What is edging and does it “count”?

Edging has two main definitions within the NoFap and the greater recovery communities. Edging has traditionally referred to masturbating to the point of near-orgasming but not “crossing the line” to the point of climax. In other words, “riding the edge” between peak pleasure and orgasm. Doing this several times in a masturbation or partnered sex session is thought to make the eventual orgasm more pleasurable. Over the years, however, the word has been used by many people pursuing recovery from porn addiction and sexual compulsivity to refer to any instance of orgasm-free masturbation.

Is edging harmful to recovery?

Because edging can mean different things, it is challenging to provide a blanket determination on whether or not edging is harmful for recovery from porn addiction, problematic porn use, and non-porn compulsive sexual behavior.

You need to consider:

Whether you have a history of compulsive edging. Edging can be a component of problematic porn use or excessive non-porn compulsive sexual behavior. If you used to edge – with or without porn – for many hours per day, to the point that it had severe adverse effects on your life, you might want to consider abstaining from edging for the duration of your reboot.

Whether you are edging to porn. Many porn addicts edge to porn for hours per day. Some porn addicts rationalize further porn use by telling themselves that it doesn’t “count” just so long as they do not orgasm. Remember that edging to porn can reinforce a problematic porn habit. The definition of porn addiction includes an inability to stop using porn, despite consequences of continued use. As a porn addict, you can still experience these adverse effects of porn use, even if you refrain from orgasming to it.

Some people believe that edging, rather than quickly orgasming to porn, might actually make things worse – since you are spending way more time using porn, potentially further conditioning your brain to porn rather than to partnered sex.

Whether you are edging to porn memories. There is a difference between masturbating to sensation-only, masturbating to memories of partnered sex, masturbating to porn-free sexual fantasy, and masturbating to memories of your favorite porn scenes. Many recovering porn addicts believe that masturbation to porn memories is harmful to their recoveries, often leading them right back to excessive porn use.

Whether you are edging in moderation or edging excessively. If you are allowing yourself to masturbate in moderation during your reboot, there’s still a difference between gently rubbing yourself for a few minutes to enjoy the sensation versus engaging in a six-hour-long masturbation marathon session. The latter might be a sign of sexual compulsivity, depending on how it affects your life.

Whether your edging often leads to slipping up on your sexual health goals. Many porn addicts use edging as one of their first steps on the pathway towards relapse. If edging has usually led to problems for you, you might want to take a break from it for the duration of your reboot.

Don’t edge. Really. Don’t do it. It’s the absolutely worst thing to do. Even if you don’t count edging as relapsing (which it absolutely is), once you start edging, it’s just a matter of hours or days in which you will relapse.

-20 years old from Germany

Your own unique situation and how the edging is impacting your life. Consider writing out an edging “pros and cons” list and thinking about how edging affects your recovery – and what role it might have in your future sexual health goals. You might want to get a qualified and neutral third-party perspective, such as from a porn addiction therapist.

Does edging “count” for NoFap participants?

NoFap doesn’t dictate anyone’s personal choices. NoFap’s community members choose their own sexual health goals, and the NoFap program includes a variety of options regarding porn use, masturbation, and sexual intercourse. Whether or not edging “counts” as not reaching your goals is a personal choice that depends on your chosen reboot or recovery parameters:

Are you allowing masturbation in moderation as a part of your reboot?

Many NoFap participants choose to abstain from masturbation for between 7-30 days, sometimes up to 90 days, to “reboot” from porn addiction. Some people go on for longer (preferring partnered sex), although NoFap doesn’t advocate for life-long masturbation avoidance. Other people choose to continue to masturbate in moderation throughout their reboot, only choosing to abstain from using porn.

Edging certainly “counts” as masturbation since masturbation without orgasm is still masturbation. So if you made it a personal goal to abstain from masturbating for your ~7-90 day reboot, edging during this period might certainly “count.” However, just because something “counts” as not reaching your goals doesn’t mean that it meets the criteria for a relapse. If you are allowing yourself to masturbate in moderation without the use of porn, then edging to sensation (not to porn or porn memories) probably wouldn’t “count” for you.

Are you edging to porn?

The vast majority of NoFap’s users attempt to temporarily or permanently quit porn use. Edging to porn certainly “counts” as using porn. Even looking at pornography without any masturbation whatsoever still “counts” as porn viewing.

Advice for reducing edging during a reboot:

If you want to reduce or eliminate edging during recovery from problematic porn use, here are some tips.

Remember that edging to porn can reinforce a problematic porn habit. In recovery from porn addiction, you don’t get a free pass to rub one out to porno, just because you avoid orgasming to it. Masturbation to porn – even without orgasm – can further condition your brain to porn. It’s time to start getting honest with yourself, even when you’re horny, and stop trying to come up with workarounds to circumvent your recovery parameters.

Know that it is never too early and never too late to walk away from a “session.” It’s easy to tell yourself something like, “I already started edging, so I already failed. So I might as well keep on edging.” Stopping a slip-up or a relapse – even if you have already started – is a huge victory. So once you notice yourself edging, put a stop to it.

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