Dopamine Wars

Discussion in 'Ages 25-29' started by tsmith1302, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. tsmith1302

    tsmith1302 Active Member

    I look at it like this - I've been paying for sexual services (either at the massage parlor or strip club) once a month, for the last three years...

    That might sound bad at first, but now imagine somebody told you they eat fast food once a month and only once a month. Would you say that person is addicted to fast food? I wouldn't. Does it sound like their fast food habit is out of control? No, if anything they seem to manage cravings quite well.

    So I don't think paid sex should be held to any different standard really. I agree with Longwayhome in that you can allow yourself some freedom depending on your financial situation. I'm not making minimum wage, and I would definitely have to reevaluate my position from a budget standpoint if I was. And I'm not making $200k per year either, so I can't throw caution to the wind -- and I don't (let's face it, lots of rich and powerful people probably pay for kinky stuff behind closed doors and nobody really cares or judges them for it).

    The biggest concern for me is just not to go on autopilot - not to wake up one day and feel like I HAVE to see a pro, and have a one track mind to where it's the only thing I can focus on or think about. I always want there to be a level of consciousnesses and awareness behind my thinking/ planning/ behavior, and right now I feel for for the most part there is.

    Yea, I do think there are some outward telltale signs of a porn addict - bad posture, avoiding eye contact, a general nervousness. But I really believe those are side effects of a lack of confidence, not necessarily the porn itself.

    And not to toot my own horn, but I don't feel like that's the kind of thing people notice around me. I've addressed it, I do make eye contact with people whenever I can for example. Like you said, in my pictures I don't look like an addict. In general I get great vibes/ energy from people. A women at the presentation last night told me I was "lovely".

    It was only when I got the pulse reading that I showed low jing, and since excessive semen loss is one of the main causes of low jing, the doctor figured it was masturbation pretty quickly. He also said I was born with low prenatal jing from my parents.

    You make a fair point that anybody could throw darts blindfolded at 20-30 year old males and most would admit to masturbating too much. I did feel an authenticity in my diagnosis though, and he was just a super cool guy to talk to overall. And again, it wasn't coming from a place like "you're a creep, you masturbate too much, you're in bad shape", really more that I wasn't performing at optimal levels. Which I can appreciate and basically agree with.

    He said that I could still "have fun" with women, just not to orgasm. So that would be tantric sex I guess? I have to look into it some more. I was also reading his book last night and he did emphatically say sex is better than masturbation. Because in sex, the male and female exchange fluids, whereas in masturbation the man just leaks fluids. But overall he is definitely pro-semen retention, even with sex it seems.

    The Chinese girl and I basically broke up on Easter. There were things I should have done differently, things she should have done differently, and ultimately I think the pressure of cultural issues and her citizenship weighed too heavily on my shoulders. We are going to stay friends and maybe even in business partners, just not dating. Our relationship wasn't very physical anyway (one of the biggest cultural disconnects we had), so it doesn't really make a difference for me in that department. I miss her though.
  2. rabbit.

    rabbit. Member

    No, the answer is: it's impossible to say without more information.

    This has always been my point, which I don't think you and jp or others really understood. Using only frequency as an indicator of having an addiction to or problem with anything is not enough. The consequences matter as well. If you go to a prostitute once a year, but it ends up wrecking your relationship every time, you have a big problem with prostitutes! Maybe not an addiction according to some academic definition (though it does fit a lot of the criteria), but I don't care about that. It is a behavior that's causing problems for you.

    That's why I have always maintained that people need to explore for themselves what effects masturbation has on them. I know you were mad a long time ago when I chronicled in detail how I felt after every relapse, but there was a point to it. I still observe how I feel after I watch porn nowadays and most of the time it's not good. You might say it is all due to shame, maybe, maybe not, but in either case we need to go beyond just frequency to assess whether a behavior is a problem.

    I've been curious about tantric sex for a while, but I think you need a good partner for it and I am kind of afraid of it because it seems like it can make you very vulnerable. I've read about some introductory exercises like where you and your partner look into each other's eyes for as long as you can or where you try to synchronize your breath and stuff, which seems pretty deep.

    As to having fun, it depends on how you feel about it. I think those Eastern masters couldn't say anything if you actually enjoyed one night stands and felt good about it.

    Sorry to hear about the Chinese girl, but it sounds like it was for the better. See it as a good learning experience for the next woman.
  3. gameover

    gameover Age: 26

    Everything is an addiction if you look at it without frequency and more with brain wiring/hard to control behaviors. We are biologically wired that way. Anything pleasurable is to be repeated.

    Frequency is a great indicator. If you are 'relapsing' to escorts once a month and your not in a sexual relationship its not an addictive behavior, Its meeting a sexual need. Their is a sexual/addiction crossover with this unlike other addictions. You cant really use meth once a month because you will start using again regularly but with sex/porn its different, we became addicted to something we were intended to become addicted to. Our brain was not hijacked by a foreign substance and our brain cant tell the difference between porn and real world it just sees sexual stimulus as one.

    The prostitution industry exists because a good portion of men use them. I know many guys use hookers 1-3 times a month when their not in a relationship. Its pretty common especially in my country were its legal. Difference is most guys are getting girlfriends/fwb etc and seeing hookers in lull periods, we cannot let escort use become the easy way out.
  4. rabbit.

    rabbit. Member

    you're confusing some things, game. The moral dimension doesn't matter here. You're implying that something is okay as long as enough people do it (which is called normalizing and is common among addicts). I disagree with that, but even so, how many people do something doesn't change the effects of a behavior, just as not doing something often doesn't turn a bad behavior into a good one. Many people get senseless drunk every weekend, but that doesn't mean it's a good choice for an individual, just that it's somewhat accepted socially/morally.

    Obviously you can always make up your own definitions as to what an addiction is, but if you look at the most common definitions of addiction, frequency is only one indicator and the more important ones are that you can't stop this behavior (independent of how often you do it, see my prostitute example) despite negative consequences for your life (again, not dependent on how often you do it) and escalating use (same thing). That's why it's impossible to say whether moderate use is a problem or not. If all the other criteria of an addiction are met, I would say it fits the definition, but if you only define addiction as something you do very frequently, then it's not an addiction -- but brushing your teeth or eating food is.

    So ultimately, that's why you can't say "porn in moderation is alright". It depends on how it affects a person. You have surely seen people on here who say they are fine with it and others who say they only felt better when they stopped altogether.
  5. tsmith1302

    tsmith1302 Active Member

    Rabbit, what game is saying, that I agree with, is the general concept of "sex addiction" weaves too closely with our intrinsic nature as humans to desire sex. We can't classify somebody as an addict if, god forbid, they want to have sex.

    Let's face it, on a primordial level, we're put on this earth to fuck and procreate. If you were to boil our existence down to its most simple form, a desire to for sexual stimulation is the driving force of life. If my great grandfather, grandfather, dad and myself all have something in common - it's that we like the feeling of being around women and orgasm.

    I hate tossing around labels like "addiction" "relapse" "normalizing" when we're discussing something that ultimately, at the end of the day, healthy men in their 20s SHOULD have a little trouble keeping in check.

    PIED is a whole separate conversation, I think that's where extra effort, attention, and abstinence is needed. But if you've followed my journey on here, I've never once had any trouble in that department. I was almost surprised when I read Stronger Bolder's journal the other day, and he hadn't orgasmed in a week or something and the single mother commented on the size of his load. SB referred to it as a "unintended side effect" of rebooting. I was like huh... we're SUPPOSED to shoot big loads if we abstain for a week. That's been my baseline, not some side effect or goal I'm trying to achieve. Point being, I'm not looking to abstain from orgasm to build up my sexual juices and virility, it's already there. The aim is to manage it now.

    Please, please stop comparing sexual desires to alcohol moderation and getting drunk. It makes no sense and dilutes the conversation. For me the proper analogy is healthy food vs. junk food. Nobody in their right mind should be telling us to suppress our sexual desires/ hunger for food all together. Rather, the key is making intelligent choices and avoid over indulging.

    And really, to me the overaching goal in "porn recovery" has less to do with slapping together a good run or pretty spreadsheet; instead it's about improving your productivity levels, confidence with (real) women, being more active, and getting back a zest for life - beyond just a thirst for sex. I've seen a lot of guys on here with really long streaks, yet they are totally down in the dumps, not really accomplishing anything and over-analyzing every little detail. Bazooka Joe was a good example if anybody remembers him. He was on like day 200 something, and would post stuff like "Today a girl on the train smiled at me"... like dude, WHAT? Why are you even focusing on that mundane bullshit. Girls smile at me in public all the time, it's not worth writing about in my journal whether I'm on day 5 or 500.

    Successful career growth, health and exercise goals, challenging myself in dating and relationships, etc - those are the milestones I celebrate, and I do so independently of what day my counter says or what I fapped to last night.
  6. rabbit.

    rabbit. Member

    you're changing the goal post again though. Either we talk about whether moderation is never a problem by definition or we say it's all irrelevant because there are bigger problems in the world and we should all work to save African children and the planet and shit.

    Also never forget that evolution is not optimal! The reason we behave the way we do is to ensure our and our species' survival, but not live a good, healthy, great, long life. That's the whole problem with "it's natural" and everything. Natural just means it was a good thing for survival and reproduction at some point in time when there were certain environmental conditions. But those can change (and have changed, just take food availability, which has drastically changed what the optimal behavior in our current environment would be).

    I've always criticized bazooka joe and the guys who go 300 days without orgasm and still talk about withdrawals, and I have maintained that working on other goals are often more important, so there is no issue here.
  7. gameover

    gameover Age: 26

    I guess my ultimate point was that other substances such as drugs hijack our reward circuits in our brain. They were never intended for those things which is why people find it so hard to stop due to the unatural levels of euphoria and other feelings it releases.

    Sexual activity though is using a circuit in our brain exactly the way it was intended to be used for. So once unhealthy use of porn, masturation and sex are removed and your back to normal so to speak how do we define whats a relapse back into addiction and what is a normal sexual desire?

    In my opinion i dont see paying for sex once a month as an addictive behavior as men generally crave sex a few times a week to more than once daily. The same way someone using pot once a month at a party is not an addictive behaviour, its definitely an 'unhealthy' behavior depending on were you stand with certain drugs but due to the infrequent use it really is not an addiction.

    For me it all comes down to do i really want to ruin my mood, my confidence and my general state of mind because i jack of for 10 minutes to porn once a month? The answer is always no. After so long of infrequent use their are no side effects after a 'relapse'. What is the reward for never using porn again? Nothing, once your healed from all the side effects you have redlined the potential growth as a person your going to get out of not using porn so why shame ourselves over something that has no effects on us.

    Are we all going to stay here until we get 1, 2 or 5 years clean with no slips. What is the end game and what is the goal. Without fluidity in our systems we use to help people on this forum we are creating a culture of winners and losers based on days abstained and making it harder for people who are NEVER going to get 90 days clean.

    I find it slightly concerning that the general attitude of the forum is that of complete attibstinence for 6-12 months and if you fail start again over and over again or you will always have low libido, ED and an Addict and if it doesn't work then just extend the time required for abstinence.

    Its the equivalent of someone with a shopping addiction writing a daily journal and then resetting a counter because they cant help but buy a few new clothes every month or so. Seems silly doesn't it?

    Its a crazy and toxic place this forum for someone seeking a rational and helpful way forward. It will literally influence and change your thought patterns. I had no clarity until i left for 3 months.
  8. TheUnderdog

    TheUnderdog Active Member Staff Member

    Great discussion!

    Love it.

    I think that with time people forget the reason they're trying to quit porn in the first place. In my case it has always been about unrealistic sexual expectations, very high standards when it comes to women, and overall desensitization to sex. Those are good enough reasons to quit because porn has a direct negative effect on my sex life.

    The next question is: What is the goal? Should we quit forever? Or should we reduce our frequency to x times a month? Are we still going to be on this forum 5 years from now?

    And I think that is the wrong question.

    We should be asking ourselves how can we reach a point where we're no longer dependent of porn. Get to a place where on any given day we can decide to watch porn or not. Gain control of our behavior.

    For many years I believed the answer to that lied in changing my mindset, developing a strong mindset like that of GABE or Tobias. I failed miserably at that, because the mind is always contradicting itself. I always found reasons and justifications for watching porn "just this time". Those men are very rare exceptions. Things just "clicked" in their heads.

    Recently I have shifted to an awareness focus, like that advocated by eastern and buddhist traditions. With time, we can train our minds to no longer fall victim to our urges, and only then we will be free.

    People have it backwards when they believe that abstaining for X months will change their brain to the point where they no longer crave porn and have total control over their addiction. Many of us have gone 100+ days free of porn and then relapsed and go back to our old selves because all we were doing was holding the urges through sheer force or distractions. We never actually learned how to observe the urges and let them go. We were never in control.

    That is why you can go 1 year of abstinence and then relapse and go right back to where you were before. Abstaining can restore sensitivity and reduce some symptoms, but it doesn't teach you how to handle the addiction unless you use proven methods like awareness/mindfulness or follow good recovery programs.

    But we have to ask ourselves why we're quitting in the first place. Tsmith has a very laid back attitude to porn because it doesn't seem to affect him that much. Yes, focusing on what matters (job, exercise, etc) is a great help, and is very good advice to everyone, but the porn problem will continue to be there. Tsmith doesn't mind because his porn usage is generating very little problems in his life, but there are others whose relationships are going to shit because of porn.
  9. tsmith1302

    tsmith1302 Active Member

    That's pretty much where I feel I am. If you go back the last few months in my journal, you'll see that I haven't talked about or even acknowledged porn much. Have I been super clean? Nope. Has light use caused any problems for me at all? Nope.

    I'm not even condoning PMO, or trying to show off that I can handle it. It just doesn't register for me as a concern any more. I literally don't care if I do or don't use it. I'm just way more focused on other stuff, which to me is a victory in itself.

    I agree with everything said here, except "the porn problem will continue to be there". Who's to say it's a problem at that point? It doesn't have to be labeled as an inherently bad thing (or a good thing). It's not against the law, it doesn't hurt anybody, nobody even knows I'm doing it. It's just a choice that I may or may not make. That's how I see it as this stage.

    Anyway UD, I'm a bit confused as to your current approach and goals based on your recent posts. On one hand you seem pretty free flowing and similar to how I feel, and on other, it seems like ultimately you still want to greatly reduce or eliminate your porn use and that is your underlying focus.

    What is your specific end goal? Time frame? When was the last time MO'd? When was the last time you PMO'd? Do you think your current frequency is acceptable?
  10. TheUnderdog

    TheUnderdog Active Member Staff Member

    My sex life with my girlfriend never really took off. We both have sexual problems of our own.

    We have talked about it a lot and have tried to work it out, but it has been difficult.

    Because of all this, it has been hard for me to stay away from porn. It's like I have kind of given up on ever having a great sex life with her. So up until recently I've been watching porn maybe 6-8 times per month. I don't know as I have also stopped tracking.

    So yes, porn continues to be a problem in my life because it keeps affecting my relationship. And no, I don't think my current frequency is acceptable.

    I do have a free flowing attitude in the sense that I don't worry too much about it. I don't obsess about it like, say, Aussie did. I no longer keep track of anything and I hardly visit the forum anymore. But the underlying problem is still there and I know that I could benefit greatly if I ever reach a point where I no longer watch porn (or almost never watch porn).

    What makes my situation complicated is that I'm not the only one in the relationship who has sex issues. It's not as simple as abstaining from porn and voila, our sex life is great. At one point I went 140 days without masturbation and we still had problems in bed. So that is what has made me lose motivation.

    Now before any of you come here telling me to break it up with her, I won't. We love each other and our relationship is almost perfect except from the sex.

    Despite everything, I still remain hopeful that our sex life can improve dramatically. We have gone through bad periods in our relationship and have turned them around.
  11. TheUnderdog

    TheUnderdog Active Member Staff Member

    By the way,

    If I were single, I would be exactly like that.

    Apart from my relationship, porn doesn't really affect my life anymore.
  12. Thelongwayhome27

    Thelongwayhome27 Well-Known Member

    If one's self-esteem and self-respect is truly untouched by his sexual habits (whether that is Porn or some other form of acting out) - then there is nothing wrong with doing them in my opinion.

    And if one is OK with his habits from a moral and personal values standpoint - if there truly is no inner conflict....Then what's the problem ?

    It all comes down to that - whether you can honestly say for sure they do not hurt you - physically and, most importantly, psychologically.

    In my case, that's precisely why I need to stop.
  13. JG55

    JG55 Member

    Wow! What an incredible four pages to read. You guys have had a couple fascinating discussions.

    Forgive me if I'm rehashing a somewhat settled debate.

    One thing that jumped out in my mind was that the impetus for recovery seemed to be missing from the discussion.

    The reason I'm here is because I have/had PIED. My extreme escalation in porn use and tastes caused my penis to not work.

    The end game goal? To have a functioning willy.

    Recovery is subjective both in terms of the means and the end. The lines blur considerably between each individual case.

    There are obviously millions of people that use porn and don't have issues. That's great. Me? I can't really imagine porn being a healthy part of my life. My pathways will be so susceptible to the extreme videos I binged on. Those videos were the result of escalation and truly have no value or positive contribution toward my sexuality.

    Most of us aren't here because we have extreme ideological or dogmatic view points. We're here because porn developed into a sad and destructive force in our lives, and we just want to get better.

    Obsessing over recovery is a mistake, and I don't think people should get worked up over numbers or streaks.

    I don't recall ever reading anything on YBOP that told me, "You must go forever without watching porn or you'll die and birds will peck your skull while Ronald McDonald dances over you pouring Big Mac sauce on your corpse".

    Scientifically speaking, no porn and no mo for 4-6 months will likely cure our PIED the quickest, according to YBOP. That has evolved into something else around these parts, and I concede that point to you TSmith.

    It sounds like you've evolved to a point where porn can be part of your life. That's great. I don't think that'll be the case for everyone. I think it's okay to be anti-porn. There will always be varying degrees of addiction that require different solutions.

    Allowing something in your life because it brings good, and allowing something in your life because it's hard to do without, are two very different things. I can't imagine porn to ever truly be the former.

    Anyway, I felt compelled to share. Cheers, guys!
  14. What a great conversation! Brings some fresh perspective which we need from time to time.
  15. tsmith1302

    tsmith1302 Active Member

    I had a good, weird week. I was not disciplined whatsoever, I PMO'd and cammed a lot.

    But honestly, I don't even care much. It could have been caused by X, Y or Z. Whatever. Lol.

    I went to a concert with a girl I know from high school. She won Homecoming Queen. I tried reconnecting with her and she was all for it. We had a blast at the show. It was amazing. She definitely seemed to be digging me. Lots of good energy and flirting. She asked me if I was dating anybody. I feel feel there is a possibility for a fling or relationship here. I gotta act on it though.
  16. Chammorrow

    Chammorrow Member

    Good shit man, definitely keep seeing her, if she won Homecoming Queen, she must be really pretty, and the fact that she was willing to reconnect also means that's she real chill. Definitely pursue it
  17. gameover

    gameover Age: 26

    Definitely pursue. At least some interest if she asked about your love life.
  18. tsmith1302

    tsmith1302 Active Member

    If anybody is wondering how I've been, I'm doing great. Happy, focused, and not masturbating a whole lot.

    This has been a wonderful tool for me and I wanted to share it.

    When I feel an urge to masturbate, peek, PMO, massage parlor, etc. I delay it. I ask myself, "What am I feeling right now?". Usually it's boredom, loneliness, shame, or even jealousy. And I just accept that that's how I'm feeling at the moment. I don't try to numb myself or change how I feel, or outsmart myself. I simply allow myself to be with it.

    Life is good.
  19. Hey t. That sounds like another version of delayed gratification, simplified for addiction. After reading it, I delayed some of the compulsive stuff I like doing for a few minutes. I find myself stopping the behaviour completely for the moment because it snaps me out of the "autopilot" syndrome.
  20. tsmith1302

    tsmith1302 Active Member

    Agreed! It's a nice tool. Helps bring compulsions back into perspective.

    Good to hear from you, SB.

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