If you’ve attending my Poly and Single: Poly Dating 101 class, you know I’m a big fan of writing one’s own personal user manual. During the class, I only refer to the manual without enumerating the specifics. To make it easier to write your own, I’ve provided mine below to use as a model for your very own. Go ahead; start writing now. It’ll be fun!

Part A
Family Background/History

(explain some your quirks)

  • I’m a middle child, like Lisa Simpson. Classic brainy overachiever with straight A’s all through high school and college.
  • My family wasn’t terribly communicative with each other, which is one of the reasons I obsess about communication now. We are not a close family. No animosity, just not close. That is what no communication did to us.
  • I’m independent. In my family we each sort of went our own ways and did our own thing, so I had to learn independence early. I learned that if I didn’t do something for myself, it wouldn’t happen. Birthday parties? I planned my own, every single one, since I was old enough to figure out how. I made the invitations, decorations, everything. Not because I wanted to but because if I didn’t, there would be no party. One time a boyfriend planned a surprise party for me, and it is still one of the coolest things anyone has ever done for me. I take a great deal of pride in being capable and self-reliant, but, like most strong women, I secretly long being taken care of, just a little.
  • I have abandonment issues. I’m aware of them and keep them in check, but I suspect they will always be there. On the rare occasions when I misbehaved, my parents would just leave me wherever I was and just go home. I won’t bore you with all the stories; there are too many, and it gets kinda old. Here’s one; that’s all you get: once, my younger brother and I were four minutes late to be picked up from hanging out at the mall (yeah, it was the 80’s; this is what we did!). My parents immediately left the mall, drove home and read the paper until I called my neighbors to pick us up, panicking that something had happened to my parents. My brother and I had waited for them for over three hours (yes, this was long before the days of cell phones, and we were too young to figure out what to do). My brother and I were scared and worried; my parents shrugged it off and blamed us for getting so upset.
  • Again, I didn’t have a close family, and I tend to be kind of awed by people who have good relationships with their relatives. I think that is why I like the idea of polyamory–my family of birth isn’t going to suddenly be all lovey dovey and supportive, so wouldn’t it be cool if I could have a family of choice that was, just so I could have that experience? That would be nifty.

Part B: How to turn me on Emotionally

  • Be there when I call at least some of the time. Even better, call me every now and then. If we’re in a committed relationship or something getting there, a good way to indicate you care is to show you want some type of daily contact with me–video chat, text, phone call, actual date or hanging out, whatever. If you only call me every week or two, I’ll assume you’re not that into me.
  • Ask your partner to reach out to me. I love being welcomed into an existing relationship; it can start to feel like family to me. If you’re in an existing relationship, ask your partner to chat with me, reach out to and welcome me. I’ve had far too many metamours who ignore or tolerate me turn out to be hiding insecurities and resentment and causing considerable damage, both to me and to their existing relationships. If she can muster up a nice, warm welcome or at least a friendly chat, these fears will quickly be allayed. If she can’t, I’ll quickly bow out.
  • Be there for me in case of illness or emergency. Remember, I don’t have a family to call on for these things; I take cabs to the emergency room and have no one to bring me soup when I’m sick. So if you can be there when I’ve been in a car accident, need to go for some awful medical procedure, or just am not feeling well, it will help me to feel like I can depend on you. And there really aren’t too many people I actually depend on, so this is a big deal for me. This is a GREAT way to build trust with me.
  • Call me with stuff you think is funny/happy. I’ve developed an aversion to people with tremendous drama in their lives, and one of the things I’ve grown to appreciate is a partner who will share joy, not just pain. Making me smile or laugh is a great skill.
  • Be willing to cry in front of me. I’m touched when someone trusts me enough to cry in front of me. Show me your vulnerability, and I’ll show you mine. And not that many people get to see it. It’s lovely.
  • Be willing to say “I was wrong” or, even better, “I was an idiot.” Have you ever been friends with or dated someone who was never wrong? I have a very low tolerance for this. I’m wrong all the time, myself, and I’m not above admitting I was an idiot. In fact, I’m usually the first to apologize. Admitting you were wrong with humility and without defensiveness is a huge turn-on for me. Not being able to do this is a deal-breaker.
  • Be willing to stand your ground when you believe I am being an idiot. Here’s the key to being with me: I just want to be understood. I don’t even need to be right most of the time; I just need to be understood. If you think I’m being an idiot or that I’m just plain wrong, ask me, “Minx, what’s going on with you?” Listen to me, even if I’m ranting. Chances are that once I think you understand my point of view, I’ll figure out that you’re right on quite a few of your main points.
  • Hold me when I cry. I still can’t believe some people need to be told this, but for goddess’ sake, hold me when I cry. Don’t try to reason with me, and for fuck’s sake, don’t try to fix me. Just hold me. For much of my life, there is no one there, and I cry alone a lot. Just being there to hold me is all I need. Making me laugh gets you bonus points.
  • Tell/show me you like me for who I am, not just for my hot ass and not just because I’m Minx. I’m really proud of my work, and I’m a pretty cool chick to boot. And I’m proud of my hot ass, too. But ever since I was a kid, in my more vulnerable moments, I’ve always feared that no one will love me for who I am. So if you show an interest in getting to know all of me, not just the fun bits, I’ll be really grateful, and it will help build trust. I’ll like you for being there for the hot bits, and I’ll love you if you stick around for the boring, messy, weak or unflattering bits, too.

Sexually: Flirting

  • Quote my favorite movie, The Princess Bride–I can never resist that. And not just the well-known quotes; use the obscure ones, too.
  • Fix my computer/server issues. I’m a total geek groupie and love a man who can fix my computer or my darn WiFi router.
  • Wear a kilt and poufy shirt. I discovered Renaissance faires when I was about 20, and I quickly figured out that was the bawdy, pseudo-British type of sexuality I would embrace. I melt for a man in a kilt who kisses my hand and calls me “m’lady,” then whispers much naughtier things in my ears. danellyn can back me up on this.
  • Take me to dinner. I tend to date guys with more modest incomes, so going out to a quiet dinner is a big treat for me. Letting me dress up a bit in something pretty is even better–with the kinky life I lead, I rarely get to wear cute, pretty dresses; it’s always leather, latex and chains! I love those, too, but balance is nice.
  • Rub my shoulders, and don’t be stingy with the pressure. Show me you have nice, strong hands and aren’t afraid of all the tension I keep in these tiny shoulders.
  • Make dinner for me. A guy did this for me once this year, and I was so touched; I can’t remember the last time a guy cooked for me.
  • Options for Minx-friendly dates: coffee shops, ice cream, Broadway musicals, swing or salsa dancing, wine bar.
  • If your budget allows, take me to a strip club. I LOVE lap dances, and you will, too! If the club allows, let me sit in your lap while the stripper is dancing in mine.
  • I have a lot of interests, not just sex, poly and kink. If you love to cook, I would love someone to cook an elaborate dinner with. If you are into interior design/home renovation, I’d love someone to brainstorm and carry out home improvement projects with. If you dance, I’d love someone to hone my dance skills with. If you travel, I’d love someone to go on vanilla trips with–sightseeing in Europe, relaxing on the beach in Mexico, exploring Tibet. Love wine? I love going to wine bars and trying a flight with complimentary cheeses.
  • NOTE: I’m a light weight; it takes half a glass of wine for me to feel a buzz, and two drinks is my absolute limit. If I have two drinks, I’ll probably be in pain the next day. I do love a good glass of wine or champagne, though.
  • Due to years of medicine, I tend to tire early, usually by 10:00 or 11:00. If you can offer to drive and see me home so I don’t have to worry about getting home safely, that would be great. If you can tuck me in, I will melt in your arms.

Sexually: Sex

  • I have lost the capacity for casual sex at this particular point in my life. (See below for my definition of “sex.”) While I enjoy scening with my friends and can be an outrageous flirt and exhibitionist, I only have sex with people I know and trust. If that person has additional partners, I have to know and trust them, too. And I get attached to people I have sex with. So you see why I don’t really do the casual sex thing at this point–it can get a bit complicated. At the moment, I reserve sex for someone that I am free to feel attached to and who is willing to open up his partners and their sexual and emotional history to me as well.
  • What is sex to me? This is a great question to ask anyone you’re seeing—everyone has a different definition! To me, in general, sex is anything that I am most likely to get an STI from: vaginal or anal penetration or oral sex. (Remember, I have an autoimmune disorder, so I need to be more careful than your average bear.) Also, I separate BDSM scening and sex; kink for me does not necessarily involve sex or sexual contact (although it can, with a trusted partner—and that is awesome when it happens!). Since it tends to take me a while to trust a partner enough to indulge in sex, a common intermediate step for me is bukkake.
  • People often ask me what I’m into sexually. And in truth, the answer is, “It depends.” There are a few activities I know I enjoy, to be sure. I’ve discovered, though, that it’s often not the activity; it’s the dynamic between the people and their respective levels of enthusiasm for and skill at the activity that matters. If you do something really well or have some special skill or kink, just let me know. Even if it’s not my favorite thing now, it might be with you. And my favorite thing now might not be all that great with you. Let’s just see what we’re into together, shall we? That being said…

Turn ons (with consent):

  • Grab the hair at the roots at the back of my neck. This is a trigger for me.
  • Tell me what you want to make me do. This isn’t a negotiation, but it simply turns me on to hear the guy’s sadistic, selfish desires of overpowering or controlling me. (If we get along, a consensual scene can be negotiated later.)
  • Gag me and throw me on the bed. Or wrestling mat. Whatever. (With consent, after negotiation.)
  • Give me a deep tissue massage so deep it makes me cry–this can be a great segue into kinky sex. Or just sex. There is something about that kind of pain that can turn me on.
  • Tell me a dirty story of coercion. I love asking for a dirty story, which will likely turn me on more than anything physical you could do to me. Engage my brain and imagination, and I’ll think you’re special.
  • Watch porn with me. Not boring straight porn. Gay, gang-bang or facial porn.
  • Give me oodles of aftercare. Cover me with a blanket and hold me. I love to hear how much I took and how proud you are of me.
  • Make sure I get home safely, and call me the next day to connect.

Turn offs:

  • Insulting your former partners. Guys who describe their ex-wives as “crazy” or say bad things about them are an immediate “no” for me.
  • Lack of communication. I am a sapiosexual, so if you can’t talk to me (or your partners can’t), we probably won’t go anywhere.
  • Being too popular/high turnover. Guys with five or more partners or high partner turnover will probably find dating me challenging, since I need  to take the time to get to know my metamours.
  • Dating too young. Guys in my age range who are dating in the 18-21 range tend to enjoy either the drama or glib dependence of youth, and I have a low tolerance for both.
  • Not getting tested. Not being willing to wear protection and not getting tested regularly for STIs are hard limits for me. And not just AIDS, full blood tests for everything.

Commenting area

  1. Thanks for the “official” written okay for using your manual headings as a template. When I see something like this, it’s just like an “ah ha!” moment for me and it’s actually a thrill.

    Speaking of which, I loved getting to spend a little time talking to you the other day. I hope there are future opportunities because my first impression of you is that you are a cool person.

  2. Wow. It’s a darn shame we don’t live closer. 😉

  3. Minx, you rule! Some of the things you speak about on your podcasts or share in this blog come so close to who I am, so you are kind of doing a lot of ground work for me 🙂

    Thank you so much and keep up the rambling.

  4. This is beautiful! Educated me, introduced me to you, and turned me on all in one fell swoop. Wonderful bit of writing that made for fun reading, I’m so glad you posted it.

  5. Thank you so much for everything. I love the podcast and the idea of a “User’s Manual”! Not only am I going to write one of my own, but I’m suggesting it to non-poly friends, just as a way to get to know themselves better!

    • Cunning Minx February 20, 2012 at 8:50 pm · ·

      The User Manual is a great idea, even if it’s just a self exercise. But then, my most recent date read my user manual before our first date, showed up wearing a kilt… and eight months later, we are still quite happy. 😀 His comment was, “If someone is going to go to the trouble to tell me exactly who she is and how to interact with her, damn straight I’m going to read it and follow directions!”

  6. Karma Kittyn May 3, 2012 at 10:08 pm · ·

    What does RTFM stand for?

  7. Minx, you are so inspiring – I’m off to buy a fucking kilt right now !!!

  8. At what point in the relationship would you recommend offering a User’s Manual? I worry that it might put too much information out there too early on, especially if the other person doesn’t have a User’s Manual to trade. Or should I censor anything that I’d feel uncomfortable about someone knowing too early?

  9. Delphine April 20, 2015 at 5:49 pm · ·

    After reading hers…I’m going to write one of my own. Thanks, Minx.

  10. Melissa May 10, 2016 at 8:56 am · ·

    Oh man, I need to do this, it makes so much sense reading an example. Minx thank you so much for putting this out there.

    Oh and this…. I might have to borrow this one!

    “Be willing to stand your ground when you believe I am being an idiot. Here’s the key to being with me: I just want to be understood. I don’t even need to be right most of the time; I just need to be understood. If you think I’m being an idiot or that I’m just plain wrong, ask me, “Minx, what’s going on with you?” Listen to me, even if I’m ranting. Chances are that once I think you understand my point of view, I’ll figure out that you’re right on quite a few of your main points.”

  11. My friend and his primary made me aware of this webpage . I totally support it for those willing to make intimate knowledge of their lives known.

  12. Allen Laudenslager July 19, 2016 at 2:17 pm · ·

    I just discovered this post and immediately copied it into a word doc so I could begin my own manual. I finished a “first cut” and am going to allow it some time to rest before I start editing and polishing. Thanks for the idea and the starter manual.

  13. Omg love the manual! The family background just scares me to write about for myself it has been used against me for a long treated like the black sheep. I need to do more writing still struggling on knowing myself.

  14. Yeah, that section can be difficult for some folks. I’m working on putting together a user manual class (debuting in Seattle at the CSPC next weekend!) to get people started with one or two easy writing prompts for each section. Hoping to make it into a webinar soon–stay tuned!

  15. During one of our lively polyamorous discussion at a recent meet-up about how to improve our communication skills with our partners, one of the members suggested we look up your questions from the User’s Manual as a starting point to identify our own wants and needs. It turned out to be a great resource!
    But wait, there’s more…
    We set up our own workshop to work through the questions as a group. We passed out the questions and we wrote out answers and took the time to share some of the responses with a partner. we had 14 people participant and it turned out to be a great experience.
    But wait, there’s more….
    One of the suggestions was to have questions that centered around our polyamorous lifestyle, Last weekend, we created a set of questions “How do you ‘poly’?”. I thought you would enjoy what we came up with:

    “How do you “Poly”? An addendum to the User’s Guide for people practicing ethical non-monogamy.

    Purpose: This is really a set of questions for you to use for your own needs. You can use it to describe how you practice polyamory to someone who is unfamiliar to the concept of polyamory or to someone who is new to the lifestyle and have questions on your approach. After all, there is no one true way to “poly”! You can also use it as a source of topic in an established relationship, or to have some answers ready if it’s time to sit down and tell your kids or your family. This also may be some questions to think about for yourself – to define yourself or to challenge yourself.

    The questions are meant to be vague because there are few simple topics in polyamory and we attempted to make the questions broad enough to allow you to fill in your specific situation. Some of the questions may not even apply to you – and that’s okay, just skip them.

    The answers could change over time, depending on your experiences and circumstances, challenges you may have had to face or by growth and maturity. Like the rest of life, the thing that is consistent is that things will always change. And whatever you answer will always be correct (for your frame of reference) because you are unique, just like the rest of us.

    1. Your definition of polyamory – what does having “multiple parters” mean to you?

    2. What you you consider a “relationship” in terms of:

    emotional characteristics

    romantic characteristics


    sexual expectations


    3 (two part question)

    Do you have a limit on the number of partners you have?


    Do you have a preferred number of partners?

    4. What are you time expectations for the amount of time with your partners?

    5. What are your expectations with the following topics:



    Allowing your partner to have other partners



    6 (two part question)

    Are you married? – How does this affect your partners?


    Are you single? How does this affect your poly partners?

    7. (two part question)

    How do you deal with conflict with your partner?


    How do you deal with conflict with your partner’s partner?

    8. What is your definition of “consent”?

    9. What about children?

    When do you tell kids?

    How does polyamory affect your kids?

    Will you have a partners who has children?

    What are your expectation of parental roles between poly partners?

    10. Are you “prospecting” (looking for another partner)? Why or why not?

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