If nothing else helps… read the ƒ#©≤÷πg USER-MANUAL

Relationships (kinky or not) can be very complicated. It is not easy for partners to know how you operate and what they should do, or perhaps more importantly what they better not do. Obviously, you can choose to run away from relationships, but if you decide not to, and you choose to maintain as good a relationship as possible with your partner (or to rebuild it when there was some damage), then it might be wise to provide your partner with your user manual. And perhaps your partner could also allow you to have their user manual as well.

It can be a real relief to be able to say what many people working on a helpdesk are often forced to suppress: “RTFM!” (any decent nerd knows this abbreviation: “Read The Fucking Manual!”)

You know the situation: you’ve been screwing around for hours installing a program by yourself, but it doesn’t seem to work. So finally, you decide to call the helpdesk of the developer of the program in question. In a friendly way, the employee listens to your complaints and informs you that you can find a clear answer for your system on page 5 of the user manual. At this point, the helpdesk employee starts to think one thing:


Now be honest. Why would it be any different for you and your partner? And your manual ensures that you will be able to tackle issues in your relationships much easier.


You may assume that he/she just “needs to feel what’s going on”, however, as a relationship coach I can tell you that our partners, in many cases frequently lack this skill. So, let’s take responsibilities for our lives and relationships seriously and provide our partners with a user manual.
A lot of people however, feel it should not only be unnecessary, they also think the whole idea is scary. True, it does feel vulnerable when your partner knows “how you work”. However, on the other hand, it is also interesting that you apparently need to be so strong for your partner that you can’t even allow him/her to help you achieve your own happiness (..)

Relating to the Content

The content of your user manual is obviously completely up to you. On the other hand, though, it often proves to be quite tricky to even make a start for a user manual. Therefore, I suggest you refer to the following chapters (or not).

  • USER-MANUAL of … <name>
  •  From … until … <expiration date>
  • Content:
  • (Emotional) Nutrition and Energy
  • Strengths (and space for additional challenges)
  • Safety (and distressing by….)
  • Operating under stress
  • where are the red warning signs
  • venting and pressure valves
  • Need for kicking and -directions
  • Buttons not to push (and landmines from youth)
  • Maintenance
  • Old mechanisms
  • Debugging Thinking mistakes (Youth-operating systems)
  • Biological conditions for functioning
  • Emotional conditions for functioning
  • Relationship conditions for functioning
  • Chapter of Sexuality
  • what secretly “deflates” me (but what I never dared to ask)
  • secrets I do not wish to talk about for now
  • Addendum 01
  • Addendum 02
  • developing dated insight

Make it Personal

A user-manual is a personal document. The most important thing I wish to impart is: do not lose sight of your goal when writing your USER MANUAL.

The goal is not to get what you want. The goal is to be who you can be.
The goal of the person who has a user manual of a device and/or system is that he/she can work as well and as productive as possible with that device…solving a troublesome situation as efficiently and as effectively as possible. Remember, we humans tend to get unpleasant feelings from appliances that don’t seem to work as expected. Things we can’t control are unwelcome in our lives… Wouldn’t you want to be welcome in your partners life?
so having your own User Manual is a positive thing, something you can feel good about. Also, to help yourself while writing, apply a bit of humor while you’re writing it… it can also be a pleasant read for your partner.

A problem in some user manuals is their unilaterality. I would urge you to try not to be one sided: don’t pay attention only to your “weaknesses”, please also pay attention to your “strong points” and how to make ’em flower.


Do not think you must say everything right away. You can also choose not to mention everything (even better, just do that, because the chances of not saying things is pretty high). When you both agreed upon nothing able to say everything, that you do not have to say everything, it will make it easier to write an addendum later.

For example, when it comes to sexuality, you may notice that it sometimes proves useful to store certain things under “temporary secrets” for disclosure at another time. Often, there will be quite a few things that you simply do not dare to mention (basically nobody is able to say everything out loud – this is where embarrassment kicks in). You should feel good once you have completed your own manual.
However, you don’t have to do it all right now! Maybe something will become less important over time, maybe your confidence in yourself or in your relationship will grow in time, which may mean that you will be able to talk about this aspect of yourself in your (working) relationship.

Do not pretend to be all inclusive. You are way too complex for that. However, do try to make your manual as useful as possible. Unnecessary details often lead to misunderstandings. Keep your eyes on the goal: synergy and cooperation!

I wish you a lot of fun with your writing.


Hans has over a quarter of a century of experience in the mental health sector. Hans is a certified physiotherapist, psychotherapist and relationship coach. The debilitating effects of shame and taboos have always had his attention.


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