you have to take a systems approach. Let’s clarify what I mean by system. I’ll borrow the explanation from Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. In his 2013 published book “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big” he writes about his success formula. One part of his formula is what he calls the systems approach.

He explains:

“For our purposes, let’s say a goal is a specific objective that you either achieve or don’t sometime in the future. A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run. If you do something every day, it’s a system. ” – Scott Adams

Adams argues that goal oriented people can fail whereas systems oriented people succeed every time they use their system.

Examples are:

“In the world of dieting, losing twenty pounds is a goal, but eating right is a system … In business, making a million dollars is a goal, but being a serial entrepreneur is a system ” – Scott Adams

Quitting porn needs a system approach for 2 reasons.

Habits never die. They are engraved in our brains. We can replace and modify them. But, deep down they still exist.

Let’s assume you manage to quit porn for 6 months and you replace it. The habit is still there lurking. You need something that lasts forever. You need a system.

A system approach also makes it impossible to fail. The goal is to apply the system. Let’s assume your goal is to quit porn for 6 months. (Many people think if they manage to quit porn for a certain time, they will no longer feel the urge afterwards.) Let’s assume you watched porn again in the second month. You failed. That failure makes you feel bad and you will watch porn again regularly. With a system you can’t fail as long as you apply your system. Applying the system is the goal. If it doesn’t bring the wished results you change it.

Iterative Steps

Another important mindset change is to approach quitting in iterative steps. Again, we want to minimize the likelihood of failure.

This article and many others give large amounts of advice on how to quit porn. It can be overwhelming. Most people stop where. They falsely assume that they have to do everything and they can’t do it. Don’t make the same mistake. You don’t have to implement all the how to quit porn advice you get; Just what works for you.

Of those who take the advice and try to quit, many fail for one single reason. They try to implement all the advice immediately. It either works or it doesn’t. But, if it doesn’t work, they assume all the advice doesn’t work. In most cases that’s not true. A far better approach is to start small and extend your system with what works. Implement one advice each week. Test if it works for you. Keep what works and discard what doesn’t.

Iterative steps not only decrease the likelihood of failure they also need less willpower. It is like the boiling frog. If you implement the advice too fast, your brain will notice it. If you implement the advice gradually, your brain will hardly notice it. You will need less willpower to stay on track.

Use the iterative approach to create and improve your system. Try the how to quit porn advice out for a fixed time. Keep what works and discard what doesn’t.

Failure Is Not An Option

On some days you will fail. You will backslide. How you react in those moments will determine your success.

Don’t forget that porn is an industry that works against you. Don’t forget that porn is a habit/addiction that works against you. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead, be yourself a friend. Improve your system and apply it every day! You’re going to quit porn eventually!

It’s crucial that you believe in your success. Otherwise, you will return to you old habits. At least in high stress situations. You have to believe in your success! Even on the days you fail, you have to believe in your success. Especially on those days!

If you don’t, you’ll fail. You will give up. Commit yourself to the task, to make failure impossible. Write down your commitment on a piece of paper. Something like the following is sufficient:

“I will quit porn for good. I know how to quit porn. I’m stronger than porn. I have everything inside me to stop watching porn. I will quit porn for good!”

Put it somewhere you can see it every day. Read it so often until you believe it. And then continue reading it every day.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Before we get to the concrete how to quit porn advice I want to mention the withdrawal symptoms. Depending on how fast you proceed you could suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety

  • Restlessness

  • Insomnia

  • Fatigue

  • Headache

  • Poor concentration

  • Erectile dysfunction

Don’t be surprised, if you suffer from any of them. Don’t worry either. After a couple of hours or days they vanish.

At last you have the same understanding what porn is and how it works. You understand how the habit loop works. You believe in your success and you are committed to quitting porn.

How To Quit Porn Advice

Here is my list of advice on how to quit porn. I grouped them in four categories: essential advice, advice on cues, advice on routines, and advice on rewards.

As I mentioned earlier you don’t have to implement all the advice. Pick what works for you and dismiss what doesn’t.

But, don’t skip the essentials. Start with them! They will speed up your success. They will decrease the likelihood of failure.

Remember, your goal is to create a system that works for you; A system you can apply to for the rest of your life.

Essential Advice

Keep A Porn Watching Journal

Start to journal when you watch porn and/or masturbate. The goal is to understand your porn habits. You need to understand what the cues and rewards are. You need to understand the underlying desire. That knowledge will enable you to change.

Entries should at least contain:

  • The date and time

  • Possible cues / triggers

  • A brief description of your routine

  • Possible rewards

Here is an example:

18.2.17 | 20:30

Cue:

  • felt lonely
  • was tired
  • looked at pictures of girls on Facebook

Routine:

  • opened Pornhub
  • watched lesbian porn
  • masturbated; switched between scenes until I came

Reward:

  • orgasm → dopamine
  • I ate something afterwards and relaxed.

Most cues and rewards are not obvious. That’s why I wrote possible cues and possible rewards. A few entries won’t be enough to identify them. But, after a week or two patterns will emerge.

Be as specific as possible with your entries. Both cues and rewards can be very subtle. They can also come in combinations. For the same reason be honest with yourself. Don’t be ashamed or frightened. Nobody is going to read your journal but you.

Often you will find many cues, routines, and rewards. Don’t let that confuse you. The explanation is simple. Most porn habits come in many variations. Watching porn at home and watching porn in a traffic jam probably have a different cues. The routines are similar but those are two different habits. You have to work on each identified habit separately.

Tell Somebody About Your Habits

Speak with somebody about your porn habits. I know that many guys will struggle with this advice. Normally we joke about porn or share what we like. We never speak about the habit itself, the problem, or how to quit porn. Maybe because we are ashamed or fear the social stigma. Still, it is important to speak with somebody about your habit.

And by somebody I mean a person you trust and feel most comfortable with. I first talked about my habits with a close friend. At first I was anxious but he understood. He had similar issues with porn. He understood what I was talking about. I felt relieved and no shame after the talk.

If you don’t want to or can’t talk with a friend, you could talk to your brother, father, or any other relative.

Some guys, those in relationships, talk with their wifes or girlfriends about it.

If you can’t talk to anybody, there is another way. You could talk to somebody in a porn problem forum. There are several such forums where guys exchange their stories and ask for help. (I listed some of them under this paragraph.) You can either register with your real name or a fake one. With a fake identity nobody knows that you’re writing. So, no shame.

Still, I strongly recommend to talk to somebody face to face. Somebody that can and will support you on your way,

My recommendation is based on two reasons.

First, you should have an accountability body. Somebody that helps you to stay on track. As we know, habits stop decision making. When you have one setback, you could start watching porn again regularly. You probably won’t even notice when it happens. Or you’ll lie to yourself.

You’ll tell yourself that you are going to stop tomorrow. In such weak moments you need an accountability body. He or she will tell you honestly what to do. They will help you to get back on track.

When you tell somebody about quitting porn ask them to be your accountability body. Most will offer help without asking. Once in a while he should ask how you proceed and if you need help.

Second, you will feel relieved. Most guys feel guilt and shame for watching porn and the addiction. This guilt and shame isn’t helpful. On the contrary. They make it harder to ask for help. They make it harder to search for solutions.

When you talk about your porn issues you’ll realize that guilt and shame are inappropriate. You’ll realize that the habit and addiction aren’t that strong. It’s going to feel like somebody lifted a huge weight off your shoulders.

I know that most guys avoid talking about their feelings. I avoid it too. I don’t like it. But, emotions have a huge influence on our decision making. If guilt and shame govern your decision making about porn, you’ll make (more) mistakes.

The easiest way to get rid off those emotions is by talking to somebody else about it.

Have An Emergency Plan

You need to prepare a porn emergency plan. By emergency I mean you watched porn again. It could be just one picture for a couple of seconds or hours of videos. It’s the moment you’re tempted to watch porn again regularly.

Quitting porn is a marathon and not a sprint. When somebody asks me how to quit porn he always expects something like a cure. But, the secret is consistency. Most guys give up after one setback. Quitting porn is about not giving up. An emergency plan helps you to get back on track, to continue after a setback.

The plan is different for everybody. It needs to fit in your life.

I know a guy who goes on a media fast for a week. (Social media is a cue / trigger for him.) It works for him. But, if you work in front of a computer, you can’t do that.

Here is what I suggest in the beginning. Talk with your accountability body. Take some time to analyze what happened. Ideally you just have to open your journal. Ask yourself if something has changed (significantly) in your life. Most important, update / modify your system! Make it better to avoid the same mistakes in the future.

Advice On Cues

Before you can work on your cues you need to know what they are. As I mentioned earlier, keep an porn watching journal. After 3-4 weeks you will start to see patterns. You will start to see your cues.

Avoid Cues And Triggers

The best way to get rid of a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. To be exact, the best way is to replace the routine. Keep the reward and cue; replace the routine.

Still, there are good reasons to avoid the cues. When you start to implement the advice, your old habits will still be strong. The likelihood for a setback is high. By avoiding the cues you get more control over the process. You will need less willpower. In case of an emergency you’ll be less tempted to watch porn and fall of the wagon.

Get Rid Of Your Porn Stash

I know that this is very hard for most guys. At some point we start to collect porn in various ways. But, easy access makes it easy to watch porn. Obstacles make it harder to watch porn. If you have to download it first, you’ll less likely watch it.

Also, having porn around can be a cue itself. Let’s assume you have a folder with porn on your computer. You search for a word document. You come across the folder. Now you think about it. There is a high possibility that you will continue “searching” in that folder.

You have to get rid of your porn stash!

Delete all the files from your electronic devices. Everything! Delete the pictures, the videos, and all your bookmarks. Throw away your magazines, tapes, DVDs, Bluerays. Everything!

If you’re unsure what to throw away, here is a rule of thumb. If you can masturbate to it, it’s porn. (Don’t ask about the underwear catalogs. They are porn.)

As I said earlier, this is very hard for most guys. We humans have a bias against throwing away stuff. Porn is no exception. Still, you have to do it. When you have a moment of strength and clarity act fast. Remove everything.

Some people recommend doing it piece by piece. I think the all at once approach is better. It only requires willpower once. The piece by piece approach drains your willpower and leads to inevitable failure. To remove piece by piece you have to look at the material. You have to look at porn.

Get rid of your porn stash once and for all!

Use Blocking Software

Getting rid of your porn stash isn’t good enough. We live in the age of porn abundance. I even expect it will worsen in the future. We see paid porn networks popping up every day. We see new free streaming services popping up every day. Never before in history it was so easy to get porn. It’s a paradise for the addiction. Porn has moved to the Internet. Actually, it is on the driving forces of the Internet.

The Internet is an almost an essential part of our lives today. To give it up because of a porn addiction in unpractical. (I would be foolish to sell it as how to quit porn advice.) Yet, there are measures we can take against porn from the net.

Use blocking software to prevent yourself from seeing porn on the net. It will filter all the sexual content that could tempt you. Or, at least it will create an obstacle. Such obstacles can have a huge impact in your weak moments. It could give you enough time to get back to your senses.

I won’t explain what software to use and how to install it. Search for “porn blocking software” or “adult blocking software.” You will dozens of good (and free) products. Most of them have an easy to use installer for Mac OS and Windows. (Linux user, like myself, know how to help themselves.) Besides, their websites explain in more detail how to install and use the software than I can do here.

Avoid HALT Emotions

Most cues are emotional. It’s not an obvious observation. But a closer examination of habits reveals that emotions are most times involved. In your porn journal you should particularly look after emotional cues.

Four emotions are the major cues / triggers for (bad) habits:

  • Hunger

  • Anger

  • Loneliness

  • Tiredness

An easy way to remember them is as HALT emotions.

If you notice that an emotion is your porn cue, you can avoid it. The idea is simple. Prevent the emotion to avoid the cue. One of my cues was (still is) hunger and tiredness after work. Now, I take a healthy snack with me and eat it on my way home. After I arrive at home, I take a nap for 15 minutes. It works!

It’s simple! If you’re

  • hungry, eat something (healthy)

  • angry, avoid what makes you angry or calm yourself down (with meditation for example)

  • lonely, call a friend or better meet a friend

  • tired, rest

The hard part is identifying emotional cues. Look particularly after them in your journal.

Sexual Energy Transmutation

Until now I described porn as a normal habit or addiction. But, there is one key difference between porn and normal habits. Porn requires sexual energy. I understand that it sounds very esoteric. But, let me explain.

When you watch porn you also masturbate (with an erection.) Otherwise, what’s the point? To get that erection you need sexual energy. Without it, your penis stays limp. Now, you can call it what you want: testosterone, mojo, sexual energy, or however you like. You need it.

(The idea of sexual transmutation is very old. If you know want to know more about it, you should read my article about sexual transmutation.)

You can harvest that energy. You can spend it somewhere else. You drain it with something new so that you have nothing left for porn.

The easiest ways to transmute sexual energy are sport or a girlfriend. I hope that both are self-explanatory. Other ways are meditation and yoga. On the surface both are breathing exercises. But, traditional both are grounded in the belief of energy transmutation. Both see energy as something flowing we can direct. Again, I know it sounds esoteric.

But, I want to mention it because I have witnessed the positive impact.

I found no scientific evidence that it’s true. But more and more studies show that both have huge impact on people’s lives. Especially for health.

My experience with meditation is very positive. It helps me to focus. It helps me to avoid the HALT emotions. It helps me to avoid porn.

I also witnessed behavioral changes in other people who started meditating.

It is not a practice for everybody. Still, you should give it a try. It can be a game changer against porn.

Advice On Routines

Working on your routines is the best way to get rid of a habit!

Break Mental Associations

Break the mental associations between porn and masturbation. When you watch porn and masturbate you create an association in your brain. You connect masturbation and porn. You also create other associations. Your hand and orgasms. Your computer and orgasms. And so on.

Masturbation works like a catalyst. It releases feel good hormones; It causes the reward, the orgasm at the end of the routine; It increases your desire to watch porn.

The power of porn comes from the orgasm. Thus, it is a good idea to separate masturbation and porn. When your watch porn, don’t masturbate. When you masturbate, don’t watch porn. (No porn fantasies either.)

This method isn’t the end solution. But, it is an easy way to modify your routine. You’ll be surprised that you don’t need porn to masturbate. You’ll feel less desire to watch porn.

Replace The Routine

Replacing the routine is the most important thing you need to do. Not necessarily the first one, but in the long run the most important.

All the other how to quit porn advice in this guide is helpful and valid. But replacing the routine is the secret to long term success!

As you know our brains engrave our habits. They always stay with us, waiting for a weak moment and the cue to fire again. The only way to prevent that is to create a new even stronger habit. A habit with the same cue and reward but different routine. Replace the old habit with the new one.

That idea is called the Golden Rule of Habit Change.

It isn’t as easy as it sounds. “Just do the right thing.” Our brains completely shut down the decision making process when habits fire. If we can’t make a decision, how do we change the routine?

The key is awareness. You have to understand your habit. You have to understand your cues. You need to know when your habits fire. As I said earlier, keep a porn watching journal! A journal will give you the awareness you need.

With the awareness itself you can start with your new routine. You will create a competing routine. At some point your new routine will be stronger than the old one. It will become the default.

The more often you use the new routine the less power the old one has.

Awareness is the key to routine change. It is the key knowledge on how to quit porn. Additional there are two hacks you should use as well.

The first one is practice. You know the old folk wisdom: practice makes perfect. It’s true. Practice engraves routines into our brains. Just like habits.

Practice your new routine outside of your porn habits context. It will make it easier to use it then your porn cue triggers.

The second hack is ahead of time preparation. Make it as easy as possible to use your new routine ahead of time. If your new routine is to hit the gym, keep your gym bag ready all the time. If your new routine is meditation, create a space where you can meditate at any time.

Prepare ahead of time and make it easy.

Replacing your old routine with a new one is the key to quitting porn. It is the key to long term success. It isn’t so easy but the hacks and the essentials should allow you to do it.

Advice On Rewards

The reward for watching porn is dopamine and other feel good hormones. When you masturbate to porn your body releases big amounts of the hormones. It’s the excitement and newness of the material. So inside of your routine you already get a reward. But, with the orgasm your body releases huge amounts of dopamine.

Our bodies crave for those feel good hormones. We are programmed to do things that result in release of those hormones. They fuel the porn watching habit.

Find Other Sources Of Dopamine

Are there other things you can do to release dopamine? Yes! There are many things you can do to release dopamine. (We will get to them in a second.)

When you pick a replacement routine for porn, choose one that leads to dopamine. Remember the Golden Rule of Habit Change. Keep the cue and the reward. Replace the routine.

Here is a list of things that also release dopamine:

  • Training

  • Eat a carbs rich snack

  • Sleeping

  • Play a (video) game

There are other things you can do that are more specific to you. When you do things you’re good at, your body releases feel good hormones. It doesn’t need to be something fancy. A friend of mine is a great Counter Strike player. He feels good playing because he is good at it.

When you accomplish something your body also releases feel good hormones. Again, it doesn’t need to be something fancy. I feel a great sense of accomplishment after some housekeeping. When something is clean again.

You can choose between one of the generic things or something specific to you.

I wrote above that you should replace your porn routine with one that also releases dopamine. You can also start with completely new habit.

This new habit would have the same reward as porn but different cue and routine. Both habits compete against each other to satisfy the graving for dopamine. If the new one is easier triggered or easier to perform it can become fast the new default. That’s an alternative way you can do. Still, replacement is the key to long term success.

Conclusion

I put all my knowledge my how to quit knowledge into this article. I hope you find it useful. I hope it helps you to quit porn for good.

Now you should have all the how to quit porn knowledge you need to know. Now, you should know how to quit porn. Reading and understanding is easy. Doing is hard! Start your journey to today. Start with the essentials. Implement a system you can use for the rest of your life. And most important; don’t give up.

Deo volente,

Gaius Wolf

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Gaius

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