6 Ways to Train Yourself to Watch Less Porn, According to Sex Experts

6 Ways to Train Yourself to Watch Less Porn, According to Sex Experts
Stressed? You watch porn. Happy? Porn. Got an extra minute? Porn. If you worry that porn addiction is a thing that might be happening to you and want to quit watching so much of it, here’s what to know.

First off, porn addiction isn’t recognized as an official disorder, meaning it’s not in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), so you can’t really be diagnosed with it. Experts think that’s a good thing. “I try not to pathologize masturbating or watching porn,” says Ian Kerner, Ph.D., sex therapist and author of She Comes First.

Let’s get another thing straight before we go any further: despite what certain conservative segments of society would have you think, there’s nothing inherently wrong with watching porn. In moderation, porn can be a great way to get aroused and explore your fantasies. You only need to worry about watching less porn if you notice it impacting your life in a negative way.

According to Megan Fleming, Ph.D., sex expert for Lovehoney, you should ask yourself: “What are the negative consequences of watching porn?” Is it interfering with your work? Are you unable to get an erection with your wife because you’ve become desensitized to flesh and blood stimuli? Do you bail on seeing friends last minute to stay home and watch porn? Do you mean to sit down and watch for 10 minutes, but find yourself watching for hours on end?

If it turns out your smut habit is taking you farther away from the life you want to lead, then it might be worth exploring how to stop watching porn—or at least watch less of it. Here are 6 tips from sex and relationship experts on how to do it.

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Get clear on what you’re trying to avoid.

Usually, watching a lot of porn isn’t about porn; it’s about something else that’s going on in your life that’s worth paying attention to. Often, porn is substituting for something, taking your attention from something, or preventing you from something—meaning it’s getting in the way of your life or your IRL relationship.

“If you’re using porn as a way to self-medicate or numb out, it’s important to get clear on what you’re distracting yourself from,” says Vienna Pharaon, a licensed marriage and family therapist. Really get to the bottom of “’I’m watching porn instead of feeling X.’ That prompt can be confronting and difficult to answer, yet deeply valuable. It’s far easier to distract than to get present with things that are uncomfortable for us, yet that’s exactly what we ought to explore,” she says.

In a similar vein, Fleming recommends learning what your triggers are. When does the urge to watch porn really hit? This can give you a sense of what it is you’re trying to avoid.

Substitute in another behavior that has a similar effect.

People often watch porn and masturbate as part of mood regulation, Fleming says. “And while masturbation can decrease tension and anxiety, so can cardio,” she adds. “What are other behaviors that might help you have a similar response physiologically the role of an orgasm?” Instead of watching porn, why not do a home workout that’ll release endorphins and other feel-good neurotransmitters?

Get a porn blocker on your computer.

Fleming recommends an accountability program and porn blocker app called Covenant Eyes, which makes it very difficult to find and watch porn on your laptop or phone.

It’s similar to not having alcohol in your house when you’re trying to quit drinking, Fleming explains. The point of Covenant Eyes is to take away the ease of and accessibility to porn, just as not having alcohol in the house makes it more difficult to drink. You have to get up, walk down to the corner store in, purchase it, and then head back home to drink it.

“In that window of time, you have the opportunity to ‘ride the wave of the crave,’” Fleming says. In other words, your porn craving likely won’t last for hours. It’ll be intense for a few moments, and if you can get past that, then your desire to watch porn will be weaker.

Join an online or in-person community for folks who want to quit watching porn.

“There are numerous recovery programs for porn addiction that you can find from Googling,” Fleming says. (While the DSM-V doesn’t recognize porn addiction, it might be helpful to search those terms while looking for a support group.)

There are also online communities and support groups you can join, such as the subreddit Porn Addiction. These online spaces offer a community and you can meet other like-minded men who are going through the same thing as you are, which can be beneficial.

We asked real people about relationship dealbreakers:

Ask yourself what else you’d rather be doing with your life in the time you spend watching porn.

And then use watching porn as a reward for doing those things. Maybe wait to do it until you’ve finished your workout. Or until you’ve made plans with someone to connect in real life. “Then it feels like it’s been earned or it’s a reward as opposed to something that’s squandered or wasted time,” Kerner says. Watching porn becomes a potential source of energy, not a default.

Look at what, besides porn, turns you on.

If you only ever watch porn to get turned on, Kerner says, “sometimes men get over-accustomed to that stimulation.” Sex—even with yourself—is a richer experience when you have more to draw on, like going through your mental library of images and partners, reading erotica, or noticing things in your environment that turn you on.

If you are using porn in an unhealthy way, stop worrying about it and use the strategies above. Kerner says, “everything is really correctible.”


Marty Munson, currently the health director of Men’s Health, has been a health editor at properties including Marie Claire, Prevention, Shape and RealAge.


Zachary Zane is a Brooklyn-based writer, speaker, and activist whose work focuses on lifestyle, sexuality, and culture. He was formerly the digital associate editor at OUT Magazine and currently has a queer cannabis column, Puff Puff YASS, at Civilized.

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