While looking at pornography can sometimes have positive consequences, it can also become an unhealthy addiction. If pornography is negatively impacting your life, then you may be thinking about ways to cut back. If you want to stop looking at pornography, then there are several strategies you can try.
Make yourself accountable.
Even before you start clearing your hard drive, approach your spouse, friend, or respected community member and announce your intention to cut pornography out of your life. Finding someone who will support you through the high points and low during this effort will make quitting much easier. There are even online support communities that can help you to abstain from porn and other activities as well, such as masturbation and/or sex.
This also helps with the practical task of installing anti-porn software, without you yourself knowing the password.
Destroy your pornography collection.
As long as this material is around, falling back into the habit will be easy. Delete pornographic files on your computer and mobile devices. Throw away pornographic magazines, discs, and all other pornographic material.
Install anti-porn software on your computer and mobile devices.
There are many programs available, but in most cases you will need a friend to create the password for you in secret, so you are not able to bypass the block. Here are a few good options:
Qustodio has an extensive array of options, and works on just about any computer and mobile device, except for Linux. Free and premium versions are available.
On a Windows computer, you can use Microsoft Family Safety for free.
Norton Family Online is a free option for Windows, Android, and iOS. Try additional features with a 30-day free trial of the premium version.
Covenant Eyes, a Christian company, offers a service for $10/month for computers and mobile devices, and can prevent even the account owner from bypassing the protection.
Disable your internet access whenever possible.
If you’re likely to spend your time trying to circumvent your site-blocking software, stop the attempt in advance by turning off the WiFi or unplugging your Ethernet cable from your computer or mobile device whenever you aren’t using the internet for other purposes.
If no one else is using the network, unplug or turn off your router or modem as well. The more steps it takes to get back online, the less likely you are to give in during a moment of weakness.
Fill your time with other activities.
Frequent boredom may contribute to pornography addiction. If you spend your free time bored and alone, the temptation to seek out porn will be more difficult to resist. Find something else to occupy yourself.
Start a daily exercise routine. Because exercise releases endorphins and other “feel good” chemicals, many people use it to compensate when quitting an addiction.
Take a vacation or a weekend trip to begin your effort. Habits are often easier to change when accompanied by a change in environment or circumstances.
Ask a friend to introduce you to his hobby. Social activities automatically introduce you to a person or group encouraging you to stick with the change, even if she doesn’t know your reasons for picking up the hobby.
Understand signs of negative behavior.
Pornography and sex are charged subjects, and there is no consensus among psychologists or medical experts on the effects of porn or whether a porn habit should be described as an addiction. People who develop a pornography habit may do so to reduce stress, cure boredom, feel good, cope with negative feelings or sensations, or avoid to withdrawal symptoms. That said, the following warning signs should tip you off that your pornography habit is something to take seriously:
You find it difficult to cut back on your pornography viewing.
You lie about the amount of pornography you watch.
Your relationships, job, or studies have taken a backseat to pornography.
You prefer watching pornography to sex.
Identify your triggers.
Keep a notebook to write in any time you crave pornography or watch it. Write down a description of the scene directly before the craving started, including your mood, what you were doing, and how you were feeling that day. Stress, lack of sleep, friends who engage in or talk about porn, or easy access to pornography are all possible triggers.
Strategically plan to thwart your triggers.
When possible, avoid triggers altogether. If seeing semi-erotic TV ads is a trigger, avoid watching programs that may have that kind of content. If it’s your commute past the local college campus, drive another way. If you cannot reasonably avoid a trigger, plan in advance how you will thwart the triggers effect on you.
If the trigger is unavoidable, make a mental plan in advance for what you will do in that situation. Picture yourself ignoring the trigger, thinking of what to make for dinner instead, or leaving the computer and taking a walk outside. Do something to take your mind off the trigger, such as reading a book, listening to music, or doing something else that will occupy your mind.
Carry around distracting items such as an exciting book or a puzzle collection.
Find healthy alternatives.
If you are sexually or romantically frustrated, try seeking a relationship or a more casual sexual relationship. If you are trying to stop watching porn because of its unrealistic depictions of sex and bodies, or how it teaches you to treat sexual partners, consider watching non-mainstream porn that tries to address these issues, such as the videos awarded a Feminist Porn Award.
Seek professional help.
If attempting to quit pornography on your own is too difficult or causing too much stress in your life, seek advice from a professional therapist or a 12-step program. For example, you may consider joining Sexaholics Anonymous for support. Also, keep in mind that therapy is especially important if you have experienced sexual or physical abuse in the past, or suffered from depression or anxiety.
If you have an unsatisfying sexual relationship with a partner, consider attending sexual satisfaction counseling together. One study shows that even ordinary relationship counseling can improve a sexual relationship.