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Do All Guys Consume Porn, And Does It Lead to Happiness?

By November 9, 2022No Comments

Episode 82

Do All Guys Consume Porn, And Does It Lead to Happiness?

A Conversation with a Former Silicon Valley Executive and Author Jason Portnoy

If you know anything about technology, you’ve heard about Silicon Valley. Jason Portnoy was a Silicon Valley executive at PayPal and had all of the outward signs of success, but internally, he was miserable. He experienced compulsive porn consumption which escalated to buying sex, sugar dating, and more. Listen to Jason open up with podcast host Garrett Jonsson about some of the adverse childhood experiences he had which led to him seeking comfort through porn, why he labels porn a gateway drug, and how he finally experienced true healing.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Jason Portnoy: I felt like I was looking to the outside world to fill some kind of void or hole that I had inside of myself. And I think porn for me was a gateway into that. So it was a distraction. It was something that I was embarrassed to tell anyone about. It was something that I was ashamed of at some point, and those were very corrosive emotions. I then started to either consume more porn or I started to escalate into real life hookups; first on Craigslist, then with escorts, then with sugar daddy websites, random hookups. And I was really looking for the outside world to fill some void inside of myself with pornography and sex.

Garrett Jonsson: Hey listeners, our no Porn November campaign is happening now. If you follow Fight The New Drug, you likely know that decades of studies from respected institutions have demonstrated significant negative impacts of porn consumption on individuals, relationships, and society. Or maybe you’re new to this podcast and this message and you’re not entirely convinced. During our No Porn November campaign, we challenge people to give up porn for 30 days to see how it improves their lives. If you’re not currently struggling with porn, we challenge you to take this month to educate yourself and others about the harmful effects of pornography and sexual exploitation. Also, we encourage our Fighters to support our annual Rep The Movement Day on Friday, November 18th. You can show your support by posting a photo of yourself on social media in your favorite Fight the New Drug gear, again, rep The Movement Day is on November 18th.

Be sure to use the #RepTheMovement when you post. If you don’t have any Fighter gear, now is the time to stock up during our No Porn November sell, where everything in our online store is up to 60% off. To learn more about No Porn November and get involved, visit ftnd.org/npn in case you are new here, Fight The New Drug as a non-religious and non legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science facts and personal accounts. We want these conversations to be educational, uplifting, and hopeful. As we sit down with experts, influencers, activists, and people with personal accounts, we cover a wide variety of topics that may be triggering to some listener discretion is advised.

Today’s episode is with Jason Portnoy. He was a Silicon Valley executive at PayPal and had all of the outward signs of success, but inside he was miserable. His compulsive porn consumption escalated to hookups, sugar dating, and more. During this conversation, we talk about the adverse childhood experiences that he had which led to him seeking comfort through porn, why he labels porn a gateway drug, and how he finally experienced true healing.

With that being said, let’s jump into the conversation. We hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.

Garrett Jonsson: First of all, Jason, we want to say thank you for joining us on the podcast today.

Jason Portnoy: Thanks for having me. Happy to be here.

Garrett Jonsson: Let’s start with a few broad questions, if you’re okay with that, just to get the audience more familiar with who you are. So the broad questions I have are, who are you [laughter]? What are you up to today, and why did we invite you to be on the podcast?

Jason Portnoy: Okay. My name is Jason Portnoy. I’m a former Silicon Valley executive who recently wrote a book about my journey, which involved a struggle with online porn consumption which then led to a host of other negative behaviors. And I wrote the book so that people could learn from some of the experiences that I went through, and I think that’s how we wound up here today.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Yeah. We’re gonna talk more about your book later on. Before we jump into your account, your personal account, and why you’re here today, I think it’d be interesting and very beneficial to better understand where you came from. You said that you were a Silicon Valley executive. Can you tell us about how you cut your teeth in more tech industry?

Jason Portnoy: Yeah, sure.

Garrett Jonsson: In a roundabout way, from what I understand, it all started with a T-shirt. [laughter]

Jason Portnoy: That’s right. Yes. Well, wasn’t what got me to Silicon Valley, but it’s what got me my first job, or at least that’s what my first boss joked. So I grew up in suburbs of New Jersey. Went to school, got an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and decided I wanted to go to graduate school and wound up at Stanford University in graduate school in late 1999, which was kind of the peak of the first internet.com bubble.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Jason Portnoy: And I had a lot of my classmates, I noticed, already had prior work experience, and I felt like it really was an advantage to them in all the stuff we were studying in school. And so I decided I wanted to get some work experience. So I applied to a bunch of different places to work, and I wound up getting a job. Well, I got invited to an interview with a CEO of a company called Confinity. The CEO was a gentleman named Peter Thiel. I had never had breakfast with a CEO before, and I was very nervous about what to wear. And my friend said, “You need to wear this t-shirt from the company. He’s the CEO of this company called Confiniti- it has a service called PayPal. You need to wear this t-shirt.” And then Peter joked years later that I got the job because I wore the T-shirt to the interview. So it kinda worked out. Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Well, we are glad that you are here today. You’re not in a fight, the new drug shirt, but we’re okay with that.

We’ll forgive you.

Jason Portnoy: Yeah, I should be wearing one. Ok.

Garrett Jonsson: We’ll send you some if you’re interested.

Jason Portnoy: No, yeah. Please do.

Garrett Jonsson: This story, your story is about how you went from executive to porn star to Monk, right?

Jason Portnoy: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: But weren’t actually a porn performer. And so before we jump into your experience, can you explain a little bit about the title of your book? Silicon Valley Porn Star.

Jason Portnoy: Yeah, sure.
Jason Portnoy: Yeah, sure. So the book is Silicon Valley Porn Star and I, at some point in my journey, and you’ll have to tell me if it’s okay if we go a little bit out of sequence here, but at some point in my journey, when I finally started to admit to a life coach that I was working with, that I had this issue with pornography, the issue being, I can’t stop looking at porn. I look every day. I’ve tried to stop. I can make it a few days, maybe a week if I’m lucky, but then something always pulls me back. And I think that this is hurting me somehow, but I’m not sure how. This was back in 2014, and it was very embarrassing to admit, first of all, and to add some levity to the conversation and to probably encourage me to keep opening up about this, she nicknamed me Porn Star. So we would get on the phone for my weekly coaching sessions and she would say, “So how’s porn star doing this week?”

Garrett Jonsson: But she didn’t nickname you like your full self, you, she broke down the different identities, and one of them was labeled Porn star.

Jason Portnoy: That’s right. And so the techniques that this particular coach likes to use is this concept that we all have a collection of identities inside of ourselves, and that our personality is the kind of sum total of the expression of all of these identities. And there are times where one of our identities might be running the show and doing things that aren’t healthy for the rest of our identities or our kind of internal universe as a whole.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Jason Portnoy: And so, yes, my identity, who was acting out and really stuck we called him Porn Star.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, and we’ll talk more about that as we get into the conversation a little bit more and how that was helpful. I know that you have a call to jump on at three, so we’re gonna respect that time and we’ll end at the 2:58 mark.

Jason Portnoy: Sure. We can probably go a few minutes if we need to. Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Okay. In your book, you talk about how you started consuming porn on the internet, and it kind of escalated from there. But I’m wondering if we can dive into your childhood a little bit more. One of the parts of your book that really hit me hard was when you talked about how growing up you always shared a room with your sister, and then once you moved into a new house with more rooms, you had to live in your own room. And how that was kind of devastating to you. Is that accurate?

Jason Portnoy: Well, so I never shared a room with my sister. Her room was next door to mine when we were young, but then my parents fought a lot. And at some point my sister moved her room downstairs, there was another bedroom. And when that happened that I was still pretty young, and when my parents would fight and sometimes the fights would be really bad, a lot of screaming, throwing things, mom storming out of the door- just not a good scene. And I kind of felt I was very scared. And when I was, before she had moved her room, she was kind of there I felt like to, she could protect me. She was nearby. But then I felt at some point I was on my own. And so, yeah, I talk about some of these traumatic things that happened to me in my childhood. My parents got divorced. The scene I just talked about was my mother and stepfather. Prior to that, my parents had gotten divorced and my dad moved far away. I think that affected me a lot more than I realized.

And then subsequent to these scenes with my mother and stepfather fighting later, my mom had a significant battle with depression. And she was kind of “gone” in a way. She was there, but she wasn’t kind of all there cuz she was medicated or sleeping or something like that. And so I talk about these things in the book as some of the things that may have happened to me as a childhood that would’ve affected me. And I do believe that as I grew into adulthood and I, as I went into being a young man and then hopefully growing into a man someday I felt like I was looking to the outside world to fill some kind of void or hole that I had inside of myself. And I think porn for me was a gateway into that. So it was a distraction. It was something that I was embarrassed to tell anyone about. It was something that I was ashamed of at some point. And those were very corrosive emotions. I then started to either consume more porn or I started to escalate into real life hookups first on Craigslist then with escorts, then sugar daddy websites, random hookups. And I was really looking for the outside world to fill some void inside of myself with pornography and sex and money to some degree as well.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Can you speak to that a little bit more? Because in your book you talk about how you felt like society gave you this playbook of what it means to be a man. And you’ve talked to that a little bit. How did that negatively impact you?

Jason Portnoy: So in the book I talk about, for me it was money, cars and women. Those were the things I needed to have. I think other young men that grow up in other places or different communities, they might be different things. I know in some places, like physical strength is a source of power in a certain community. Where was, it was money, cars and women. If I had those things, I would be a “real man” and I would be happy. And this was reinforced by lots of television that I watched when I was a kid. Probably the absence of some very strong masculine role models combined with lots of television, lots of movies, and then just this continually reinforced societal narrative around that markets to young men, You need a faster car, you need a better car, you need hotter women, you need more of whatever, more money, better beer, whatever it is that they’re selling. And I definitely think that had a big impact on what I defined as what would make me a real man.

Garrett Jonsson: One of the statements you’ve made so far is you talked about how you couldn’t stop consuming porn or you couldn’t stop this escalating behavior.

Jason Portnoy: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: And to someone that has never experienced compulsive behavior. I myself have, I used to be, I’m currently a zero porn consumption, but I used to have a compulsive behavior around porn consumption. So I understand what it feels like to, to want to stop consuming porn, but you feel like you can’t. Can you try to describe that a little bit more for the listeners who aren’t experiencing unwanted porn consumption, or compulsive porn consumption?

Jason Portnoy: Mhm. Well, what’s interesting is that if you had asked me, so let’s say 2014 is when I finally admit that I think I have a porn problem. And by the way, I only admitted it because I got caught almost cheating on my wife. And I felt like I had to offer something up.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Jason Portnoy: So I told my life coach, Oh yeah, that’s never happened before, which was a lie. But she knows where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and so something must be going on. And so this was my offering was like, Well, I have this issue with porn. Cause at side I thought, “Well, I can keep all my secrets and if I just fix the porn thing, the other thing will resolve itself as well. I my cheating.” But if you had asked me this question before that in the years before that, I would’ve said, “I don’t have a compulsive porn problem. What’s the big deal? I look at porn every once in a while. Even if it’s every day, that’s not a big deal. Everyone does it.” And I was in this mode where the amount of content that’s available is effectively infinite. You can look at porn every day and never see the same picture or video. And that gives this sense that it’s this huge world and it’s normalized. And in some way in my psychology, I think it somehow normalized it. And I felt like, “Well, this isn’t a problem.”

Once I decided maybe this is affecting me negatively because I’m lying to my wife about it I’m embarrassed about it, I’m ashamed of it. Maybe this is a problem and affecting me negatively, maybe I should stop. And then a couple days would go by and then I would just be drawn back to it, like a craving, an urge. I need to look at porn right now. And then I went through a 12 step program in 2015 to help me with this. And the term that would be used there would be white knuckling it. You’re just trying so hard. “I’m not gonna do it. I’m not gonna do it. I’m not gonna do it.” And you might be able to get through a day like that or maybe even get through two days, but if you don’t resolve the underlying issue that is driving you into that thing, you’re going to go back and you won’t be able to stop yourself. And that’s the experience I was having.

Garrett Jonsson: Our stories are similar in the sense that I was, well, I still am. I got married in 2010 and my wife and I are still married, and there was about six years where I was consuming porn without her knowing. And so our stories are kind of similar in that sense. And I find it interesting because in your book, I keep referring back to your book, I hope that’s okay. I’ll probably say that 50 times during this conversation.

Jason Portnoy: That’s oaky. Let’s just say it. So the book is Silicon Valley Porn Star. You can buy it on Amazon or anywhere books are sold. I wrote the book to be in service to humanity, to share my story as so that older men who are struggling with this don’t feel alone, number one, and younger men for them, hopefully it’s a cautionary tale of what not to do. So they get that out of the way. Yeah. [laughter]

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Well, I have two questions. Do you look at your book as part of the 12th step for you?

Jason Portnoy: I didn’t until somebody pointed this out to me a few months ago, and then it was like this aha light bulb was like, “Of course that’s what this is.” But I didn’t really put that together. I was a little slow on that one.

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] Well, that’s cool. You were doing it subconsciously. So…

Jason Portnoy: There you go.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, the other question I had was why do you think it’s so difficult to admit to unwanted porn consumption or compulsive porn consumption? Because going back to your book, you admitted a lot of things to your life coach, but you held the porn consumption close to, you weren’t being honest in regards to your porn consumption. Why do you think that is? Why was porn the last thing that you wanted to admit to?

Jason Portnoy: Wow. Oh, that’s a great question. I think first of all, I felt like a failure. It felt like something in my life that I was failing at because I was still living a life of control. And I felt like “If I can’t control this, I’m a failure.” And so admitting that there was something I couldn’t control was admitting failure in some aspect of my life. And that was very difficult for me to do. That was one. Another one was my wife. I had shared with her, my wife and I had been together for a very long time since college. And at some point late in college, I had asked her to look, excuse me, to look at porn with me. And I talk about this in the book, and she did, but it wasn’t really a great experience. She didn’t like it. She didn’t really like the idea of me looking at porn. She felt not maybe I was cheating on her a little bit or something. So anyway, I knew that she didn’t want me to be doing it or approve of me doing it. And so admitting it was also, I was just afraid that my wife was gonna be really upset.

Garrett Jonsson: You already knew her stance.

Jason Portnoy: I already knew the stance that she had and that she wasn’t going to be okay with it. And so I had to keep it a secret.

Garrett Jonsson: So then the what ifs and what thens all come into play, and you’re like, “If I tell the truth, what’s gonna happen?”

Jason Portnoy: That’s right. And what’s so ironic maybe is that my healing journey started when I started telling the truth. It was in some weird way, keeping those secrets and keeping that kind of control mentality that I have to be in control of this. And if I’m not of a failure, all of that stuff contributed to the compulsiveness or to not being able to stop because those things were making me feel like a failure or ashamed or embarrassed and keeping secrets. And so when we do that as humans, that’s very painful. And so then we have to do things to medicate that pain or to distract ourselves from feeling that pain or to avoid that pain. And so what do we do? We act out. So it made me want to look at more porn. It made me want to go hook up with women in the real world because that was a way to avoid feeling all of those emotions that were building up. And so that’s how you get into this vicious cycle. And that’s how I talk about it in the book. For me, porn was a gateway drug that led to this escalating cycle.

Garrett Jonsson: So going back to that playbook that society gave you, where, and for you it was money, cars and women. And rewinding back to 2010 to 2014, by that time you had made enough money, and I don’t know if “enough money” is the right way to say it, but you had made some money. And just for the record, what kind of car were you driving at that time? I’m just wondering if the- cause you, I’m just wondering if those things, the money in the car, did it make you feel like a man? Was the playbook a successful playbook?

Jason Portnoy: Well, it was successful on the surface because I felt like I was doing everything. The first kind of fancy car I bought was a 1985 Ferrari 308 gts. It was the same exact car. It was red with a tan interior. It was the same car. Tom Sellek drove in Magna Pi, which was one of my favorite shows as a kid. Now, if you asked me when I bought that car, did I buy it because it was one of my favorite shows, I would’ve said, “No, it’s just a really cool car.” And then after that I had some cool bmw, and then I had an Audi R eight, which was a super cool car. I had it for the wrong reasons.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Jason Portnoy: I was using these cars to show the world how successful I had been or to get attention. So I don’t wanna imply that every single person who has a nice car is doing it for those reasons.

Garrett Jonsson: Right? Yeah. The intention matters.

Jason Portnoy: That’s right. The intention matters. But I do think that if you had asked me when I was driving those cars, “Am I doing this to get attention?” I would’ve said “No.” So I think it’s very subtle and insidious, and we have all these tricks we play on ourselves. We tell ourselves these things. I won’t even call them lies because we believe them. We believe that it’s true. But I do encourage people to really question at deeper and deeper levels.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. One of the things that’s helped you in your healing journey is learning that less is more or less can be more. And the reason why I wanted you to answer that question about the vehicle was just because in 2014, you were feeling like a failure. And you had had the cars, you had had the women, you had had the money, but you were still feeling like a failure. And so I just wanted to highlight that. I find that very, very fascinating. So…

Jason Portnoy: But I, I’d kind of like to comment on that, if that’s okay?

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, absolutely.

Jason Portnoy: Yeah. That’s kind of the core crux of the book really, is this notion that I thought I was doing everything. I had all of the outward surface signs of success, but inside I was miserable. I was lying to my wife, I was cheating. Even if we forget the philandering and stuff, even if we just talked about the porn, it was still something I was lying to my wife about. I was not in my integrity. And that erodes you from the inside that, So yeah, I had all these surface symbols of success, but inside I was really hurting.

Garrett Jonsson: I find that very fascinating. And the word secret, to me, is a lie. And I’ve learned that over the years. As I get older, I realize that the word secret is a lie because the secret holder knows the truth, kind of like what you’re talking about. Even if your wife doesn’t know about the porn consumption, you do, and it’s negatively impacting you because you’re not being fully, like you said, in your integrity.

Jason Portnoy: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, you went from feeling some guilt to feeling shameful about your porn consumption and all those other things, and then eventually it turned into disgust.

Jason Portnoy: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: Can you talk to that, the escalation of emotional distress that you were experiencing?

Jason Portnoy: Yeah the disgust that was, that’s a moment that I talk about in the book where this was not related to porn. Again, the porn was kind of a gateway for me, which then led to hookups on Craigslist and other things. And I had tried, at that point, I still didn’t think that porn was a problem, I thought, aside from the fact that it was a secret I was keeping for my wife, but I felt like, “Well, how many guys are doing that? So many. And so this is just normal behavior for a guy.” But I did understand that having affairs and cheating and philandering was crossing a very significant line in my relationship. And I tried to stop that behavior several times. And when I was unable to stop that behavior, there was a moment where I was disgusted with myself. I felt so ashamed of what I was doing and who I was, and I didn’t understand as much as I do now about how that continues to drive you deeper into that negative behavior.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Jason Portnoy: But that was a really painful time for me.

Garrett Jonsson: So how did you finally get out of the cycle of self deception?

Jason Portnoy: I got caught and it’s the greatest gift that has ever happened to me. So we’ve talked about 2014, I kind of admit that I have this issue with porn, but what forces me or encourages me to admit it is that I kind of get caught but I’m able to lie my way out of it. Well, a year later, and then I’m on pretty good behavior for a while so why knuckling it? And then I get caught in a more significant way cheating on my wife where I feel like she’s going to find out, I have to tell her. And given all the stuff we had been through in our past, this was very devastating for her and in our relationship. And I have to move out of the house. I assume we’re gonna get divorced. My behavior, I was taking bigger risks in terms of what I was doing when I was cheating and having affairs.

And it was definitely risky in terms of my career as well.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Jason Portnoy: And so I thought my career was in jeopardy, my family was in jeopardy, and I was alone in this rented apartment, and that was what I consider my rock bottom. I thought I was gonna lose everything that was important to me. And again, I still was of this mentality. I thought I was doing all the right things. I thought I was a successful man, and this is what successful men did. And so it was very scary because it was like, I can’t keep living like this, but I don’t know how to live any other way. And that’s when I found the 12 step program Sexaholics Anonymous. And that saved me really. I mean, that was the beginning. And my life coach was also extremely instrumental in helping me through all of this. But I think the Sexaholics Anonymous 12 step program was also equally important during that time.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, that’s a beautiful thing. I love that you said that getting caught was the best gift you have received.

Jason Portnoy: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s a really powerful statement because in the moment, I’m sure it didn’t feel like a gift.

Jason Portnoy: It didn’t feel like a gift. It was very difficult. And it’s not only me who says this now, but if my wife were here and we were talking about this all together, she feels the same way. And it was very difficult for both of us. But she also kind of agrees that was a gift.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. Well, thanks for sharing that. I think that one of the common barriers that stops people from getting help is financial resources. Right?

Jason Portnoy: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: And you were in a position where you were able to hire a life coach, and we’re not asking you to share all of those secrets that she has [laughter] that helped you grow. What about, is there one or two things that really resonated with you from your life coach, that you think other listeners who maybe don’t have the resources right now to be able to get a life coach? Is there one or two things that stood out and really resonated and really propelled you forward?

Jason Portnoy: Yes. Before I answer that though, I would love to just say there are a lot of resources that don’t cost a lot of money. So Sexaholics anonymous meetings are free, and…

Garrett Jonsson: Right. And they’re everywhere.

Jason Portnoy: And they’re everywhere. And what was so striking to me about attending those meetings was the people in them were so real and so authentic and so humble. I wanted to be like them. They were so courageous because they were the ones who were saying, So it’s so funny how when you’re on the outside of something like that, you feel like by going into something like that, you’re admitting failure or you are a failure, or there’s something wrong with you, or all of these things we have in our head.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Jason Portnoy: But when you’re on the inside, it actually feels like everything is reversed. And I kind of talk about that in my book too, where everything all of a sudden weirdly got reversed. And it seemed like the people in those rooms were the most real, the courageous, the most striving for more integrity in their life. But yes, I think if you have a compulsion and you’re treating it a part of your life that you can keep off to the side not acknowledging how that is affecting you and all of your relationships. You can’t hide it. You think you’re hiding it. I thought I was hiding it.

Garrett Jonsson: Yep. It’s that self deception.

Jason Portnoy: Yes. You can’t hide it. It comes out in everything you do, even though you think you’re keeping it a secret. So lots of resources that are available including 12 step programs.

Oh, go ahead.

Garrett Jonsson: I was gonna say before you move on to one of the things really resonated with you in regards to your first session. How was that first time stepping foot into that room? Because just now you explained how wonderful and how empowering and how inspiring it was. Did you have those sentiments right from the get go?

Jason Portnoy: Yeah. No, That might have been the second meeting [laughter]

Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] Okay.

Jason Portnoy: The first meeting, I was scared out of my mind. I was like, “What am I doing here?”, “Is this really where I’ve wound up?”, “How did this happen to me?”, “What do I say?” It was very, …

Garrett Jonsson: It’s new territory,

Jason Portnoy: New territory. But people quickly, these groups are always welcoming new people into the circle, and they’ve all been there themselves. And so they understand what’s happening for a new person. And in most cases, someone will make an announcement at some point during a meeting that if anyone’s new come talk to me afterwards, which is their way of saying just welcoming you personally. And so, yeah, it was very scary and awkward, but then beautiful.

Garrett Jonsson: Right. There’s a lot of genuineness and acceptance and empathy in those rooms.

Jason Portnoy: Absolutely.

Garrett Jonsson: It sounds like. Yeah. Well, going back to… Oh sorry, go ahead.

Jason Portnoy: Yeah, and well, we’re stuck on this for a second, but the other thing that was so interesting to me was the diversity in the room. So all ages, all professions, I mean, you name it. And that was really striking to me and also helped me feel welcome, I think, is that like, “Wow, I am not alone with this and this is affecting people of all walks of life.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Jason Portnoy: And that was interest. That was really interesting to me.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Thanks for sharing that. I think that’s an important thing to share because for example, we might have some women that are listeners to the podcast and they might be experiencing unwanted porn consumption, but then there’s a stigma out there that women don’t consume porn or that they don’t have compulsive behaviors around porn consumption. And so the fact that you spoke to the harmful effects of pornography do not discriminate, right? Anyone can be negatively impacted. So thank you for sharing that. Can you answer the original question about how,… one of the things that really resonated with you?

Jason Portnoy: [laughter] Yeah. So one of ’em was this concept of really loving myself, and really accepting myself very deeply. And that was a really important thing for me. Even if I just used the example that I mentioned before where I felt like a failure, the life coach telling me, “Stop calling yourself a failure. The more you call yourself a failure, the more you’re gonna be driven into these behaviors because feeling like a failure hurts and you’re hurting yourself. And so just stop being so hard on yourself.” This, there’s a collective consciousness out there producing all of this porn or marketing to all of the men and women and saying, You need this to be happy. You need this to be happy. This is how you’re supposed to be a real man. She wasn’t trying to let me off the hook and say like, “You’re just a pawn in this game that’s being played, or You’re a victim.”

On the other hand, you’re fighting very, very strong forces that are not on your side, and you have to acknowledge that and don’t be so hard on yourself. So loving myself and not shaming myself and not judging myself was a really, really critical part of my healing. And what it turns out that when you start to do that your desire for this thing that might be compulsive starts to diminish. Even if you don’t have any filters on your phone or blockers or whatever kind of tools or tricks or rules you’ve tried to impose on yourself, as you start that inward healing journey, that’s when the compulsive behavior starts to reduce on its own. So it’s not like, “Oh, I wanna look at porn, but I’m gonna stop myself.” The mechanism is a little bit more like, “Oh my gosh, it’s been a week and I haven’t even thought about porn. That’s interesting.”

Garrett Jonsson: Wow, that’s cool.

Jason Portnoy: So that was really powerful.

Garrett Jonsson: If I can share, one of the things that I took away from your book that resonated with me a lot was that the truth speeds everything up. And that’s from your life coach as well. The truth speeds everything up. I find that really fascinating and a really cool concept. Going back to how I heard about you on Tim Ferris’s podcast.

Jason Portnoy: Mhm.

Garrett Jonsson: He asked you the question, and I’m gonna just paraphrase. He said something like, “Is a little bit of porn okay?”, And I liked your response to Tim during that conversation. I’m wondering if you can elaborate on that a little bit more and just answer that question, your perspective now, the perspective you hold now is a little bit of porn, is a moderate amount of porn okay? What’s your opinion?

Jason Portnoy: So my opinion right now is zero porn is the goal. I think that it is affecting young men in terms of objectifying women or having unrealistic expectations about what sexual relationships should be.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Jason Portnoy: I think it’s negatively affecting women who, even if they’re not as avid of porn consumers, if they’re in a relationship with men who’ve been consuming porn, they’re being impacted by that as well.

Garrett Jonsson: Mhm.

Jason Portnoy: I also think that well, so I’ll just stop there. But I think for those reasons I do think porn is toxic. And I think the other reason that’s a little bit more subtle, but is that oftentimes we don’t talk about it, don’t, we’re not honest about it. And so usually it goes hand in hand with keeping a secret. And anytime you’re keeping a secret that’s eroding your integrity, that’s toxic for you.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Jason Portnoy: There’s another perspective I have on this, which is I said at the very beginning that I wrote this book to be in service so that others can benefit from some of the things that I learned.

And that idea of being in service kind of came out of this inward journey of continuing to love myself, get to know myself, fill any of the voids that I have inside myself, become more fully integrated, live in my integrity, no secrets, no lies, all of those things. And that kind of resulted in living this more content life feeling like, “Well, I have everything I need. What’s gonna give me joy now is to be in service.”

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.

Jason Portnoy: There’s another side of that, this contentment and feeling like a more mature adult. And I feel like as an adult in our society, what’s my role? And my role, I think an adult role is to be a caretaker and to ahhh…

Garrett Jonsson: To share your wisdom.

Jason Portnoy: Share your wisdom to help others, and to be a caretaker. And I think there’s a lot of research that suggests that women or actors in porn have gone through traumas. I don’t wanna get too far out of my lane here cuz I’m not an expert in this, but my understanding is that there’s a lot of research that suggests that there’s been sexual abuse or some kind of abuse. And so when I think of myself as an adult in society, if I’m consuming porn, I’m exploiting that person’s weakness or vulnerability or whatever, however you wanna describe that.

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Jason Portnoy: And I don’t want to contribute to that. I want to be helping and not exploiting.

Garrett Jonsson: I’ve been able to record interviews with several people who are former performers. By the way, we’re the three o’clock mark, Jason.

Jason Portnoy: Yeah, that’s okay.

Garrett Jonsson: We’ve recorded a lot of interviews with former performers, and I think you’re right in regards to the personal accounts that I know personally speaking to them in their childhood, they experience childhood neglect or childhood abuse or childhood sexual abuse, and that kind of led them to participate in the industry. So I think what you’re saying is there’s truth there. And I mentioned that we’re at the three o’clock mark and we wanna respect your time. I was just wondering if I can ask maybe two more questions that can go pretty quickly.

Jason Portnoy: Yeah.

Garrett Jonsson: The first one is, now that you’ve addressed your unwanted porn consumption, how has the intimacy with your wife improved?

Jason Portnoy: A lot. But I think it’s also important we don’t define intimacy in our relationship as how much sex do we have.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, exactly.

Jason Portnoy: Or anything like that.

Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. So maybe first define what is intimacy to you?

Jason Portnoy: Yeah. I mean, intimacy now is that because over the years there have been moments where porn has come knocking again, where I have craved porn again, it’s…

Garrett Jonsson: Right.

Jason Portnoy: It’s happened over time. I admit to that at the end of my book, it’s, I’m still on this journey, and intimacy is that when I have that craving or urge, I might share that with her, or I will share that with her and say, “An interesting thing happened to me today. I wanted to look at porn. I didn’t, but I wanted to.” And that’s like something, that’s a sign to me that something in my world is off and that I need, that becomes an entry point for my internal work.

Garrett Jonsson: It helps you get curious.

Jason Portnoy: Yeah, exactly. So that’s what that intimacy looks like. It’s like deep, deep honesty with each other.

Garrett Jonsson: That’s really cool. Well, Jason, as we come to the end of the conversation I just wanna say thank you on behalf of Fight the New Drug. And on behalf of our listeners how can we support you?

Jason Portnoy: Well, first of all, you’re very welcome and thank you for having me on the podcast and giving me a platform to share these messages because I really do just want to be helpful and really, so that’s a huge help for me…

Garrett Jonsson: Okay, good.

Jason Portnoy: … promoting the message. I’d love if people read the book and it resonates with them, please share it aggressively on social media. I just think there are a lot of good lessons in there that a lot of people can benefit from, and not just men. I’ve had a lot of women write to me or lead me reviews on about how the book affected them as well. And so yeah, just spreading the word.

Garrett Jonsson: Well, I just wanna leave my report of the book. It was really, really good. I sometimes walk to work and when I got your book, I read it within probably two days, and I read as I was walking and I just kind of marked up the book. And your book has really had a positive impact on me, and I just wanna encourage our listeners to go check it out. We’ll make sure to leave a link in the episode notes to be able to do that.

Jason Portnoy: Thank you guys very much.

Fight the New Drug Ad: It’s the best time of the year to shop at the Fight the New Drug Online store during our annual No Porn November sale happening all month long. Get up to 60% off all conversations starting gear, including new items released just this month. It’s the perfect time to stock up on your favorite Fighter gear. Plus, when you shop 100% of the proceeds from your purchase, support our mission to educate individuals on the harms of pornography and sexual exploitation. Get your gear before it’s gone. Shop the No Porn November sale now at ftnd.org/shop. That’s ftnd.org/shop.

Garrett Jonsson: Thanks for joining us on this episode of Consider Before Consuming. Consider Before Consuming is brought to you by Fight the New Drug Fight. Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and a non legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects, using only science, facts, and personal accounts. If you’d like to learn more about today’s guest and the conversation we had, you can check out the links included with this episode. If you find this podcast helpful, consider subscribing and leaving a review.

Again, big thanks to you for listening to this conversation as you go about your day, We invite you to increase your self-awareness, look both ways, check your blind spots, and consider before consuming.

Fight the New Drug collaborates with a variety of qualified organizations and individuals with varying personal beliefs, affiliations, and political persuasions. As FTND is a non-religious and non-legislative organization, the personal beliefs, affiliations, and persuasions of any of our team members or of those we collaborate with do not reflect or impact the mission of Fight the New Drug.

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