This is a story shared with us by a therapist who uses BioGraffs with their clients. It's about a friend who discovered a BioGraffs set in the therapist's home at a party, and who agreed to have their story told. Identifying information like name, age, and location have been edited to protect user identity.
Albert is 32 has lived with his partner, Sebastian, age 30, for 3 years. They report having a happy and connected relationship, but they do struggle with talking about sensitive issues related to sex. Albert especially finds his thoughts dominated by shame and insecurity around self-image and feelings of low self-esteem, impeding his ability to be as communicative as he wanted to with his partner.
The more time went on without communicating his concerns around sex, the greater he felt inadequate, like he was part of the problem. Albert wanted to discuss trying new things, including the possibility of inviting other partners into the dynamic. They talk about things casually, but both shy away from getting deeper into the discussion. Valuing openness and connection, Albert would feel even worse answering “everything is fine” when Sebastian asked if there was something wrong.
Albert found BioGraffs casually, as he and his partner were visiting a friend’s house for a gathering. Albert explored the cubes and the guide privately while Sebastian talked to other friends. Intrigued, he decide to plunge in and ended up making a timeline of fantasy experience of a threesome.
Looking over his work he felt nervous about the idea of sharing it with Sebastian, so he shared it with a friend to "rehearse." Talking about it, Albert was able to see that some of his low self-esteem issues weren’t coming from being a bad partner, but from feeling like a lying partner, saying “Everything was fine” when it wasn’t. Sharing his BioGraff with his friend, he was able to see his situation without judgment, with a sense of openness and investigation, and grew hopeful about how to improve his connection with his partner. Albert took a picture of his BioGraff.
The next day, he texted the picture to Sebastian in a quiet moment when they were both home, and suggested they talk about it. Sebastian was enthusiastic. They shared an in-depth conversation about the BioGraff, as Albert expounded in detail on what each cube meant. Albert also felt at ease knowing that he could use the BioGraff to stay on topic, and not have his Shame take over and lose his train of thought.
Using the BioGraff to slow down the conversation, Sebastian was able to see what the difficulty was in communicating in the first place when asked before if there was something wrong. Sebastian also could see that he was placing intensity on different domains of giving and receiving than what Albert wanted. The last few months and the miscommunications had suddenly become so clear! Albert needed time to process his feelings around sex, his changing body, and how he felt during sex. Sebastian started to shift the intensity he placed on certain aspects to better match Albert’s wants, giving him more words of affirmation and encouragement that Albert could really feel. Meanwhile, Albert started to feel more at ease in his own body, and felt better about himself when he was able to be more direct and honest with his partner. BioGraffs slowed the story down so that Albert could make the connection between his actions and his feelings and Sebastian was able to be a compassionate listener while taking input on how to express himself in a way that could meaningfully be felt by his partner. While there are still more conversations for the two to have, they now have another communication tool available to them to highlight their issues along the way, and are feeling more connected than they had before.