Every day, a group of men and women around the world digitally congregate at a Reddit board called NoFap to specifically discuss not masturbating. Yes, just like the famous Seinfeld episode, “The Contest” – Jerry and the gang bet $100 to see who can remain “master of their domain” the longest. It’s a community called NoFap, and it has its own theories, ideology, and mutual support.
“Fap” is a bit of Internet vernacular for the act of self-love. It first appeared in a 1999 web comic called Sexy Losers to denote the sound of a character pleasuring himself. On UrbanDictionary, it’s the “onomatopoeic representation of masturbation.” So “NoFap” is exactly what it sounds like.
There are currently more than 81,000 members of this community. They call themselves “fapstronauts,” and attribute a number of major life changes to the practice, such as increased confidence, concentration, motivation, libido, and even penis size. For some it’s a means of addressing concerns with their porn consumption, while others see it as a means to healthier relationships.
Still others engage in it as nothing more than a heavy-duty test in self-control.
How it started
“I’ve been able to do things I never thought I would be able to do. Asking a girl to prom, starting and holding conversations with strangers, being able to achieve when most people just throw in the towel at the first sign of adversity.” -cjclear789
A June 2011 post on Reddit linked to a study from the National Institute of Health. The takeaway from that study is a simple one: when men don’t masturbate for seven days, their testosterone levels increase by 45.7%. This inspired a weeklong challenge among Redditors, one of whom eventually posited that “fapstinence” could be a powerful motivational tool.
Things snowballed from there. The official NoFap subreddit was established and a standalone site appeared a year later at NoFap.org. Users now had a place to gather and discuss their various approaches to systematically not masturbating, as well as document any changes that they credit to NoFap.
Who is NoFap for?
There are as many stories about becoming a fapstronaut as there are community members themselves. It’s quite literally for anyone who wants to give it a try.
“For porn addicts, it is about recovery,” NoFap founder Alexander Rhodes told us. He’s a 24-year-old web developer in Pittsburgh, Penn. “Some fapstronauts are here to improve their interpersonal relationships, whether it be for a marriage, a relationship, or single life. For others, it is simply a challenge of willpower – to seize control of your sexuality and turn it into superpowers. There are many, many different reasons to join but we’re all on NoFap with one goal – to help each other abstain from PMO (porn/masturbation/orgasm).”
It’s not a gender-specific idea, either. NoFap women are called “femstronauts.”
Here’s Rhodes again:
“Women are absolutely welcome, although the vast majority of us are guys, mostly in our 20s. I’d estimate that the NoFap community consists of 5% females, and although NoFap hosts hundreds of femstronauts, there is still a lot to learn about their experiences with the NoFap challenge. Pornography clearly is not a male-only problem […] It seems like many of them are experiencing nearly identical problems that the men on NoFap report.”
Although NoFap crosses gender lines, it may not be the difference-maker you need. As with any attempt at life improvement – working out, learning a new skill, whatever else – this isn’t some magic bullet for changing your mood or outlook. Rhodes explained that “for some people, abstaining from porn and masturbation is absolutely life-changing. For others, it results in absolutely nothing. ‘Your mileage may vary’ is a term which we use constantly.”