In my early 20's I started working remotely as a web-developer. I've always wanted to live a porn-free life, but the remote work lifestyle made this goal feel impossible.
I felt like an alcoholic working in a bar because I always had privacy, internet, and limited willpower.
Soon after I started working remotely, I became obsessed with reading about habits, psychology, and how to quit porn. It took several years, but these concepts finally came together for me in 2020.
I knew that I needed to completely abstain from porn and that it had to be permanently out of my life.
...but I could barely make it 1 week without "relapsing."
I realized that I couldn't quit porn using willpower alone. I needed a better strategy.
At the start of 2020 I committed to quitting porn no matter the cost. In my mind, continued porn-use would cost me everything in the future.
- I spent hundreds of dollars on books, courses, and every porn blocker I could find.
- I participated in online communities and joined (but didn't stick with) numerous accountability groups.
- Even though I wasn't making much money, I invested $450/month to rent an office where I could work remotely, but without the same amount of privacy.
...Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and it seemed like I'd never be porn-free.
After reflecting on the situations where I would "relapse", I realized that I could increase my chances of success by modifying my technology.
I decided to try to completely eliminate porn-use from at least one device. I started with my phone and did everything possible to make it difficult to access explicit content.
After a few months had gone by, I realized that I had never once used my phone to look at porn.
I had completely stopped thinking about my phone as something that I could even use to access pornography.
I decided to scale my concept to every possible way I accessed the internet if I was traveling or at home.
When I was eventually successful I felt a HUGE sense of mental relief when I was around my technology.
- I could work in the privacy of my own home without being stressed that I would slip up.
- I could travel for business and use hotel Wifi without feeling stressed about being tempted to look at porn.
The technology lockdown system made it possible for me to reach consecutive long streaks of abstinence (90+ days).
Here's why locking down technology helps with quitting porn:
1) Break Technology Habits
The smaller habits I had formed with my technology would cause me to relapse before I even realized what I was doing.
A habit starts with a cue (trigger) and then the rest occurs automatically.
Once a habit is hardwired into your brain, you do it without thinking.
For example, seeing someone attractive on social media suddenly escalates into browsing porn.
Two proven techniques for breaking a bad habit are:
- Remove cues from your environment
- Make the habit difficult to perform (so you can't do it unconsciously)
Effectively blocking porn on your technology helps you break habits that contribute to a porn addiction.
2) Free Up Willpower
It's difficult to follow a diet if you always have donuts sitting on your kitchen table.
Every time you walk into your kitchen and see donuts on your counter you use willpower to resist the urge to eat the donut. You should remove the donuts from your kitchen so that you don't have to keep telling yourself "don't eat that."
Willpower is a limited resource that you can't always rely on.
The same things happens with technology and porn addiction.
You're constantly around devices that you can easily use to access porn.
In my case, when I would work or study in the privacy of my room, I was constantly having to resist the urge to open a private browser and look at porn.
Locking down your technology frees up willpower for those moments when you really need it.
Why blocking porn doesn't work
1) It's difficult
Most people don't go far enough when they try to block porn and this causes them to think that they shouldn't even try.
If you use a basic browser extension, simple internet filtering, or ineffective porn blocking apps, you are setting yourself up for failure. These methods are too easy to get around.
2) It's expensive
The best blocking solutions are built for large corporations and not for the average person/household, so these solutions aren't affordable.