The purpose of this post is to outline a problem that I have with how some fapstronauts approach their libido loss. Also, I apologize to any women reading this as I've made this specifically for men to save time with pronouns and because a lot of it deals with erectile issues. The same logic definitely applies to your own situation. Many of you have probably experienced a loss of libido where you don't have urges, you aren't turned on by anything, and even feel like your penis is numb or dead. I've seen some of you claim going hundreds of days without feeling anything. Then, when you pmo, you find that everything wakes up as it should. The issue that I have with this is that I wonder how many of you are engaging in intimacy with a partner. I'm not suggesting that intimacy with a person will automatically cure any issues you have. That's demonstrably false as many people (including myself) have experienced PIED with a partner, it's one of the most famous negative effects of porn addiction. However, PIED isn't necessarily associated with a lack of libido, with a lack of being aroused. I see many of you say, "I have to wait until my libido comes back before I can put myself out there." This is more than understandable. I can personally attest to how extraordinarily embarrassing dealing with erectile issues can be. However, I believe that this mindset is unnecessarily extending the length of time it takes for your libido to return. In a recent post about libido loss, I outlined the following in regard to how a loss of libido might be explained with neurological and associative changes: Neurological Changes The more we engage in the addiction the stronger the connections involved in that addictive behaviour become. This can be an increased number of synapses between involved neurons. This means that for every hit we take, there is a greater amount of dopamine released. To compensate for the increase in dopamine, our brain down-regulates the number of dopamine receptors. When we abstain from the addictive behaviour we no longer see the same level of dopamine release. With down-regulated dopamine receptors we are less able to feel reward because there is decreased reward signalling. With less reward signalling we experience indifference to typically rewarding things. Over time we up-regulate dopamine receptors and start building more robust connections with healthier habits. The connections involved in our addiction start to weaken and thus release less dopamine when we engage in them. Associative Changes We associate sexual arousal with an increasingly narrow set of stimuli. As outlined above, the connections responsible for, "arousal by pornography," become stronger than the connections for, "arousal by real life human." When we see a real life human we don't associate them with the same level of arousal as we do with whatever pornographic niche we've grown accustomed to. What this all means is that your loss of libido is the result of both being, "hardwired," to primarily be aroused by porn, but, especially for users who began young, because your neural connections and associative connections to real partners are vastly underdeveloped. Your libido hasn't returned because it has nothing to return to. I've experienced it where I've been in a flatline and hooked up with a partner hoping against hope that something would happen, then I get lost in the moment and have no issues performing. For many of you, your libido may return if you'd just bite the bullet and put yourself out there. With that being said, you can't expect things to work that perfectly. Many fapstronauts have reported that they've actually plunged INTO a flatline after having sex. Or have felt that having sex lengthened their flatline. I think this perfectly highlights the complexity of the neurological systems we're dealing with. By having sex, you're stimulating the connections for real partners, but also stimulating the connections for arousal overall, which includes the connections for pornographic arousal. By stimulating those connections, and then withdrawing the sexual stimulus, you're rekindling the still recovering dopaminergic connections of pornography and then withdrawing the stimulus that releases the level of dopamine your libido needs. This makes the flatline worse because the connections for real partners still aren't strong enough to fully take over governance of your libido. This explains the chaser effect. You've rekindled sexual connections overall, but because the pornographic connections are still the predominant connections, you experience a period (usually ~3 days) of heightened desire for pornography. The answer to this may not be to abstain from sexual contact for longer, but instead, to engage in healthy sexual contact again. It may seem like you're extending your flatline and thus your recovery, but in the long-term you're decreasing the time to full recovery and to a healthy sexuality. Over time the connections for healthy sexuality will strengthen, and even though you're rekindling the pornographic connections, you aren't rekindling them to anywhere near the extent that you are if you had engaged with pornography. In addition to this is the fact that a period of sexual abstinence is necessary. During this time the pornographic connections may decrease enough that when sexual contact rekindles them it isn't enough to severely affect your recovery. This can be anywhere from 30 - 120 days, although I do believe that 60-90 is more than enough time to begin for most of us, without significantly impacting recovery. This could also be influenced by how long you've been attempting nofap. If you've managed streaks of 10 days or more for quite some time, then you could probably benefit from experiences with a partner. At the end of the day your mileage will vary, do what feels right to you. Okay so now that we've covered all of that, what does it all actually mean in a more practical sense? What will this look like in the real world? You are going to have to put yourself out there if you don't already have a partner. You are going to have to risk having erectile issues when you do so. You are going to have to deal with the fact that it may take several attempts for you to have an erection. Let's explain each of these further. If you have issues finding a partner, then that is something you must work on. There is a skill set involved with dating and that means you can get better at it. I'm not saying you have to become some master pickup artist, but there is always room for improvement and however you slice it, if you want to find a truly high quality partner, you're going to have to be a truly high quality partner in kind. Going to nightclubs is honestly the best way to learn how to do this because of the relative anonymity and the volume of people readily available. Become a good conversationalist, become good with people in general. This is a necessary skill in order to have a high quality life. If that doesn't sound like something you want to do, then that's perfectly fine. There are other avenues to find a partner, but your main goal should be to find a partner however you go about doing so. Once you've found a partner, you must risk having erectile issues. This may seem scary, but what you're really scared of is how she is going to react to this. There are ways to improve her reaction: IT IS NEVER A BIG DEAL. The moment you make it a big deal, she will believe it's a big deal. If you treat it lightly, even laugh about it, she'll believe it's something that doesn't usually happen and she'll also be attracted to your confidence. Most guys are embarrassed by this, if you're not then you've set yourself apart from other men. This is a perfect opportunity to show her that you're a good guy (big tip for this is to consider actually being a good guy). Tell her you've just been stressed. Don't apologize or anything, just tell her you're stressed. Things happen, there's nothing wrong with it. Comfort her. Have empathy for her situation. She may be wondering if there is something wrong with her. If you put the focus on her, you also take the focus off yourself. Kiss her deeply and then give an exaggerated, "GODDAMN IT," laugh, and say, "you're so fucking sexy." Let her know that she's beautiful. Jumping off from that, the best way to let her know she's beautiful is to continue with the interaction. Kiss her, cuddle her, play with her hair. Be affectionate toward her. Pleasure her without expecting pleasure in return. Doing this will increase your chances of seeing her again because she knows you care about her pleasure. This is absolutely paramount for your own recovery because this intimacy is exactly what you want in order to strengthen the neural connections for real life partners. Consider being honest. This is a tricky one and something I cannot recommend to do or not to do. This is something you have to decide for yourself by gauging her, your relationship with her, and any other relevant factors. If she is someone you want to have a relationship with, then this is honestly the perfect time to tell her. The fact of the matter is that you will have to tell her because you may have issues in the future. In addition, I believe relationships are built on radical openness. If there are elements of yourself you hide from your partner, then that person is not dating you. They are dating a carefully fabricated fiction and they will never meet the real you. A great book that goes further into this is Osho's, "Intimacy." If the partner is casual or a one night stand, then it really is up to you. You could even treat her as practice for being honest with your life partner. It's all up to you. You may do all of this and she may still react negatively or decide to not see you again. This is a good thing on many levels. Firstly, you have to have high standards for yourself. If she's the type of person to judge this then she isn't good enough for you. She has saved you time in discovering it yourself later on. Simple as that. Secondly, if you have high standards for yourself, then you are going to face a lot of rejection in your search for a high quality partner. You must become accustomed to rejection so treat every rejection as a whetstone to sharpen your sword. Now to the fact that it may take several attempts in order to maintain a full erection. If this is what it takes this is what it takes. That might mean going through multiple partners. That's a good thing. Each one is practice that will help you for when you find that high quality partner. You can't make that huge million dollar sale if you've never made a sale your entire life. If you're focusing on a single partner, then that will mean that you have to be honest with her. As I explained above, that's a necessity anyway. You must be honest. As I also said above, there are other ways to be intimate without penetrative sex. Karezza is a great method here. As I've stated multiple times, this very intimate, affectionate sex will boost your recovery. The less pornographic your sexual contact, the less your pornographic connections will be stimulated. CAUTION! Don't engage in prostitution. This is not sex with a real partner. As far as I am concerned this is as pornographic as it gets without actually watching pornography. The entire process of finding a real partner is involved in your libido. Meeting her for the first time, talking to her, getting to know her, building attraction between you, and finally taking her home will all build and strengthen the connections associated with your natural libido. Skipping any of these steps will only hurt you in the long run and decrease your ability to find that truly high quality partner that you want to spend your life with. Even if that is a far off thing for you, getting practice with the process will only benefit you for the day you settle down. Again, if that's what you want. Seriously consider the variables when deciding whether or not to use erectile aids. I don't believe there is anything wrong with using them during your recovery if you decide to. However, think your way through it. Don't simply stop at the anxiety you feel and make your decision from that mindset. I think taking these will prolong your recovery. Even if it doesn't, when you come off of them you may have to deal with erectile issues from performance anxiety the first few times you have sex. If you're with a serious partner, you will have to be honest with them anyway so why try to cover up your erectile issues at all? And finally, you're missing out on recovery boosting effects because with non-penetrative sex you're forced to focus on a level of intimacy and affection that can too easily be overlooked with penetrative sex. I strongly recommend that all of you start taking action and putting in work to have the relationship life you desire. Not only is it paramount on your journey to a healthy sexuality, but the fact of the matter is that your relationship life is your responsibility. If you do not put in the necessary effort and take consistent, long-term action, you will never find the partner you deserve. Always remember that your mileage will vary. No two people are exactly the same. The only mistakes you can make are giving up on NoFap and expecting that simple abstinence from pmo will heal you completely. Thank you so much for reading this. We are all going to make it.