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Suffering from a NoFap Flatline? Well, You Are Not Alone.

Dr R. Y. Langham

Aug 01, 2022

Never heard of NoFap or NoFap Flatlines? Do not fret because most people haven’t.

To understand what a NoFap Flatline is you must first grasp the concept of NoFap, in general.

NoFap is a comprehensive community-based porn recovery website and forum for men (and some women), who believe “porn use” and masturbation can lead to devastating consequences. People, who join the porn and masturbation NoFap forum and those, who join the NoFap Challenge, have reported significant improvement in their lives after abandoning porn and masturbation.

According to NoFap, porn and masturbation can trigger a dopamine response in the brain, similar to the response drug addicts and alcoholics receive from taking drugs or drinking alcohol. Watching porn while masturbating involves “touching” your genitals while observing other people engage in foreplay and/or have sex. NoFap offers self-help tools that “porn users” and masturbators need to connect with other “porn users” and masturbators, who are determined to quit their porn and masturbation activities.

The NoFap website, forums, articles, and apps are designed to help “porn users” and chronic masturbators overcome their sexual addictions. Once healed, these individuals can begin to make amends to the people they have hurt, reestablish broken relationships and fractured friendships, and address health issues, such as porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED), impotence, performance anxiety (PA), or premature ejaculation (PE).

NoFap refers to the journey towards porn addiction recovery as “rebooting.” “Rebooting,” in turn, refers to “resetting the brain” so it is no longer dependent on porn and masturbation to feel satisfied or relieved. Researchers suggest that “heavy porn use” can alter neuropathways, triggering hormonal fluctuations, mood swings, compulsions, and sexual dysfunctions. Neuropathways (in the brain) help form habits like masturbating while watching porn.

“Rebooting” helps to restore these neuropathways to the “original settings.” NoFap challenges “porn users” and chronic masturbators to abstain from porn, masturbation, and/or sex for a specific amount of time (i.e., 90 days). This is referred to as the “NoFap Challenge.” The belief is that forgoing porn, masturbation, and/or sex for a certain period can help free “porn users” and chronic masturbators from their addictive behaviors.

Some benefits of NoFap include increased focus and concentration, memory, energy, self-confidence, perceived “status” (feeling more valuable), free time, and less guilt and shame. The truth is people experience a variety of benefits, depending on what NoFap stage they are currently in. Understand, however, that quitting porn-induced masturbation can be challenging.

However, conquering urges to view porn and masturbate can provide you with the freedom you need to have the life you have always envisioned.

NoFap promotes self-control and self-discipline when it comes to your “porn and masturbation use.” Alexander Rhodes, the NoFap creator, believes that self-control, self-awareness, and self-discipline are the keys to improving various areas of your life, even your “porn and masturbation use.” Quitting masturbation and porn will probably be one of the hardest things you will ever do. Experts suggest that most people, especially young adult men, cannot go 72 hours without using porn.

When people cannot go 72 hours without using drugs or overindulging in alcohol, it is considered an “addiction.” Well, the same can be said about “porn and masturbation use.”

According to a Cosmopolitan survey, 4% of women watch porn daily and masturbate, 25% do it every 3-4 days, and 71% only do it occasionally. Conversely, 33% of men watch porn and masturbate daily, 57% do it every 3-4 days, and 11% do it occasionally.

Why is quitting porn and masturbation so difficult? Because once you reduce or eliminate dopamine from the brain (due to porn and masturbation), nothing feels “pleasurable” or “exciting” anymore. This empty feeling is referred to as a “NoFap Flatline.”

If you would like to learn more about NoFap Flatlines, look no more because this article will help you better understand what they are and how to beat them!

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What Are NoFap Flatlines?

A Nofap Flatline at least one period of a partial or total loss of “pleasure,” “happiness,” “relief,” or “satisfaction,” from non-pornographic or masturbatory activities. In other words, a person who feels as if he or she must masturbate to porn to receive sexual relief, satisfaction, or “euphoria.” This typically occurs while an individual is trying to “quit” masturbating to porn.

What Causes a NoFap Flatline?

A NoFap Flatline arises when dopamine declines in your brain. When your brain is no longer being stimulated (due to this drop in dopamine), it causes a “flatline” or “dullness,” in which nothing brings you joy anymore.

In other words, you are no longer able to access the “high” you once got from viewing porn and masturbating, so your internal reward system stops functioning, so to speak. For instance, when you are experiencing a NoFap Flatline, you could win the lottery, meet the girl or guy of your dreams, get a job promotion, etc., and still be emotionless.

Note: When you are addicted to porn and masturbation small wins mean nothing to you, and larger accomplishments barely register in your mind.

What Does It Feel Like to Experience a NoFap Flatline?

As mentioned previously, a NoFap Flatline involves a decline in or withdrawal of happiness, relief, satisfaction, etc. For many porn users and chronic masturbators, this feels like depression or “emptiness.” Some people describe this feeling as being a tree with the center cut out of it (hollowness).

Once you have hit a NoFap Flatline, you are no longer able to become sexually aroused. You also have a little-to-no sex drive (libido) or sexual desire. You also have no desire to accomplish your goals or do anything. In a nutshell, a NoFap Flatline can make you feel dead inside. This “empty” feeling or “flatline” can only be remedied with porn and masturbation.

This is when most people, especially men, who are trying to quit porn and masturbation “fall off the wagon.” When a person experiences a NoFap Flatline he or she is experiencing a dopamine withdrawal – the main hormone/neurotransmitter responsible for “euphoria,” “happiness,” “relief,” etc.

Porn and masturbation withdrawals resemble the withdrawals that drug addicts go through, however, you are unlikely to die from porn and masturbation addiction withdrawal symptoms – as compared to drug addiction. Thus, a NoFap Flatline occurs when masturbating to porn is the only thing that brings you joy and “relief” and prevents you from feeling “empty” and “hollow.”

When Do NoFap Flatlines Typically Occur?

A NoFap Flatline can occur at any time during the porn and masturbation recovery process.

The most common NoFap Flatline periods are:

  • First 72 hours – dopamine fluctuations (from high dopamine levels to a dopamine deficiency)
  • Week 2 – The most challenging part of the recovery process
  • End of the First Month (halfway through the recovery process)
  • Middle to the End of the Second Month (the last leg of the recovery process)

It normally takes between 60 and 90 days for the brains of most “porn users” and chronic masturbators to adapt to newer and better versions of themselves (sans porn and masturbation). However, if you are unable to resist porn and masturbation for 8 weeks or more, you will most likely need porn addiction treatment.

The good news is that the “empty” feeling (NoFap Flatline) should diminish or go away altogether over time as you begin to “reawaken” to the things that used to bring you joy (before porn and masturbation took over your life).

Note: A Nofap Flatline may occur the day after you begin your NoFap journey. Ironically, it can also occur after 24 months or two years of abstaining from porn and masturbation. In rare cases, some porn users and chronic masturbators may not have any NoFap Flatline symptoms.

However, most people experience a NoFap Flatline after 2-3 weeks of trying to abstain from porn and masturbation, lasting for a month or more. It is rare, however, for someone to experience a NoFap Flatline for more than one year.

Are There Different NoFap Flatline Stages?

Yes, there are.

There are two NoFap Flatline stages – withdrawal and cruise control.

Stage 1: Withdrawal

This stage is undoubtedly the most challenging one, primarily because it takes the most work. During Stage 1, you are most likely to experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms are often enough to cause some “porn users” and chronic masturbators to retreat and return to porn and masturbating.

Stage 2: Cruise Control (Coasting)

Once you hit this stage you are heading towards the “light at the end of the tunnel.” During Stage 2, your emotions begin to rebound and resurface, and your moods begin to stabilize. You also begin to experience, “joy,” “happiness,” “relief,” and “excitement” again (in small increments at first).

Some NoFap users equate this experience to emerging from a dark, cramped closet after being stuck in it for a week. It is hope emerging from no hope. The Cruise Control or Coasting Stage is the end of a long journey towards being free of porn and masturbation for good!

Can a Person Tell If a NoFap Flatline is About to Occur?

It depends.

As mentioned previously, a NoFap Flatline can occur without warning – on any day and at any time.

So, while it is possible to detect impending NoFap Flatline, most people are unable to. For instance, you may go to bed feeling fine, but awaken feeling unmotivated, exhausted, sluggish, “dulled,” bored, or depressed. Even getting out of bed and starting your day may feel like an impossible task – one that you are disinterested in.

At this point, you may ask yourself, “What is going on?”

Understand, however, that a NoFap Flatline or porn addiction relapse is always lurking. In other words, once you have conquered the “flatline period” without turning to porn and masturbation, there is still a chance it could all return.

How Can I Overcome a NoFap Flatline?

The truth is some activities may delay your recovery, and some activities may aid in your recovery.

Listed below are ways to overcome a NoFap Flatline:

Testing It Out

Testing out your porn addiction can actually make it worse.

A NoFap Flatline involves a little-to-no sex drive (libido), so one may mistakenly believe that urges to view porn and masturbate will never return. You may even feel bold enough to “try out” porn to see if you get the same sensations and experiences as before. Do not do that! “Trying out” porn can cause porn-related neuropathways to reform or habits to return.

This contrasts with the purpose of NoFap, which is to alter these neuropathways or stop bad habits, like masturbating to porn to attain sexual arousal., satisfaction, and/or relief. So, viewing porn or masturbating to porn can “reactivate” the neuropathways linked to your porn habit so it is best not to even “try” it.

Cheating With a “Little’ Porn

Cheating can entail taking a “quick peek” at pornographic material or it could involve fondling your private areas. It could also involve watching a racy or graphic movie, listening to sexually-explicit songs, and/or watching and rewatching sexy commercials (think Victoria’s Secret commercials).

Partaking in any activity that triggers your porn addiction and/or chronic masturbation is considered “cheating.” Cheating, while trying to recover from a porn and masturbation addiction will only lead to a dead end. The most effective way to recover from porn addiction and chronic masturbation is to avoid your porn triggers. So, ultimately, cheating can delay your recovery.

Overanalyzing Your Sensations

You recently started your journey towards porn addiction recovery, but have started to lose interest in everyone and everything in your orbit. Although you are having symptoms of a NoFap Flatline, you are not completely sure if that is what you are experiencing. So, you google it and research it. But even after researching, you are still unsure that you are experiencing a NoFap Flatline.

Perhaps, the possible flatline came immediately after you started your quest to become porn/masturbation-free. Or maybe, you did not experience this “dullness” until years later. Questions like this could cause you to question if you are experiencing it or if you experienced a NoFap Flatline in the past. My advice to you is to refrain from overanalyzing everything. Be patient with yourself and stop turning to the internet for reassurance.

Understand, that the “emptiness” you are feeling will eventually pass. The key to success is to keep calm and allow yourself to “experience” the sensations you are feeling. Overanalyzing every sign, symptom, possibility, and sensation can prevent you from becoming free of porn and chronic masturbation.

Embracing Boredom

Believe it or not, boredom may help you become free of porn and chronic masturbation. However, only try this tip if you have a fairly strong willpower. If you are strong-willed, you may be able to see quick results.

Remember, during a NoFap Flatline, you no longer feel “happiness,” “pleasure,” or “relief” from doing anything – i.e., eating, spending time with friends or loved ones, going to work, entering into a romantic relationship, getting a job promotion, etc. After a while, your brain begins to crave the “happy” sensation it felt while masturbating to porn.

When this occurs, it begins to look for a replacement that will produce the sensations you are missing from not using porn and masturbating – something from your past that could quickly trigger those same “euphoric” feelings, like playing video games, overindulging in junk foods, abusing drugs and alcohol, etc.

By staying away from these other unhealthy vices, and avoiding porn and masturbation, you are essentially starving your brain of dopamine or the “happy” hormone/neurotransmitter. When you do this, your brain is forced to find other ways to “quench your thirst” or find pleasure.

The next step is to train your brain to find happiness and pleasure in healthier activities, such as reading, exercising, volunteering at a nonprofit organization – i.e., Red Cross, animal shelters, domestic violence shelters, etc., spending time with friends and loved ones, socializing with peers, dating, setting short-term and long-term goals, etc.

Although boredom can be beneficial for some porn addicts and chronic masturbators, it has proven to be challenging for most people. So, if overindulging in junk food or playing video games helps you refrain from using porn and masturbating – go for it. At least you are not watching porn and “touching” yourself.

Taking Your Time

Taking your time and being patient with yourself is crucial for porn addiction recovery. You are pretty sure that you are suffering from a NoFap Flatline, so you are well aware that it may take months before you feel like your “pre-porn and masturbation self.” In other words, it may take time for your emotions to completely return. That is normal.

The key to making this suggestion work is being patient with yourself. In other words, give yourself a much-needed break. When urges to masturbate to porn arise, be productive. In other words, go for a walk or job around the neighborhood, make a trip to your local gym, meditate or practice yoga, take a cold shower, call a friend, attend porn addiction therapy, join a porn addiction support group meeting or porn addiction forum (i.e., porn addiction subreddits or NoFap), develop a new hobby, etc.

It can also be challenging to accomplish this activity because do find joy in activities is hard when you are “dulled out” due to a NoFap Flatline. If you can muster up some motivation to do these activities it could help hasten the recovery process.

Sharing Your Experiences

Sharing your experiences with other people, especially with other people, who are also trying to quit porn and masturbation, can provide you with some much-needed support while you traverse a NoFap Flatline and/or porn addiction withdrawal symptoms. You can talk about your porn/masturbation experiences on porn addiction forums and in porn addiction support groups. Belonging to these groups can help you feel self-empowered and less alone.

Staying Busy

The key to combatting porn-induced masturbation is staying busy. If you are constantly busy, you have less time to masturbate to porn. So, make a list of healthy activities to do should an urge to view porn and masturbate arise. This will help you stay prepared for porn urges or cravings. It may also re-spark your emotions, so you start to enjoy non-porn things again.

Remember that old saying, “Fake it until you make it!” Well, those words never rang truer than when you are trying to rebound from a NoFap Flatline, combat porn addiction symptoms, and avoid porn addiction relapses. So, the next time urges to masturbate while viewing porn rise, pull out your trusty alternative activities list and get to it!

Changing It Up

Changing up your environment is one of the most effective ways to conquer a NoFap Flatline and keep porn addiction symptoms at bay. So, when you feel “empty” and like you are about to experience a relapse, switch things up.

In other words, go on a stroll around your neighborhood, take a long scenic drive around town, call a friend and ask him or her out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner, enroll in a cooking or art class, work in the yards, volunteer at your local hospital, go to a gym, do pushups, go to a coffee house, etc.

The key to making this tip work is getting out of the house and doing something productive. If you normally watch porn and masturbate in your bedroom or “man cave” change your environment by spending most of your free time away from those areas.

Improving Your Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

People who engage in “heavy porn use” and chronic masturbation tend to lack the social skills or confidence to snag sexual or romantic partners, so they live vicariously through the people on the screen. Thus, a good way to combat a NoFap Flatline, withdrawal symptoms, and/or relapse is to work on improving your self-esteem and self-confidence. As you improve your coping skills and strategies, you will become a more confident, self-aware person – with more money, happiness, and romantic possibilities.

Trying Self-Help Tools

Self-help tools can be beneficial when trying to beat a porn and masturbation habit and avoid a NoFap Flatline. Self-help tools, like Stop Together, an online porn addiction recovery program, can help you get your “porn use” and masturbation activities under control. Other self-help tools, like mindfulness mediation, yoga, porn addiction books, apps, forums, exercise, etc., can also help you avoid a NoFap Flatline, and porn addiction withdrawal and relapse symptoms.

Seeking Porn Addiction Treatment

If natural remedies or self-help tools are unsuccessful, you will need to seek porn addiction treatment. Porn addiction treatment usually consists of medication (i.e., SSRIs), and/or porn addiction therapies – cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (CBT), and/or other therapies, such as couples or marriage counseling, family counseling, individual counseling, addictions counseling, trauma counseling, etc.

Support groups can also be beneficial while you address your “heavy porn use” and chronic masturbation. Porn addiction support groups not only offer support but valuable tips and a platform to share your personal experiences with “heavy porn use” and chronic masturbation.

References

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