Sunday, 26 April 2015

Water, Water Everywhere

114 days porn-free

I am having a sex drought. It's nearly three months since Montreal Girl and, while that was undeniably awesome, it was and remains f***ing ages ago. It's now getting desperate.* I need to get laid and get laid soon.

* It's actually way beyond desperate. I will explain below.

But here's the thing: drought begets drought. The painful irony of the situation is that the longer you go without the sex, the less likely you are to get it. Because the longer it goes, the more you reek of desperation. Women can smell this from a hundred feet away and there is literally no bigger turn-off.

Part of the problem is that I work nights, so I don't get 'amongst it' till pretty late in the day. The other problem, though, as I have gone into in detail, is my painful lack of game. I'm not a bad looking man. Not a stunner by any stretch of the imagination but neither am I a total ug. My features are all in the right place, I am tall and I am in shape. But none of this matters if you (I) don't have the cajones to go over to a woman and start a conversation in the first place!

When you're having sex regularly, everything is fine. To paraphrase Martin Amis (the prick), there is no surer guarantee of success with opposite sex than success with the opposite sex. This is when you are 'on a roll': confident and attractive and bouncing from one woman to the next like a latter-day Casanova, living the single life and loving it.

But what about when it dries up? When, for one reason or another, you don't get laid for a month or so. Sometimes this happens and it's fine; just a hiccup along the way. Other times it happens and one month becomes two and, before long, a major drought sets in.

I have been through sex droughts before and they almost always break down something like this:

The first two weeks: Not a drought. You're still riding fairly high from the last time and there seems to be nothing really to worry about. Perhaps, at the end of the two-week period, it might cross your mind that you have no prospects but, at this point, there is no need to panic.

Weeks three and four: mild panic. By the end of the month, you're starting to wonder if this could be the onset of a drought. The afterburn of sexual magnetism from your last bit of sexytime has now fully worn off and you will now need to rely solely on your wits to get you back in the sack. Still, it isn't that long and anything could happen.

Weeks five and six: Panic. Ok, it's been six weeks. Is this going to happen? Am I still attractive to women? Evasive action needs to be taken before this descends into a full-on bout of involuntary celibacy.

Weeks seven and eight; Desperation. That's it. You're panicking. You're looking everywhere for sex. Every woman becomes nothing but a piece of meat and every interaction nothing more than a possible pathway to sex. Obviously, there is very little less attractive than a man in this phase and the harder you try, the further you get from the gold.

Weeks eight, nine, ten... Acceptance (of a sort). You give up. You become asexual; a basic eunuch. You look at women from a distance, as if they are another species and view the possibility of congress as some kind of abstract concept which happens to other people. You wonder if this could be the onset of years without sex, or that never having it again is a real (and terrifying) possibility.

That's where I am right now. A sex-less non-man hovering about at the fringes of bars hoping to hell that a woman just grabs me and hauls me out of there. Honestly, that seems like the only thing that can save me right now. I've even been reading articles on the internet about picking up. These are usually written by A1 douchebags who advise 'being confident' and 'taking control.' Not likely, bud.

Another terrible thing is that it's led to porn cravings. I haven't had these for weeks but it's always when you're at your lowest that they start to come back. If I've got porn, I don't need to have sex, right? Wrong, of course, but it's definitely been more difficult to stay off recently than it was for months before.

A friend of mine talked about the need, in this situation, for a 'slumpbuster.' It's a terrible term but a true one. A slumpbuster is a woman who picks you up and helps you get back in the game. Just one that reminds you that you can do it and who reawakens your dormant sexuality. I gotta tell ya, though I've needed one worse before, God knows I need one now.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

I Deleted Tinder

107 days porn-free

I did it. I finally deleted Tinder. Since quitting porn, I have obviously been looking in different places to get my sexytime. The whole point of removing the 'crutch' of PMO was to (re)discover how to interact with real people and attempt to make any lovemaking a physical – rather than virtual – reality. This has had variable* results from me meeting and hooking up with one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen, to a now nigh-on two month sex drought.

* Read: shite.

And it also had me trawling Tinder. As I explained in a previous post, Tinder has all the ingredients to keep you interested. Well, actually it's really only one: the vague promise of sex. This is enough to keep you (me) coming back time and again with increasing frequency, thinking that you are at some point going to get massively laid.

I started Tinder like all newbies: with bad photos and a painfully naïve attitude; reading bios and really trying to 'get to know' prospective dates before deciding whether to 'like' them or not. These good intentions quickly paled, however, into jaded 'harvesting': a brazen session of swiping every picture right until you hit a match, then either messaging or ignoring them depending on whether you (I) fancied them or not.

I'm glad to say, I grew out of this harvesting. It was cheap and wrong and I feel bad about it. In my defence, though, I think it is a step along the way to some kind of responsibility in usage, and I know there are many more men out there being far worse (not that this is a valid excuse.) But anyway, I grew out it as I say and my eventual method was probably closer to a hybrid of the two; sometimes I would look at all the pics and read the bio, sometimes I would swipe right if I liked the first pic enough. For sure, though, if I was not into it, I swiped left, like a good guy.

It truly is douchey to just swipe all of them right as I know from experience how it feels to be ignored when you match. So you gotta be honest and not just pretend that it's ok that you're hurting people's feelings because they are remote. This amounts to bad internetting, imho.

And the results were, basically, rubbish. I traded messages with a few people. I (finally) managed to meet up with one person for a date (from which no sex* resulted) but, all in all, I achieved pretty much zero. And I spent ages on it. It was just another internet addiction. Have I got a new match? Have I got a new message? Will I get another match if I spend enough time swiping**? Eventually, you're spending a stupid amount of time on it for what? Essentially more frustration.

* I'm not just after sex, incidentally. In fact I believe I might be looking for real love (aren't we all?) but you gotta start somewhere. And in the absence of shouting it from the rooftops, I'll settle for a bit of howsyerfather any day of the week.

** Interestingly, when you match with someone, a screen comes up that asks if you want to message the mathchee or 'keep playing' and really it is nothing but a game, just with real players.

I am in the middle of another hefty sex drought (two months and counting [did I mention?]) and I guess this is part of the reason I got so into Tinder. I thought, in the absence of meeting any people here in town, this could be my lifeline. But it just turned into another crutch – promising so much but, in the end, just accentuating the lonesomeness.

So I've deleted it. Maybe I have an addictive personality, or maybe I just want to see how many things I can give up (by the time I'm forty, I'll probably be teetotal and vegan) but I felt I needed Tinder out of my life. I like reading books and doing other things and Tinder was taking place of pretty much everything else.

I think I'm better off without it. Now I will truly have to face up to one salient fact: That I have no game whatsoever and that, if I ever want to get naked with a woman again, I'm gonna have to get some. And get some fast.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

What Has Porn Ever Done For Us?

102 days porn-free.

If you have been reading, you will know (just about) where I stand regarding porn. If you are as yet unaware (and have been given no indication by the title of this blog) then do please go back through it and find out (then subscribe and tell all your friends how just fantastic the writing is. Thanks:)

I am of the opinion that, on balance, porn (in its current form) is having an overall negative affect and that porn addiction is a real and worrying problem. This notwithstanding, however, having thought about it for some time, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the (few) positive things for which I think porn has been responsible, both for me personally and for the wider world. I still think it's bad, but that is not to say that it has never done anything good.

So here is a run down of some of the positive things I think porn has done for us.

Oral sex. I am of the opinion that porn has (most likely) been responsible for a proliferation of oral sex between actual people. Of course, there are the (lengthy) blowjob scenes but hear this: there is also a 10 minute-ish section in most (hetro obviously) porn scenes where the man performs cunnilingus on the woman. This happens every time, the man absolutely goes for it and and the woman, whether acting or not, has a great time.

There has long been a generally negative and utterly hypocritical view among men of this activity. For some reason, (#notall)men have historically expected to get unlimited head from women (many describing it as some kind of 'duty' on her part) whilst eschewing the 'returning of the favour.' I have always thought this outrageous. In my opinion, if you expect someone to put your genitals in their mouth, you should be perfectly willing to get theirs all over your own face, too. Also, if you love someone, you should love all of them and not just this bits you find pleasing.

As well as this, thinking vaginas are 'gross' (as I have heard numerous men contend) is not only childish (and stupid), but completely misogynistic. Women are beautiful from the bottom to the top and, if you can't find her vagina sexy (whilst concurrently expecting her to suck your own – let's face it – quite unprepossessing johnson), then you really have no business being anywhere near it. So grow TF up, my friend, and get involved, is what I say.

Porn, although being responsible for many negative attitudes towards congress, can be seen to be an exponent and supporter of men going down on women. It occurs in most of the scenes I have ever viewed. It is sexy, consensual and routine; it is shown as just something you should do, something fun and something normal. Although there might be a lot of women taking (potentially unsolicited) jizz in the face thanks to porn, there are possibly just as many who are now getting nightly orgasms from willing and enthusiastic (as it should be!) oral sex. Is it worth it? I'm not sure. I just thought it was worth noting that it's not all bad.

Touch typing is another thing I learnt (more or less) from porn. I mean, there weren't lessons or anything. It didn't feature in any of the porn* I ever viewed. What I mean is that much of my porn viewing (necessarily) took place in the dark. This being the case, I couldn't see the keyboard. I had to learn to type (and type good, you don't want to be slowed down by having a bad wpm rate) without seeing the keys. I gained a life skill whilst jerking off! Admittedly, I only got good at writing certain words (hot, sexy, pornstar, fuck etc) but it was surely good practice, right? Guys?

* Unless you count the secretary ineffectually padding the keyboard for twenty seconds before she gets gangbanged.

This exercise also improved my spelling. I seriously doubt if I ever would have learnt to spell 'amateur' if it had not been for porn. On another note, perhaps I would have been better off never having known what 'bukkake' was, let alone how to spell (and pronounce) it.

As documented, I wasted an obscene amount of time on porn, but maybe (just maybe), as this article shows, I took away a few positives as well.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

How Tinder Ruined Your (my) Life

97 days porn-free.

For the purposes of this post, and in the interest of not writing 'one' the whole time and sounding like a tool, please substitute the words 'you' and 'your' for 'I,' 'me,' and 'my' where appropriate. If Tinder has ruined you in the same way, then you can of course leave the original words in place.

So you gave up porn over three months ago. 'Great,' you thought (and wrote), now I will have so much more time for other things. 'But how will I achieve sexytime?' another voice said. 'Not to worry, just download Tinder. There are all these hot girls looking for sex the whole time. It's easy and fun!'

And so it began. You downloaded Tinder. You took ridiculous selfies and tried to write a profile that made you sound interesting yet exciting, vulnerable yet tough, and up for senseless shagging yet not a creep. You spent (too) many waking hours flicking through hundreds of pictures of women of various descriptions. You read articles on how to improve your profile; you took yet more selfies; you started to seriously consider paying for the primo service; you stopped reading books or going outside, you now spent all of your available free time on Tinder, mindlessly flicking pictures of strangers left and right.*

And then you realised: Tinder is a stupid waste of time and that it was starting to take over your life. And here's how.

It promised you sex. Why else would you spend inordinate amounts of time staring blankly at your phone? Cos you're a little bit lonely (violins) and Tinder tacitly told you that if you just carried on, you would eventually get sex. In the back of your (stupid) mind, you thought this wild and abundant sex would obviously lead directly to love and deep mutual understanding. Then you realised that most of the women on Tinder are there for entertainment value and/or reside f***ing miles away and there is zero chance that you will ever even meet them, let alone get to know them (in the biblical sense).

It made you shallow.* How can you decide whether you like someone in a split second from one photo? That's right, you can't. Tinder has boiled down all of attraction, flirting and romance into a binary (and usually arbitrary) 'yes' or 'no'. In a way, it's just being (brutally) honest, but in another it's turning us all into shallow idiots who truly believe that surface beauty is all that matters. Who cares if they're a terrible person? They've got tight buns and a tan.

* It caused you to coin the acronym SIF (Secret Internet Fattie) and enabled you to identify them from a photo of their (surprisingly thin) face almost 90% of the time. Although essential for Tinder survival, you are clearly now shallower than a punctured paddling pool.

It made you stupid. Remember when you used to read books, play an instrument and write short stories? No. You don't. Cos now you spend every spare minute just hoping that if you swipe enough, you'll get a match, and that if you get a match, you'll get sex and if you get sex...&c. &c. Due to spending all of your time on said app, you've now been reading the same book for four months and your guitar has left you.

It made you into a (bigger) creep. So you gave up porn because you wanted to stop objectifying women and getting off on something you thought was wrong. You patted yourself on the back when you managed to cut it out of your life. Then you started getting off on pictures of women you don't even know who had no (or very little) intention of being ogled. You even nearly wanked over it one time (true story)! Sooner or later, you'll have to admit that it is filling the void left by porn and that you're going to have to give Tinder up, too. What is up with you, son?

It showed you riches.* In the old days, when you were alone, you were alone. Sure, you were lonely, but at least you couldn't see what you were missing. Then came Tinder and showed you woman after beautiful woman that you had not the slightest chance of (probably) ever meeting, let alone talking to. This is one of the key dispiriting things about Tinder: if you don't 'match' with someone, you can't speak to them. So even when you see a woman who you think looks amazing and swipe her right, the odds are that you will not only not get to speak to her, but that you'll never see her again. Cue you feeling ten times more lonely than before, wishing that you'd never started and listened to a Tina Turner tape instead.

* “If I hadn't seen such riches, I could live with being poor.” – from Sit Down by James.

It made you almost take a dick selfie. A dick pic? Seriously? WTF were you thinking, you perv? But this is where it got you. You thought it was just you and that girl messaging each other. You thought it would be hot. You forgot that the internet is MASSIVE and that once you send something out there, it could be (here) there (and everywhere) for the foreseeable, potentially blighting your future forever more. Not to mention that even taking a dick pic is a low-grade activity in its own right.

It stopped you talking to actual women. Just like porn in days gone by, it became a crutch: something to fall back on in the absence of actual human contact. Tinder removed the need to go out and meet real people because you felt like you were 'meeting' them all the time. As with porn, this was a lie. There is no substitute for meeting people face-to-face; for hearing their voice and looking in their eyes. Tinder will never give you (any of) this no matter what it says on the tin.

So what to do? Delete the app? Go outside? Get some nuts? Probably all of the above. I will soon, I promise. Just. One. More. Swipe.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

90 Days Without

It's actually now been 92, but who's counting? Well, I am. That's kind of the point. But why this number? What makes this significant? Why, indeed, should you give one fuck?

Cos it's three months, stupid. And, arbitrary or not, this is a major goal on the way to quitting porn (and alcohol, and drugs, and gambling – basically anything addictive). Obviously your first goal is a day, then a week, then a month. They say if you can go a month without doing the thing you're quitting, you're something like four times more likely to kick it for good. The next stop along this road is 90 – three months in. And that's where I am. Porn has now not been a 'thing' for me for fully three months and, in the interest of it being the subject of this blog, I thought I might tell you about how it feels.

It feels good (I think). In all honesty, I have not missed porn that much. Not entirely true, of course. Any former addict will tell you in an honest moment that they miss their chosen poison profoundly but that they are concurrently continuously glad they have given it up, and proud that they have done so. I guess missing the thing is what makes it feel like an achievement. It makes you feel strong and that you know that much more about yourself and the power of your own will. In the words of Roots Manuva, “discipline maketh the geez*.”

* Geez, noun, masculine: Go-getter, gentleman, all-round top bloke.

I do miss it, of course I do; I love sex and hot women and porn gives you the opportunity to see (experience?) both of these things in abundance. In case you're uninitiated, in porn, hot women actually do sex. A lot. Joking aside, though, it is fun looking at sexy vids on the interweb. You get to see hotter people than you (I) may (definitely) ever have the chance of ever getting with do things of which you can only dream. That's kind of the whole point.

But it's fantasy. And it's crashing. As I have discussed before, when the 'bubble bursts' and the laptop's shut down, there's just you, alone in a room with your (rapidly deflating) dick in your hand and sock full of your own tepid jizz. A sad picture, but (generally) a true one. That's how it always ended for me, anyway. And that's why I decided to stop. I have covered my reasons at length, so here, friends, is instead a summary of how it feels to be porn-free for nigh-on a hundred days.

I have more time. More time for reading, for writing, for wasting on the internet. Yeah, I still waste time (Jesus, who doesn't?) but now it's mine to waste. And I still procrastinate, but it's for damn sure that cutting out porn has increased my productivity dramatically. I noticed this when I gave up smoking. On long days in the house on my own, cigarette breaks would punctuate the tedium. You'd have five minutes to sit down, have a cup of tea and ruminate. And the fact that you were doing something made you feel like you'd actually achieved something in this five or ten minutes.

In fact, all you had done was stand still, stare out of the window and put yourself slightly further on the road towards fatal lung disease! Almost the polar opposite of achieving anything! It was only when I stopped that I realised I had just been using smoking to create the illusion of progress. Smoking is not an end in itself and a day of numerous smoked cigarettes is not a productive one.

And it's the same with porn (for me). I'm bored, what shall I do? I guess I could start writing that song/play/book/poem/sketch/piece of stand-up... Or I could just click away and... boom. There goes half an hour. It's an escape in so many ways. Or, more accurately, in one way; it's an escape from reality. You (I) don't want to confront that piece of work or the fact that you (I) don't have a girlfriend, so you sneak off into another world where you are a sex-god with a massive schlong; where the most beautiful women fall at your feet let you put it anywhere; where, for a short time, you are free.

It's escapism. I get it. And sometimes we all need a bit of it, but when I look back at how much time I spent there instead of here. I know where I would rather be.

So I feel more attractive to women, right? So I'm a sex-god and I'm now a buy-to-let landlord and a paid comedian, right? Right? Guys? Well, not exactly. In fact, in the whole three months without porn, I have only had sex with one person (Montreal Girl) and, although we packed in (as it were) as much as we could into four days, pickings since (and before) have been surprisingly (alarmingly) slim. I could go out and get wasted every night and try and bag myself a fellow desperado,* but I can't afford it and anyway I am kind of looking for more than a drunken clattering of genitals (is this really me talking?).

* Not strictly true, of course. When I do go out and get fucked up, I am still painfully shy.

In truth, I am a little bit lonely (violins, please), but I would rather feel this loneliness than shut it out or put it off through fake interactions with pornstars. Because you're not interacting, you're watching. You are outside looking in and they are having all the fun (read: practically forced, mostly unenjoyable intercourse). I would rather know that I face being alone if I don't connect with another human. To paraphrase Ben Kingsley's character in The Whackness, I would rather embrace my pain and make it a part of me.

I've gone all serious again. Underneath all the talk about jizz and Tinder and wankerchiefs (see previous posts), though, my point is a serious one. I do not think my (or numerous others') relationship with porn was/is healthy. I do not think that porn, in its current form, is right and I think more people should start talking and thinking about it in an effort to change things. That's my credo and I still believe it is right.

I have lost some of my earlier zeal. I have seen that this is a more complicated subject than perhaps I first considered it to be and I have learnt that I do not have (anywhere close to) all of the answers. I am still convinced that (for me, at least) this is important.

As well as giving up porn, I have been trying to become a better feminist (for me the two are concomitant). I have been trying to think clearly about the feminist cause and where I stand within it. What male privileges do I take for granted? How does it feel to be constantly objectified on a fundamental level? How has a patriarchal society damaged men and how does feminism mean a better deal for us all?

These are some of the things I have been trying to get my head around. Certainly, being a feminist does not preclude porn (as numerous contributors to the Woman's Hour debate pointed out), but it does mean thinking about what it means to us, what we want from it and how (principally women but really all of us, not least our kids) are affected by it. I'm not going to get all up on my soap box. All I am going to say at this point is that I am proud to be doing what I'm doing, that I plan to continue and that I believe simply stopping is an end in itself. So here's to (porn) freedom! Let's keep kicking its arse!