The Chaser Effect refers to a commonly-reported spike in libido or porn cravings after an orgasm. The phenomenon has yet to be scientifically studied (as of December 2021) – but many people recovering from porn addiction, problematic porn use, and compulsive sexual behavior talk about experiencing it.
While the “Chaser Effect” is a term adopted by the porn addiction recovery community, the general idea isn’t unique to porn addiction. NoFap® community members and recovering porn addicts complaining about the Chaser Effect isn’t exactly surprising. Think about any other compulsive behavior. If somebody trying to distance themself from problematic gambling slips up and goes to a casino, they’ll often be at a higher risk of gambling again after the slip-up. If somebody is trying to recover from alcoholism and ends up drinking, they’ll probably have stronger cravings to drink again after the initial slip-up. The same thing appears to happen with people who slip up recovering from porn addiction.
Beware: The Chaser Effect is real people. I had her over again yesterday, got some more RL action, but over the past 3 days my cravings have increased ten fold. Or, more likely, my willpower to resist has declined a ton.-Recovering Compulsive Porn User and NoFap® User
When does the Chaser Effect occur?
The Chaser Effect sometimes occurs after somebody in recovery (usually from porn addiction, but also problematic porn use and compulsive sexual behavior) has an orgasm. The orgasm could be reached through a relapse or slip-up (masturbating to porn), porn-free masturbation, or even partnered sex.
The Chaser Effect seems more likely to occur whenever you masturbate to pornography. However, any source of orgasm could kick it off and lead to intense porn cravings. The Chaser Effect appears to be very common, but just because other people experience it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll experience it yourself too.
People who experience the Chaser Effect say that they have experienced it once, many times, or almost every time they orgasm. According to anecdotal reports, the Chaser Effect seems to be more common during the first months of recovery (although it appears that it could occur at any time).
I remember reading about the “chaser effect” 90 days ago and not thinking it would happen to me. How wrong I was!-Recovering Compulsive Porn User, 90 Days Porn-Free
What are potential signs of the Chaser Effect?
A strong urge to go back to using porn after experiencing an orgasm. The Chaser Effect is a spike in libido that follows orgasm. For a recovering porn addict, the Chaser Effect usually refers to strong post-orgasm cravings to masturbate to pornography. Remember that this spike in porn cravings could happen after any orgasm, including after partnered sex.
Not feeling satisfied after partnered sex. Wanting to go for rounds two, three, four, or more, then afterward finishing off with a few porn sessions. We aren’t sex-shaming (we’re a very sex-positive website), but porn addicts and sexual compulsives often never feel fully satisfied. Like with many other compulsive behaviors, many porn addicts report that they “destroy their lives,” chasing satisfaction that never comes. This never-ending chase can lead to using porn for many hours per day, to the point that it has severe adverse effects on all areas of a porn addict’s life.
Many porn addicts feel that they aren’t interested in partnered sex or fantasize about porn while engaging in partnered sex, which is why many opt to take a temporary break during a reboot. A 2017 study seems to support that porn-free partnered sex or porn-free masturbation often doesn’t satisfy compulsive porn users, as the authors’ data found that many compulsive porn users who allowed themselves to continue engaging in “alternative sexual activity” still failed in abstaining from pornography.
Excessive thoughts about porn that interferes with daily life. You might be trying to work on a project for your career or school, but porn cravings keep on interfering. You might notice that your reboot is going smoothly, but after you experience an orgasm, you can’t seem to get your mind off of sex for a while. You might start noticing that you are absent-mindedly loading up porn sites when you sit down at the computer or starting to rub your genitals through your pants, autopiloting towards a porn session. Some people report having trouble sleeping, with intrusive porn cravings entering their consciousness right when they get into bed.
Feeling frustrated, exhausted, or hopeless. It might feel like the cravings will never go away. Many people report feeling frustrated because they thought their recovery was going well before the Chaser Effect. It might be many weeks into being porn-free – and you might think that the difficult part is over, only to be dismayed that the cravings are back in full force. Some people may mistakenly believe that recovering porn addicts are doomed to be stuck with intense cravings for decades, making a recovery from porn addiction seem impossible to them.
How long does the Chaser Effect last?
People in recovery report that the Chaser Effect could last for minutes, hours, or even days. Unfortunately, there isn’t any way to accurately predict how long a Chaser Effect might occur for you. The only way to know is to outlast it.
Why does the Chaser Effect occur?
As of 2021, the Chaser Effect anecdotally reported by recovering compulsive porn users doesn’t appear to have been scientifically studied. The “Chaser Effect” appears to have been first documented by the late Gary Wilson, the best-selling author of Your Brain on Porn. He noticed that many people trying to kick or reduce porn use described experiencing these post-orgasm “chasers” on online forums.
Thousands of self-reports on the purported Chaser Effect exist online, but the exact mechanisms behind it are unknown and subject to speculation. The observation of a post-orgasm increase in sexual desire has long predated digital porn addiction. According to the Art of the Bedchamber, a book written by Douglas Wile, ancient Chinese teachings discussed how orgasm often results in an “intensification of erotic interest.”
However, as previously mentioned, the “chaser” isn’t unique to porn addiction. For recovering addicts of all types, one slip-up can lead down the road to relapse. One cue that reminds recovering porn addicts of porn use – whether it is a sexy photo, pornography, erotica, or even having sex itself – could lead to porn cravings. Despite the exact reasons that the Chaser Effect might occur, it is a phenomenon that is reported by thousands of recovering porn addicts. So if you are starting recovery from porn addiction, it is best to be prepared for the possibility of experiencing it.
How to beat the Chaser Effect.
Remember that the Chaser Effect is extremely common. You are in great company: thousands of community members have reported experiencing post-orgasm porn cravings. You might want to consider reading other people’s Chaser Effect stories and which mitigation strategies worked well for them.
Resist the urge to slip up to pornography. If you are a recovering porn addict, it might feel like using porn will make things easier for you. Instead, using porn will likely prolong and make your recovery journey more challenging in the long term. Satisfying porn cravings by using porn would probably just lead to more and stronger porn cravings.
Consider modifying your reboot/recovery parameters. If porn-free masturbation leads to porn cravings, or if you can’t masturbate without thinking about porn, consider cutting out masturbation temporarily for ~7-30 days (some people go up to 90 days). This is the most commonly-followed NoFap program protocol. If partnered sex frequently leads you to porn addiction relapses, or if you can’t stop fantasizing about porn during partnered sex, you might want to consider taking a temporary break from partnered sex too. Some people continue to have partnered sex but temporarily don’t allow for orgasm. For more information on popular “reboot” options, see this guide.
Like any other cravings, Chaser Effect cravings will also pass. Cravings do not last forever, no matter how bad they can sometimes get. Just keep on moving forward through your recovery, and things should get better.
Anticipate the possibility of the Chaser Effect before orgasm. If you have a planned sexual encounter or a planned porn-free masturbation session, you could consider adopting additional porn relapse-prevent measures ahead of time. Options could include scheduling activities away from home during the day immediately following an orgasm to keep yourself busy and your mind off of dwelling about porn.
Dive into the recovery community. Porn addiction thrives in isolation and secrecy. Recovery is easier when you don’t have to go about it alone. Consider joining NoFap’s forums or accountability groups for peer support.