Put a check (S) next to each item with which you agree:

__ I’m afraid of becoming depressed.

__ I’m afraid of getting angry and upset.

__ I’m afraid of feeling lonely.

__ I’m afraid of getting stressed out.

__ I’m afraid I won’t be able to masturbate without it.

__ I’m afraid of losing my sense of sexual power.

__ I’m afraid of losing interest in sex.

__ I’m afraid of having less enjoyment in sex.

__ I’m afraid of feeling sexually frustrated.

__ I’m afraid I’ll get involved with even riskier sexual behaviors.

__ I’m afraid of becoming more dependent on my partner for sex.

__ I’m afraid of feeling "less of a man" or less sexually liberated.

__ I’m afraid I’ll have to tell others about my problem and they’ll

reject me.

__ I’m afraid no one will understand and be able to help me.

__ I’m afraid I will fail if I try to quit.

__ Other

As the list demonstrates, fears of quitting porn fall into the categories of emotional well-being, sexual enjoyment, and relating to others. These fears make sense given that porn use can play an important role in tem­porarily fulfilling needs in any one of these three areas. Go back over the list and look at the specific fears you identified. Notice which of your fears have to do with emotional, sexual, or relationship concerns. Do you have some fears in each category or do your fears tend to concentrate in one area or the other? Understanding the type of fears you have can help you become aware of what particular issues you’ll need to focus most on in your recovery; by doing so, you can ensure you meet that need in some other way than by using porn. For example, if you identified that you are afraid of feeling lonely if you stop using porn, then you have a le­gitimate need to not feel lonely. You can tame this fear by planning things to do so you won’t feel alone without porn.

In addition to the loneliness factor, emotional experiences such as the fear of feeling depressed, angry, and stressed out often accompany the loss of any significant attachment. These emotional reactions are usu­ally the most intense during the first six months of going without porn. When you stay committed to the process of staying porn-free over time, these fears usually subside in intensity, duration, and frequency. If, for some reason, they persist longer than feels right or interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you can always reach out and get medical and psychological help to deal with them.

Many porn users are afraid of how quitting porn will affect them sex­ually. They may worry that quitting porn will in some way mean losing out on sexual opportunities or no longer being a sexually active person. This fear is understandable and often strongest in people who have come to rely on porn as a primary sexual stimulant and outlet. You can minimize this fear by remembering that while quitting porn does involve closing a door on one type of sexual outlet, it also opens doors to other types of sexual experiences that can be enjoyable and fulfilling. Sexual behaviors that involved porn and caused you problems can eventually be replaced with new sexual behaviors that support healthy self-esteem and emotional intimacy. By thinking of porn use as just one of a number of sexual possibilities (and a problematic one at that), and anticipating a life that provides more sexual options rather than less, it’s possible to reduce your fears that relate to sex.

When Ed began his recovery process, he confronted his sexual fears in writing. In his private journal he reassured himself of his ability to handle the changes to come. “I’ll probably go through natural dips and adjustments in my sex drive,” he wrote. “I need to be prepared. They’re to be expected with this change. I’ll make sure that I learn new ways of getting excited and being sexual that I’ll enjoy and don’t lead to prob­lems. I can create my own sexual fantasies.” You may want to consider regularly addressing your fears and your plans for dealing with them in writing too.

Identifying the false beliefs that underlie some of your fears and coun­tering them with truth and reality is another way to help maintain your motivation to quit. For example, some male porn users are afraid that giving up porn will mean giving up part of their self-identity, even their manhood. They think, I’ll be less of a man if I don’t use porn. This fear can relate to false ideas about what it means to be a man that were learned in childhood, which were reinforced by porn’s messages and never altered. Looking at this belief closely and challenging its assumptions can reveal its inaccuracies. For example, Randy, a recovering porn addict, said, “I grew up thinking that ‘real men’ looked at porn. When I quit porn, for a while I worried what other guys would think if they found out I wasn’t looking at it anymore. Then I realized the truth of it is it actually takes a strong man to overcome a powerful addiction like this. And only a real man who isn’t into porn can love a woman deeply.”

Saying each of your fears out loud can also diminish their power. When you say a fear out loud to yourself or talk to someone else about it, the fear can start to feel less absolute and imposing. Out in the open some fears may suddenly seem irrational. You may start to realize that, like anyone else, you have a natural ability to adapt to change and that despite years of doing porn, you are still capable of learning new ways of dealing with your problems. You can call upon friends, support pro­fessionals, and other resources to help you. The more you identify and express your fears, the clearer new options for getting your needs met will become.

Regardless of the nature of your fears, getting them out in the open weakens their influence and helps you stay motivated to quit porn. When you start to challenge your fears and counter them with ideas for making valuable changes to improve the quality of your life, you’ll feel embold­ened and empowered to continue on your healing journey. Remind yourself that anyone who has been brave enough to quit porn has faced similar fears and came out stronger, because they had the courage to move forward and did not allow their fears to hold them back.