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How to get off the porn treadmill?
January 17, 2007 7:03 PM   Subscribe

I think porn has ruined sex for me.

During an extended period of time during which I was single, I'd started watching more porn that usual. By this, I mean, instead of visiting the odd picture site once in a while, I started downloading and watching full length movies. It started out with plain, vanilla straight porn but kept moving on to more explicit and 'out there' stuff.

Now, I feel that I cannot/will not be able to look at a partner without comparing their natural body with the surgically enhanced ones, seemingly perfect ones of pornstars. Also, given the fact that nothing but the most extreme kind of porn turns me on now, I'm afraid I'll never be able to have 'normal' sex again.

And yes, I've gotten my porn watching habit under control now, but that doesn't seem to help much.

How do I rewire my brain to start finding the female form in its normal, natural state attractive again?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know off hand, but I listen to a bunch of Loveline, and the topic comes up. The Dr.'s answer is normaly to cut off the porn, and try with a real girl. You might just be worked up about nothing. If the real girl thing isn't happening, well looks like you are in for some therapy.

From what I've heard porn addiction is the leading new field of addiction due to the internet, and so there are people out there that can help. SA would be a free option.

The other thing to note would be that everytime I've heard Dr. Drew talk about this kind of problem the person has had some deep seaded issues that needed to be taking care of in therapy, which is what led the person to the wierder and wierder porn in the first place.

Just my two cents, well Dr. Drew's two cents via me.
posted by magikker at 7:23 PM on January 17, 2007


And yes, I've gotten my porn watching habit under control now

Have you stopped? What would happen if you stopped? I noticed I stopped being so greedy for things when I stopped walking around the mall so much.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:23 PM on January 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


You might try abstaining from all sex (Hando, Homo or Hetro) for about two months. By that time you should be ready for what ever comes your way- with anticipation.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:25 PM on January 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


You haven't mentioned whether or not you're still single, but from your wording it sounds like you're not in a relationship right now. So:

I think once you meet a real girl that you have real chemistry with, you'll remember that it's just different in 'real life.' Sex has a large emotional component (or at least it can), and when you're attracted to someone in the non-physical areas, physical flaws are a lot easier to overlook. A metaphor, if you will: If your attraction is an empty glass, the porn stars have to look very good because their appearance is all they have to fill your glass with, so to speak. A girl you know in real life has personality, interests, talents, etc. in addition to looks, and so appearance isn't as big a part of the, uh, milkshake.

Perhaps you've unwittingly internalized some of the 'porn is evil' thought that still pervades American society -- it really isn't the demon it's made out to be. Since you haven't mentioned any specific incidents of not being able to have sex -- I'm assuming we're still in hypothetical land -- I think you'll be fine.
posted by AV at 7:39 PM on January 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Switch to homemade porn, starring real people, not from the San Fernando valley.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:50 PM on January 17, 2007


Just keep in mind that those porn stars have a quarter of an inch of Dermablend makeup covering their scars, and that many porn shoots are digitally retouched to make the girls look better. The big retouches are to reduce ribs and hip bones sticking out and, again, to cover some of the most obvious scars.

In other words, in real life THEY don't look like that.
posted by watsondog at 8:09 PM on January 17, 2007


I agree with AV — part of the turn on of real sex are the remaining senses that you can't experience while watching porn — smells, touch, taste, ect. Also, real sex is always way better than, uh, "hando."

Abstain from everything for a week. If you make it, go another week. If you make it, try for a month, then two. By then, you'll be so eager for stimulation that anything will do.
posted by Brittanie at 8:13 PM on January 17, 2007


surgically enhanced ones, seemingly perfect ones of pornstars.

I always saw this as a logical fallacy. How can someone so surgically enhanced be "perfect?" If she were perfect, wouldn't she not need the surgery? And be in your bed right now with her ass in the air, waiting for you?

I'm not making fun of you. I'm pointing out that porn is like a cartoon. You go splat when you fall off the cliff, no matter how fast you move your feet. Breasts sink into armpits, no matter how perky they are. Porn hasn't ruined sex for you...you just need to remember that jerking off to porn is not sex. If it were, you'd be happy with just your hand and stack of sticky DVDs and not be worrying.
posted by desuetude at 8:31 PM on January 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is going to sound very weird, but I suggest you give it a try. Go out and buy one of those pitch counters. Just like the ones in this very dumb Axe commercial starring Nick Lachey.

For one month, every time you see a "normal" attractive woman, click the clicker once and invent a fantasy about that woman in your head. Nothing crazy or long, but just think about her in a sexual way. Write down the number you get at the end of each day.

After a month, you'll see results. Don't stop, no matter how dumb and weird this seems.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:56 PM on January 17, 2007


A harm reduction style option: Try watching porn with a wider range of body types. Perhaps you can re-eroticize more different body types for youreself this way. Blowfish, Good Vibrations and Babeland offer porn made by women that offers more of a range.

(Between this and the nipple post before it, I'm doing a lot of shilling for Babeland, but really, I don't work there!)
posted by serazin at 9:07 PM on January 17, 2007


Beware the internets. When I go looking for porn at the torrent sites I know of, I find that the activities that are furthermost from I imagine to be mainstream of human sexuality are what are most shared and most available.

But no matter how wonderful it might be, the over-the-top fetishist porn I've painfully endured has never cooked me breakfast or rubbed my shoulders. Porn, for all its visual and soundtrack glory, doesn't keep the bed warm and doesn't help with the dishes after a bottle of wine and home-cooked meal. As wonderful as porn can be, it won't help me pick out a snazzy outfit or make my parents feel happy about my choices in life.

These shortcomings, instead of diminishing my enjoyment, serve to illustrate the value of porn. There is surely some person that fills the vital relationship niche in your life. In your sexual relationship with this person try making them the star of the movie in your mind. Find out what turns them on so you can satisfy their every wish. Take a lesson from porn -- one reason it's so appealing is because of the basic accord between the actors in the video; one person says, "I want to be fucked," and another says "I want to fuck you." People in porn are made to look easy and willing, but in real life your partner needs a caring, listing, giving collaborator so you will have to be clever and perceptive to play your role correctly. It all works out perfectly for them but you're going to have to do some work to find that special rapport with your partner.

For you, find out what your partner wants and play the role that they desire to make things hot for the two of you. Or in simpler terms, don't sweat the porn so much; find someone that makes you feel wonderful and learn how to feel wonderful about yourself with them.
posted by peeedro at 9:12 PM on January 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have no help on lack of attraction to real women over airbrushed fantasies, though beware of strip clubs if you're prone to becoming obsessive about a woman you can see as having a perfect body when you do meet her.

Hopefully more usefully: If there are specific activities in the over-the-top "out there" porn that interest you, it may be worthwhile to you to go looking for partners who share those sexual interests--if there are any clubs in your area, try those, or try a fetishist discussion or personals website. There are women out there who'd help you experience your fantasies (and possibly remind you that there are joys to vanilla sex, like it's a lot less work and just plain feels good) and cook you breakfast.
posted by Cricket at 9:32 PM on January 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


peeedro writes "Porn, for all its visual and soundtrack glory, doesn't keep the bed warm and doesn't help with the dishes after a bottle of wine and home-cooked meal. As wonderful as porn can be, it won't help me pick out a snazzy outfit or make my parents feel happy about my choices in life."

That's true, it won't do those things. Porn also won't pick fights with you, give you herpes, cheat on you, have mood swings, get pregnant, antagonize your friends, judge you by your car/income/social status, let itself go once married, engage you in a nasty custody battle.

Don't worry about it. Even if you don't look at porn, you're going to have a hard time transitioning from masturbating to having intercourse again. It's normal. Any girl worth your time will understand if you communicate with her and you're not just trying to have a one-night stand.
posted by mullingitover at 9:53 PM on January 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


Stop watching porn altogether. Instead, force yourself to come up with a fantasy that involves an actual human being, instead of just a body. Fantasize about what she's like (personality and physically), what you're like (or what you'd like to be like), and what the situation is like. In other words, stop objectifying women for sex.
posted by !Jim at 11:27 PM on January 17, 2007


Just a thought. You say that only extreme stuff turns you on now. Is that the case, or are you maybe suffering from a generalized decreased sex drive that maybe coincides with the wax and wane of your porn habit?

Eating enough? Sleeping enough? Getting exercise (other than that hand action)?
posted by dreamsign at 2:00 AM on January 18, 2007


I don't mean to get all porn-nostalgic here, but remember when the relatively tame skin mag you hid amongst your stack of Beckett baseball card guides and Wizard magazines?

That over-the-counter smut was the center of your masturbatory-universe, but you wouldn't give it a second look now.

Instead, I'm wading through 30 gigs of video porn with passivity and malaise. Where did it all go wrong?

To the OP, as others have said, just try giving up porn for a while. It works for me. When you want to masturbate, do it from the imagination, and go from there.
posted by wolfsleepy at 2:33 AM on January 18, 2007


I doubt you've done yourself irreparable harm. I imagine that if you take some of the abstinence advice in this thread you'll find yourself able to get sexually aroused by a light-pole, and all will be well.

On a more philosophical note, I actually think that porn is good for you. It shows people having a good time having sex, a lot of times having nasty sex that's morally frowned upon by too many people. It mostly portrays sex as an experience in which everyone is interested in getting off and having a good time, even when that good time travels through places that might be unpleasant in another state of mind (see the AskMe cum eating thread for more on this).

But, it's also just a movie. I've never completely understood the idea that pornography takes the tarnish off real life because no one measures up: it's a movie like Ghostbusters is a movie, or like Spartan is a movie. It isn't real life. I love the cops in Supertroopers, how they smoke a lot of dope and play a lot of tricks and have a lot of fun with sex, but I never make the mistake of trying to smoke up with the State Trooper who pulls me over for speeding. My life may seem mundane for a minute when I'm done watching Ronin, but I don't consider ditching my job to become an IRA contract thief. What is it about porn that makes it different? What is it about the way that you watch porn that allows you to even begin to confuse that acting by those people with something that isn't scripted? Don't forget that Hawkeye has to wipe his ass with leaves in the parts of Last of the Mohicans that you don't see.
posted by OmieWise at 6:01 AM on January 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Definitely stop viewing porn 100%, if you haven't already. You'll find that the natural urges resurge with gusto. You also might find that your personality completely changes without any warning. Sex/porn abstinence is actually a really fun, empowering experience, and once you get to a certain state, you can ride it for as long as you want.

Also, don't go cold turkey, but do exactly what Brittanie said.
posted by Laugh_track at 6:28 AM on January 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Read this.

Its a very real problem that you're dealing with, so you need to make the mature step to a) admit you have the very real problem (seems like you're making it) and then b) get real help.

Like any addiction, you're not going to be able to just turn the addiction off cold-turkey, look for help through means like therapy, SA, accountability partners, etc..

But only when you do free yourself from the addiction will you be able to appreciate real sex in the real world.
posted by allkindsoftime at 6:40 AM on January 18, 2007


Maybe go the opposite direction and try Beautiful Agony? I'm not really into porn, but this stuff is kind of sexy. NSFW.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:53 AM on January 18, 2007


Wow, some weird advice up above. (And good as well.)

First: try fucking people! It's better than other stuff. Really you have absolutely nothing to worry about, but go and see for yourself, no need to take anyone's word for it. Better if you don't.

Look, porn is about shutting down your imagination, short-circuiting mechanisms of gratification. See, want, jerk. Bad moral lesson but it won't destroy your life. It only hurts you if it uproots your authentic urges - e.g. the need to be with someone you can talk to - and replaces them with (definitionally) inauthentic ones. Yeah, at first it exposes you to new things, some awesome (oh you can use a scarf for that?) some gross (The Amazing Ty - don't ask). And it's helpful to get a sense for what turns you on. But then it starts to stand in for things you should be imagining for yourself. Wanna get porn out of your mind? Do without. It's lame, really; mainstream porn is for the most part gross and unimaginative. Better off not watching it, overall.

Keep palming the bishop, by all means. (Enjoy it while you want it so much! A few years from now you'll stop doing it as often.) But make a commitment to do so without porn for a while. If you have to reimagine scenes from shit you've seen, whatever. After a while you'll start unconsciously making up for the poverty of your pornified memories by cooking up new fantasies, which'll be nice for you. The big replacement you're out to make is, when I have a distant sense of arousal, do I respond to it by augmenting/replacing my imagination with naked representation (porn)? Or do I do the cognitive work and cook up a fantasy for myself?

Aim for the latter, then aim for the rag, and God bless!

ps. Don't worry about 'objectifying' people when you're flogging it. If you're a normal healthy person the transgressive fantasies won't bear too strongly on how you want to interact with people day-to-day. Better, in a way, to compartmentalize that part of yourself by restricting it to self-pleasure etc.

pps. Go out dancing! Get drunk with some friends and go dance to some British Invasion tunes or something. Speeds up the recovery process. :)
posted by waxbanks at 9:00 AM on January 18, 2007


the answer is simple: quit watching and start doing -- pay a woman who looks like a porn star to have sex with you
posted by matteo at 9:41 AM on January 18, 2007


I gotta second "Switch to homemade porn, starring real people, not from the San Fernando valley."

There are plenty of non-blonde, non-surgerized, non-makeuped pictures of beautiful, normal women online. You just happened into the mainstream crap for too long it sounds like.

I also have to second "stop watching start doing". You'll find there's more to sex than what you see. In fact, just turn the damn lights off or be the one that wears the blindfold.
posted by smallerdemon at 9:57 AM on January 18, 2007


For one month, every time you see a "normal" attractive woman, click the clicker once and invent a fantasy about that woman in your head. Nothing crazy or long, but just think about her in a sexual way. Write down the number you get at the end of each day.

Go on a Perv Walk! As described in This American Life's Stuck in the Wrong Decade 10/10 Episode 79 , in the 1997 Archive.
posted by Sara Anne at 10:02 AM on January 18, 2007


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