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Is It Possible to Quit Porn and Masturbation?

Updated: Jul 4

Learn How to Quit Porn and Masturbation -- and Other Unwanted Sexual Behaviors with these 5 tips.

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Yes, it is possible to quit porn and masturbation.


But I'm assuming you would prefer I write a little bit more in answer to this question. So I will.


I won't spend time writing about how big the porn problem is (you can read some statistics here). Nor will I focus on how porn affects the brain or the addictive nature of porn or is masturbation a sin. All good topics, but that's not why you're reading this article, is it?


You are reading this article because you want to know how to quit porn and masturbation.


Here are 5 tips to help you quit porn and masturbation. These are not a "magic formula" that guarantees freedom, but they will greatly increase your probability of success.


1. Learn your triggers


It is highly unlikely that your engagement with porn and masturbation is random or arbitrary. There is always some kind of pattern to such acting out. This pattern includes what we call triggers.


A trigger is anything that prompts you to pursue a particular unhealthy behavior (in this case, porn and masturbation). Triggers could be physical, like something you experience with your five senses (seeing, touching, tasting, hearing, smelling). Triggers could also be emotional or mental (i.e. sad, bored, scared, lonely, stressed, etc.).


To learn your specific triggers ask yourself the following questions related to your engagement with porn and masturbation:


  • What am I typically thinking of before acting out?

  • What am I typically feeling before acting out?

  • What is often going on in the environment around me before acting out?


Spend time examining your triggers and write them down. And commit to a lifelong journey of learning yourself so you can become better equipped for dealing with any kind of temptation you face.


Once you learn your core triggers, it's time to make a plan for responding to temptation in healthy, life-giving ways.



2. Plan your ways of escape ahead of time


I'm going to assume that you are not engaging porn and masturbation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (If you are, hospitalize yourself immediately!) The time to create a plan for dealing with your triggers is not 60 seconds before you act out -- make your plan(s) before you are wrestling with temptation.


Think of your unhealthy habit of porn and masturbation as a big hole in the roof of your house. When do you notice the hole as a problem? On sunny days? No! You curse the hole when it's raining, right? But you can't fix the hole when it's raining.


The time to work on fixing the hole is when the sun is out, even though that's also the time you aren't really thinking about the hole as being a problem. But rest assured it will rain again!


The key to responding well to your triggers and temptation is to plan your ways of escape before the "rain" starts falling. Here is a template to help you create your plan for resisting temptation when your triggers are tripped:


  • How will you respond physically? (take a walk, leave the room, exercise, etc.)

  • How will you respond spiritually? (recite a Bible verse, say a prayer, etc.)

  • How will you respond relationally? (call/text a loved one, reach out to an accountability partner, etc.)


Responding well to triggers and temptation does not happen "organically." You must have a plan and you must work that plan. Quitting porn and masturbation requires more than hope and good intentions. But if you've learned your triggers and created a plan for escaping temptation, you are well on your way to living free from porn and masturbation.


Now it's time to exponentially increase your probability of freedom by sharing your triggers and your plan with someone else. No long-term freedom from porn and masturbation is possible without the help of others.


3. Share your triggers and your plan with a trusted friend


We all need help in life, and not just with overcoming the destructive habit of porn and masturbation. God designed us to thrive as human beings when we live in community. "It is not good for man to be alone."


I admit that what I am about to propose isn't easy. It's scary to be vulnerable with other people, especially sharing such a personal struggle as porn and masturbation. But it is necessary.


Now that you have written down your specific triggers and created a plan of escape when temptation hits, it's time to share this with at least one trusted friend. I found it most helpful in my own recovery journey to have at least 3 other people who knew this information.


A trusted friend is someone who cares about you enough to hold in confidence this personal information. And they have your best in mind; they want to see you succeed in your pursuit of freedom.


When you share your triggers and escape plan, this is what you are asking your trusted friend to do:


  • Pray for you regularly in your battle with temptation.

  • Dialogue with you regularly about your specific triggers and how well your plan to fight temptation is working.

  • Challenge you to keep growing, especially when you stumble.

  • Ask questions about your plan to help you improve it.


Quitting porn and masturbation is about more than just stopping unhealthy behaviors and thoughts. It's also about building strong friendships and growing in integrity as part of a community. And possibly the primary reason you need community is because you won't travel this road of growth and maturity perfectly.


You will stumble along the way, and you will need a loving community to help you get back up and keep going.


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4. Confess and repent when you stumble


I wish freedom from porn and masturbation was easy. I really do. But it is not. It is messy and imperfect, just like you and me.


As you fight the battle against the temptations to engage porn and masturbation, you will not always win. You will sometimes stumble and fall. But falling on this journey doesn't mean you have utterly failed.


It is important to reframe stumbles as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than false indications that you are fatally flawed and beyond hope of ever being free. Fatalistic thinking is NOT from God!


God forgives your sin, not so that you can keep returning to it, but instead, so you can look at it objectively, free from its shame, to learn how to respond better the next time you're faced with a similar temptation.


When (notice I said when, not if) you stumble and fall, be quick to confess it and repent. To confess is to "agree with truth." So, don't lie or try to hide the fact that you acted out. Agree with the truth that you did x, y, or z.


To repent means to "change your mind." The reason you stumbled was because somewhere along the way your mind was convinced that it was a good idea to sin. Repentance is refocusing your mind back on what is true and right and good. (Phil. 4:8)


I find it most helpful to confess and repent in the following contexts:


  • To God

  • To myself

  • To my spouse (if married)

  • To my trusted friends


Confession and repentance are not usually easy or comfortable, but it is crucial if you are going to break free from porn and masturbation and become the person of integrity God created you to be.


Finally, it's important that all this work on quitting porn and masturbation doesn't overshadow what the real goal of such work should be: to build an intimate, growing relationship with God.


5. Keep the real goal in view: intimacy with God


Your struggle with porn and masturbation is not disconnected from your relationship with God. Yes, you read that sentence correctly, even if it is not something you have ever thought of before.


Sin is not an entity unto itself. Sin is a distortion of something good. Think of sin like a parasite; it requires a host. Your sinful desires for porn and masturbation are merely distortions of the good desires God created within you for connection, intimacy, and pleasure.


Therefore, your pursuit to break free from porn and masturbation must ultimately be a pursuit of knowing God and His good design of sex, love, and intimacy. Don't lose sight of this larger (and better) goal. If you only eliminate an unhealthy habit, you will miss the greatest joy of all: walking with God as He designed you to walk.


Take some time to go back over the previous 4 tips and reframe them with this goal of intimacy with God. Maybe ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do my triggers reveal about my need for God? The goodness of my emotions? The legitimate and good needs God placed in me?

  • What good and healthy desires are underneath the temptations to act out with porn and masturbation? What is God protecting me from by placing boundaries around my body, heart, and mind?

  • How does a loving community draw me closer to God and His design for my life?

  • What do I discover about God's love and character when I confess and repent?


As you keep the bigger picture of intimacy with God in view you will discover that "quitting" porn and masturbation is not so much a journey of negation, but instead a journey of pursuit. By running toward God you are automatically running away from sexual sin in all its forms.


Yes, it is possible to quit porn and masturbation.


​By pursuing intimacy with God and others...


If you would like more help to quit porn and masturbation, consider the following online courses:


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