Many areas of your life can improve when you make a lifelong commit­ment to stay away from porn. Hank told us, “For thirty years, from the time I began using porn compulsively until I hit bottom with it in my mid-forties, I was completely unsatisfied, undeveloped, and unhappy as a human being. Since I quit porn three years ago, my whole life has changed. Now I feel I’m finally an adult. My life is exciting, wonderful, and stimulating. I’m able to express my true self. This is really me.”

The process of quitting porn develops and strengthens skills that can contribute to you feeling more responsible and more in charge of your life. Recovery teaches you to recognize feelings when they happen, toler­ate emotional distress, and delay gratification. You come to know your­self better—know what is really important to you and why. Rather than succumbing to your impulses, you are able to cope with them through taking care of yourself in life-affirming ways. “Now I’m able to focus my time and energy and get things done that are important to me,” Bill said. “I’m more alert and able to enjoy what I’m doing in the moment with­out being distracted by unwanted fantasies and old adolescent feelings of anger, fear, and defensiveness. Porn was a big diversion. I like being more productive.”

One of the major rewards for giving up porn is improving rela­tionships with other people. As we’ve discussed, porn use often results in a person becoming isolated, socially out of touch, and dishonest. By contrast, when you follow the steps in recovery you develop the ability to reach out for support, empathize with others, and be more responsive to the important people in your life, such as your intimate partner, family, friends, and coworkers. “I feel really good about who I am and how I relate with others now,” George told us eagerly. “I can wholeheartedly look at a woman I know with caring and support, and appreciate her heart and her unique being. Because I’m no longer in­volved in pornography, I am becoming the trustworthy man I always wanted to be.”

Even though it’s taken him many years to make significant changes, Rob is grateful that he has stayed with his porn recovery process because it has allowed him to finally be honest with himself and with others. “My addiction to Internet porn got me arrested and cost me my marriage, kids, and job,” he said. “As challenging as it’s been, quitting porn has given me my life back. For the first time I’m truly connecting with other people. I’m no longer experiencing the pain of living a double life, living a lie. I’m now a more complete, whole person. Whatever I was trying to get from pornography doesn’t even come close to the benefits and value of what I experience in my life today.”

Developing honest relationships with other people has the additional advantage of increasing self-esteem and integrity. Mitch said, “I feel spiritually renewed. My life is no longer a contradiction. It is in line with my moral values and spiritual beliefs. I’m honest about who I really am. I tell people the truth now, whereas before I would measure the truth. My marriage is better now. Our physical relationship is rewarding and satisfying and has more depth than ever before. I’m living a principled life of integrity, and this reward for being free is much greater than the shallow world of porn.”

Like many other former porn users, Nick described his sex life as much better now. “It’s just me and my wife in bed now, instead of me and my wife and some pornographic fantasy figure that I was replacing her with. Our sexual relating is not a sham and there’s no guilt about it. It’s a long-term high that makes me feel good about myself twenty – four seven. For the first time in my life I feel complete and sexually healthy.”

Hank summarized the many advantages of living porn free this way: “I’m more of a human being than I ever was when I was using pornog­raphy. I am present and much less detached from other people. I feel more a complete adult, because I am not sexually objectifying people and things anymore. I’m alive with my current partner in a way that I was never alive before when I was intimately involved with a woman. Now, free from porn, I feel like I’ve been given a wonderful gift, not just of my own consciousness, but of my own humanity.”