The main reason I’m publishing a book in early 2018 telling the story of my demise in late 2013/early 2014 is because I want people who suspect they may have a problem with pornography addiction – or believe someone close to them does – to seek help long before I did. Truth be told, I knew sex addiction was a real thing. I didn’t know porn addiction could be.
And while I’m sure you’ll all be buying multiple copies to share with friends, for those who don’t but are still wondering about the signs, the good people at Addiction.com came up with a list talking about the stages of porn addiction. Looking back, I can see my journey through all three stages clear as crystal.
Early Warning Signs
- Lying about, keeping secrets about and covering up the nature and extent of porn use
- Anger or irritability if confronted about the nature or extent of porn use
- Sexual dysfunction with real-world partners, including erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation and an inability to reach orgasm
I had girlfriends who hated everything about porn and those who didn’t. It didn’t matter to me. I’d deny to both that I looked at the stuff. I had folders for my folders on my computer. As a young guy in my early 20s, when I was with a female sexually for the first time, I almost uniformly was never able to perform to completion, unless I did it myself. I was intimidated by the fact I didn’t have the full control of the situation as I did with pornography. It was scary to let myself go. I would have to think of porn and think of what we were doing in terms of porn to perform. By the second or third encounter, it was not like real-life porn anymore because with traditional porn, it’s one-and-done.
- Escalating amounts of time spent on porn use, with hours and sometimes even days lost to pornography
- An inability to form lasting social and intimate romantic relationships
- Intense feelings of depression, shame and isolation
- Disintegration of relationships with family, friends and romantic partners
- Loss of interest in non-porn activities such as work, school, socializing, family and exercise
The pattern for my intimate relationships that lasted longer than a couple of months featured a dramatic drop in physical intimacy after the initial rush was gone. With porn, everything was new every time. After the 100th intimate encounter with a girlfriend, you know how the movie ends. I never allowed my physical relationships to become emotionally or spiritually intimate. I equated intercourse with only physical pleasure, because that’s all porn was to me.
Other signs were that I would look forward to people being out of the house so I could look at porn, or planning to watch later when I wasn’t at home yet. Watching regular TV was a trigger if I saw an actress and wondered if she’d done any nude scenes in the past. I couldn’t wait to do the research online to find out.
- Viewing progressively more intense or bizarre sexual content
- Escalation from two-dimensional porn viewing to use of technology for casual, anonymous or paid-for sexual encounters, whether in-person or via Webcams
- Trouble at work or in school (including reprimands and/or dismissal) related to poor performance, misuse of company/school equipment and/or public use of porn
- Physical injury caused by compulsive masturbation
- Financial issues
- Legal issues (usually related to illegal porn use)
This is my crash. Ignoring a crumbling business, ignoring my psych meds, not getting any sleep, allowing my alcoholism to rule me, being up at 3 a.m. so I can talk to women in chatrooms…eventually leading to convincing a teenage girl to expose herself. I lost my job, I went to jail for six months and I’ll be on the sex offender registry for life.
The critical signs and that type of behavior lasted only a couple of months in a 25-year stretch of looking at porn, back to me being a kid. But as with most diseases, when it gets critical, things go downhill fast.
Two years before my arrest, I thought I was just a guy who probably watched a little more porn than the average person. I wish I had seen all of the red flags that were soon to arrive.
I’ve said it many time and I’ll say it even more moving forward: I blame nobody but me for my heinous acts. Despite any mitigating factors, it’s on me for dropping the ball when it comes to my mental, physical and spiritual well-being. Had I recognized these warning signs, I wonder if things would have been any different. I hope they turn out different for you and your loved ones.