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Mass Effect romance options: All male and female Shepard romance options in the Legendary Edition explained

All romances and flings across all three games explained.

Romance has always been a cornerstone of any Bioware game and the Mass Effect trilogy does not disappoint.

With a wide range of options from drell to turians to humans and asari, these Mass Effect romance options come with their own intimate and well-developed story that resonates with the players.

Initiating romance options in Mass Effect is easy. Just a flirt here and there can lead to something more. However, it is important to be careful how many of your crewmates you flirt with, as sometimes one romance option will override another. So, if you know for certain who you want to romance, then stay true to that choice.

Also, each romance decision carries from one game to the next - so the romance you have in Mass Effect will be remembered in Mass Effect 2 and again in Mass Effect 3. You are, of course, allowed to change your mind - and the game will recognise that, too.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition Official Reveal Trailer (4K)

With all three games available together in 2021's Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, romance options need planning more than ever - so we've broken down the page into each game to make what you need to know as possible in chronological order.

Mass Effect 1 romances:

Mass Effect 2 romances:

Mass Effect 3 romances:

Mass Effect 1 romance options for Male Shepard and Female Shepard

In the first Mass Effect, the romance options are limited. This is due to the small crew Commander Shepard has and the handful of additional crewmates Shepard meets along the way.

As male Shepard you can romance the following character:

  • Ashley Williams

As female Shepard you can romance the following character:

  • Kaidan Alenko

Both male and female Shepard can romance this character:

  • Liara T'Soni

Unfortunately, you won't be able to romance any quarians, salarians, krogans, or turians (especially a certain C-Sec officer). But don't worry, some of those options will become available in Mass Effect 2.

How romance works in Mass Effect 1: How to romance Ashley, Kaiden and Liara explained

To get a romance going, all it takes is a little flirtation here and there and saying the right things at the right time. Romance in Mass Effect starts after the events of Eden Prime. Once Shepard gains consciousness, either Kaidan (female Shepard) or Ashley (male Shepard) will be by Shepard's bedside.

They will blame themselves for what happened with Shepard and the Beacon. If you respond nicely (i.e. "it wasn't your fault"), that triggers the start of the romance with Kaidan or Ashley.

Once Liara joins the crew, Shepard can begin courting her as well. Liara is incredibly receptive to Shepard's advances so it is good to be careful here if you don't want to ruin your chances with Kaidan or Ashley.

Towards the end of the game, when Shepard and the crew plan to confront Saren on Ilos, there will be a romantic encounter in Shepard's quarters. A paragon response ensures it while a renegade response sends the love interest away.

  • Unlike Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, there are no clear-cut 'lock-in' dialogue options in Mass Effect. This means you need to watch what you say to Kaidan, Ashley, and Liara if you don't want to get accidentally locked into a relationship you don't want.
  • To maintain your romance options with Kaidan or Ashley, it is important to interact with paragon choices most of the time. Any renegade responses can negatively affect Shepard's relationship with them.
  • If you want to romance Liara, then rescuing her should be one of the first missions (Therum: Find Liara T'Soni) to complete. The more major missions that are completed prior to her rescue the fewer opportunities you will have to court her.
  • If you are undecided, there will be a point in the game where Shepard is given an ultimatum and will have to choose who to romance exclusively. You can either break off a romance with Kaidan or Ashley or confirm your feelings. If you break off your relationship, you can then tell Liara that you are attracted to her and that starts your new relationship.
  • Any romance decision you make in Mass Effect will be imported into Mass Effect 2.

Mass Effect 2 romance options for Male Shepard and Female Shepard

In Mass Effect 2, there is a significant jump in the number of romance options for male Shepard and female Shepard. Ashley or Kaidan make a short appearance in Mass Effect 2, but only at the end of the Horizon mission.

If either one has been romanced, then they will express anger and disappointment that Shepard didn't contact them for two years. Despite the heartfelt reunion, the tone quickly turns once they realise that Shepard is working with Cerberus.

Meanwhile, in the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, Liara makes an appearance. This is a fling rather than a romance, so whether or not Shepard remains faithful during this, they can keep their romantic relationship intact - or they can call it off.

In addition, both Garrus and Tali become romance options for female Shepard and male Shepard respectively.

As male Shepard you can romance the following characters:

  • Tali'Zorah vas Neema
  • Miranda Lawson
  • Jack
  • Liara T'Soni (Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, fling)

As female Shepard you can romance the following characters:

  • Garrus Vakarian
  • Jacob Taylor
  • Thane Krios
  • Liara T'Soni (Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC, fling)

In addition to these romance options, both male Shepard and female Shepard can romance these non-squadmates:

  • Samara (Fling)
  • Morinth (Fling)
  • Kelly Chambers (Fling)

It should be noted the above are not a part of the traditional romances in Mass Effect and do not have a romantic cut scene towards the end of the game. These are one-off encounters that do not affect your standing with your chosen romance option. Since they are brief flings, these relationships will not unlock the 'Paramour' achievement.

How romance works in Mass Effect 2: How to romance Tali, Miranda, Jack, Garrus, Jacub and Thane explained

Romance with squadmates in Mass Effect 2 doesn't occur until after their loyalty missions are complete. After completing a loyalty mission new dialogue options will appear that will allow Shepard to pursue a romance with that character. Then after each major mission is complete, more dialogue options will become available.

It is important to remember that even when you are locked into a relationship with a character, you will have a few opportunities to back out of it. Each character will ask Shepard a few times if they are still interested.

  • There will be certain dialogue options that will lock in Shepard to a specific romance. Once locked in, anything Shepard does with another squadmate will be questioned by their current love interest. Some lock-in examples:
    • Tali'Zorah vas Neema: After completing her loyalty mission (Treason), the next time you can say "I want to talk about you," Tali will talk about their suits and intimacy. If you want to pursue the relationship, you can tell her that you are interested in her.
    • Garrus Vakaraian: After completing his loyalty mission (Eye for an Eye), meet him in the Main Battery and select "Just want to talk." He will explain how turians prepare for battle and stress relief. Offer to ease some tension. In the next conversation confirm your interest and assure him that you want this relationship.
    • Miranda Lawson: After completing her loyalty mission (The Prodigal), meet her in her office and she will thank you for helping her sister and then make a slight move. A few more conversations later and she will ask what is going on between you two. You can respond with "It's more than that" to confirm your interest. If you want to romance Miranda, you have to be absolutely sure about it.
    • Jack: After completing her loyalty mission (Subject Zero), continue to talk to her about your interest in her. She will be cautious at first and push back but at some point, she will agree to a relationship.
    • Jacob Taylor: You can flirt with Jacob before his loyalty mission, but it isn't until completing The Gift of Greatness that you can begin to talk about a relationship. Select "Let's just talk. Personal," to get the conversation started and respond favourably.
    • Thane Krios: After completing his loyalty mission (Sins of the Father), select "I want to talk about you," and the courting starts from there. Select "I want you Thane" and "I care for you too" to lock-in the romance.
  • If pursuing either Jack or Miranda, it is important to note that their romance options can be permanently ended. Due to the hostile nature of Jack and Miranda's relationship, Shepard will need to have high points in either Renegade or Paragon. This will ensure that Shepard is able to choose a dedicated Paragon or Renegade response when Miranda and Jack have their big argument. Whosever side Shepard takes automatically ends any romance potential with the other one. So, if you side with Jack, Miranda will no longer be romanceable and vice versa.
  • If Shepard has a romantic encounter with Jack before establishing a true romance, that option will no longer be available.
  • Once Shepard breaks off a romance with a character, that romance can no longer be pursued. However, Shepard is free to court any other available characters.
  • Having a romantic encounter with Kelly Chambers doesn't ruin any romance options with other characters, but Shepard will be asked about it.
  • Samara is only romanceable if Shepard is a Paragon and not committed to another character. Shepard affections will only go so far as Samara will choose her duties over Shepard.
  • You can pursue a relationship with Kelly Chambers before you are locked into a romance option. You can, of course, choose to keep your relationship with Kelly and not seek out another relationship.
  • Having a sexual encounter with Samara's daughter Morinth will result in Shepard's immediate death and a mission failure. Do this at your own risk - and save your game before you encounter her.
  • Even though Shepard meets Liara in the game, it isn't until the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC that Shepard can continue the relationship with her. The mission must be completed in order to get to romance dialogue. Unfortunately, continuing a relationship with Liara will not grant you the Paramour achievement as she is not a crewmember.
  • If you romanced Liara in Mass Effect but did not remain faithful to her in Mass Effect 2, she will ask you about it. Fortunately, this will not affect your relationship with her in Mass Effect 3.
  • If Shepard remains faithful, then a framed picture of their Mass Effect love interest will stand upright on the desk in Shepard's quarters throughout the game.

Prior to entering the Omega 4 Relay for the suicide mission, Shepard will have a romantic encounter with their love interest. At the end of the game, Shepard can call their love interest into their cabin at any time.

Mass Effect 3 romance options for Male Shepard and Female Shepard

In Mass Effect 3, all romance options carry over from Mass Effect 2, provided that they survived the suicide mission at the end of the game. There is also the return of the romanceable characters from the first Mass Effect: Kaidan Alenko or Ashley Williams.

This time around; however, Kaidan is also a romance option for male Shepard. As well as this, there are also a couple of new squadmates who can be romanced.

As male Shepard you can romance the following characters:

  • Steve Cortez
  • Tali'Zorah vas Normandy (if romanced in ME2)
  • Miranda Lawson (if romanced in ME2)
  • Jack (if romanced in ME2)
  • Ashley Williams

As female Shepard you can romance the following characters:

  • Garrus Vakarian (if romanced in ME2)
  • Thane Krios (if romanced in ME2)
  • Samantha Traynor (Fling)

In addition to these romance options, both male Shepard and female Shepard can romance:

  • Kaidan Alenko
  • Liara T'Soni
  • Kelly Chambers (if romanced in ME2)
  • Diana Allers (Fling)

If you have the Citadel DLC, then these romance options become available:

  • Javik (Fling for female Shepard)
  • James Vega (Fling for female Shepard)
  • Samara (Fling)

A relationship with James Vega, Javik, Samara, or Diana Allers is comparable to the relationship with Kelly Chambers in Mass Effect 2. These are one-off encounters that will not award you the 'Paramour' achievement. In addition, keeping your relationship with Thane Krios will not unlock the achievement.

How romance works in Mass Effect 3: How to romance Tali, Miranda, Garrus, Thane and more

Romance in Mass Effect 3 is very straightforward. If your love interest survived the events of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, then you will see them again in Mass Effect 3. You do have some choices, however; you can either choose to continue your Mass Effect romance or continue your Mass Effect 2 romance.

Mass Effect 3 voice cast trailer

There is also the option to start a new relationship, but only if they were not a main romance option from Mass Effect 2. This means you cannot romance Garrus if you did not romance him in Mass Effect 2, but you can romance Kaidan even if you didn't romance him in Mass Effect.

  • If you had a relationship with Jacob in Mass Effect 2, you will not be able to continue it in Mass Effect 3. You can interact with him during the Arrae: Ex-Cerberus Scientists mission.
  • If you had a relationship with Thane Krios in Mass Effect 2, you will have additional dialogue options when you speak to him at Huerta Memorial Hospital after the Priority: The Citadel II mission.
  • You can flirt with a lot of the crew members without damaging your current relationship. Just be prepared to make a choice at some point.
  • The Citadel DLC grants additional romance options but also adds extra scenes with your love interest during the squad party at Shepard's apartment.
  • The Extended Cut DLC adds additional romance dialogue at the end of the game.
  • As with Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, there are dialogue choices that will lock you into a particular romance. If you want to keep your options open, avoid committing yourself to any one character. Lock in options will occur after the Priority: The Citadel II mission. Examples of getting locked in:
    • Kaidan Alenko/Ashley Williams: Talk to them at the Apollo's Cafe in the Presidium Commons and respond to their comments about the relationship.
    • Garrus Vakarian: Tell him that you love him while on the date in the Citadel.
    • Samantha Trainor: Join her when she comes to use your shower. This will happen after you two talk about chess and you respond positively about playing a game.
    • Tali'Zorah vas Normandy: Invite her to your cabin after meeting with the quarian admirals.
    • Steve Cortez: Tell him to go on shore leave to take his mind off things. When you join him, kiss him to confirm your interest.
    • Miranda Lawson: She will ask you to meet her at her Citadel apartment as part of a mission. As part of your conversation with her you can reconfirm the relationship.
    • Liara T'Soni: Meet her at the Meridian Place Market in the Citadel after the Priority: The Citadel II mission.
    • Jack: If you romanced her in ME2 you can commit to the relationship after the Priority: The Citadel II and Grissom Academy: Emergency Evacuation missions.
    • Kelly Chambers: You can only commit to Kelly if you are not locked into any other romance. After the Priority: The Citadel II mission, you can tell Kelly that you are interested in her. You can then pursue other romance options.
  • The romance with Tali'Zorah is time sensitive and must be done prior to starting the Priority: Rannoch mission. If it is not done before this mission, you will not have an opportunity again.
  • All romance choices must be made before heading to the Illusive Man's base.

Looking for more help with Mass Effect? See our Citadel Keeper locations explainer to help you complete one of the original game's earliest quests.

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