What Is Flatline During NoFap/Porn Recovery? (Mark Queppet)

flatline porn recovery definition and what to do..
How feeling like crap can actually be a good sign. (Image: Mark Queppet)

Flatline is a subject that becomes relevant for a lot people as they progress through the various stages of porn recovery / reboot. Today, I’ve transcribed a short clip in which Mark Queppet, founder of Universal Man, succinctly addresses the topic. According to Queppet, there are two types of flatline, sexual and emotional. Sexual flatline is associated with a decrease or total loss of libido. As Queppet points out, this leads many guys to “panic,” and “test themselves” by watching porn, to “make sure everything works.” However, this response is problematic because it opens oneself up to relapse, which threatens to prolong and hamstring the recovery process. Sexual flatline, for Queppet is evidence that you were heavily addicted, because that’s not going to happen in someone who’s mentally healthy around sexuality. Taking a break from sex is not going to cause everything to shut down [for them].

The second kind of flatline is emotional in nature. This one has two aspects to it. Queppet attributes emotional flatline to “the dopaminergic circuitry going through a bit of an overhaul.” When we deprive the brain of dopamine and other chemicals to which it has become habituated, there may be psychological effects. The second aspect of emotional flatline is repression. For people who were medicating emotions with pornography (e.g. anger, fear, shame), these emotions can surface once the pornography is removed. In either case, the individual may experience increased irritability, low mood, numbness, etc., as they transition to a new, healthier baseline.

[My personal two cents is that gaining access to repressed emotions can be a big opportunity. Even when we don’t feel them, repressed emotions exert great influence over our lives on a subconscious level. Gaining access to repressed emotions enables us to process, heal, grow, evolve, and, ultimately, move forward from the past. This is partially why pornography and other coping behaviors are so toxic–they stunt development and increase division in the soul.]

The upshot for Queppet? If you’re going through hell, then keep going. Queppet asserts, It’s actually not that bad for most guys. Just take care of yourself. Do the right thing, and you’re going to be on the other side before you know it.

Understanding flatline on NoFap / during porn recovery / reboot..
Mark Queppet addresses flatline during porn recovery.

So, with both kinds of flatline here, just keep doing. Don’t freak yourself out, and don’t turn back to porn, because, as long as you don’t turn back to porn, you can leave this thing behind. You’re not going to have to keep facing it. If you keep reaching flatline, relapsing, and going back into porn, you’re going to have to go back through that flatline again at some point. So, just get it done.

Mark Queppet

Flatline During NoFap / Porn Reboot

Today, the question I’m going to be looking at is “What is a flatline, and how long is it going to last?”

This is a good question, because if you run into flatline, well, you’re going to be a little concerned. You’re going to be like, “What the hec is happening?”

Flatline–this is a term that you’ve probably heard tossed around if you’ve been frequenting any of the porn recovery, sort of forums and communities and that sort of thing. And it’s a term used to describe a few different kinds of phenomena that are very common in the process of quitting porn and rebooting your brain. And so we’re going to walk through two of those core definitions and explain a little bit about them.

The first one, the most common way this is used, is referring to a sexual flatline. In the sexual flatline, what happens usually is everything “goes flat.” What I mean by that is guys will often go through this period in their reboot, maybe a few weeks in or whatever, they’ll hit this point where all of a sudden they have no sex drive. They have no libido. Like, they’re not getting morning wood. They don’t even have the desire to look at women, look at porn, or anything like that.

This freaks some guys out. Here they are, they’re trying to quit porn, and usually it’s really intense, this sexual tension stuff, and then all of a sudden it’s like nothing, nothing is there. Understandably, people get a little concerned about this. The worst thing that you can do in this kind of situation is “test yourself.” This testing, it refers to looking at porn to see if you can still get hard. Guys essentially panic, and they’re like “Oh my gosh. My stuff’s not working down there anymore. I got to see if it works.” 

Don’t do that. That’s just opening yourself up for a relapse. Instead, just stay the course. The fact that you’re going through a flatline is evidence that you were heavily addicted, because that’s not going to happen in someone who’s mentally healthy around sexuality. Taking a break from sex is not going to cause everything to shut down [for them]. I believe that this whole “shutdown process”—it’s a side effect of your brain trying to rewire itself to a more natural and normal sexual dynamic. It’s like you’ve been bombarding it with all this stimulation, and so now it’s not getting that, it’s kind of like “Okay, crap. We got to change. So let’s just shut down the whole thing, and we’ll start rebooting it back up once things get a little healthier.”

One of the best ways to look at a sexual flatline is to just look at it as an easy streak. You know, if you’re aiming for 90 days or beyond for porn-free, [and] you’re in flatline, well, then, things just got really easy for you. Don’t freak out. Don’t fight it. It’s going to go away eventually. You got to at least pay attention to yourself, but don’t freak out. Just let it happen. Let those days accumulate, and let the healing occur. That’s really all there is to it on that end.

Now, on the other side of things, there is a different kind of flatline, and this refers more to an emotional flatline. And when guys go through this, what ends up happening is that their emotionality kind of goes limp. There can be a number of factors involved. I think part of what’s going on is that your dopaminergic circuitry is going through a bit of an overhaul, and when it’s doing that, things just don’t seem to appealing. Nothing seems exciting. You can feel kind of depressed. You can feel disengaged. Sometimes, there’s irritability and stuff involved, as well. This is normal. I think it’s your brain just kind of being pissed off that’s it not being fed the dopamine from the sources that it usually would get it from. And so there’s going to be side effects on the psychological level, and sometimes this low mood and unhappiness and irritability and feeling kind of numb, or whatever–this is part of it.

And I think there might be this other aspect to the emotional flatline, which is the emergence of repressed issues. So, if you’ve been using porn to deal with certain kinds of things, nuking your brain with porn to kind of push this feeling away or that problem away, or whatever. Well, as you spend some time away from porn, all of a sudden this kind of stuff starts to rise to the surface, and it can leave you feeling not so happy, and not so inspired.

The big thing here is to recognize that this period is not permanent, especially if you adopt a holistic approach to this reboot, you know, where you’re not just cutting one thing out, but you’re trying to change. You’re trying to actually live a life you’re want to be engaged in, not one you just want to constantly escape from.

So, with both kinds of flatline here, just keep doing. Don’t freak yourself out, and don’t turn back to porn, because, as long as you don’t turn back to porn, you can leave this thing behind. You’re not going to have to keep facing it. If you keep reaching flatline, relapsing, and going back into porn, you’re going to have to go back through that flatline again at some point. So, just get it done.

What is the saying? If you’re going through hell. Keep going. For most guys, it’s actually not that bad. It was pretty rough for me, but I made it. It wasn’t going to kill me. It just sucked for a period. And so that will pass. Just take care of yourself . Do the right thing, and you’re going to be on the other side before you know it.

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