Abstinence = emotional roller coaster?

Submitted by unrehearsed on
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Hi everyone,

I have been lurking on this forum for several months. Thanks everyone for your insightful and open discussions! I am impressed that people are willing to share and discuss such intimate issues with each other on here. I also admire the courage of many people on these forums who are struggling with difficult addiction and social anxiety issues. Many people could learn a lot from you!

I'm wondering if anyone here can relate to my experiences with abstinence and could share some thoughts or experiences.

I have been single for about 6 months now, and discovered Marnia's book and the website shortly after my last breakup. I had been a regular porn user, with occasional porn-free periods, for over 20 years. With a couple of exceptions I had not gone without an orgasm for more than a few days since puberty.

Last fall, I engaged in my longest period of abstinence so far - about 10 weeks. During that period, I felt some great changes in my emotional states and in my sexual feelings and triggers. I had greater energy in my life overall, and was quite happy about the experience. Because I had been through a recent breakup, I was not interested in dating, and just concentrated on understanding my sexuality on my own and how it related to my feelings and my meditation and awareness practices.

Over the holidays I had a few orgasms. I enjoyed the actual orgasms and the relief they brought, but not the "hangovers" that I experienced for a few days afterwards - headaches, a sense of drained energy, and a strange mixture of lowered sexual charge along with a desire for another orgasm! Hard to put that feeling into words.

So I started abstaining again. I'm now going into my sixth week. This time around, I am not finding the experience enlivening or peaceful, in fact, it is outright frustrating. I'm experiencing the increase in energy as an anxiety or desperation. There is a constant sense of unsettledness or discomfort in my body. It is hard not to discharge it through an orgasm - what holds me back is knowing that the discharge would bring only temporary relief, an annoying "hangover", and then the cycle starting over again. There is no balance - either I am drained or I am overcharged and uncomfortable. I am exercising regularly but it doesn't seem to help.

Also, for some reason I can't quite pinpoint, I have been feeling very unattractive and having a lot of negative thoughts about dating and partnership. While my attraction to women is higher than usual, at the same time I am finding it difficult to engage in any traditional "courting"-type behavior. I have definitely not had the experience of women finding me more attractive, which Marnia and some others have suggested is likely to happen after a period of abstaining. Also, I have quite a few female friends, and while none of them are really suitable for a relationship with me, staying just friends with them doesn't seem quite right either. There are just enough bonding behaviours with them (e.g., hugs, kisses on the cheek, prolonged eye contact) to set off some biological "triggers". Overall I would say the change in orgasm behaviour is very confusing for me both inside and out.

Can anyone (male or female) relate to this experience? What are your thoughts and feelings about the emotional issues of going through this process single?

~ unrehearsed

Welcome

Thanks for your candor. I would say that this guy experienced something quite similar: http://www.reuniting.info/blog/2403

Celibacy with abstinence just doesn't seem to be a good permanent resting place (unless maybe if you're in a monastery and using a lot of energy in meditation, service, brotherhood and communion with the Divine). I liken it to sitting on a volcano. Eventually...

That said, abstinence can be helpful for a couple of months while rebooting from a porn addiction.

You've probably noticed that the book and this site are geared toward couples achieving a sustainable balance. So we really don't have answers for long-term abstinence while solo. You have to find a balance that works for you, ideally without porn. I think Redbeard (blog link above) felt great for about 7 weeks and then things got rocky. Last we heard he had a girlfriend and better things to do than post here. Smile

Are you sure it's not time to ask out some of those women and see if they're having some of the same feelings?

The same feelings

[quote=Marnia]Thanks for your candor. I would say that this guy experienced something quite similar: http://www.reuniting.info/blog/2403

Are you sure it's not time to ask out some of those women and see if they're having some of the same feelings?[/quote]

Marnia, thanks for the quick response!

I thought you might suggest that. Wink Alas, there are reasons why they are all just friends, everything from not age-appropriate to wanting to start a family (which I'm not interested in right now). The "volcano" as you put it puts pressure on us to couple up, even when it is not the greatest match! I am trying to hold out for someone who really resonates with me in terms of life goals, as well as having emotional chemistry. But then sometimes life has other plans for us.

Thank you for the referral to Redbeard's blog. I feel relieved to read about someone else who had a similar experience. Thanks too for the link to the various solo practices that have been suggested here. I have been engaging in a number of similar energy-circulating exercises, and they help somewhat, but there is always a lingering feeling of "unresolved". And interestingly, while they can address the immediate arousal feelings, I haven't found that they have much impact on the deeper emotional issues that celibacy can bring up.

Have you thought about doing a book aimed at single men and women? With all the feedback that you have given on this site I imagine you would have a lot of wisdom to share on the topic.

~unrehearsed

Prolonged abstinence

I can relate to you on this. The first time I abstained I felt exhilarated, the second time I made it past a few weeks I did not. It could be a couple of things. I noticed with a friend of mine who gave up an alcohol addiction after a long time, he went through a renewing stage in his life where he would get out of the house and try to experience new things, started working out, started seeing himself in a different way, had a lot of energy, etc. It was nice to see a change like that in him because he had been so addicted and shut down with all of his various compulsions and addictions. After a few months, the "honeymoon" phase of sobriety seemed to wear off and he slowly started picking up old habits like isolating, playing video games, and other compulsive things that he would do while drinking, stayed a dry drunk for a while until eventually he started drinking again. It is relieving to be rid of our addictions at first, it can be a rush, but a lot of the nitty gritty work hasnt been done yet, in fact for most of us, just stopping our compulsions is just the start of a long journey. The high of recovery starts to subside and you are left doing the real work. Its a tough stage because we dont really know how to get our needs met or have not habituated ourselves in getting them properly. Its painful at this stage too because we lack the social skills to make healthy intimate connections, or for some us, just to be around people, especially women.

Im glad you are bringing up this because I am going through a lot of this myself. I do want to date and get to know women, but at the same time I have so much confusion and conflicts regarding them. I have so many triggers from my past acting out, that it can get brutal at times because I might start to feel a little anxious or ashamed, just out of nowhere, maybe because of a scent or they remind me of an ex or something.

I have heard about and experienced what you are talking about with the feeling overcharged and not able to connect. I was reading a story of a guy who was withholding semen on his own for a long time and although he had an energy to him, women were naturally repulsed by him too because he gave off a strange energy and creepy vibe. It might be one of the unhealthy aspects of retention, thats why practitioners of tantra and other sexual transmutation teachers suggest that transmutation is the only way. That also seems to be key here too with the pair bonding behaviors. It is challenging to do this on our own, but for single guys like ourselves, or having an unwilling partner, it can be challenging.

What I am finding is that this practice is two-fold. There is the deprivation of ourselves of the activities that cause addiction and there is the addition of activities that are encouraging to our health. When we are only depriving, we can hurt ourselves and we are more likely to slip back into our old ways. We have to make new habits. It takes time, but we need to nourish this part of us that we deprived. Yeah, its a lot easier said than done, Id say its just as hard as stopping a behavior. Fortunately, there are other ways of creating this oxytocin feeling until a partner comes into the picture and its good to explore and find a good combination. Exercise is a good start, but as I have found too, it isnt the cure all. Its a big step to exercise regularly, and I can tell a difference, but there is a lot more. Look at the other ways of increasing oxytocin on the site, I think that over time we will become more balanced and able to start dating without all of the hang-ups. Its natural to have some alone time to sort through these things, especially with the sex stuff. Good luck and keep posting on this, Im very interested in hearing your experiences as mine are similar.

Creating the feelings

[quote=JRsun76] Fortunately, there are other ways of creating this oxytocin feeling until a partner comes into the picture and its good to explore and find a good combination. Exercise is a good start, but as I have found too, it isnt the cure all. Its a big step to exercise regularly, and I can tell a difference, but there is a lot more. Look at the other ways of increasing oxytocin on the site, I think that over time we will become more balanced and able to start dating without all of the hang-ups. Its natural to have some alone time to sort through these things, especially with the sex stuff. Good luck and keep posting on this, Im very interested in hearing your experiences as mine are similar.[/quote]

Thanks for your response, JR. I'd be interested to hear more about what works for you (or doesn't work for you!!). It might take a while to find a good balance, or at least, something that is sustainable for the medium term while we wait for the right opportunity to couple up again. One thing I've noticed is that the more time I spend with other people, the easier it is to feel balanced. I had never noticed that as much before, because I have been a fairly introverted person for most of my life. With the change in energy, however, I feel much more soothed by social interaction than I did before. Though I have still been fairly social for the last few years, it's even easier to get out than it used to be.

And yet - while I am happy being with others there is something about the charge of a sexualized interaction that turns me off. It seems needy and desperate to me somehow, whether it is me doing it or whether I am observing others. Only if both people are really relaxed about it and allowing it to flow very slowly and naturally does it seem "right" to me at this point. And yet this exact feeling of being relaxed about it is made harder because of the pressure and irritability of abstaining. Am I making sense? Does this conflict resonate with anyone else?

~unrehearsed

Hmmm....

It's true that as you return to balance, unbalanced energy in others can be very unappealing. But my thought is that you have to be prepared to connect with someone who is not (yet) in balance, or you'll be waiting a L O N G time. Smile

This is where I say, "before you choose a partner, check with the oracle" (or do some inner listening or praying however you do it). I think back to how Gary was when we first got together. He seemed all wrong to me. He was seriously out of balance (alcoholism, chronic depression, etc).

But as it turned out, he WAS a good partner for me.

In short, Ms. Right may be wearing a horrible "costume" for the moment. So try not to judge people by how they look at present. They can surprise you.

In my view, most of us are using sex "the usual way," so we're kinda like wilted plants. No one can see our true potential until we're "watered" a bit with some selfless lovin'. I'm not saying to water everyone, but don't be quick to reject anyone until you get quiet and ask.

Hope this is helpful

[quote=unrehearsed]
So I started abstaining again. I'm now going into my sixth week. This time around, I am not finding the experience enlivening or peaceful, in fact, it is outright frustrating. I'm experiencing the increase in energy as an anxiety or desperation. There is a constant sense of unsettledness or discomfort in my body. It is hard not to discharge it through an orgasm - what holds me back is knowing that the discharge would bring only temporary relief, an annoying "hangover", and then the cycle starting over again. There is no balance - either I am drained or I am overcharged and uncomfortable. I am exercising regularly but it doesn't seem to help.
~ unrehearsed[/quote]

I do not think I can help with some of the other so I will focus on this part. I know what you mean about the increase in energy. It comes out in all kinds of ways. Anxiety I have. I am glad you posted this. I have been going through the anxiety phase. Now I was thinking it was part of me. That it was there before and I was using the p/m/o to just dull it down. Now If you are feeling those things now and have not before. Maybe it is part of this whole process. I am not sure what the answer is. Even though I have had a mental almost meltdown last week. I have felt much better the last couple days. I have been out of the house and just around people. Not really engaged any just being out around people seems to actually be helping. I have also maxed out my supplements many that are supposed to be at least helpful for anxiety and stress. They are good for other things also(I will make a blog entry dealing with this). Well I am starting to feel that desperation. I feel the need to do something. I need to being doing something. I want to interact with people. I want to being able to date. I know what you are dealing with there. I am not just having trouble now but I have never dated. I am starting to feel that push for more now though. I think I might get pushed out of my comfort zone soon. Well not soon. I am thinking school will help. I will have to interact with people a lot more then. Women too. you never know. I still have 3 months or so to work on myself. Every thing seems to be ramped up in my head. I am either very full of energy or I am just stressed and anxiety is crushing me. I have felt a bit more balanced today though. I have started taking one supplement that may be helping here. I have been exercising today. I am doing well there some more stuff to do. So as you say exercise helps but it does not take care of all the energy or anxiety. I would hate to know what I would be like without the exercise. I think I would implode or explode or both I am sure I would be a mess without it.

*explicit content warning*
On the feeling of being unsettled. I have found a way that helps with that. I am not sure if what I am thinking of as unsettled is the same as you. What I am talking about is sexual/arousal energy. It builds up a lot. I had given in to this before. It does build and build till you just have to do something with it. Well I have finally made it to a point where I can just feel this. I let my body get aroused. I do not have to use porn, fantasy or touching. I lay down and put my hand behind my head(that helps keep them in control :) ). I just let myself feel this "energy". I let my body just pulse with it. I have been erect for a good bit of time like this and just let the sexual feelings go. I think I have even been close to ejaculation/orgasm like this. I am OK with that. If that were to happen then it happens. As long as those are not my goal and I am not using or doing anything to support or cause them then I think it would be OK. I do not fight these feelings any more. I know this is hard to do. I tried things like this when I first started out. I ended up giving in and masturbating then binging and all of it before long. I think seeing as you are 6 weeks in it may work for you. If you try something like this and you slip and relapse just take it as learning. I tried this in the past like I said. I am now able to use it. If I did not do this I could not continue to avoid masturbation.

Also I am only doing this so that I can get at least 8 weeks without orgasm. I need to break Its hold on me and break porns hold on me. After I get 8 weeks without orgasm I will see how I feel. I might even try orgasm and see what happens. I just do not know yet. I am just hoping to make it those 8 weeks without orgasm. That is even without a dream O. That way I think I will be rebooted or very close. That is why I might extend it past 8 weeks depending on how I feel. So that I can be sure of a reboot.

I will need to use my technique I describe above some time tonight. I feel that sexual energy building. I do have a slight craving to masturbate so I need to burn some of that off. If you need me to be more clear just ask. I will try to explain it better.

I hope some of this helped.
Be Safe
James

On the feeling of being unsettled

Thanks for your post James! If my experience is any guide, being around people will help you for sure. School will be a big one. When I was in school, I found both having something to concentrate on (studies) and people to be around (students) were really amazing and energizing, even when I was having orgasms all the time! It would be really interesting to experience that kind of vibe from a low-orgasm perspective. At a college or university, there also tend to be a lot of smaller groups within a school setting who find each other and have a lot of things in common, so the potential for finding both new friends and a girlfriend are very high.

I really appreciate your posting about how you are managing with the physical tension. I have done quite a bit of that kind of exercise as well, and it helps take the pressure off - but it never quite relieves it. Ha, when I put it that way it seems obvious! :) And yet there is a deeper emotional tension that doesn't really change. Perhaps that is the mating, pair-bonding program that Marnia talks about a lot, or at least a certain manifestation of.

Here is a question for any singles reading this thread. Has anyone found that having an occasional orgasm (once a month or so), helpful, or does it just create more problems than it solves?