Celebrating a successful Lent


I am publishing this post to:

  • celebrate my successful Lenten fast
  • take stock and plan next steps

I am impressed with myself that I got through more than forty days with no porn — so far 47 days and still going, and I am not planning to have a binge any time soon.

The other habits didn’t get any worse, but I didn’t manage to add them to the fast as I thought I might.


As noted in my previous post, I am feeling more emotionally tender. The lack of porn is exposing my need for affection. I need the “friendly faces” of the “pin-ups”, of the not-quite-porn.

I am also noticing — and responding positively to — my wife’s needs for affection. I don’t know how much potential is there but something might open up.

The biggest mood drain is twitter — just normal twitter use and its aimlessness.

What next?

  • Re-instate the “twitter coin” rule: toss a coin first thing every morning: heads = twitter allowed today, and no twitter tomorrow; tails = no twitter today.
  • keep up the “no actual porn” rule, but prepare some breaks. A planned break, with some structure (?) might be less harmful to the overall path than randomly running out of steam. Aim for a sustainable gradient.
  • Notice and write about (here or in my diary):
    • any growing physical affection from S
    • my yearnings, what I do about them, and what effect that has
  • Learn to pray about these things too. Write prayerfully.

Celebrating a (so far) successful Lent #porn #pornfree

I am publishing this post to:

  • celebrate success so far
  • guard against some weakening I’ve been feeling lately
  • renew and tighten up my conviction

My Lenten fast this year is simple, or at least, simply put: “no porn”. Do not look at pornography. No more, and no less.

no less: “Do not look at pornography” should be an easy aim to follow, but in the last few years my longest breaks have lasted days only, so for me right now this — 48 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Monday — is a significant stretch goal.

no more: If you’ve read the about page like you should have, you will know I have other linked bad habits I want to extricate myself from. My Lenten fast this year does not target these. “Do not look at pornography” does not include

  • do not masturbate
  • do not look at, eye up, or lust after women

So far (day 39) my fast has been completely successful. I have looked at zero porn since the beginning of Lent.

The weakening I’m feeling is not easy to describe. I’m not feeling urges to go look at porn. I think perhaps the weaknesses/frailties that make me more vulnerable/open to the attractions of porn are more exposed. Consequently, I find myself fishing around in the edges of things that are “not quite porn”. Consequently, I want to renew and reaffirm, and maybe even tighten up the goal (even though there’s only a few days left).


Focussing on the main goal, I’ve let those other bad habits find their own level. Predictably or not, they have been affected. I am masturbating about half as much as before. My looking and lusting hasn’t changed much. My sexual fantasising has changed.

When I’m immersed in porn, my fantasies are essentially collages of porn tableaux with situations and faces from my daily life. Away from porn, I am drifting into sexual fantasy almost as often, but the stories are more kissy dialogue and smiles.

Perhaps these fantasies are more directly addressing my need for companionship, with their loving gazes and caresses.

The “not-quite-porn” I’ve been reaching for in recent days has been (a) lingerie web sites (eg Jane Woolrich, Simone Perele), and (b) pics of smiley daytime TV presenters like Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway. Reaching for (b) especially after some blow-up or scratchiness from my wife Sara.

I’m not craving the “hard-core” porn videos that were such a staple and are so easy to access nowadays.

Last September I did an online quiz (Online Evaluation: Sexual Sin) which was very good and detailed. Some of the results were surprising but rang true. In particular it separated “soft” and “hard” pornography, and showed that my taste for soft porn was much stronger that that for hard porn. My experience this Lent bears that out. Their definitions were slightly different from mine, and their definition of “soft porn” would include what I call “not-quite-porn” above.

So for this last week of Lent I will include things like those lingerie web sites and celeb watch twitter accounts in my explicit ban.

How I continue after the Resurrection is a story for another time.

I like #porn

I like porn:


  • I like looking at the photos
  • I like watching the videos
  • I like making up and elaborating porn-based sex fantasies
  • I enjoy masturbating

Disgusting and shameful to admit declare these things explicitly — I daren’t say “confess” — but it’s no good to lie about it either. It’s a problem that I do these things; it’s perhaps more of a problem that I want to do them, I enjoy them.

I like other things just as much, if not more:


  • I like the feeling of power when I am on form
  • I like the warmth of people smiling at me
  • I like the full-body sensuality of yoga
  • I love the feeling of being alive when I am plugged into a good book

Indulging in set B pleasures has no effect on my ability to enjoy set A activities, but indulging in set A pleasures weakens my ability to enjoy set B activities. On that criterion alone I should avoid set A and prefer set B.

More generally, enjoying set B strengthens me, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. I am happier and better company.

Over-indulging in set A weakens me. It erodes my ability to concentrate or follow a path. I become bored, irritable, depressed. The very definition of a vice.

My ability to enjoy set A activities seems very robust, and always available. The slightest trigger will set my mind or my eyes or my hands wandering.

Set B seems harder to hold. Either I put it off because I think I don’t deserve it (there is always work to be done), or it seems beyond my power. I noticed after making up these two lists that A are voiced actively and B passively — really it is the other way around.


  • how can I envisage B as active? As creating myself (rather than expending myself, in A)?
  • gravitate towards B
  • find B substitutes when I am triggered towards A (diary exercise: given a specific trigger that led me to A, think of a B that might have answered)

Angels of the Id #porn

DLW is away, has been away since before Christmas (I accompanied her on her mission over Christmas), and will probably be away until February. When there is no work the next day, I am staying up very late. Partly, I seem to get a “second wind” as tiredness from the day wears off. Partly, I am sure the … reluctance to go to bed … is a kind of subconsciously avoiding porn, until I am too tired to want it.

The evening fills up with household chores & minor activities, one at a time, my desire to watch one of these long porn vids I have set aside always there in the background, always rising to the surface, but never quite getting there.

Often my desire starts the day explicit and firm — a plan to spend the evening — but as the evening arrives, that demon’s voice is hidden by other more civilised voices. I want to …

  • play a game of chess
  • tidy away that laundry
  • do a language lesson
  • wrap that present for Sara
  • find out about this poet/singer

I can’t say my desire for porn has decreased, it’s just that it has competition. Unfortunately, it’s a competition that rages, quietly, into the small hours.

Imaginary Friends #porn

Do I believe in God? Really? Do I really think Jesus is near me? Isn’t he just an imaginary friend?

I fret like this about Jesus being real over and over again, but I never stop to consider how real these women are, these Ashtaroth. I just fall to my devotions without thinking.

The story about Dagon in 1 Samuel 5:1-5 resonates with me strongly:

1 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. 5 That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.

Two things in particular strike me about this passage:

  1. This wasn’t a statue or an icon of Dagon that was being thrown about — it was Dagon itself.
  2. Even after all this happened, the Philistines continued their worship of Dagon.

Dagon was real: a lump of wood or stone you could stub your toe against, or break bits off. Dagon — the god — was imaginary: it had no power against the Lord. The power it had for the Philistines was entirely down to their own faith and adoration, their devotion.

Porn is real just like Dagon was real. The magazine on the table in front of me is real. The models and actors onscreen are real. Porn goes out of its way to show that “this is really real they are not just pretending”.

And porn’s power is as fake as Dagon’s was. The boost I get from porn is entirely down to my own adoration and devotion, my “faith” even. I have trained myself with masturbation to have self-fulfilling expectations. Before and as well as that, secular culture lays out plenty of temptations and signals. But even given all that, my devotion to porn, my turning to porn when I need … something … is my choice. The power porn has over me is given to porn by me.

And just as the Philistines kept returning Dagon to its pedestal, however much I learn, I keep returning to my pics and vids.

Porn is at least as much an imaginary friend as Jesus is, but my attachment to porn, and my doubts about my faith in God, make the fantasies seem as real as the paper they’re printed on.

“So, …, what?” as my business coach might say.

  • I hope this realisation will help weaken my attachment.
  • I remember that yoga is sensual pleasure as well as good exercise. That, and not masturbating, can be my sensual treat.
  • My wife is a sensual treat too, though one with emotional complications attached (eg risks of rejection). Perhaps I should take a few risks.

Worshipping the Ashtaroth #porn

Sometimes I turn willingly to the Ashtaroth, purposefully
A sensual evening for less than one
Sometimes I turn happily to the Ashtaroth
Sometimes I don't
The editor blankly waits for my input
Distant clients set my pace
Data streams, accumulates, challenges
I am the learner, the investigator, the one who likes puzzles, the genius
The house overflows me with chores and tasks
The wife expects my support
The ripe day waxes, wanes and crumbles
I am the flexible one, the listener, ridiculous, cook and cleaner
Where am I apart from I?
I am the mirror of your affected desire
I am the mood of all your choreography
I am every body in this picture
Flood my palm
A blush of shock
               of pleasure
               of shame

Reset #pornfree

And they forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.

Judges 2:13

As predicted (or planned), my wife Sara was away for a week, and I have been worshiping the Ashtoreths. After day 117 of the streak, I reset the counter to zero, where it remained until Sara returned.

In that last blog post I had a few ideas for avoidance techniques — things to do that were “as” attractive as looking at porn. Well I didn’t do any of them. They were never really in the race.

I revisited the old haunt I mentioned, and got up-to-date. I dusted off an old twitter account. I toured a few other old haunts too.

I had set limits and rules, but of course in the heat of the moment such rules are forgotten or abandoned. However, I seemed to stick to the most important ones. I didn’t end up drenched in porn, didn’t have an eye on it during the day (the twitter account I ended up not using at all), or even every evening. I wanted it to be a treat and a relaxation, entertainment, and it has been.

Consequently, I have no feelings of shame or regret. I enjoyed the holiday.

What now? Perhaps now is the real test: how easily can I go back on the wagon? A voice will be telling me I don’t need to — if I can start and stop any time, why stop now? — but watching porn with one eye while the other eye is looking over your shoulder is not really a treat.

Porn and masturbation go back on the shelf, and I develop those other attractions that don’t require me to watch my back.

Assuming re-wagonning goes well, this will be the last post in the #pornfree category.

Counting the days #pornfree

I have stopped counting “days since” — in the sense that I am no longer using length of the “streak” as a motivator. Although I let my eyes linger over certain photos in the press longer than I should, there is no pull from the old ways. The habits are broken.

However, I have noticed that I am counting “days until”. As the lockdown rules are easing, there is now a real prospect of either me or my wife Sara spending a few days away (on business, or family responsibilities) — in other words, of me having a few evenings to myself.

I find myself looking forward to revisiting a particular old haunt. I feel confident that I’ll be able to indulge while S is away without losing self-control once she has returned. I’ll be able to start a new streak!

Who knows? I have surprised myself in the past when I have not taken advantage of this kind of opportunity.

How to avoid? Have other goals that are “as” attractive:

  • creative writing: write a story, or begin one
  • yoga blowout: do morning and evening sessions every day for sensual overload
  • prayer challenge: pray out loud

(I do know the “days since” count ofc, and log it in my diary: it’s 87.)

Day 54 #pornfree

It is now 54 days since I have looked at any porn or masturbated. That’s less than two months, and the new state doesn’t feel entirely secure, but I think this is the longest time I have Gone Without since the late 1980s.

I shan’t crow about this very frequently, but this battle is one of the main points of the blog.

In general, I feel much more clear-headed and directed — though life’s ups and downs are as daunting as ever. Perhaps the biggest change is that I’m more careful that my downtime is nourishing rather than draining.

I’ve never stopped lusting after my wife Sara. The challenges of showing affection, and of encouraging shows of affection, remain.

I have not been good at avoiding pictures of attractive women. Quite the opposite. At times I am leaning heavily on the narrow definition of pornography and going looking. That is a weakness I want to put a stop to. Perhaps find something else mildly attractive, engaging and addictive instead (eg do a quick Duolingo exercise).

The real test will be when either Sara or I go away for a few nights, and I have some evenings alone. I can easily imagine spending some of those evenings “catching up”. … but that day can worry about itself.

In the meantime build my strength and enjoy my freedom.

37/30 #pornfree


I have completed XXXChurch‘s “The 30 Day Porn-Free Challenge”! [emoji here] Day 30 was Tuesday 16th Feb, and I am continuing the porn-free streak making today day 37/30.

The “30 Day Porn-Free Challenge” is based around an ebook of 30 blog posts (let’s not mince words), which were often quite thought-provoking and challenging. I was surprised by that, and I think that helped keep me on the wagon. I also did a “10-day challenge” by XXXChurch’s partner site LiveFree, which was basically the same idea, but

  • delivered as emails: so, that extra nudge. They were also a bit shorter and punchier than the “30 days” blog posts;
  • each concluded with a few pointed questions, prompting me to really interact with and respond to their content.

All highly recommended. I was intending to blog some responses but quite early on all those “urges” seemed a distant memory. Of course 37 days is actually not that long. If I fall back, I’ll come back to these challenges and respond to their challenges more fully.


When I’m not thinking about something specific, my head feels kind of empty. Around day 21, at these times my mind would obsessively fill will sex fantasies. Not entirely unpleasant, but ultimately annoying. I seem to be out of that obsessive phase, but those kind of daydreams are never far away. I need to find something else to occupy my mind when it’s idle.

Avoiding pornography is relatively easy — and breaches are easy to identify. Avoiding pictures of attractive women is not really possible (before the Covid lockdown I would just have said avoiding attractive women is not possible). I’m starting to notice more, and question, my lingering attention when online, or even reading the business press.


The LiveFree site is based around a private social network — LiveFree.app, themed around “porn abstention”, which looked very good — as well as the direct use-case, it is a network of male Christians so useful there too. However,

  • subscription is $5/month (fine) and they can only accept credit cards, not paypal (bad). I have contacted them about this but had no response.
  • As with blogging my “porn abstention journey”, I already don’t feel the need any more for this kind of support.

By coincidence, the 30 Days Challenge has led me straight into Lent, giving me an excuse to lengthen, and deepen, the streak. By deepen I mean things like:

  • find new ways to occupy my idle mind and keep sexfantasia at bay
  • be stricter, and more honest, with my attention

Procrastination being what it is, Lent has already started, and I am working on these two.