The seriousness of my porn problem made me scared of sex and left me wondering whether I could ever have sex again without falling back into old bad habits. But I know that if I don’t learn new ways of sexual expression, my old destructive ways will have all the power.

—Marie

L

ike Marie, many people who quit porn are apprehensive about returning to sexual activity. They often question whether it will ever be possible for them to have sex without being reminded of porn or triggered into wanting to use it again. Single recovering porn users may worry that they don’t have the skills to develop a healthy and satisfying sexual relationship from the ground up, and former users in committed relationships wonder how they can reconnect sexually with an intimate partner who has been hurt by their past porn use. But even in the face of these concerns, most people who quit porn want to find ways to have a rewarding sex life free from porn.

You too may have questions about how to channel and express your sexuality in new ways. The good news is that by shifting your approach to sex and developing some new skills, you can learn to create sexual experi­ences that are satisfying and exciting without porn. Justin, for example, who had been addicted to porn for twenty-five years, is pleased with how much better he feels as a sexual person since he’s gotten porn out of his life. “A year after I quit porn, I met a special woman,” he told us. “We’ve been together for the last four years. During that time our sexual relationship has developed into something wonderful. My girlfriend says I’ve become an incredible lover. I’m so glad because when I was married before and into porn, my wife used to complain that I acted like a robot during sex

and that she felt used. Now, with my present partner I feel no guilt when we make love—just this incredible feeling of spiritual connection.”

Sexual healing is one of the most rewarding steps you can take after you’ve left the porn trap. It often follows naturally once a person has rees­tablished his integrity and self-worth, developed a strong support system, and started rebuilding trust and honesty in existing relationships. By taking this next step of reclaiming your sexuality as a positive force in your life, you can continue to heal in a profound manner, feeling better about your­self and able to experience the joy and pleasure of sexual relating.

Many former porn users have to learn a new approach to sex in order to stay porn-free. We are all sexual beings and the basic desire for sex is a vital and undeniable part of our nature. When you can express your sexual drive and desire in ways that are aligned with your values, you are less likely to get pulled back into porn use again. Following several re­lapses, Ethan concluded: “My future happiness depends on my ability to find a satisfying alternative to porn. My sex drive isn’t going to go away. I need something that can compete with porn so I won’t get stuck in a pattern of over-control and out-of-control sexual behavior.”