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With any kind of addiction, you generally don't realize you have a problem until things get way out of hand. In retrospect, I have to laugh at the fact that 350GB of my computer's memory was torrented porn, and that actually I spent hours separating the videos into alphabetized folders. But at the time, my three-hour masturbation sessions seemed completely normal, because they were the times I was most happy — or, really, the times I was able to block out my stress.
The problem was, I built up a tolerance. So when porn and the occasional random hookup failed to satisfy me, I headed for internet hookup sites — sites where a plethora of cocks, and tits, and asses were displayed on the home page. On several occasions, I turned to personals on Craigslist for a quickie. In doing so, I started to realize that there were hundreds of people just like me. I started to recognize other sex addicts through their constant reposts on Craigslist, with headings like "Horny Dad in Search of Son," in Gramercy, or the Midtown "Cougar on the Prowl" — people paying others to spit on them, people with fetishes for crying men, hosts of weekly sex parties. I became enveloped in this world of obsessively horny New Yorkers, and anything that didn't fit into this world seemed less important to me.
It wasn't until about a year ago that I realized I had to stop. By that point, masturbation when I woke up was the only surefire way to make sure that my morning wouldn't be miserable. One afternoon, as I was going at it, I received a message from a forty-year-old banker in the West Village, which simply read, "ur hot, letz fuck now." Grammar held no influence over my arousal; after I finished at home, I quickly hopped on the subway, and in a few hours, I was in an idyllic state of sweaty bliss. I left the banker's apartment feeling so good that I headed to the bar for a drink. There, I started making eyes at a less-attractive Courtney Love, who was soon inviting me back to her place.
On the subway ride home, my anxiety hit me like a pickaxe to the chest. My blood started pumping extremely fast, and I felt heat rush over my body. I started thinking about all of the things I still needed to get done for the next day, and then began to think back on my day. Which I had spent, in its entirety, looking for and having sex. I was ignoring my friends' calls and texts. I was two months behind on rent. I was on the verge of failing two classes. I was constantly on my phone checking messages for sex, but my inboxes for both school and work had over fifty unread emails. I wasn't getting things done because I was too busy with sex... which was my escape from the fact that I wasn't getting things done.
I felt sick for the rest of the ride, and when I got home, I deleted all my accounts on the hookup sites, and wiped my computer clean of any sex-related files — even the regular movies with sex scenes.
As my stress levels subsided, my anxiety did too, as well as my need for sex. Over the past year, sex has become something different for me. It's no longer a device to escape. My last few sexual encounters were enhanced by eye contact, a general background on who I was fucking, and the ability to just hang around after sex. You know — those things that come as second nature to the sexually active majority of the world. And while I'm having less sex, I'm now having better sex, not out of a desire to flee, but out of a genuine interest in the person I'm having sex with. I'm really glad that I can now see the difference.