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My First Girlfriend Showed Me Porn, I was Instantly Hooked—Here’s How I Finally Quit

“I didn’t stop watching porn for a relationship, and no one had to convince me to stop. I stopped watching for me and my well-being.”

By October 26, 2021No Comments
Header photo by Nathan Dumlao. 5-minute read.

Many people contact Fight the New Drug to share their personal stories about how porn has affected their life or the life of a loved one. We consider these personal accounts very valuable because, while the science and research is powerful within its own right, personal accounts from real people seem to really hit home about the damage that pornography does to real lives.

Hello Fight the New Drug team,

I’d like to remain anonymous but I’d like to share my story.

I have been struggling with porn for about six years now. Each year, it has progressively gotten worse. In the beginning, it was just something I watched every several months or so, not consistently at all. But all of that changed when I began my first relationship when I was 15.

My first girlfriend was the one who introduced me to major porn websites.

Even when I hated it, I watched it

Before, it was just an image here or a video there when I typed in a random search. Growing up, I was convinced that going to a porn site would give your computer tons of viruses and ruin the computer altogether so I never even tried.

My girlfriend was the one who convinced me that going to porn sites was safe. That is when things went downhill quickly and I began watching porn more frequently.

RelatedWhy Consuming Porn Is An Escalating Behavior

Eventually, we broke up. The next girlfriend I had didn’t watch porn, but she said it was okay that I watched because it wasn’t really cheating.

Her casual attitude about it only made things worse for me because I felt like it was okay to watch porn, that I had her permission. I started watching it even more than before. That relationship didn’t last very long and we broke up.

Fortify

My third girlfriend is the one who really sent me off the edge. She was very open about watching porn and watched on a nightly basis. I was never that extreme, but when I started dating her, I quickly got to that point.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before the stuff I was watching got more intense. I can’t even begin to explain how bad things got for me.

What I watched, no matter how extreme, cruel, or disgusting it was, I was still aroused. If people don’t believe that there is a desire to watch darker porn as time goes on, I am living proof that it escalates. The only satisfaction for my craving was to watch rougher, more extreme sex. The softcore stuff no longer worked or even interested me.

Related: “The More Real The Pain, The More Views I Got”: Real Stories From Theodosia, A Former BDSM Porn Performer

I realized how bad it had gotten when I watched a video of a woman literally screaming in pain because of what was being done to her. It was a legitimate porn video—nothing illegal or criminal and it was filmed by a big company—but the woman’s pain was completely real. I just about vomited after watching it.

I had never seen something so graphic and shocking like that. I had never seen anything so violent. The utter disregard the man had for the woman was intense. Her face still haunts me. She was screaming, crying, and trying to get away.

I tried quitting that very night.

I tried to quit

Unfortunately, it was a very steep uphill battle, especially to face alone. I failed too many times to count. But I never stopped trying. I eventually opened up about trying to overcome the addiction to a leader I trusted. He directed me to the Fortify Platform. And that changed my life for the better.

Things got better. It was very slow progress, but one day free from porn became two, and two became three, and so on. However, all along the way, I kept failing. Sometimes I would go weeks, sometimes months without watching, but I would inevitably slip up. Due to my pride and embarrassment, I couldn’t bring myself to have someone help me as an accountability partner, even though the program asked me to.

I skipped that part, and so I kept failing. I finally decided to try one more time, and if I failed again, I would tell someone about my struggle. I was more determined than ever not to have a setback again.

Related: Tips To Quit: Why Setbacks Don’t Mean Failures

I went into the security settings of my iPhone and set up restrictions. But I still knew the code, so one day I got a bad urge and failed again. I still didn’t tell anybody. I decided to try one last time, again. This time was different, I was even more desperate to stop. I deleted Instagram because even though porn isn’t technically allowed on it, I could find countless pornography accounts there by knowing the right hashtags.

So I set up website blocks in my phone so I couldn’t visit Instagram, Tumblr, or Twitter—all of which were hotspots for porn. Then I reset my restrictions and entered a completely random code to turn them off. I quickly and blindly punched a few buttons so that I wouldn’t know how to turn off the restriction when I had an urge.

I still don’t know that code. Even if I wanted to shut down the restrictions, I can’t. And I’m so glad for that.

To this day, I’m porn free because I don’t know that code. I have had withdrawals and there are times where I want nothing more than to watch porn. But I don’t.

BHW - General

How it feels to be free

I cannot even begin to explain to you what freedom I have found from locking myself out of porn on my phone. I’m happy. I have never been this happy before. I’m not depressed anymore. I smile all the time. I’m full of life and energy again.

Being free has changed my life. It has been the most beautiful thing to me. Life is so good. I hope somebody who can’t stop watching porn reads this and understands that freedom feels so good. No longer am I depressed, or lonely, or full of self-hatred. Yes, I’m single, but I don’t feel lonely. I love life now. There is hope.

Related: True Story: I Stopped Watching Porn, And I’ve Never Been Happier

I didn’t stop watching pornography for a relationship, and no one had to convince me to stop. I stopped watching for me and my well-being.

I also stopped watching for that woman in the video who was being hurt. I will never know her, but I stopped watching for her. I stopped watching so that I don’t contribute to any videos like that being produced ever again.

I want to thank you at Fight the New Drug for providing stories of hope. They helped me so much! I am also so grateful for the Fortify Platform. Thank you so much for making a difference in my own life and in the world.

– A 21-year-old from Florida

Porn and mental health

Research shows that porn doesn’t serve to improve consumers’ quality of life or relationships, and it’s tied to sexual exploitation and trafficking.

The worse people feel about themselves, the more they seek comfort wherever they can get it. Normally, they would be able to rely on the people closest to them to help them through their difficult times—a partner, friend, or family member. But many porn consumers aren’t exactly excited to tell anyone about their porn habits, least of all their partner. So they turn to the easiest source of “comfort” available: more porn.

Related: Not All Porn Is Consensual. Don’t Believe It? Just Ask These Performers.

In fact, a number of peer-reviewed studies have found a link between pornography consumption and mental health outcomes like depression,Harper, C., & Hodgins, D. C. (2016). Examining Correlates of Problematic Internet Pornography Use Among University Students. Journal of behavioral addictions, 5(2), 179–191. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.5.2016.022COPY  anxiety,Wordecha, M., Wilk, M., Kowalewska, E., Skorko, M., Łapiński, A., & Gola, M. (2018). 'Pornographic binges' as a key characteristic of males seeking treatment for compulsive sexual behaviors: Qualitative and quantitative 10-week-long diary assessment. Journal of behavioral addictions, 7(2), 433–444. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.7.2018.33COPY  loneliness,Butler, M. H., Pereyra, S. A., Draper, T. W., Leonhardt, N. D., & Skinner, K. B. (2018). Pornography Use and Loneliness: A Bidirectional Recursive Model and Pilot Investigation. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 44(2), 127–137. https://doi.org/10.1080/0092623X.2017.1321601COPY  lower life satisfaction,Willoughby, B. J., Young-Petersen, B., & Leonhardt, N. D. (2018). Exploring trajectories of pornography use through adolescence and emerging adulthood.55(3), 297-309. doi:10.1080/00224499.2017.1368977COPY  and poorer self-esteem and overall mental health.Koletić G. (2017). Longitudinal associations between the use of sexually explicit material and adolescents' attitudes and behaviors: A narrative review of studies. Journal of adolescence, 57, 119–133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2017.04.006COPY  These studies have found that these links are particularly strong when pornography is consumed to try to escape negative emotions, and also when pornography consumption becomes heavy and compulsive.Levin, M. E., Lillis, J., & Hayes, S. C. (2012). When is online pornography viewing problematic among college males? Examining the moderating role of experiential avoidance.19(3), 168-180. doi:10.1080/10720162.2012.657150COPY  According to another study performed in the United States, researchers found a significant bi-directional association between pornography and loneliness, prompting them to conclude:

“Results revealed that the association between loneliness and viewing pornography was positive and significant…those who viewed pornography were more likely to experience loneliness, and those who were experiencing loneliness were more likely to view pornography. These findings are consistent with research linking pornography use to negative affect.”Butler, M. H., Pereyra, S. A., Draper, T. W., Leonhardt, N. D., & Skinner, K. B. (2018) Pornography Use and Loneliness: A Bidirectional Recursive Model and Pilot Investigation, Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 44:2, 127-137, DOI: 10.1080/0092623X.2017.1321601COPY 

Related: How Porn Can Negatively Impact Love and Intimacy

Although it’s fairly common for consumers to use porn as an escape mechanism or self-soothing technique, research indicates that those who consumed pornography to avoid uncomfortable emotions had some of the lowest reports of emotional and mental wellbeing.Brown, C. C., Durtschi, J. A., Carroll, J. S., & Willoughby, B. J. (2017). Understanding and predicting classes of college students who use pornography. Computers in Human Behavior, 66, 114-121.COPY  Another study examined the relationship between the frequency of online pornography consumption and mental health problems, particularly in the context of “experiential avoidance” or trying to avoid negative emotions. The study found that frequent pornography consumption was significantly related to greater depression, anxiety, and stress as well as poorer social functioning.Levin, M. E., Lillis, J., & Hayes, S. C. (2012) When is Online Pornography Viewing Problematic Among College Males? Examining the Moderating Role of Experiential Avoidance. Journal Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention, 19 (3), 168-180.COPY 

If you have been struggling to quit an unwanted porn habit, please know that you’re not alone. It can feel really lonely and frustrating, but there is hope. While research shows that consuming porn can fuel the cycle of loneliness, research also shows that it is possible to overcome a porn habit and its negative effects.Young K. S. (2013). Treatment outcomes using CBT-IA with Internet-addicted patients. Journal of behavioral addictions, 2(4), 209–215. https://doi.org/10.1556/JBA.2.2013.4.3COPY Nathanson, A. (2021). Psychotherapy with young people addicted to internet pornography. Psychoanal.Study Child, 74(1), 160-173. doi:10.1080/00797308.2020.1859286COPY  According to one study of individuals trying to quit porn, researchers found that shame actually predicted increased pornography consumption while guilt predicted sustainable change.Gilliland, R., South, M., Carpenter, B. N., & Hardy, S. A. (2011). The roles of shame and guilt in hypersexual behavior. 18(1), 12-29. doi:10.1080/10720162.2011.551182COPY  So if you’re trying to give up porn, be kind to yourself and be patient with your progress. Like anything, it takes time for the brain to recover, but daily efforts make a big difference in the long run.

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out Fortify, a science-based recovery platform dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography. Fortify now offers a free experience for both teens and adults. Connect with others, learn about your unwanted porn habit, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

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