“Growing up watching porn and expecting to be good at sex is like growing up playing Madden on Xbox and expecting to be good at actual football.” – Gabe Deem
There’s little I love more than chatting with people who’ve not only overcome trying circumstances but transformed them into something hugely positive, even lifesaving, for others. This week’s Girl Boner Radio guest has done precisely that! Gabe Deem is a counselor for teens in Irving, Texas who has shared his personal struggle with porn addiction and his pathway to recovery with countless others in hopes that they might find similar healing. I was so thrilled when he agreed to an interview, in which he shared what spurred his fixation with porn, how it affected his life and relationships, myths about porn addiction and the wonders recovery can bring.
If you find yourself relating to his story, I hope you’ll also realize that there’s no shame in your circumstances, you’re far from alone and support is available. The same holds true if your partner is struggling with addiction. Gabe runs an entire community dedicated to porn addiction recovery and ways to “reboot” your system, ridding your life of porn’s complications, and is one of the most accessible and congenial folks I’ve encountered in the sex-positive world.
Listen to our chat using the below link then check out our after-chat. That’s right! He was kind enough to answer a few additional questions for us via email. (Thanks again, Gabe!) I hope you’ll chime in afterwards with your thoughts. :)
Girl Boner Radio After-Chat with Gabe Deem
August: How do you feel parents and schools and teachers could make a positive difference regarding porn addiction?
Gabe: I think parents and teachers could make a positive impact on children by doing three things: Having an open and honest conversation with the child about what real sex is and isn’t, teaching them about the possible impact that watching porn can have on their brain and future sexuality, and protecting them by installing porn filters on all internet accessible devices to prevent accidental exposure.
1) For the conversation, it’s important to teach kids that porn is fake, and in real life sex should never be violent or forceful or harmful to someone emotionally or physically.
2) For teaching them about the brain, it is important they know that porn can rewire the brain to where they no longer can connect with real people both emotionally and physically, and “numb” their brain so it is more difficult to “feel” pleasurable things. For parents to get educated on this I suggest reading the material on YourBrainOnPorn.com.
3) Protecting children by installing filtering software on all devices to prevent accidental exposure. The reason I say for the “accidental” exposure, is because if I have learned anything as a boy with a computer, it’s that if I want to watch porn I could easily get around blocks and do so. This is where points 1 and 2 come in!
August: Do you feel porn itself is problematic? Or that it should change?
Gabe: I think it’s potentially be problematic, and here’s why. Porn comes in so many forms now days it’s tough to say that all of it can be problematic, especially when you have everything from rape porn to loving couples uploading their most intimate moments followed by cuddling. However, to our brains’ content isn’t the only thing that matters; it simply soaks up what you teach it.
So no matter what type of porn it is, if you are a young child watching porn you are teaching your brain that sexual arousal happens with pixels on a screen and not people in person. I look at porn in regards to sex the same way I look at junk-food in regards to organic food. It is an unhealthy version of the real deal, and can potentially have a negative impact on you.
Growing up watching porn and expecting to be good at sex is like growing up playing Madden on Xbox and expecting to be good at actual football. I recently watched the new movie The Fault in Our Stars and one of my favorite lines was “a picture of something is not the thing itself.” A picture might say a thousand words, but it can never love you back.
August: Have you seen Don Jon? If so, what did you think?
Gabe: Yes, I have. I thought it was a really good movie besides the unnecessary porn clips as if people do not know what porn looks like. There were a few things that stood out to me in that movie.
Don Jon had a beautiful girlfriend who would have sex with him, yet even after having sex with her, he said porn was better. This is important to realize because a lot of women think it has to do with how attractive their partner finds them when in reality it is more the guys desire to get his dopamine fix via the novelty, shock and stimulation internet porn provides.
But the most interesting thing to me that not many people caught was WHY he decided to finally give up porn. It wasn’t because he felt guilty. It wasn’t because he found the perfect woman who was more desirable than porn. It was because he tried to masturbate without porn and couldn’t! Yup, he realized that porn was physically screwing him up to the point where he was dependent on it to masturbate. That was the original thing that made him realize there’s a problem. If Don Jon was a real guy he would have been real close to developing porn-induced ED or delayed ejaculation.
August: What do you find most rewarding about your work and activism?
Gabe: Knowing that people are finally getting the answers they have been desperately looking for. I get messages from guys who are suicidal and have been to many doctors and specialists that have told them that their problem is all in their head. While they are technically right, because it appears to be in the brain, they are telling these guys it is anxiety and they just need to relax, take some Viagra and get out of their office.
But when the Viagra doesn’t work and months go by with no improvement, they feel hopeless. Seeing these guys finally give up porn and regain their sexual function back, as well as the joy in their life, has been the most rewarding thing to me. I know what it feels like to feel broken, and I know how important it is to have a light shining at the end of the tunnel. When guys tell me that my story gave them light, it makes any pain, embarrassment or discomfort from sharing my story all worth it.
To learn more about porn addiction and recovery, check out Gabe’s articles on the Huffington Post:
Porn: Many Teens Watch It, and Two Reasons That’s a Problem
Internet Porn Addition: Exposing Misconceptions
We’d love to hear from you! Any thoughts to share with Gabe? What did you think of his story? How has your or your partner’s addiction to porn impacted your life? All respectful thoughts are welcome! ♥