Cover photo by Ben White. 4 minute read.

Binge watching Netflix. Perusing what’s in the fridge. Checking out just-released video games. Watching porn?

There are some things that come naturally when you find yourself dateless on a Saturday night, or any night for that matter. Pornography might seem like the friend that is always there on a lonely night or an easy replacement for your non-existent lover, but the truth is that by logging on and getting off, you’re actually becoming lonelier in the long run with every click.

Here’s the harsh truth: porn is like a drug that fills a void, but only temporarily. It’s not actually fixing the root issue, which for many pornography consumers is a lack of connection they feel with others or sheer boredom.

Singletons have the option to choose between spending their time doing things that will make them feel fulfilled in the long run or the temporary fulfillment that pornography provides. We get it—no one likes to feel alone, but there are plenty of awesome ways to fill your day that will make you feel more connected and more satisfied than pornography ever will.

Here are 5 awesome things you can do instead of watching porn:

1. Hang With Friends Or Family

It’s a given that spending more time with your friends and family will make you feel more connected to those around you, but the perks of planning a get-together with the ones you love may have added benefits beyond the obvious human-connectedness.

Research shows that friendships (particularly those that carry into adulthood) have a profound effect on not only your emotional health, but your physical health as well. In a 2010 study, participants with strong social relationships were shown to have had significantly longer lifespans than those who preferred a life of isolation. Lifelong friendships can also keep your mind sharp by lowering your risk of dementia, according to this 2012 study.

Whether your friends are in committed relationships or riding with you on the train to single town, spending some quality time with your squad can be the perfect way to feel connected to another person.

2. Stay Active Outside

There are very real scientific benefits that happen when you exercise—endorphins are released and, as Elle Woods would say, “Endorphins make you happy!” But taking your exercising beyond the gym walls can have a seriously uplifting impact on your overall mood.

Breathing in the fresh air and taking in the scenery are obvious benefits, but an improved memory and restored mental energy are additional scientific benefits you might not have considered. Carve some time out of your weekend to hit the local hiking trail or take a day trip to your closest national park. Your mind will stay sharp and your body will thank you, both things that don’t happen when porn is the go-to.

3. Read That Bestseller

Fewer and fewer people every year are reading for fun. This means reading a book because you want to, not because you were assigned to because of your boring literature class—crazy, right?!

Some pornography viewers claim their codependence comes from wanting to escape their current circumstances, but clinging to a great novel can be a great way to transport yourself into a whole other world without clicking on explicit sites. Studies have shown that reading can increase empathy, better your relationships with others, and even reduce symptoms of depression! The next time you need to escape, try turning the pages on a bestseller instead of scrolling through a favorite porn site. Your brain will thank you.

4. Spend Time In The Kitchen

Want to cure some cravings? Why not fire up the stove and spend some time crafting new recipes? Constant take-out can become drab and is seriously expensive, but there is something truly satisfying about cooking something you’ve never tried and crushing it. In fact, there are some cool psychological benefits of cooking can’t be achieved any other way.

So the next time you get a craving, try one of these recipes that will make you fall in love for cooking for one. You’ll finish feeling satisfied and full!

5. Volunteer Locally

Being trapped in the downward spiral of a porn obsession can leave you feeling not great about yourself, but there is something seriously satisfying about volunteering your time to help out those who are less fortunate might just help get you out of your rut. The ones you’re helping aren’t the only ones who will benefit from your efforts, either—volunteering also has personal benefits that will leave you feeling more inspired and willing to take on your own challenges that you might face. Do a local search to see how you can help those in your community and, in turn, help yourself.

Why This Matters

Spending time surfing through fake sex on a computer screen can become an isolating experience. The porn industry would like to have you think they’re improving your life and giving you a boost when you’re feeling lonely, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Porn actually leaves you feeling more disconnected than ever from those around you, potential partners (if you’re interested in finding one), and even yourself.

Want to know a secret? You don’t have to be in a relationship to feel connected or inspired, and you don’t have to turn to porn to temporarily fill that need for connection. Choosing productive experiences can help propel your relationships with others and yourself while improving your overall well-being. Who doesn’t want some of that?

What You Can Do

Vow to curb your cravings with productive activities that’ll leave you feeling satisfied and uplifted. Jot down this list and keep it somewhere that you’ll see it the next time you’re thinking there’s “nothing to do.” Challenge yourself to one new activity a week. Call up a friend and have them take this challenge with you. Track your progress and notice your improved mood with every activity.

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