To Fap or NoFap: Is that a question?
By James Eve
What is NoFap?
NoFap is an urban dictionary term which defines someone who chooses to refrain from masturbation. This can be broken down further to those who masturbate using pornography and to those who are actively trying to reduce their engagement in self pleasure. The NoFap ‘movement’ began back in 2011 as result of a US web developer reading / then posting a thread on Reddit about the benefits of not masturbating (which we will explore later). The thread gained a mass of followers, keen to test the theory and put it into practice. Now in 2021 there is NoFap.com and a bustling online community of NoFappers; supporting each other through their journey of rebooting their sexual selves in the age of internet porn.
"NoFap is not anti-masturbation or even anti porn, but seeks to reset unhealthy behaviours, reconnecting you to your ‘pre-porn self’."
An online community, with a mission
If you scour the likes of YouTube, there are endless videos of participants (usually male) who are diarising their struggles and testimonies about refraining from masturbation. The underlying premise seems to be focused on those who have developed an unhealthy relationship with masturbation and pornography, leading to compulsive sexual behaviour and negative consequences. Whole online communities have developed around this premise, along with support groups, books, t-shirts and key rings. The movement has claimed a host of benefits associated with NoFapping; from increasing spikes in testosterone, improving concentration to healthier intimate relationships. Although the scientific literature is lacking to substantiate the claims of increased T-levels, individuals who chose to follow the NoFap philosophy are big advocates of benefits it can unlock. But why the rebellion against masturbation & porn?
Resetting the pornographic revolution?
The sexual revolution of the 1960s is often talked about, largely facilitated by the introduction of the contraceptive pill during this time. However, history may view the late 90’s or early 00’s as a pornographic revolution; whereby anyone one with a high-speed connection was afforded unlimited and untethered access to porn of all shades, shapes, tastes & sizes. For a whole generation, access to porn wasn’t just confined to the top shelf in your local shop, or a selection of VHS’s (mail order or sex shop). There is now unlimited access, 24/7 with ever increasing unlimited content, paralleling a lot of things in western society; individuals now have choices galore: an espresso, a cappuccino, a macchiato, a doppio? Whatever you want, whenever you want.
The keys to pleasure island
Endless choice, coupled with unlimited access. The keys to pleasure island where afforded to those who wanted to explore, experiment, discover and enjoy. For some the access and content isn’t a problem, porn provides a healthy outlet which is indulged in and compliments their sex life. However, for others porn use has become a compulsive behavior with damaging consequences. They visit pleasure island, via their device of choice and either stay too long, or visit too frequently. The content maybe fantasy, but the impact is real: damaging intimacy with one’s partner, causing sexual dysfunctions or seeking porn over a real relationship. Other symptoms reported by NoFap include: depression, anxiety and poor concentration as a result of masturbation and porn overindulgence.
The darker side of porn
In my private practice, sometimes the darker side of porn use will show itself. Whether this be through porn addiction, erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation or sexual desire disorders. You may feel it is time to reassess the role pornography plays in your sexual world, and a psychosexual therapist can assist you through this process. NoFap seems to be encouraging people to challenge unhelpful behaviors that have developed as a result of porn (over) use.
NoFap, NoProof: debunking false claims
The NoFap movement relies heavily on claims that have yet to be scientifically validated; increase your T-levels when you decrease your self pleasure regime. It makes for a nice headline, but implies that an abstinence can lead to superhuman powers: introducing T-man, here to fight for truth, justice and bigger gains at the gym? This is a whole other area of discussion; why you would want high testosterone levels and what that would mean for you. The fact is, these claims are unsubstantiated and should be relegated with the likes of ‘masturbation makes you blind’ or ‘masturbation is evil’.
Assessing whether there’s a problem with your porn use
Whether it’s Fap or NoFap; if you’re curious as to whether porn is becoming a problem for either you or your intimate relationships, here are some helpful questions to pose and reflect upon:
- Is porn a preference for pleasure over sexual contact with your partner?
- If single, has porn taken the place of meeting / engaging with potential sexual partners?
- Is it harder to get turned on with someone; but easier through watching porn?
- Has the content of the porn you watch become more extreme, or do you feel that porn has dramatically changed what is arousing for you?
- Does masturbation using porn leave you feeling depressed, sad or anxious?
- Do you often use porn as means to regulate your mood, or change a feeling state?
- Have you made an effort to stop watching porn, but not succeeded?
- Do you feel controlled by your need to watch pornography?
- Has anyone ever been hurt emotionally because of your porn use?
- Does the urge to watch porn feel overwhelming, like you’re powerless to stop?
Finding support that’s right for you
NoFap might provide you with an online community that encourages a change in relationship to (and use of) porn. There are some helpful tools and resources available, along with a strong online community. But if porn has become an addiction, then it might more productive to seek psychosexual therapy or work with an addiction specialist. One thing is clear from my perspective, the pseudo science and unproven claims need to be debunked. So to Fap or NoFap is a question, but the ones posed in this article are probably more helpful.