I have a drawer in my desk where I toss user manuals that come with appliances and gadgets I’ve bought over the years.

There’s a user manual for a hot tub, one for an automatic fireplace, one for a bed frame (to be fair, the instructions on use are self-evident–this manual is more about construction). I even have one for my french oven, which mostly includes recipes.

I couldn’t tell you exactly what’s in the drawer today. That’s because I don’t consult user manuals much. Why?

  1. Our stuff is better designed than ever. It’s intuitive to use and lasts longer than most of us can realistically visualize when we buy it.
  2. We live in a throwaway society. Phone doesn’t work? Get a new one. Maintenance and care as outlined in the user manual isn’t that important.
  3. Most of the answers are online. When we have an issue, we just google it. Voila, user manual on demand.

In almost all cases, it isn’t worth the hassle to consult the user manual regularly (since we can replace the object or machine for a low cost), or we find the same info online instead.

But most of us don’t want to throw away ridiculously amazing relationships. It’s worth the hassle to conduct maintenance and conduct troubleshooting to ensure a long, highly functioning lifespan.

That means we have to do the maintenance. We have to troubleshoot. We have to nurture.

Even the most intuitive relationships evolve over the years. Humans are immensely complex and react differently across situations. Complicating matters, research shows that at the end of our lives, our personality is completely different from when we were kids.

What’s intuitive today probably won’t be in five years.

We might not be able to capture all of that in a User Manual, but a good try makes a difference.

Lastly, you can’t google what makes your boyfriend happy. In most cases, he’s never thought about it himself!

A User Manual defines how complicated machines work and helps us get the most out of them. Isn’t that exactly what we want from relationships?

 

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