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Quitting Porn: When Time Is Running Out

Last Updated: September 7, 2022

Keith Rose
Keith Rose

Keith Rose holds a Master of Divinity degree and BA in Sacred Music. Keith worked with the Covenant Eyes Member Care Team for 15 years. He has also served as a Bible teacher, pastoral assistant, and music director at his local church. He's now the editor of the Covenant Eyes blog and the author of Allied: Fighting Porn With Accountability, Faith, and Friends. He lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina with his wife Ruby and daughter Winslow.

When it comes to quitting porn, time drains your willpower like a leech.

How so? Quitting porn means shifting the focus of your time from porn to developing new relationships and restoring old ones that were marred by porn. As you do this, you build new patterns of life apart from porn.

When you resolve to quit, every second you pass without using porn is like a flag planted on the path to victory. But if you aren’t prepared, it’s also a second closer to relapse.

(Click here for the Willpower series home).

Time Is Running Out

Think of it like a level in a classic video game. You have energy that can be depleted, and you typically have a running clock to motivate you forward. If either the clock or your energy is depleted, you fail and must start the video game over. 

With porn, time depletes your energy as well. Every second that passes between your last use of porn is a second closer to your next relapse unless you put strategies in place to renew your energy and buy more time.

Time + Triggers Kills Willpower

You’ve just quit porn. You start moving toward it, and things feel easy, and then all the old familiar bad guys start showing up to take a piece of you with them. 

  • Someone triggers your anger when he cuts you off in traffic.
  • You get attacked on social media. 
  • You have to skip lunch, leaving you hungry.
  • Maybe you’re exhausted after a season of long days at work. 
  • You catch a glimpse of an alluring ad on a website. 

All of these things are happening in the time between right now and that point in the future where your victory flag is waiting. As time passes, you can feel the temptation building. You begin to linger on old memories of porn for a second too long. 

At some point in time, you’re going to find yourself in a situation where you have access to porn and only a smidge of willpower left. We call this the pit of temptation, and in this situation, you have your toes hanging over the edge.

You Can Restore Your Willpower 

You can’t shake off the time leech, but you CAN restore your willpower before a trigger knocks you off the ledge. You can temporarily reverse the willpower-leeching effect of time.

Psychologist Dr. Roy Baumeister describes human connection as a basic instinct—we need to be known and loved. And this instinct fuels willpower-renewing relationships:

“[H]uman beings are fundamentally and pervasively motivated by a need to belong, that is, by a strong desire to form and maintain enduring interpersonal attachments. People seek frequent, affectively positive interactions within the context of long-term, caring relationships.”1

Hopefully, you’ve got an ally on speed dial who you can call for a power boost when you run into a triggering situation! Allies can offer moral support over the phone, or they can meet you for a conversation and some coffee.

Redeeming the Time With Allies

Allies provide more than peer pressure to keep you away from porn. With Covenant Eyes, they have the tools needed to truly help you on the path. An ally’s intervention gets you out of that dark, lonely room and back into a connected space. They help you redeem the time.

That gets you past that moment of temptation so you can build more time without porn. That’s what it looks like to win a level. And if you can win enough levels, that time leech gets weaker. Eventually, you won’t even know he’s there anymore. 

So go get that next flag, and make sure your ally is waiting to help you capture it!  Click here for the next article in the Willpower series.


1R. F. Baumeister & M.R. Leary, “The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation” Psychological Bulletin, 117 (1995): 497–529. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.497

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