It has become pretty mainstream news that porn addiction affects your well-being. The issue used to be strictly seen as a religious concern, but over the years, neuroscience and many secular sources have proven otherwise. This means that as men, we must be on high alert for the times we look to porn as a way to escape or cope with the stressors of life.
We must realize that we have far too much at stake when it comes to our families, careers, and passions to let porn get a foothold in our lives. Because If it does, the ripple effect of pornography addiction in the life of a dad is treacherous. As a dad myself and someone who works with dads all over the world struggling with porn addiction problems, I want to share from a place of deep care for what you may be experiencing. To start, let me share a bit of my own story to help you understand where I’m coming from
A personal story of porn addiction problems
I was exposed to porn at 10 when a friend brought me into his dad’s closet to show me some hardcore magazines. Needless to say, I was hooked. This was the beginning of my curiosity and 14-year “secret habit”. This came at a time when my mom fell away from the church and started drinking over at a neighbor’s house on a regular basis and my dad became emotionally and physically distant from me. Here I was, a young boy, longing to be seen and guided by his parents, left alone to figure things out.
This is why porn and masturbation became so addicting to me. They numbed my pain, filled my voids, and offered me what nobody else could. Fast forward 10 years and here I am, 20 years old and frustrated with my life. I was completely addicted to porn, chasing sex, struggling with erectile dysfunction, and trying to make a ton of money to cover it all up. I hit a rock bottom not long after and began exploring Christianity as a way to find some direction and guidance in life. This led to me giving my life to Jesus in 2015.
He became my savior, redeemer, and hope, and it was in a relationship with Him that I began feeling free to begin healing my deeper issues. Through the church I was attending I got connected to a recovery ministry that became the safe environment I needed to finally share my secret habit with safe and helpful people. At this time, I met my wife Helena. God used her in so many ways to bless me, but I still struggled with porn and masturbation. I lied to her every single day. It was devastating every time she found out I was lying and being unfaithful.
This caused major erosion in her trust and 8 months into the marriage and there came another rock bottom for me. I had a choice to make, get honest and real about the help I need or keep lying and hurting my beautiful wife. I couldn’t handle seeing her suffering in silence anymore… our sex life was stagnant, our emotional connection was a rollercoaster and her trust in me was dwindling each and every day. It was this moment paired with a Holy Spirit experience that convicted me on Aug 20th, 2017 to quit porn and masturbation for good and transform my life.
This was the beginning of where I am today. Over 5 years free from porn and masturbation started with a rock bottom moment where I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror or imagine another year of my life being thrown into the garbage. Today, Helena and I have a marriage that has been restored – She trusts me, our sex life is thriving, our emotional connection is stronger than ever, we deal with conflict like adults, and we both have confidence individually and in each other. Today, I am a father to my daughter Violet and because of my transformation, I feel equipped to really father her.
One of the sweetest things about being a dad who is free of this secret habit is teaching Violet about mommy and daddy’s body parts, her own body parts, and the beauty of God’s design for sexuality, all without any shame or embarrassment. Today, I am a beloved son of God, a husband and a father who gets to live confidently in his healing, humbly in His story, and courageously in His calling. All of this and so much more that I don’t have space to write about has led to me accepting God’s call to become a Christian Porn Recovery Coach through my business Secret Habit Life Coaching.
We are all about helping Christian men get more of what they want from their life while becoming Confident, Free & Healthy. We believe as men grow, so grows the rest of their lives. Their spouses and loved ones once again regain confidence in their leadership, all much freer to engage in the world around them, and advance as healthy fulfilled followers of Jesus Christ. You can also join our Christian Accountability Partners For Porn Recovery group in our men’s community to find other like-minded men to walk this journey with.
I hope through my story you can get a small glimpse of how damaging porn was for me while seeing how incredible it is to be free. To dig a bit deeper into why porn has such a negative impact on the lives of us men, I want to focus on 3 major ways porn addiction problems can affect your life and cause harm to you and your loved ones
3 ways porn affects your life
#1: Your brain is being destroyed
Our brains are the very core of our ability to function. We, dads, need our brains to be firing on all cylinders when we’re up early, working, co-parenting, leading our household, and honoring the role of husband and father. Sadly, when the brain has been affected by porn, it loses its ability to function at its fullest potential.
Most men have heard of dopamine before. Dopamine is the reward chemical that gets released in our brains. What most people don’t know is that the biggest rush gets released upon anticipation of something rewarding, not the reward itself. This is why men who watch porn feel an insurmountable rush before they actually watch and masturbate to it. It’s this rush that creates an addiction. Our brain wants more! Unfortunately, porn is a “supernatural stimulus” meaning it gives a rush of dopamine that is unnatural, aka. your brain can’t handle this much dopamine over and over again.
But this is what we do when we get addicted to porn. We end up flooding our brains, shrinking our receptors, and causing issues such as erectile dysfunction and tolerance. This is only one of the many ways porn destroys your brain, but it’s one of the most common ones that men experience.
When you experience the consequences of damaged dopamine receptors, it doesn’t just affect you physically. The emotional effects can also be extremely severe.
Some potential porn addiction symptoms of a pornified brain are:
Living a double life (your “secret habit”)
feeling depressed about your masculinity
low confidence in self
Low sex drive
Delayed or Premature ejaculation
Trying to control
inability to enjoy the simple things in life
Highs and lows
Avoidance of conflict
Take a moment to reflect on how porn may be affecting your life from a purely neurobiological level. It’s important to recognize the impact porn is having on the things you care most about in life… consider how it hinders your parenting, marriage, health, relationships, and career.
#2: Intimacy disorder
There are 2 elements to how pornography creates an intimacy disorder. First off, when we believe the illusion that we can get our sexual needs met without another human being, we’re believing the lie that we can go without intimacy with another. In the beginning, God gave the man a helper (Eve) because “it is not good for man to be alone”. That’s a big statement! To think that watching porn and masturbating is some sort of alternative or substitute to intimacy is a downright lie.
Why? Because intimacy is all about being seen, known, and loved by another person (sexual and non-sexual). And porn doesn’t offer any of these. The porn industry is all about ensuring we fixate on our primal desires, take control of our “pleasure” and do it at whatever cost. As men, when we begin to believe the porn industry’s lies about intimacy, masculinity, and sex, we become disconnected and disengaged from true intimacy. Tragically, this causes good men to fail themselves, their wives, and their kids
Secondly, porn actually hinders our ability to be intimate with another person. Not only does the porn industry create a ton of lies about intimacy, but the viewing of porn atrophies the parts of the brain that help us develop intimacy. Maybe you have never thought of this, but in porn, there’s rarely consent, foreplay isn’t a thing and the word ”no” is unheard of. This is not real life. In your day-to-day life, you’re going to experience people saying no, disagreements, and conflict.
These are wonderful opportunities to develop intimacy with others through curiosity and compassion, however, if you have learned your relational dynamics through watching porn, that isn’t even an option. This is a prime example of an intimacy disorder. It doesn’t even register to someone who is addicted to porn that conflict can be resolved and that being told no doesn’t have to be an attack on your masculinity or who you are.
This is wildly important because we all know that being a dad requires things like intimacy, connection, conflict resolution, curiosity and compassion. The very fact that porn hinders your ability to be the best dad you can be is tragic to me. If we go back to God’s design for man to be in connection with another, then we must assume that deep in our souls, we all long to be intimate with others. You desire it, your wife desires it and your children most definitely desire it. I can’t think of something more I wish I had and still long for from my dad… for him to see me, know all of me, and to deeply love who I am in spite of my flaws. That is what intimacy is all about.
As an “inner child recovery specialist” I have learned a lot about how what we feel is different than what is real. Let me explain with this example: Let’s say you’re at work tomorrow and your boss begins to make some critiques of some work you handed in. What if in that moment of being critiqued, you’re reminded of a memory where your dad would never let you make a mistake… he would always critique something, no matter how hard you tried.
This left you feeling neglected, ashamed, and unseen. In those moments, you would have a choice, enter into conflict with your dad or retreat into a fantasy world where you could get what you needed/wanted which would end in stress relief via porn and masturbation. At the moment with your boss, your dad is not around. You’re feeling all these feelings surface from when you were a kid, but what is real is that you’re an adult who has a boss that is reminding you of your dad. You now have the decision to make: enter into conflict or retreat in fantasy land (sound familiar?).
You’re not going to get mad at your boss because that will just lead to a bigger problem so you mull over what happened, you’re full of all these extra emotions because your inner child is activated and boom, you get home angry, riled up and ready for a release.
This is where most men hurt their wives, kids, and selves. It’s not that they planned to watch porn, yell at their kids, or degrade their wives, but in being overwhelmed by past emotions meeting current events, they go into “autopilot”.
This is where the idea of “when squeezed, what’s inside coming out” is on full display. We as men act as if we’re children more times than we would like to admit, and really, it’s because at that moment, we are a child (at least, from a brain perspective)
I share all of this to say something really important. If you used porn and masturbation as a way to soothe, numb, and cope growing up, you have programmed yourself to deal with emotional turmoil through porn and masturbation. This is how porn keeps you immature. You never learned how to deal with your emotions in a healthy manner so you run to what makes you forget about them. This is what kids do, and that’s why so many grown men act immaturely. There is a kid living in them that still uses porn and masturbation as a way to cope with what they don’t know how to cope with.
If this cycle is never broken, you will always live from what you feel rather than what is real, and sadly, your wife and kids will never experience what it’s like to have a healthy and mature man leading the house. This isn’t to say you will be perfectly mature in all ways. But it is to say that it’s your job to attune to the parts of you that are immature and learn about the pain they carry and what you can do to “re-parent” them (This is what I help guys do with the inner child healing recovery approach”)
3 expert tips to become a healthy dad who doesn’t watch porn and live porn addiction symptoms free
#1: Do a dopamine detox
As I am writing this, my free e-book on “The 4 stages of porn addiction symptoms” has just come out. I say that because this topic really matters, hence the resource I made! When we detox our brain, we give it the time and space it needs to recalibrate. The brain is so used to getting a quick hit of dopamine from your phone, youtube, or whatever else you grab every day and it’s so used to getting the floods of dopamine from addiction to masturbation that doesn’t know how to function on a “normal” dose. This becomes your #1 job: to give your brain 90-ish days to recalibrate and detox what is hindering you from being a healthy dad.
This means you’re going to need to do things like finding purposeful activities in your life, moving your body, engaging in meaningful relationships more often, and giving yourself a lot more time with a lot less tech. When your brain recalibrates, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to be satisfied by normal things again… like food, fitness, physical touch, laughter, and so on. All the things God intended us to enjoy and be satisfied in
Most men that struggle with an addiction to porn that continues living in their secret habit are full of shame and fear. It’s these 2 drivers that keep their thoughts and beliefs so focused on themselves and the “what ifs” of life that they can feel crippled. This is a huge reason why men often live in their heads and carry so much shame.
The solution is to renew your mind. This will challenge you to begin thinking about what you think about, to do an internal inventory every day to see what you’re mulling over, and to check in with your emotions to learn what affected you throughout the day. Our minds are the powerhouse behind much of our lives and man, you are in control of what you think, believe perceive, say, and act on. It’s time for you to take up your responsibility and “man the house” of your own life.
I have modified an awesome journaling method that I learned about from “the life coaching school” called The Thought Model. I have a breakdown of how to do this exercise here if you would like to learn more
Ultimately, any form of journaling will be helpful. The goal is to become self-aware to the point that you are in control of your mind. This doesn’t mean you’ll get it perfect every time, but it does mean you’ll be able to learn from your mistakes and make changes for the next time.
#3: Mend past wounds
We have all been hurt in one way or another. No one goes through life without experiencing some form of abuse, neglect, rigidity, loss, or something that caused pain. When physical wounds are left undealt with they get “infected” and ache. It’s the same with emotional wounds! And it’s here that many men turn to porn and masturbation as a way to cope/numb the pain they feel.
Unless your wounds get cleaned out and mended, there cannot be healing. This is where you are called to look at the times in your life when you felt hurt and developed wounds. These can be emotional, physical, and spiritual instances that taught you something about yourself and others that hinders your ability to thrive.
A really helpful practice you can apply today would be to go and find an old photo of yourself and feel all the feelings that come up. What pain do you remember going through? What support do you remember lacking? What did he need but never seemed to get it? This practice can be the beginning of you pinpointing old wounds and grieving the pain that still troubles you.
We need to be full of integrity if we want to be the leaders our wives and kids need. Porn addiction problems simply have no place in the life of a man who wants to be a healthy man, husband, and dad. That integrity begins when we say no to the things that do not serve our families and yes to the things that help us become more self-aware. You were made for so much more man! To have a healthy brain, a life of intimacy with those you care most about, and maturity that helps you feel like a real man.
Here’s my challenge to you: Kick your secret habit to the curb and start looking at the facts of what’s really going on. If you do, I believe you will experience things like never before: renewed energy, intense focus, confidence in yourself, conflict resolution skills, trust with your wife, and presence with your kids. And these things, and so much more, I desperately want for you and your family.
I can’t stop watching porn… Where do I find porn addiction online accountability partners?
Finding accountability partners for porn addiction recovery can feel arduous. Regardless if it’s online or in person, it’s never easy to open up about what you’re going through. This is why it’s so important to find a place that connects like-minded men in a safe and growth-focused environment. Because safety is one of the most important pieces to helping people open up about porn addiction and masturbation.
If we don’t feel safe as humans, we retreat and turtle. On top of that, we need relatability – people who are on the same path or who have walked the path and made it to the other side. Safety and relatable peers are two vital components that I would encourage you to look for when considering finding porn addiction online accountability partners.
I want to share with you something I WISH was available when I was addicted to porn… I went to many years feeling alone and want to ensure my redeemed failures and hurts can help you avoid what I went through. May this resource be a blessing to you as you embark on finding safety, relatability, and truly helpful accountability in your porn addiction recovery. We also recently released a blog if you are wondering what Are Christian Accountability Partners For Porn Recovery?
I can’t stop watching porn on my own, why is that?
After working with men 1 on 1 for the past 4 years, I was noticing something problematic in almost everyone I worked with… they lacked friendships, connections, and routines. To be able to quit porn, you really do need all 3 of these. Friendships are like oxygen to the soul, connection is the true opposite of addiction and routines help men stay on track until their minds, brains, and bodies recalibrate. This is why I created the Secret Habit Porn Recovery Communityfor free.
It exists to be a safe space for Christian men to heal from porn addiction symptoms and other unwanted sexual behaviors. The goal is for men to feel safe, secure, and confident that they are loved, seen, and cared for at all times. Having a porn addiction online accountability partners community is the foundation for a successful recovery from pornography and we believe in it whole heartily! And our passion is to see men become confident, healthy, and free to engage in the world around them while advancing as healthy fulfilled followers of Jesus Christ.
9 ways this community will help find accountability partners and recover from porn addiction
It’s a Safe Space To Share Your Struggles, Wins, and Questions With Like-Minded Men
As I said before, we all need safety and relatability in our recovery journeys. What better place to find that than a safe and private community with men who also want to quit porn and experience sexual integrity? Inside the community you will be able to chat, comment, post, ask, meet and so much more. It’s such a great way to find other men who are looking for the exact thing you’re looking for.
“You’re 66% more likely to hit your goals when you do it with a few friends”
Complimentary Recovery Navigator Call with Shawn
When you join the community, you will receive a personal message from one of our moderators (sometimes it may even be me!) with a welcome message and a link to book a recovery navigator call with Shawn. This is a personal touch we offer to create safety, connection, and opportunities for everyone to get immersed in the Secret Habit culture. The call itself is to help you navigate the community, understand your point A and point B and help you get there with a few options (free and paid). What’s the difference between porn addiction online accountability partners and recovery groups?
Expert Insight from Shawn and other Moderators
It’s not every day you get 24/7 access to an expert in the scope of porn addiction recovery. I am a certified husband material coach, sexual addiction mentor, and inner child recovery specialist. Myself, along with our moderators are active in the community daily during office hours and offer expert insights when questions arise.
Free Access To “The 3 Essential Steps To Quitting Porn” Virtual Course
Because I want you to have some quality content to digest regardless if you become a client, I am offering my 3-step video course completely free. Here you will learn about becoming curious, consistent, and confident in your porn addiction recovery. When you can master these 3 steps, you will be equipped and well on your way to sobriety from your porn addiction. This course used to be $49 CDN but is now available free for all members of the community
Free Access To The “Creating a Sexual Template” Virtual Course
This free 6-part video course has a special place in my heart. I teach the exact steps I took to overcome Erectile Dysfunction and reclaim confidence in my sex life with my wife. The content I offer in this course is worth thousands of dollars to anyone who is struggling with erections… That is NOT a fun place to be in… I decided about a year ago to offer this course for only $49 CDN but have since done something even crazier… it is now available for free to all of the members in the community.
Podcast Episodes, Blogs, and Special Content are Posted Weekly
By being a part of our community, you will get weekly notifications right to your email or phone when I release new content. Every week you will see a new podcast episode, blog, and special insights from my approaches as a full-time porn addiction recovery group coach. The special content is what draws a ton of attention from the members and gets guys talking, connecting, and growing each week.
Free Access To Zoom Calls for Support, Prayer, Encouragement, and Training.
Up until now, you have seen some great offers from inside the community, but it’s all done without eye-to-eye interaction. It’s all great, but there’s something really important, even virtually, about getting face-to-face with the men in the community. We do this by offering monthly live training to dig into pertinent topics pertaining to porn recovery, as well as a monthly prayer meeting to open up space for the movement of God’s spirit.
Both of these meetings are done over zoom as a regular call so everyone can see each other and interact. This is where men really develop relationships with one another and find accountability partners to help them grow from call to call.
No Ads or Distractions When Using The Community
Say goodbye to social media and hello to Mighty Networks! Thai amazing software enables us to run a high-quality, interactive, and engaging community all without Facebook, Instagram, or Linkedin. That means that you won’t have any temptations, ads, or distractions keeping you from focusing on the reason you hopped online in the first place. This is HUGE for anyone in porn addiction recovery… what you focus on will grow. May you make it something important and helpful!
Available on Desktop & Mobile App
Mighty Networks has made it so we can offer the Secret Habit community from your desktop and from the mobile app. That way you can connect and engage from whatever device you like best and are always one click away from getting support when you need it most. This really breaks down any barriers and makes the community highly accessible to almost anyone.
When you’re asking the fundamental question: “I can’t stop watching porn on my own, how do I find the right community and help?” it is crucial to remember that you need to feel safe and related in order to find quality porn recovery, accountability partners. Most men do not feel this way… They struggle to find safety, relations, and connection and it comes out in the stats we see where 70% of Christian men struggle with porn… It’s time to take a leap of faith and trust what has been trusted by so many others. Porn Addiction Online Accountability Partners Free Secret Habit community is a safe place full of like-minded men who want your best… even better, I’m there and I 100% want your best!
If you’re wanting to start your recovery, if you’re 2 weeks sober, 2 years sober, or someone who wants to give back to men struggling with porn, then join the community today. It’s a safe place full of like-minded men overflowing with value for you to enjoy. I’m excited to see you there.
What to expect in the first 90 days after quitting porn
Most men today are completely lost when it comes to healing from porn. They’re left to the white knuckle, manage their lust, and throw mud against the wall hoping something will finally work. The reality is that the first 90 days of recovery are tough! It can feel impossible to make it through these days when your body is experiencing withdrawals that cause pain and discomfort. But what if these days were just part of the process? What if the withdrawals and discomforts were a sign that you were healing?
Well, that’s why I created this resource. These first 90 days of recovery require a deep understanding, awareness, game plan, and forward outlook to be able to overcome them. It’s the only way you will be able to push through the pain and discomfort and say no to porn and masturbation as you detox and recalibrate your mind, body, and brain. This is what lays the foundation for men to experience lasting freedom from porn.
When you finally understand that in the first 90 days of recovery your body is going through a “detox”, you will be able to rationalize the pain and see it as a stepping stone to better days. This opens your mind up to resiliency and perseverance because you begin to look forward to what’s to come rather than what’s happening right now.
Get ready to learn about:
What’s going on inside your brain, body, and mind (and how they’re different)
What you can expect to experience and feel as you move through the stages
The mindset shifts sobriety requires
Simple daily and weekly action steps to help you move through each stage.
How to look ahead to better days so you can get through anything today
Helping you move through the 4 stages of porn recovery:
The 4 stages of recovery are built on the foundation of sobriety, meaning that when you take action to quit watching porn (and for the best results, masturbation also) you will begin day one of sobriety and enter into stage one. When this happens, you’re officially in the “recovery process”. This process in itself takes PATIENCE! 90 days may not seem like a long time, but when you’re in the thick of it, it can feel like an eternity. This is why I have added mindset shifts and action steps for you along the way – These are in place to help you make good choices when you sense yourself getting impatient. So man, take this one day at a time, setting your eyes on the reward of getting through these 4 stages so you can experience the peace that comes when your brain, mind, and body begin to heal! Ref:
PS: If you relapse along the way of the 4 stages, you’re not a failure! However, you will begin again at stage one. If this happens, it’s best to tell someone you trust, learn from the mistake, pick yourself up and go at it again. I promise that it does get a little bit easier each time if you follow these simple steps.
Understanding The Brain & The Mind
As you read, you will notice that I separate the brain and the mind. It’s because they are different entities and both play a significant role on their own and in partnership. here’s a simple breakdown of each one to clear up any possible confusion.
Our consciousness, aka. The place of intellect and thought
Not a physical thing
Uses the brain by drawing information that has been stored in the subconscious
Developed through changing beliefs and thoughts
Physical complex organ
Controls our body
Responds and forms to the information given by the mind
Developed through changing your mind and behaviors
Mindset: Follow the facts that you’re in the heavy days of the initial detoxing. Every day you feel the burn is another day your brain is recalibrating to the new normal
When you quit porn, your brain stops getting the unnatural dopamine surge it’s used to. Because of this, your ability to function as your “normal” self will be hindered for a few weeks. When this happens, you need to know that it’s okay to feel “off” and that your experiences are not dangerous. Don’t let your brain or body lie to you. Your brain is going into shock because of the lack of dopamine, but at the same time, something good is happening – The brain is working to recalibrate itself to the new dopamine levels.
What Porn Addiction Symptoms To Expect in the Shock Stage (1 – 3 weeks):
Irritability – You will likely find that the smallest thing set you off. It’s almost as if you are “hangry”. This is a normal response to the discomfort as your brain dips below its expected dopamine level.
Emotional Rollercoaster – Because the brain is in shock, but at the same time, working to recalibrate, your emotions will be an up-and-down ride. Just like anybody going through refinement, you can accept this as normal and move through the ups and down as if you’re surfing the waves.
Tension – It is common to experience stress responses such as headaches, body aches, and tightness all over the body. When this happens, you are being given a physical sign that you just need to take it easy and give yourself extra grace
Stress – This can play out as anxiety, fear, guilt, avoidance, and other crippling emotions/feelings. When you feel the weight of stress coming on, this is a great time to breathe and journal what’s on your mind.
Temptation – You may have memories, flashbacks, or fantasies about pornography you have consumed or pornography you would want to consume. You may even have sexual (wet) dreams. These are great times to call a brother and share what’s going on so you can be supported and prayed over
Insomnia – You have likely gotten so used to experiencing an orgasm before bed that your body is waiting for its “release” so it can “rest”. You need to hold onto the reality that you will truly rest when you no longer “need” an orgasm to feel good. This is an important time to purge what’s on your mind, release it to God and get whatever rest that you can.
When you are experiencing any of these Stage One challenges, it’s so important to slow down, realize what’s happening and accept the fact that this is part of the recovery process. You’re allowing your brain the space it needs to heal, it’s just that the healing will feel pain before it feels good. Don’t let that get you down, you can do it!
Remember: “Short-term loss for long-term gain”
BE ON ALERT: The “Shock Stage” Craving
One of the hardest milestones for an addict to hit is getting out of the “shock stage” (1 -3 weeks). This is because it feels intense, unfamiliar, and incredibly uncomfortable right when you think you’re doing pretty well. This is the “shock stage craving” that can derail the best of us.
In most cases, the craving comes around day 7, but it can come on day 5 or even day 21. It may last one day, but it can last several days too. Regardless, it’s crucial that you’re aware of it. Scripture says pride comes before the fall! Don’t get prideful of how good you’re doing. Keep your mind focused on the facts and realize that you can handle this onslaught because you know that short-term loss and pain will lead to long-term gain and victory.
Your Job: Expect it, plan for it and overcome it
But how do you do that? Here are 3 tips to ensure you’re prepared for the shock stage of craving
–Pinpoint the potential threats: Being clear on the threat is the only way to overcome it! The best sports teams study the other team so they can best attack and defend.
What could cause you to relapse? (Think about your triggers)
When might it happen? (Think about when are you often the weakest)
Who may influence this? (Think about people who “set you off” or cause you to shut down)
How may your guard be down? (Think of ways you may get prideful or weak)
–Gameplan what you will do when you feel tempted: After naming the threats, create a plan of action that will get you through the fiery trial and into the next day.
What will you do? (Think of things that bring you joy, fulfillment and reassurance)
Who will you call? (Have a few safe people on speed dial)
Where will you go? (Changing your environment is really helpful)
–Tell 2-3 people: It is critical that you share your threats and game plan with 2 others so they can pray for you, keep you accountable, and be prepared to answer a call when you need them.
Who can you tell about the threats and your plans? (Tell them about your “shock stage craving” gameplan)
Confirm with them that you can call them anytime you need their support
Encouraging Scripture: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
Mindset shifts during stage one:
“Everything I am feeling right now is part of the process of healing”
“I am becoming a man who is free from porn one step at a time”
“Every day I get through is another day closer to freedom”
Action steps to help you during stage one:
Make a commitment statement (Ex. “I am committed to getting through stage one no matter how hard it gets because I want to be free from porn. When it feels hard, I will call Brian, go for a walk and journal about my thoughts)
Deep breathing when stressed
Get moving: plan times at the gym, running, playing a sport
Take a hot bath and rest your mind
Journal/internal inventory + releasing prayer
Shut off your phone at 9 pm
“Before joining Secret Habit, I felt controlled by my emotions and susceptible to temptations like pornography. I was stuck in a pattern of bondage that I didn’t want anymore. When I heard about Secret Habit, I took a leap of faith by admitting to myself that I needed help to change. Through mentoring, which lasted over a 5 month period and lots of arduous work to discover the meaning behind my emotional suffering, I was able to break free. Today, my emotions do not govern my unwanted behaviour. I have been equipped with an understanding of my past and the tools to work through each situation. I am excited to share my good news by letting others know that we do not have to resign ourselves to being controlled in this way. There is freedom in understanding why we fall into temptation. Every aspect of my life is stronger because of Secret Habit.”
Mindset: Follow the facts that you’re well into your detox and you’re developing the character that lasting freedom requires
Because your brain is learning to function on a much lower dose of dopamine, in stage two, you’re going to experience what is called “flatlining”. Flatlining is where you just feel dull and often discouraged. It’s the classic “withdrawal symptom” everyone experiences when they give up an addiction of any kind.
The good news here is that your brain is continuing to recalibrate to the new normal, one day at a time. A lot of people want their journey to freedom from porn to feel awesome, but that’s just not how it works when the brain needs time to detox and rewire. So with this knowledge, I encourage you to stick it out and get through the short-term pain of stage two so you can experience the long-term gain of freedom!
What To Expect in the Porn Addiction Withdrawal “Test” Stage (2 – 8 weeks):
Low Energy – Be ready for much lower energy than you’re used to having. In this stage, you will feel sluggish and tired. When this happens, plan for extra time to rest and get lots of fresh air.
Brain Fog – Efficiency will be challenging in this stage due to fatigue, tiredness, and lack of focus. Be prepared for tasks to take longer than normal. Because this can hit us, men, right in our pride, it’s important to process what is really happening and come to the conclusion that it’s only temporary
Social Awkwardness – Because you’re going through so much behind the scenes, it can cause you to focus on yourself and all that you’re going through. Because of this, awkwardness and anxiety are common. This is a great time to find a few fun things and safe people that you can shift your focus to.
Low Sex Drive – Unfortunately, sex doesn’t become a quick alternative to porn. Sex requires healthy dopamine levels and right now, your brain is out of whack as it works to recalibrate. It’s often recommended that men take 90 days away from sex while quitting porn so don’t let this get you down, it’s perfectly normal. When you know this, it becomes part of the process and is a necessary step to recovery.
Loneliness – It can feel as if nobody understands what you’re going through or that you’re the only one struggling with these recovery stages. This is not true, but it can certainly feel true. That’s why it’s important to utilize your 3 friends on speed dial and get the support you need when you need it. You don’t need the world to understand you, but you don’t need a few guys in your corner who can be there for you when you’re feeling down.
Encouraging Scripture: If you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.
1 peter 2:20b
Mindset shifts during stage two:
“I am suffering for Christ and can draw closer to Him and His strength through my weakness”
“I am a man who knows what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, and how to do it”
“I have already made it past stage one, I can make it past stage two”
Action steps to help you during stage two
Decide on who and what you can focus on and take action to make time for them
Plan a board game night at your home and have some fun
Get some extra rest – take a nap and/or go to bed early
Journal/internal inventory + releasing prayer
Shut off your phone at 9 pm
“Before I started working with Shawn of Secret Habit, I was deeply addicted to pornography for 12 years. On top of that, I was in deep denial of the fact that I was even addicted in the first place. After my wife found out about my pornography addiction, I went to Shawn for help. This was genuinely the best choice I have ever made. While some sessions were more difficult and vulnerable than others and the process of breaking free of my addiction was long, it was all very worth it. Now that I am on the other side, life has never been so vibrant, colourful, fun, meaningful and godly. Living life not chained down to an addiction and not tied to sin is so much better than I could have ever imagined. I can be truly intimate with not just my wife, but with God and everyone around me. For the first time in my life I am free to be fully known and fully loved. Now with the help that Shawn has given me, I seek to do the same as him, helping those who are addicted and bringing them into the light where they can experience life and life more abundantly. Thank you, Shawn”
What Is the definition of Porn Addiction and How Can I Tell If I Have It?
In the past, it was widely believed that porn addiction wasn’t real; that it was just a myth made up by moralists trying to control people’s behavior. However, more and more studies have shown that pornography impacts the brain in very serious ways. On top of that, porn addiction has been proven to cause serious problems in your work, relationships, and sense of personal health and well-being.
If you’re constantly preoccupied with watching porn or engaging in other sexual activities, if you keep going back to pornography despite negative consequences in your life, or if you’re just beginning to experience symptoms like restlessness and irritability when you’re not online looking at porn, it could be time to do something about it. To help you take action and really do something about this, let’s define what an addiction really is and reveal the top 10 signs that you have an addiction to porn.
Porn addiction definition
An addiction to porn has 3 characteristics (and this goes for any addiction)
You have tried to quit porn but can’t seem to give it up
You know the negative consequences of your porn addiction problems on yourself and others, but continue to consume and abuse it
You have adjusted your lifestyle to make time and space to watch porn
“Porn addiction refers to a person becoming emotionally dependent on pornography to the point that it interferes with their daily life, relationships, and ability to function” – Medical News Today
These indicators are substantial and not to be glossed over. If you resonate with these characteristics, it’s important for you to take the rest of this article seriously. And I don’t say that to make you feel ashamed or guilty… I say that because I care so much that you know the truth… and I care so much that you get the right help for your struggle that affects SO many others too.
It doesn’t take long for porn to begin interfering with daily life… Most people spend mental energy hiding their addiction and stay up late watching porn. These 2 habits alone will cause a tremendous energy drain leaving you tired and without restraint. I remember experiencing this… I felt so drained all the time. I would spend my whole day thinking about how angry was at how tired I was (lol). It would make me feel hopeless about my life and then I would daydream about releasing the tension later that day, only to continue the cycle of madness once again.
2) When it negatively impacts relationships
One of the worst symptoms of porn addiction is the deterioration of relationships. This goes for peer-to-peer, families, and marriages (and any others you have). Porn creates a lot of secrecy between friends and peers. It’s hard to be known and loved for who you are when you are always wearing masks. In marriage, it’s hard to feel connected when trust is constantly breached. One of the challenges here is that porn addiction can one very prideful.
You may be, without knowledge, so inward focused, that you’re not even much fun to be around. Always thinking about yourself in a negative light, assuming what others are thinking, comparing yourself, and putting on a show to hide who you really are. Relationships thrive on trust, respect, vulnerability, and safety. These are all very hard for someone to uphold if they’re addicted to pornography.
3) When it causes physical reactions
It can feel really embarrassing to admit, but addiction to porn causes things like porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED), physiological impotence (PI), delayed ejaculation (DE), and premature ejaculation (PE). This is tragic because it makes sex, the very things God made for married couples to enjoy as a gift together, challenging and shameful. I struggled with all 4 of these and know firsthand how much they suck!
Helena also struggled with delayed ejaculation as a woman, basically meaning she couldn’t orgasm as a healthy woman should be able to orgasm. The effects porn has on our sexuality are severe and not something to overlook. On top of this, it also skews the way you may relate to others, especially men relating to women. It’s common for a man to either cover his addiction to porn by avoiding it through withdrawal, or they may become overbearing and boastful as if they’re the top dog and would never struggle with this sort of stuff.
4) When your sexual tastes change
One of the most shameful symptoms of porn addiction is the hijacking of your arousal. This often causes the most shame in the men I work with. They ask “why am I attracted to something so twisted?” or “It makes no sense but I am turned on by ____”. Basically, our arousal is formed by our upbringing – what we see, hear, feel, and experience. Something does not have to be sexual for it to become arousing or sexual.
If something non-sexual was twisted with something sexual, for example, a longing to be seen by your mom and a video of an older woman pursuing a younger man, your good longing to be seen is now twisted with a certain genre of porn that you can access anytime you feel that void in your heart. These situations are what lead us to have fetishes and fantasies that don’t seem to make any sense.
However, it’s often porn and other sexualized media that twist something good and make it erotic. From here, our sexual tastes begin to change… Have you ever heard of genres of porn that would make your head spin? They exist because people watch them, and people watch them because their healthy arousal has been hijacked by fake sex on a screen that seems to offer what they’re looking for.
This type of work is deep and can often feel confusing to the men I work with. I love digging into their stories to help them see the ties between their good longings and their sexual arousal. It’s here that some of the greatest “aha” moments take place and real healing happens.
Most people turn to watch porn because they feel overwhelmed by their emotions and need to numb the pain… this is what people often call a “release”. The challenge with porn addiction is that we were not made for addiction… This is why we feel so much remorse after watching porn and masturbating.
For so long people thought of this as a religious issue, but over the years, there has been a ton of brain science done to prove that porn damages the brain and causes severe atrophy. This is important because we can see that it’s not just morality that says “porn is bad”, it’s science! With these 2 together, it’s no wonder one would feel shame, guilt, and embarrassment after watching porn.
6) When it creates negative moods in general
I was the worst of them all… I was in a constant pity party state and it sucked for my wife. I was a man who lived in the lows and tried to bring people down with me. However, when something was going well in my life, I was on top of the world! Sadly, these moments never lasted and I would crash HARD. The reality is, porn addicts, don’t know how to stay even keel. They have high highs and low lows… this is what keeps them dysregulated and running for comfort the moment conflict ensues.
One cannot have a truly good mood when one lives on the peaks and in the valleys. You must learn to live more even steven and regulate yourself. However, this is nearly impossible when self-blame and judgment are so intense. Because so many porn addicts hate themselves, they live in this constant battle making them short with themselves and others. Basically, you’re always critical, towards yourself or towards others, and it begins to take a major toll on your life.
7) When it doesn’t relieve feelings of stress, anxiety or depression
Oh, the catch-22 of porn addiction… The very reason so many say they run to porn is the very thing they get after they ejaculate. Escaping to porn because of stress is one of the most common reasons I hear. Sadly, it’s these very people that, milliseconds after they orgasm, feel the same stress, anxiety, and depression, at times, even more, severe than before. It’s because of something called “tolerance”.
It means that you need more of something but enjoy it less. How stressful! Once your brain gets accustomed to the hit of dopamine it’s been getting, it will require more dopamine to get the same hit. So you are constantly striving for more porn, or in most cases, risker porn, to get the same hit as last month. Eventually, this creates such stress and ultimately, such shame because it brings you down paths you never thought you would go… This is the sad reality of the porn addiction progression for so many.
8) Wanting more control over viewing porn
Most people, without knowing it, turn to porn because they want to control it. And they want control because they feel out of control. When we feel out of control, we feel as if our power is dissipating. This can turn us to anger, entitlement, pride, and other emotions that can turn nasty quickly. When this happens, you’re going to end up looking for a way to feel powerful and in control.
And this is where porn comes in for so many… Porn was made for degradation. The very place where you have power and control over others. Not literally, but in your own little world. And that’s exactly what the porn industry is all about – selling you a narrative that you can enter into and feel your pain fade away… for a moment at least.
9) Feelings of loss or numbness after using pornography
After ejaculation, it’s common to feel the loss of your values, character, decisions, promises, and whatever else you hold dear. You may have said “ill never do it again” or “I love my wife too much to hurt her again”, but here you are, watching porn. The pain behind the decision to view porn is greater than any pleasure possible. The pain is what removes the pleasure in an instant. After ejaculation, you come back to your senses (pre-frontal cortex) and realize what you did. It’s at this moment that you may feel a sense of loss or even numbness because what you did is not at all what you want to be doing.
10) Using Porn as a coping mechanism
I don’t believe we were made to use substances to cope. I believe we were made to have healthy coping mechanisms, but substances like porn would not at all fit under that category. It cannot help you cope… look at all the things that I already mentioned and try and make a case for how it could possibly be a good coping mechanism… Erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, tolerance, brain atrophy and so much more. I think it’s much wiser to utilize relationships and personal passions as a way to cope.
Sadly, these are both hindered greatly by a porn addiction! This is something I see A LOT. Men who do not know how to utilize their passions and relationships to help them get through hard times. Isn’t that sad? The very thing they need is hindered by the very thing they want to stop.
Now if you are looking for some encouragement to what the benefits of quitting are, read our recent blog on the 8 Benefits to Quitting Porn
There you have it, a powerful list of the top 10 signs you may be addicted to porn. I hope the definition was helpful for you and that this list has given you much to consider. These are no joke! If you’re here thinking “man, I see all of these in my life” or “I definitely resonate with enough of them to be concerned” then I want you to know I am here to help. The first thing I want to say is that knowledge is power.
However, it’s not “power” as that famous quote says. Knowledge + action is power. You now have knowledge of what an addiction to porn is doing to your life and how you may be affected. Now it’s time to take action and do something about it. It’s only in action that you can recover and restore all that porn has stolen from you.
When you’re trying to break free from porn and the shame that goes with it, having an accountability partner can make all the difference in your success or failure. Your partner doesn’t need to be your pastor or someone in your church, but if you can find one there, that’s great! But you can also go online and find a community of people who are going through the same thing as you. And really, these are your friends, so make sure you choose people who will care about your struggles and not hold them against you.
An Overview Of Accountability Partners For Porn Addiction
Being a person who is accountable means that you stay true to what you said you would do. This is a way of life that will likely lead you to great results in whatever you’re doing. This sounds really nice and dandy, to stay accountable means to get results, awesome! Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. Staying accountable to just yourself is not something I believe is wise, especially when it comes to porn addiction.
This is where accountability partners come into play. Ideally, they help point out blind spots in your life that need attention. Their job is to encourage you, support you and sharpen you as you share your thoughts and emotions and pursue your recovery and life goals. A good accountability partner is there to offer practical advice and hold you accountable, but even more, they’re there to be safe, compassionate, curious, and unconditionally loving at all times.
The Benefits Of Christian Accountability Partners For Porn Recovery
I have heard it said that you’re 66% more likely to hit your goals when you run with like-minded people. That’s a substantial increase in the likelihood that you will recover from your addiction to porn! With this said, the benefit of having a good accountability partner is that you will be more much likely to hit your goals and break free from bondage. Even more than this stat, there’s a famous saying out there that says “the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, its connection”. This profound statement means that the very essence of your sobriety will be in how you connect with other people in your life.
I like to think of your accountability partner as a vital connection as you recover from porn because they’re going to be one of your first touches when you need someone to talk to. Now, it’s crucial that this person feels unconditionally in their love, even when they challenge you, you must still feel loved. The benefit here is that you will reach out when in need rather than sink into isolation wondering if they’re really there for you. Imagine, in your deepest pain and ugliest struggle, having someone you can call knowing 100% that they will be safe, loving, and supportive no matter what has happened.
How To Ask For An Accountability Partner For Pornography Addiction
The classic way of finding accountability partners is to join a pornography addiction recovery support group, ask a close friend/family member, or get it through an app of some sort (covenant eyes, or Relay as examples). There’s nothing wrong with any of these approaches, however, wisdom is required to ensure you connect with people that will truly hold you accountable in ways that are actually helpful.
One of the first things to consider is how you would ask someone to be in a relationship with you. Would you tell some sob story or some “woe is me” tale? Probably not… I’m sure you would find common ground, interests, and desires and make a connection based on those things, right? This is a simple mindset shift that can make all the difference when looking for a good accountability partner. The main idea I want to explain here is that the sob story approach is more about pity. Someone feels sorry for you so they offer their support, however, they feel burdened by the task and may not know how to help.
The other option is to share about your life, goals, and vision and how it relates to the person. This approach is much more about giving someone an exciting opportunity to be a part of your life, your journey, and your redemption. This in my opinion is asking someone to live out the great commission that Jesus Christ asked us to be obedient in. Doesn’t that sound so much better than just asking someone to hold you accountable? The goal here is to invite someone into the very fabric of your life, to become friends, to be on purpose together for the Glory of God.
What not to say to a potential accountability partner:
“Hey Joe, I’m struggling with porn and really need some help. Would you mind checking in with me every day and seeing how I’m doing? Maybe we can get together for coffee weekly to help me stay motivated? What do you say?”
What to say to potential Christian accountability partners for porn recovery :
“Hey Joe, I have noticed a few things about you that I really admire – you’re an amazing husband, you are really healthy and I see that you care a lot about discipleship. I know it’s important to surround myself with people that can sharpen me and when thinking about who that could be, I thought about you. Right now, I am on a journey to becoming a Godly man and part of that includes getting free from porn.
I really want to renew my mind, grow closer to God, and rebuild trust with my wife. I was wondering if you would be open to pursuing Christ together and becoming healthy men of God side by side? This would ideally look like some weekly touch points to check in and stay accountable to our word and a weekly coffee to dig into some areas that we need sharpening. What do you think?
How To Choose An Accountability Partner For Porn Recovery
Simply put, a good accountability partner has fruit on the tree. This means that you will want to seek out people (of the same gender) who have some things that you want – ideally, character traits and quality relationships. This may sound like a narrow lens on how you may choose someone to hold you accountable… I get it. However, I do want to widen the lens a bit and say that if someone is in their own recovery from porn addiction they’re not disqualified. If this is the case, I believe it’s crucial that they are bearing good fruit along the way so iron is still sharpening iron.
When thinking about how to choose a good accountability partner, what you’re really asking is “who” do I choose? Ultimately, it comes down to safety. Who do you feel safe with? or who are you willing to get to know to see how safe you feel? This is at the core of choosing the right accountability partner. If you don’t feel safe, you won’t reach out. And if you don’t reach out, you won’t experience the love, support, and sharpening that you need while quitting porn.
Safety, in its essence, is feeling as if you are protected by love and mercy even when you make mistakes. These are the type of relationships we all need. The ones that resemble Jesus Christ and the love He has for us at all times.
Is My Family Member A Good Choice As An Accountability Partner For Pornography Addiction?
Family members are typically a place of familiarity, making them seem like a good place to start for accountability. They can seem better than a close friend simply because of proximity. However, I want to explain why I disagree with this notion in most cases. To keep this clean, the concept of family members needs to break down into 2 roles: parents and siblings.
Parents often want the “best” for their kids. They will offer practical advice when you share your thoughts rather than offering safety, compassion, curiosity, and the help you really need. Now, this is not in all cases, but I have seen it happen more times than not. Parents naturally have a position of authority that can make this dynamic very challenging. They may not know how to respond in any other way than the “parent”.
This will make it challenging to consider them helpful as accountability partners as you look to get free from porn. If you happen to have parents who you think can play the role of accountability partner, then I would encourage you to consider how you feel during and after the interaction. It’s vital to reflect and ensure you’re feeling loved rather than “fixed” all the way throughout.
Finding accountability in siblings can happen because of shared experiences. This means that you can talk about how certain aspects of your childhood may have impacted your life today. This can be a great benefit if you feel safe and supported by them along the way. It’s important to note that a lot of siblings are just not close enough to feel safe and secure to talk about such deep topics.
If that’s the case, that is ok. But if you do happen to have a sibling you can talk to and be held accountable, it’s again important to recognize how you feel during and after the interaction.
What To Do When You’ve Made Progress And Become Accountable By Yourself
Progress feels amazing, there’s no denying it. It can be the motivator behind our success. However, there comes a point where pride seeps in and our downfall becomes evident. Self-sufficiency doesn’t work in the Kingdom of Heaven. Any addiction recovery, especially porn addiction recovery requires connection, relationship, and accountability that goes beyond just you, and even just you and God. Scripture shows us that we are to seek wise counsel, confess to another, and make disciples.
These are all signs that we cannot do life alone. Not because God says we can’t, but because we wither when we isolate. One of the greatest challenges of “lone wolves” is that they eventually stagnate and develop severe blind spots. When it comes to quitting porn, too many guys quit the behavior, but never find freedom in their minds. This is a massive problem… When someone tells me they’re free from porn when they clearly only have sobriety and fight every day to keep it. This is a warning sign that this dude needs some good-quality accountability.
How To Tell If A Christian Accountability Partner For Porn Recovery Is Lying To You Or Dishonest About Their Sexual History And Current Behaviours
The Holy Spirit is the great “convictor”. He nudges the heart even when it seems as if there are no red flags to be seen. When you develop a relationship with your accountability partner, you will begin to do life together. You will get to know each other on a level that should clear out any “BS”. What I mean by that is you should be able to sense if something is off – by sound, sight, or sense.
It’s so important for us to “trust our gut” aka. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Some signs I would look out for would be a lack of eye contact, a change in personality, a change in communication style, boasting, over-spiritualizing, and/or focusing on behavior modification rather than true heart change. There would be many more potential signs but these can be some very common ones to be aware of. My hope for you is that the safety you two have developed would cause your relationship to be focused on sharpening one another.
This would mean that you feel comfortable sharing your concerns if there are any. This is the true mark of a healthy relationship – conflict resolution! Scripture tells us that we are to confront people who are in sin and to be able to do this with love, grace, and curiosity will go a long way.
Having yourself a couple of good accountability partners as you recover from porn addiction is going to be the game changer you need to break free. By following the principles laid out here and seeking what it means to have true accountability in a healthy relationship, you will be well on your way to finding the connection that we believe leads to sobriety and freedom from porn.