The idea of user manuals for each person to give to those people that they are dating is courtesy of the blogger/podcaster Cunning Minx. I have had a great deal of difficulty tracking down the podcast/blog entry that first presented this idea, but I wanted to give her credit.
I was introduced to the concept of user manuals awhile ago, I believe through the podcast Sex Is Fun (which is, alas, no more. Sad faces all around.). Then I when I first started dating Minx, she sent me hers, which, now that’s she’s gone, is one of the largest and most concrete ways I have of remembering her. When she sent me hers, I decided it was time for me to write my own, so I did. I will own up to the fact that I have not updated mine in about six months, but I think there is plenty I could do right now to fix that.
How she structured hers: She started out with a general description of some of her characteristics, then had a little bit more structured format. The structure looked a little like this: Background/History (where she talks about her family growing up, her relationships, and her triggers and relationship styles), Care and Feeding (what she likes in a relationship and what gets her motors running, and keeps them running), Cheat Codes (easy turn-ons and kinks), Boss Level (sex), Damage Rolls/Possible Ragequits (turn-offs and boundary breakers), and Vetoes (her policy on vetoes).
Rereading her manual reminds me how much I miss her. 😦
How I structured mine: Mine’s a bit more tightly structured with more categories and less in each category. The structure looks like this: Background (which covers my growing up and my family), My Quirks (little odd things about me — I pulled a portion of this section off my OkCupid profile), Spiritual Beliefs, Food Preferences, My Daily Life, Dating History and Preferences (which could use a little updating, especially to include Minx’s passing, which is significant and thus needs to be noted), Dating Me (date suggestions and social cues for dealing with me in public places), Sexual History and Preferences (contexts for sex), Kink/BDSM (basic things I like, nothing in too much detail), Emotional (how I express emotion and a bit of background; also needs to be updated), Mental (a bit of how my brain works and my mental conditions), and Physical (what I look like, in case it needs to be said).
Personally, I do like the way she structured hers, because it suited her personality – light-hearted and funny, but still serious. I’d like to think mine suits my personality, but I am not such an objective viewer. I think the important thing though, is to make your user manual suit your personality, rather than a pre-existing format.