The Full NoFap Timeline & NoFap Stages

Starting a nofap journey can be incredibly empowering, but it’s also one of the hardest things a man can do. 

As Adi Jaffe writes in Psychology Today, ditching old patterns of behavior and replacing them with healthy new habits is notoriously difficult “because there is not a system in place to help you get the job done.”  

Fortunately for those of us grappling with porn addiction and excessive masturbation, there is a system – the nofap challenge. 

No (more porn addiction, wasted time, shame or insecurity) Fap

Taking the nofap challenge means giving up masturbation for an extended period, allowing both your mind and body to reset and become healthier.

Your time in the nofap challenge – aka your nofap timeline – will be unique, and will vary from everyone else’s.

But in my personal experience, having an overview of the various nofap stages can be incredibly helpful. 

Knowledge is power, and understanding both the nofap benefits and challenges you’ll encounter along the way will help you stand strong as you progress through each stage of nofap. 

So to help you get to God Mode, in this post I’ve provided a comprehensive breakdown of the no fap timeline that lays out both the challenges and (many) benefits of nofap.

What to Expect When You Stop Fapping:

The Complete NoFap Timeline

Breaking Down the NoFap Stages That Lead to Success

Maximum Self-Control Required

Week 1 is the Hardest 

The first stage of nofap is kind of deceptive, because the very first day is actually the easiest.

If you’ve ever made a New Years resolution, you’ve probably noticed that on January 1st your motivation and optimism are super high, and completing your goal seems easy. 

But as the week goes on, your motivation naturally starts to decline as the excitement of beginning fades (sometimes starting the very next day), and the realities of the challenge start becoming apparent.

The same is true here. 

Man meditating with legs crossed
Image via Sammy-Sander / Pixabay

After the first couple of days, you’ll find yourself highly tempted to fall back into your old patterns and habits. 

During this stage of nofap, you’ll have to exercise a lot of willpower to break free from your previous patterns, and force yourself to start forming healthy new habits.

At this critical early stage, it’s important to keep in mind that willpower is like a muscle:

The more you work it, the more tired it gets.

Depending on your habits, it’s likely that when you wake up fresh in the morning, your willpower will be highest, and resisting the urge to fap will be easier. 

But as the day goes on, you’ll repeatedly have to tax your willpower and resist your usual triggers. 

By the end of the day, you’ll likely find that standing strong is a lot harder than it was in the morning. 

You’ll obviously be avoiding porn during this time, but it’s also probably a good idea to stay away from social media and other porn-adjacent places that might serve as a gateway to masturbation, such as shows with a lot of sex and nudity. 

Remember that this is the crucible you have to go through, and there’s a pretty sweet reward waiting for you at the end of the week… 

A Note on Nofap & Testosterone Levels 

Chart showing testosterone rising through seven days of no fap

There’s a lot of confusion around the side effects of porn and masturbation on your testosterone levels. 

The website Your Brain on Porn has an excellent article summarizing the current literature, which I highly recommend you read if you’re concerned about your testosterone levels. 

But for those considering nofap, the most interesting and relevant thing to note is this: 

“The preponderance of human and animal research points to neither abstinence nor ejaculation having any significant long-term effects on blood testosterone levels – other than a spike around day 7 of abstinence.” (Emphasis mine) 

As mentioned, the first week of the no fap timeline is the hardest. 

But going seven straight days of nofap is one of the only proven ways that people experience a spike in testosterone levels. 

And that knowledge can serve as a great source of inspiration that will help you tough it out and get through the first week. 

NoFap Timeline Challenges in Stage 1:

What to Expect During This Stage of Nofap
  • Withdrawal symptoms from stopping masturbation 
  • Social anxiety, especially around attractive women or triggering real world situations where you see a lot of skin (i.e. the beach, or even sporting events with scantily clad cheerleaders) 
  • Mood swings and a general sense of unease 
  • High threat of relapse and strong urges to fall back into old habits

NoFap Benefits Timeline in Stage 1: 

The Good Things You’ll Get During This NoFap Stage
  • Slow but steady increase in energy levels 
  • More fulfillment from things like exercise and work 
  • More resilience to quit other unhelpful habits like video games or too much TV 
  • Small but perceptible improvement in mental health and energy 
  • Spike in testosterone after 7th day 

Building Strength 

In Weeks 2 and 3, You Start Gaining Momentum 
Illustration of man flexing shirtless
Image via Clker-Free-Vector-Images / Pixabay

With the grueling first week behind you, the next two weeks will be easier—and start bearing fruit.

Starting in the second week, one of the biggest nofap benefits you’ll notice is that when you stop wasting countless hours on porn, you get a lot more done.

Armed with more testosterone after completing the first seven days, both your energy and productivity levels will increase, as will your self-confidence.

In fact, this is one of the most exciting stages of nofap, because you get a glimpse at God 

Mode, and start to see what’s possible for you. 

Everyone’s experiences and time frames are different, but during stage two a lot of guys report having more energy, more motivation to accomplish other goals (like starting a workout routine or cleaning up their diets) and a more optimistic outlook on the world and they’re place within it. 

But, while you should absolutely enjoy this stage, keep in mind that it’s something of a honeymoon phase, and it won’t always be this easy.

The urges will get stronger in stage three, as will the temptation to fall back into old habits. 

So enjoy the empowerment that stage two gives you, but don’t delude yourself into thinking the good times will never end.

And just as importantly, don’t punish yourself when you find yourself backsliding— and even flatlining— in stage three.

NoFap Timeline Challenges in Stage 2:

What to Expect During This Stage of Nofap
  • Your urges will continue, and may even get stronger 
  • Tempting to think you’ve already reached God Mode and you’re now invincible, so you’ll never relapse 

NoFap Benefits Timeline in Stage 2: 

The Good Things You’ll Get During This NoFap Stage
  • Higher overall confidence
  • More optimism about the future 
  • Increased productivity 
  • Less overall anxiety, especially as it relates to social skills and interacting with others (both men and women) 
  • Increased interest in other forms of self-improvement, like fitness and style 

The NoFap Flatline 

Weeks 4 to 6 are Among the Toughest 
Illustration of flatline on EKG machine

This is the point on the nofap timeline when what’s called the nofap flatline usually starts to kick in. 

The flatline is essentially the peak of withdrawal symptoms, when the strength and motivation you felt during stage two starts to wane, and the temptation returns with a vengeance. 

Be warned: this is the stage where a lot of people relapse.

As mentioned, willpower is like a muscle. And after a few weeks of exercising it to swear off masturbation, you’ll essentially find yourself wanting to give your willpower a rest, and give into the temptation to fap.

This is when you really need to dig in, and rely on knowledge as much as on willpower.

First and foremost, know that what you’re feeling is normal. 

The temptation to kick yourself for backsliding will be high, especially after reaching such highs in stage two.

But the flatline is a totally normal part of the process, and it inflicts almost everyone at some point on the nofap timeline. 

Second, know that this too shall pass. If you think that sticking to nofap means the rest of your life will be one big struggle, then the temptation to stop and retreat to the comfort of porn will be hard to resist.

But if you remind yourself that this is just a temporary phase, it’ll be a lot easier to persevere and push through it, even though it’s hard.

Third and finally, remember what’s waiting for you on the other side: God Mode.

Once you get through this, you’ll have successfully rebooted your brain, and be on your way to establishing a new normal that looks a lot more like stage two, when you felt empowered, than stage three. 

Remember that this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. 

There are moments in a marathon that are hard, grueling and even painful, but it’s precisely those moments that make crossing the finish line so elating. 

And so damn worth it.

So during this trying stage, keep in mind the inspirational words of Winston Churchill, who said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” 

NoFap Timeline Challenges in Stage 3:

What to Expect During This Stage of Nofap
  • Highest potential for relapse 
  • Low energy, especially compared to the highs of stage two 
  • General sense of malaise and inability to live the good life 
  • Tough time concentrating on little things and getting things done, especially tough things that require a lot of focus 

NoFap Benefits Timeline in Stage 3: 

The Good Things You’ll Get During This NoFap Stage
  • The main benefit here is that once you get through it, you’ll be much more resilient in the future

Recovering From Flatline 

In Weeks 7 to 9, You Start to Bounce Back 
Illustration of unlocking a brain
Image via mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

This is very much the recovery stage, where you start to slowly but surely come out of the flatline and regain some of that energy and optimism you had earlier. 

The no fap flatline can last anywhere from a week to a few months, depending on your circumstances, which means that the recovery stage starts at a different time for different people.

But you’ll know when it starts, because things will start to get easier — and not just things related to nofap and resisting porn. 

During stage four you’ll likely find that you have more energy, an easier time concentrating and more motivation to tackle just about any kind of challenge. 

Your energy, confidence and motivation may not reach quite the same highs that they did in stage two, but in some ways that’s a good thing:

In stage two you peaked early, and your relatively short period of heightened productivity and confidence was followed by the flatline in stage three.

But in stage four, you start to come back up to a level that might not be quite as high as stage two, but will ultimately prove to be much more sustainable.

NoFap Timeline Challenges in Stage 4:

What to Expect During This Stage of Nofap
  • Not many challenges in this stage, other than staying the course and continuing to do what you’ve been doing 

NoFap Benefits Timeline in Stage 4: 

The Good Things You’ll Get During This NoFap Stage
  • Renewed sense of optimism and hope 
  • Your brain fog lifts and you’re better able to concentrate, achieve and get things done
  • Higher-quality and overall better sleep 
  • More confidence that you can not only reach God Mode, but stay there 

The Ongoing Battle

From Week 10 Onward, it’s About Resilience and Consistency 
Illustration of man walking through a brightly lit doorway
Image via mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

With the flatline of stage three behind you and the recovery of stage four propelling you to a new, more sustainable, state of strength, stage five is all about maintenance.

For some people this stage will start around the two or three month mark, and last for two or three more. 

In this stage you’re trying to normalize nofap to the point where God Mode becomes your default mode, so you no longer need to resist temptation, because there’s nothing to resist.

Instead of drawing from your limited supply of willpower everyday, in stage five you make the shift to simply not thinking about porn or masturbation as an option. 

But keep in mind:

Relapses are possible in stage five, because a lot of guys end up letting their guard down before they’ve sufficiently rebooted their brains. 

This is where our “knowledge is power” mantra from earlier can be quite helpful.

One of the best ways to reduce your odds of relapsing is to continue educating yourself about the triggers that could cause a relapse, and the benefits of standing strong. 

We’ve put together a list of more than a dozen of the best books on porn addiction and excessive masturbation, which can help keep you informed and inspired to stay the course. 

Beyond Stage 5: 

Getting to God Mode

The nofap timeline described above covers what you can expect in roughly the first two to three months of starting your nofap journey. 

But the point of nofap isn’t to institute a temporary change in your life, it’s to change your life, full stop. That’s what it means to be in God Mode. 

Illustration of Greek God Zeus

Instituting that kind of long-lasting change requires taking a more holistic approach that goes beyond just giving up porn and masturbation. 

Fortunately, there’s some good news here, especially for those who are already intimidated enough by the prospect of going nofap: 

The actions that will help make God Mode more permanent are the same things that will help you start building momentum in the earliest stages of your nofap recovery timeline. 

In a long post on the Nofap Forum that outlines his friends’ success and his own struggles with nofap, user MercenaryKing provides an excellent list of things you can do to make reaching God Mode easier, both in the short term when you first start nofap, and in the long run: 

I’m only on Day 11 now, and I think I might be flatlining already. No wild changes so far. But of I could recommend some things to complement your Nofap:

Exercise– my god it helps. Whether cardio or working on your muscles, you’ll look better, feel better and sleep better.

Less sugar– you’d be surprised what a role this plays in neurochemistry and the gut.

Meditation– I got sick of hearing about meditation and started. Many times, especially in the beginning, you’ll be annoyed that your brain’s so easily distracted, so petty. You have to recognise that as a distraction in itself. No expectations! Just be present.

Go to bed earlier– one of my ongoing demons. Dial your bedtime back by increments, and get up earlier. Nighttime can be likely, a time of endings. Mornings are a time of possibility.

Socialise– even if you don’t have energy for it. Guys, girls, doesn’t matter. Get out there.

Date– even though I’m dealing with my brain and my penis, I knew I couldn’t allow that to be an excuse to stop talking to girls. So get on tinder! Read up on Game, the good social-dynamics and evolutionary-psychology stuff, not the women-hating stuff. It’s fantastic to get women off the pedestal without regarding them to pornographic objects.

I can’t pretend to be a guru on this. I’ve just started really. Changing habits is like swimming against the tide. It’s hard, until your ripples slowly shift the flow of water in the direction you’re going.”

NoFap vs No Porn 

One thing a lot of guys struggle with is whether or not they should embark on a nofap journey or a no porn journey. 

On the one hand, porn is definitely worse for you than masturbation, because porn wreaks havoc on your brain’s dopamine receptors:

The more porn you watch, the more your dopamine sensitivity increases, requiring even more porn to satisfy your urges, which causes addiction. 

On the other hand, masturbation leads to a lot of the negative effects that guys fear most, including decreased sexual energy, poor physical performance during actual sex and other activities, and even severe PIED symptoms (PIED stands for Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction). 

The choice between nofap and no porn will be different for everyone and depend on your own personal circumstances and struggles. 

First NoFap, Then No Porn

But in my opinion, the best way to approach it is to start with nofap, and then transition into no porn. 

There are a few reasons why this makes sense. 

First, as mentioned above in stage one, one of the main reasons to do nofap is because going seven days without an ejaculatory orgasm is one of the best (and only) ways to experience a natural spike in testosterone. 

Second, going full nofap for an extended period of time will make it easier to reboot your brain’s prefrontal cortex. 

That will allow you to start forming a better, healthier relationship with the concept of real sex, and look at a woman less as an object of sexual gratification and more as the complex real person she is. 

To use an analogy, if going porn-free is like shutting your TV off, going nofap is like doing a full factory reset – it’s a more extreme measure that fixes more extreme problems and issues. 

Third, a hugely important benefit of nofap is that it’s significantly harder than merely giving up porn while you continue to masturbate.

Proving that you can do the hardest thing first – and keep it up for a week, a month or even a few months – will provide you with a massive increase in confidence that will last a long time. 

This makes achieving future goals, like remaining porn-free, seem a lot easier by comparison, setting you up for long-term success. 


NoFap Is Powerful, But Not Permanent 

The benefits of nofap make the struggle to reach God Mode more than worth going through, but ultimately nofap isn’t a state you should strive to be in permanently.

As Healthline puts it, “Masturbation is a healthy, natural, and safe way to practice self-care and improve your health.”

That’s why, while the short-term benefits of no fap are undeniable, most medical advice refrains from recommending that you stop masturbating permanently.  

In fact, a healthy amount of masturbation – with heavy emphasis on healthy – can even help men stave off prostate cancer, which is why the goal of going nofap shouldn’t be to swear off masturbation forever. 

Instead, the goal is to break the cycle of addiction and unhealthy patterns that you’ve developed around it, which for most guys has more to do with porn than with masturbation itself. 

As one user put it on the r/pornfree sub-reddit

Then I found r/noporn and realised very quickly that the drug I was trying to purge out of my life was pornography.

Masterbation is a release, a natural de-stress mechanism that can and should be used to keep yourself in check.

Sex is natural and without it, we start acting unnaturally, like resorting to porn.

Starting with the no fap challenge gives you a more effective tool for resetting your brain’s neural pathways, which will make it easier to improve your general health and remain porn-free in the future.

This, in turn, will allow you to form the sort of healthy relationships with masturbation, sex and real women that are both sustainable, and incredibly empowering. 

Pat McCullough is a recovering porn addict who now writes blog posts about pornography addiction and sexual health in an effort to help other guys escape the trap and build a new, more powerful sense of self-esteem and confidence.

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