I get this question a lot.
People will come to me asking if producing pre-cum, edging or experiencing a wet dream constitutes as relapse.
And it’s a question which always produces the same two counter questions:
What is your definition of relapse and how does that help you develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms?
At the end of the day, whatever definition we have of relapse is pointless, because it has nothing to do with developing Healthy Coping Mechanisms.
As I state on NeverFap Deluxe, anything which doesn’t help you develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms is in fact an Unhealthy Coping Mechanism, and the same reasoning applies here.
In fact, even thinking about this question is an Unhealthy Coping Mechanism within itself, because it detracts from focusing on meaningful change.
Far too often people will end up worrying about all these small details which don’t particular matter when it comes to improving our mental health or developing our capacity for awareness.
Which is to say that focusing on this question of “What is relapse?” is one of the most helpless things you can spend your mental energy doing.
And yet people will spend hours obsessing over it, as if it’s actually going to help them in some meaningful way.
(although don’t worry, because I used to do it too)
The reason why I think it’s so infectious as an ideology is because worrying about relapse is more than just a bad habit.
It’s a way of thinking.
And when you think in terms of trying to define failure, you’re inherently going to fight these limitations with everything you do.
Without actually empowering you to learn and move forward.
Regardless, if you want a very concrete definition of what I personally think relapse is within the context of NeverFap Deluxe.
Relapse is anything which doesn't help you develop control over your mind.
I don’t care if it’s edging. Googling “safe” images of women. Slightly touching your appendage. Hell, even hesitating to make a simple decision such as what you’re going to wear for that day.
Anything which hinders or contradicts your ability to develop control over your feelings and emotions is what I personally would define as relapse.
Of course, I think the reason why this whole concept of relapse has become such a huge concern is because of this idea of your “PMO streak”.
Whereby you count the days since your last “relapse” and that somehow validates your progress.
And my gosh, I couldn’t even begin to tell you how destructive this philosophy is as a coping strategy.
It’s possibly one of the worst inventions to have ever been conceived in regards to any kind of addiction recovery, and it’s one of the primary reasons why so many people are struggling today with their recovery.
And yet people swear by it, in part because it's literally all they know.
They see others do and so it’s created this knock-on effect of bad practice.
Essentially, people maintain these “streaks” which therefore necessitates the need to define some measure of relapse, in order to keep “accountable”.
How it keeps people accountable is completely beyond me, because your streak in no way actually reflects the state of your mental health, nor your ability to actually be able to deal with your feelings and emotions.
Regardless, in order to justify this regime people come up with a set of guidelines to gauge their “progress”, which is like trusting someone with a gambling problem to provide solid financial advice.
And so inevitably what happens is that we end up willingly change these guidelines to suit our own agenda which inevitably leads to questioning such as:
“Well, is it relapse if I watch porn and masturbate, but don’t end up orgasming?”
“Is it relapse if I edge for hours, but not to porn?”
“Is it relapse if I peek at porn without touching myself?”
Like, cmon. Is this really the kind of playing field that we want to promote?
Ultimately, the reason why this whole concept of relapse is ineffective, is because it’s an inverse take on the actual process itself.
Rather than creating a dialogue around the Healthy Coping Mechanisms, instead what focusing on relapse does is focus on the opposite which is behaviours which we should avoid.
Which doesn’t actually teach us what to do, just how not to remain ineffective without an alternative, which is no better than being ineffective itself.
I think this is why NoFap and in particular r/NoFap has gone down the drain, because it’s constructed this culture of “You have a problem, but we won’t tell you how to fix it” and that’s just bullshit.
Well, NeverFap Deluxe is here to change that.
Instead, we’re going to focus on positive action, positive change and individual empowerment through action.
This shit ends today.