How to Handle a NoFap Relapse

  • Author: Sumit
  • Published: December 21, 2022
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Recovery from porn addiction isn’t a linear process.

You might relapse many times before you’re healed. The great news is that you can learn from these slip-ups to make your recovery a smoother experience.

This starts with adopting a healthier mindset. Feelings of guilt and hopelessness are normal after slipping up. Learning how to process these feelings will help you prevent the next relapse.

Next, you’ll need to manage your expectations. Some people say that NoFap gives you superhuman powers, and others dismiss it as a fad. In reality, it’s somewhere in between.

There’s no standard timeline for recovery. It could take weeks, months, or years.

A 2017 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine reports that 11.8% of porn viewers are compulsive. Guys in this category may take longer to recover. In contrast, the study classified 75.5% of viewers as recreational. This group watched porn for an average of 24 minutes per week.

How exactly do you pick yourself up after you slip up? If you want to know how to handle your next NoFap relapse, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll show you exactly what to do, and what not to do after stumbling. Keep reading to learn more.

What is a NoFap Relapse?

A NoFap relapse is when you break your streak by watching porn and masturbating to climax. Some guys are strict and say that watching porn (without climax) or even edging counts as a relapse.

A NoFap relapse can also vary based on your goals. This is because some guys may be practicing hard mode (no porn, masturbation, orgasm, or sex). Other guys may be on soft mode. In this case, sex won’t break a streak.

Feelings of despair and guilt usually follow a relapse. In the following sections, we’ll teach you how to manage these feelings.

Pro tip: A wet dream (nocturnal emission) does not break your NoFap streak. Wet dreams are natural and out of your control. There are ways to minimize wet dreams if you’re practicing semen retention.

Your Progress Isn’t Lost

“I just relapsed, is all my progress lost?”

This is more than just a question. It’s a familiar feeling among new NoFap practitioners.

First, the answer to this question is a resounding no. Next, we need to dispel this myth.

When we fail a goal, our brain abandons reason, and discipline, and goes off the deep end.

Picture this: You start your streak hopeful to progress against your PMO (porn, masturbation, orgasm) addiction. Inevitably, you relapse. And seeing that big, fat zero on your counter induces feelings of despair.

A distraught man leaning against his bed with his palm on his forehead

You need to shift this mindset, by using a spreadsheet to track your relapses.

That’s right. Instead of resetting to zero after a relapse — keep track of the frequency of your relapses and aim to reduce that.

This discourages binging. And it also quells the negativity from that “zero” on your counter.

Your progress is a result of weeks, months, and years of being clean. One relapse doesn’t destroy that.

I Relapsed — Now What?

Monitoring your thoughts and actions after a relapse is crucial. What you do next can pave your road to recovery, or make it a bumpy ride.

After a relapse, you’re vulnerable to multiple slip-ups. During this time it’s important to resist the urge more than ever.

Take this time to learn from your fall. More specifically, learn about your trigger windows. This includes all the events that happen before a PMO session.

Don’t Binge

A relapse won’t reset your progress. But a binge definitely will.

A binge is the excess consumption of anything that releases huge amounts of dopamine. This could be TV, food, alcohol, or the desire to buy something.

In our case, it’s when you continue to PMO after a relapse with the intention of “starting fresh tomorrow.”

Here’s the science behind binging. When a porn user indulges in their addiction, their brain releases dopamine.

Our brains are wired for survival. Activities that produce dopamine are conducive to survival. So once our brain gets a taste of that sweet dopamine, it pursues that activity more.

For example: Imagine your ancestors biting into a juicy fruit. The dopamine from that bite motivates them to find more fruit. Similarly, our brain craves dopamine from a PMO session.

However, the reward system in our brains isn’t equipped to handle modern addictions. We don’t need to exert effort to get our dopamine fix like our ancestors. It’s available 24/7, in the palm of our hand.

Binging is also caused by the feeling that all your progress is lost. As mentioned earlier, this is far from the truth. Negative feelings like hopelessness also contribute to a binge. In an attempt to soothe these feelings, a PMO session becomes an attractive option.

Rise above the negativity, and DO NOT BINGE at all costs.

Learn From the Relapse

Learning why you relapsed will help you prevent the next one.

Get to know your trigger window. A trigger window is a time, place, and mood that makes you want to fap.

For example: maybe you get bored at home after work. In this example, being bored is the mood, home is the place, and the time is after work.

You can use this information to prevent a PMO session. Maybe you could go to the gym after work instead of going home? This would change the location and mood of your trigger window — instead of being bored at home, you’d be lifting weights in the gym.

Here’s a list of common reasons for relapsing:

  1. Boredom: We live in a world of instant gratification. Like Tik Tok and Youtube, porn is just another way to escape boredom.
  2. You think you deserve it: After hitting “x” number of days on your counter, many guys will reward themselves with a PMO session.
  3. Stress: PMO is often used as a stress reliever. Find healthier options to relieve stress if this is you.
  4. Flatline: Flatline can be described as a “depression” you feel after abstaining for a while. This could take days or weeks to set in. It’s temporary, so if you feel a flatline coming on, hang in there.
Pro tip: Write down the reasons why you relapse. This includes the time, place, and mood. This is your trigger window. Learning to become consciously aware of this helps you escape autopilot.

Beware of the Chaser Effect

The chaser effect refers to a spike in the urge to watch porn after an orgasm. It can happen a few hours or days later.

The chaser effect can also happen after a wet dream. Feelings of arousal will linger and you’ll need to resist the urge to watch porn.

There isn’t a lot of science on the chaser effect. But many recovering porn users have reported experiencing it.

Here are some early warning signs of the chaser effect:

  • Arousal after an orgasm: A spike in libido after an orgasm is the most obvious warning sign. Note that this includes any orgasm. Partnered sex, porn, and wet dreams are all on the list here.
  • Dissatisfaction after real sex: If you’ve had sex with a partner and feel unsatisfied, you’ll feel the urge to watch porn.
  • Frequent thoughts of porn: Intrusive thoughts of porn during the day can be a sign of the chaser effect. You may feel like you’re on autopilot and even have trouble sleeping.

Find Support

Having a strong support system can steer you off the path of binging.

Support can come in the form of a loved one. Tell someone you trust about your addiction. When you relapse or go through a rough patch, confide in this person.

An accountability partner can also be a helpful comrade through recovery. There are places online such as the NoFap subreddit where you can find an accountability partner.

Depending on where you live, in-person support groups are also an option.

The Summary

This quote from one of my spiritual teachers helped me see relapses in a new light.

She said, “Do not curse the stumble, for it prevents the fall.”

Your slip-ups reveal why you have a porn addiction. It’s an opportunity to see what’s working and what isn’t.

In his bestselling book Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz explains that a torpedo reaches its target by a series of corrections. It goes in the wrong direction first. It has sensory organs (sonar, heat-seeking, etc.) that help it adjust and reroute.

This is exactly how you should see a relapse. Every slip-up is rich with information. And this information is a chance to make a correction. Eventually, the corrections will add up and your recovery will be on the horizon.

Tomorrow is a new day to start fresh. If you’ve relapsed, don’t lose hope. Instead, learn from it. The skills you gain during this time are invaluable in staying clean for years to come.

I wish you the best.

– Mr. Mind Blowing

Sumit is a chemical engineer and a motivational speaker. He is a regular contributor to


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