I Keep Having Urges to Watch Porn – How Can I Stop Them?

Dr R. Y. Langham

May 19, 2022

If you find yourself excessively watching porn, it could be a sign that you have a porn addiction. While having a porn addiction may seem harmless, it can wreak havoc on your health and well-being. People with porn addictions tend to resort to unhealthy coping strategies when their stress levels rise. Over time, urges to view porn can lead to “heavy porn use” and “heavy porn use” can lead to porn addiction.

What happens next? Your “porn use” replaces your healthy sex life. Thus, your urges to view porn may be a gateway to porn addiction. So, if your “porn urges” are getting out of control, it is probably time to consult a porn addiction specialist or therapist. The good news is there is help for your “porn urges,” so they do not lead to a full-blown addiction.

This article can help you discover the root cause of your “porn urges,” and identify your porn triggers while providing invaluable tips on how to curb your porn cravings before they take over your life.

Do I Have a Porn Addiction?

It depends…

If you experience uncontrollable urges to watch porn at all times of the day, regardless of where you are or what you are doing, you probably have a porn addiction.

The truth is recognizing that you have a porn addiction can be challenging, especially since there is no “official” diagnosis for it. The line is also blurry when it comes to healthy sexual urges, even those that contain porn, and those that could lead to porn addiction.

Listed below are signs that you are on the verge of becoming addicted to porn:

  • You are unable to stop watching porn, even if you want to.
  • You are ashamed of how much time, money, and effort you put into using porn.
  • You have begun to neglect work responsibilities (frequent tardies or no-shows at work) and household tasks in favor of viewing porn.
  • You have an extremely hard time enjoying sex and sexual activities that do not involve porn.
  • Watching porn has begun to interfere with your sexual and emotional health and daily functioning.

Note: There has been some debate as to if porn addiction is a real addiction. It is. Keep in mind, however, that if you try to ignore your “porn urges,” it will only make them stronger, upping the odds that they will eventually turn into a full-blown porn addiction.

What Are “Porn Urges?”

“Porn urges” involves an uncontrollable desire to use porn. These urges tend to resemble the intrusive thoughts often associated with OCD obsessions and using porn often resembles OCD compulsions (ritualistic behaviors). However, it is important to understand that trying to resist the urge to engage in addictive sexual behaviors, such as “cyber-porn,” without porn addiction help will likely be futile.

For instance, at first, you may feel a slight urge to turn on your laptop, hit google, and type in “Pornhub.” Perhaps, initially, the urges to view porn only arise occasionally (when you are bored or stressed), however, over time, these “urges” may intensify until you crave porn – all day and all night.

You may also develop a fear that these “urges” will keep returning whenever you become restless or upset. Nighttime rolls around and you crawl into bed, but insomnia keeps you wide awake. Then, it hits… You begin to crave porn. It is calling you, beckoning you to power up your laptop and enter a porn site.

You may retain some control over your behavior; however, this is quickly dwindling. You are terrified of being addicted to porn, but feel powerless to stop it. You try to resist the “urges” by trying to think of something else (i.e., grocery shopping, things you could be doing around the house, etc.), but it does not work.

The urges not only keep returning but keep popping in your mind with an amazing intensity. Resisting your “porn urges” only causes you to focus on them more until you become “fixated” on porn. Unfortunately, reason and logic are no matches for unbridled “porn urges.”

Stopping urges to view porn typically involves several steps, such as admitting that there is a problem, identifying your porn triggers, staying busy, seeking porn addiction treatment, attending support groups, practicing stress-management techniques (i.e., deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness meditation, journaling, etc.), and/or adopting healthy coping skills and strategies.

The key to combatting these “urges” is being aware of them, instead of trying to ignore them. So, instead of pretending that they do not exist, embrace them. Become an “observer” of the “urges,” instead of an “active participant.” Experience the “urges” in a “detached” way. So, instead of panicking and trying to suppress an urge to view porn, accept it. Try to stay calm and focus on your breathing, while you wait for it to disappear.

The goal is to push the “urges” aside by becoming aware of them. Once you become aware of your “porn urges,” you can make room in your mind for healthier and more positive thoughts to enter it. This mindfulness technique can help you de-stress without turning to porn. If you can become more self-aware, your urges to view porn will subside.

What Causes Urges to Use Porn?

People are designed to develop “habits.” “Habits” are like computer programs that control how we think and behave. These installed programs cause you to repeat or avoid certain actions, depending on the consequences (i.e., rewards or punishments). If a certain action is repeatedly performed, it becomes ingrained and reinforced in your brain’s neural pathways. Once this occurs, you have developed a “habit.”

Your brain installs these programs (“habits”), so you do not have to keep re-learning certain tasks, such as riding a bike or driving a car. It does not matter if you are following a recipe or masturbating to porn several times a day, neural connections are being formed in your brain. So, once you repeat a certain action enough times to reinforce it in your mind (good or bad), the act becomes a “habit.” Then, the “habit” becomes a routine. What is the routine? Watching and masturbating to porn every day.

Because you have already formed strong neural connections to porn, your brain and body begin to crave it more and more until you become addicted to it. Once you have been exposed to your porn triggers, your brain produces dopamine, the hormone/neurotransmitter responsible for your moods, and especially for feelings of happiness. When porn triggers extra dopamine, you want more of it because it causes you to feel joyful, happy, and sexually satisfied. This can lead to porn addiction.

So, if you start to crave porn, but refuse to give into the temptation, your urges to view porn are likely to escalate. Ignoring these “urges” will only cause you to become angry, depressed, anxious, bored, lonely, frustrated, stressed, etc. And, in some cases, being unable to sexually fulfill your urges to view porn can cause physical distress, along with intense emotional pain.

At this point, your brain is basically saying to you, “If you want this pain to disappear, all you have to do is click on a porn site and masturbate to the images or videos. That is it. You know you want to do it, so go for it!”

Are There Any Triggers I Should Look Out For?

Yes!

When you are exposed to your porn triggers, it causes your mind and body to crave porn. These triggers also cause your body to produce extra dopamine, which can worsen your “porn urges.”

You may think you have your porn triggers all figured out, however, the things you think are causing your “porn urges,” may actually be secondary triggers. The truth is “porn urges” typically involve one main trigger – sexual thoughts. All other triggers, such as R-rated movies, social media sites, a perfume or cologne scent, a date with a beautiful or sexy girl or guy, Victoria’s Secret advertisements, etc., are secondary porn triggers that can indirectly evoke “porn urges.”

Sex is innate for almost every being on Earth, so it is only natural to crave sex or sex-related things. It’s also normal to have sexual thoughts from time to time. The difference between being a porn addict and an average person who occasionally enjoys porn is that a porn addict’s porn-related thoughts can instantly replace any sex-related thoughts about his or her partner or spouse.

Why does this happen? Well, most likely because the addict has been relying on porn for a while to sexually arouse him or her. This person has been using porn to experience sexual satisfaction – to the point that real-life sex is not exciting or even pleasurable unless porn is somehow injected into it. What does that mean? It means that the only way (without porn addiction support) to stop the “porn urges” is to stop having sexual thoughts.

How Can I Identify My Porn Triggers?

You can identify your porn triggers by assessing your behavior and what led to your porn cravings. For instance, what time of the day did your “porn urges” arise, where were you when the “urges” occurred, and what stimuli or what did you see, hear, smell, or touch that caused you to crave porn? Try to pinpoint any patterns linked to your “porn urges” and behavior (“porn use”).

If you notice a pattern between your thoughts, behavior, and “porn urges,” you will need to break this cycle with new behaviors, lifestyle changes, and self-help tools. For instance, you may notice that you feel inundated with “porn urges” after a busy day at work (stress and anxiety). The best way to avert these “urges” is to find something “non-sexual” to do to release your stress.

Maybe, you are triggered by something in your environment, such as a racy television show, sexy movie love scenes, raunchy songs, erotic books, video games with female heroines, etc. If so, try avoiding these triggers by filling your time with non-romantic and non-sexual activities.

Document your thoughts, feelings, urges, and behaviors in a journal so you can “see” on paper what could be sparking your “porn urges.” A journal can help you identify your porn triggers and patterns.

How Can I Stop My Urges to View Porn?

Listed below are some steps you can take to stop your“porn urges” in their tracks:

  • Why Do You Want to Stop Your “Porn Urges?”

    It is important to figure out why you want the “porn urges” to stop. Maybe, it is because they make you feel immoral or depraved. Or, perhaps, you want them to stop because you are embarrassed by them. Possibly, you may want the “urges” to stop because they are keeping you up at night (insomnia) or negatively impacting your quality of life and/or relationships.

    Perchance, the “urges” are making you feel guilty or causing problems at work (frequent tardies and absences). Or, maybe, you are just tired of having them and want them to stop. Identifying why you want the “urges” to stop can help you stay accountable whenever you feel tempted to click on a porn site.

  • Do You Have a Problem?

    If you continuously have “urges” to view porn, you likely have a “porn problem.” And, if you have a problem with porn, it is important to seek porn addiction help for it. A porn addiction specialist or therapist can help you get to the root of your “porn urges” and/or porn addiction. He or she can also teach you healthy coping skills and strategies, so you do not feel compelled to turn to porn for relief.

  • Do You Have Easy Access to Porn?

    If you have porn in your home, in your car, and/or on your electronic devices – get rid of it. You are bound to crave porn if you have easy access to it, so remove it from your life. Make a clean sweep of the porn because there is no excuse for holding onto sexually-explicit material, even ones from your teen years.

    Keeping porn around also makes it easier to relapse once you have become “porn-free.” First, the “urges” to view porn will arise, and then, you will be right back in a full-blown porn addiction. If you have porn stored on your electronic devices – delete them and install an anti-porn blocker on them for when urges to view porn arise.

  • Find a Support Buddy

    A support buddy should not only provide some much-needed support but also hold you accountable for your behavior (porn-watching). Typically, a support buddy is someone you trust and respect – i.e., a close or best friend, a relative, partner or spouse, religious leader, etc. This person can celebrate with you when you reach a milestone and remind you why you started this journey to begin with.

  • Join a Support Group

    A support group can help you feel less alone and isolated by reminding you that you are not alone in your struggle to become “porn-free.” Group members can provide you with support and effective ways to block out your “porn urges.” Porn addiction support groups provide a safe and secure environment that is not only anonymous but also “judgment-free,” so you can work on your “porn problem.”

  • Don’t Beat Yourself Up If You Fall Off the Wagon!

    The worst thing you can do if you fall off the wagon is beat yourself up. Remember, stopping your urges to view porn and becoming “porn-free” is a marathon – not a sprint, so give yourself a break. It’s a process. And, because it’s a marathon and a process, there is a chance you may experience one or more porn addiction relapses along the way.

    So, instead of berating yourself, try something new and keep going. In other words, make some lifestyle changes (i.e., moving your electronic devices to an open space in your home, installing anti-porn software, signing up for a class, starting a new hobby, upgrading your diet, getting more exercise, adopting healthier coping mechanisms, etc.) to ward-off “porn urges.”

  • Replace Watching Porn with a Healthy Habit

    You can stop “porn urges” by focusing on something new. If you want the “noise” to stop, you will need to replace your “bad habit” (porn-watching) with a “good habit” (i.e., learning a new skill, helping someone in need, volunteering at a non-profit organization like the Red Cross, joining a gym, journaling, reading an exciting, non-sexual book, going for a walk or sun, signing-up for a cooking class, etc.). So, when you begin to have urges to view porn distract yourself with a “healthy habit.”

  • Practice Mindfulness Meditation

    A clear and focused mind is the best way to combat “porn urges.” You can achieve this by practicing mindfulness meditation. So, when urges to view porn arise, close your eyes and focus on your breathing patterns. Allow the “urges” to run through your mind.

    Accept them, embrace them, and observe them like a bystander. Do not judge your “urges.” Pay attention to the fluctuation of your “porn urges,” and accept that these “urges” are fleeting. Practice mindfulness meditation for approximately 10-minutes at a time whenever you begin to crave porn.

  • Leave Your Porn Cave

    One way to “quiet” your “porn urges” is to leave your porn cave. Every porn user or addict has a special place where he or she can view porn in private. And, after viewing porn in this “special place” many times, your brain creates neural pathways (connections), so that the mere thought of going to your porn cave excites you.

    In other words, your mind and body know what is about to happen every time you enter the room. If you pay close attention to your thoughts and bodily cues, you will notice that you have more “porn urges” when you are about to go into your porn cave and while you are in it.

    So, if you begin to crave porn, avoid your porn cave like the plague. Or, if you enter the room for a non-sexual reason, and begin to have urges to view porn – leave the room immediately. Avoiding or leaving your porn cave can shut down these “urges” by disrupting the connection between your “porn urges,” “porn use,” and the room (porn cave).

    Associating new connections (neuro-pathways), such as avoiding or leaving the room, or using the room for a different, non-sexual purpose, can lessen porn’s hold on you, thereby, reducing or eliminating your desire to view porn.

  • Develop a Bucket List

    Write down the 50 goals you would like to achieve before you leave this world. Focus your attention on these goals instead of porn – i.e., make plans, create steps, and develop a timeline to complete each goal. For instance: 1. Go on an African wildlife safari with friends, 2. Travel to Italy and take a ride in a gondola, 3. Travel to France and share a sweet kiss with your partner or spouse under the Eiffel Tower, 4. Watch the Northern Lights with someone you care about, etc.

  • Refrain From Masturbating

    The truth is masturbating to porn can make your “porn urges” louder and more intense. It can also cause you to keep returning to porn-watching to get your “fix.” So, refrain from masturbating, especially to porn, until you get your “urges” under control.

    So, when you begin to crave porn, try having foreplay and sex play with your real-life partner or spouse. In other words, make sex fun (more fun and exciting than what you are seeing on the screen) and pay attention to the sensations in your body while sexually interacting with your real-life partner or spouse.

  • Seek Counseling

    One of the most effective ways to combat “porn urges” is to seek porn addiction therapy – i.e., cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Porn addiction specialists or therapists can help you regain your sexual mojo (in the real world) by helping you get to the root cause of the “urges” and your addiction and teaching you how to effectively cope with them.

  • Invest in an Online Porn Addiction Recovery Program

    An online porn addiction recovery program, like Stop Together, can help you “quiet” your “porn urges” so you can spend more time with the people you love. Stop Together can also support you and help you improve your sexual health. Online porn addiction programs can help stop your porn addiction cycle by teaching you positive and healthy coping skills.