Looking for a Mass Effect romance guide? Shepard meets plenty of dashing individuals from various species on their mission to save the galaxy, and it’s no secret that if you play your cards right with a few of them, you might be able to do a no clothes hug in the cargo hold.
Your romantic choices and relationships carry over across the three games, but you need to bear in mind the events that take place between them (spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned) so, don’t expect your space waifu or husbando from ME1 to pop back up in ME2 as if nothing happened.
In ME2, you can choose to remain faithful to your ME1 love interest, or get to know one of your current squadmates a little more intimately. Even if you do this, you can reignite your relationship with your ME1 paramour in ME3, and break up with your ME2 squeeze – the last game is where things get a little complicated, as there are so many variables at play. Luckily, we’re here to help you navigate Shepard’s love life.
In Mass Effect 1, female Shepard can romance either Kaidan or Liara. Male Shepard can romance either Ashley or Liara. Aside from these main romances, you can also experience a romance scene with the Asari Consort on the Citadel. If you complete her quest chain and express disappointment with the standard reward she gives you, she’ll make sure you leave, er, satisfied.
Mass Effect 1 Kaidan/Ashley romance
On Eden Prime, depending on Shepard’s gender, either Kaidan or Ashley get caught in the pull of the Prothean beacon. If you want to romance them, reassure them, and continue to speak to them after each primary mission – the two of you develop a flirtatious relationship.
Shortly after recruiting Liara, your human love interest asks if Shepard is interested in her – if you say you are, this ends the romance with Kaidan/Ashley. On Virmire, you must decide whether to rescue Ashley or Kaidan from the nuclear blast; unsurprisingly, leaving your love interest behind also ends your relationship with them. Hard to come back from that.
After the Normandy is placed in lockdown, Kaidan or Ashley approaches you with reassurance, at which point you can break things off by pursuing the Renegade path. Otherwise, before the mission on Ilos, they visit your room – Paragon choices result in a romantic cutscene, and Renegade choices turn them away, though they will still carry over to the next game as a romantic relationship.
Mass Effect 1 Liara romance
If you’re looking to romance Liara, don’t leave her recruitment mission on Therum too late – if you visit Therum after Virmire, there will be no time to establish a relationship.
Soon after you recruit Liara, she hints at having a romantic interest in you, which you can encourage. Continuing to flirt with her and Ashley/Kaidan at the same time results in a confrontation after the next main mission is complete, in which they ask you to choose between them. You can suggest dating both of them, but the human character is disgusted by your insensitive suggestion, and leaves – Liara, however, can still be romanced.
After completing the four main mission planets and returning to the Citadel, Liara reassures you, and unless you respond with Renegade choices, your relationship is confirmed. This also means she’ll turn up in your quarters on the way to Ilos, at which point you can accept or decline a romance scene by choosing Paragon or Renegade answers, respectively.
In Mass Effect 2, your relationship from ME1 will be imported, and Shepard will keep a photo of them on their desk. You won’t have your ME1 lover by your side throughout the game, so you can choose to start up a relationship with someone new, at which point Shepard turns the photo on their desk face down. Alternatively, you can remain loyal to your original partner, and Shepard will look fondly at their photo before the final mission.
Male Shepard can romance Miranda, Tali, or Jack. Female Shepard can date Jacob, Garrus, or Thane. These are the main romances that unlock the Paramour achievement, but in addition to these, either Shepard can romance Kelly Chambers, flirt with Samara, or sleep with Morinth, if you’re feeling incredibly brave (and have a backup of your save file).
The main romances are progressed throughout the story by speaking to the crew member in question after each mission. At a certain point, you unlock their loyalty mission, which you must complete in order to progress your relationship. After flirting for a while, there will be a conversation in which you’re able to ‘lock in’ your romantic preference, closing off your other options. If you romanced Liara in ME1, when you see her again as part of the Shadow Broker DLC, you’ll be able to reaffirm your relationship.
Mass Effect 2 Miranda romance
To romance Miranda, flirt with her after every mission, and be sure to complete her loyalty mission. If you don’t have enough Paragon or Renegade points to smooth things over between Jack and Miranda without choosing a side, you’ll be unable to romance Miranda if you side with Jack.
The lock-in point for Miranda’s romance is when she asks you to talk, and says, “I don’t know what this is…” – at this point, you can either confirm the relationship with – “It’s more than that” – or break it off.
Mass Effect 2 Tali romance
The Tali romance becomes available once you complete her loyalty mission, and Tali makes her interest in you clear. You can reciprocate here, but the romance isn’t locked in until the conversation where she says “I’ve been thinking about the last time we talked”. You can avoid locking the romance in by saying “So you’re not interested?” and “I need to think about this.” Be sure to not to side with Legion during their disagreement, too.
Mass Effect 2 Garrus romance
Everyone’s favourite Turian can be romanced – hooray. It doesn’t matter what choice you make during his loyalty mission, but after it’s complete, chat to him about easing the tension of battle. In the conversation after that, you’ll be able to lock in the romance.
Mass Effect 2 Jacob romance
To begin a romantic relationship with Jacob, start a personal conversation with him after his loyalty mission, and choose the more flirtatious options to advance the relationship. After this, there are two more personal conversations – at the end of the third, choose “I do” to lock the romance in.
Mass Effect 2 Thane romance
In order to begin a romance with Thane, you must successfully complete his loyalty mission. After this, select romantic options in each conversation that follows – the relationship will lock in after selecting “I want you Thane” and “I care for you too”.
Mass Effect 2 Jack romance
It’s possible to have a casual romantic encounter with Jack soon after you meet her, but this will prevent you from entering into a relationship. Otherwise, continue to flirt with her after each mission – you can lock in the romance during the conversation that begins with Jack saying “I want to talk about us”.
Mass Effect 2 Kelly romance
This is one of the additional romances available in the game, and doesn’t affect any other relationships. If she survives the Collector base, she asks for an invite to your cabin, after which she performs a dance for you.
Mass Effect 2 Samara romance
Samara isn’t a true romance option, as she can’t reciprocate your feelings until after the mission. You must be a Paragon Shepard who is not in a romantic relationship with anyone else, and finish her loyalty mission.
Mass Effect 2 Morinth romance
If you side with Morinth during Samara’s loyalty mission and recruit her instead, you can sleep with Morinth after the final mission. This is an interesting choice on your behalf, as Morinth kills everyone she sleeps with, and even though she says you might be strong enough to survive… surprise! You’re not.
Alright, Shepard, you’ve got a lot on your plate here – and we’re not just talking about the Reaper invasion. There are so many potential candidates for smooching, so pay attention. Alongside the possibility of continuing a romantic relationship from a previous game – if they’re still alive, of course – there are also plenty of new opportunities for love. Some of these relationships are only possible if you carry them over from the previous games.
Female Shepard can continue a romance with Thane or Garrus from ME2, start one with Samantha Traynor, and have a casual encounter with Javik or James Vega. Male Shepard can continue to romance Miranda, Tali, or Jack, continue or start a relationship with Ashley, or start one with Steve Cortez. Both Shepards are able to continue a romantic relationship with Kelly Chambers or Samara, start or continue one with Kaidan or Liara, or start one with Diana Allers. Got that? Good.
You can flirt with multiple people at once, but there will be an opportunity to lock a romance in later down the line, which influences the final scenes.
Mass Effect 3 Miranda romance
To continue a romance with Miranda, you must import a ME2 save file in which the two of you had a relationship. When you reunite, you can reaffirm your relationship, and then meet in a private room for an intimate conversation.
Mass Effect 3 Tali romance
If you imported a save from ME2 in which you romanced Tali, she invites you to her quarters after the diplomatic talks with the Admiralty Board, where you can choose to continue your relationship. You can lock in the romance by bringing her to your chambers – make sure you do this before Rannoch. After battling the Reaper on Rannoch, you must stop Legion from uploading the data, otherwise Tali can’t bear to go on living, and the romance will end. After reclaiming Rannoch, Tali gives Shepard a photo of herself sans mask – this has been updated for the Legendary Edition to be more lore-friendly.
Tali joins Shepard in his quarters before the final mission, and they spend the night together. If Shepard hasn’t romanced Tali or Garrus, the two will enter a relationship together instead.
Mass Effect 3 Ashley romance
You can enter into a relationship with Ashley regardless of whether you romanced her in ME1, provided she survived. While she is in the hospital, your conversations with her vary depending on whether you remained faithful to her in ME2. Buy her the Tennyson book from Sirta Supplies, and choose her to come aboard the Normandy. Eventually, she asks to meet on the Citadel, at which point you can lock in the romance.
Mass Effect 3 Garrus romance
Garrus is only available to romance in ME3 if you import a save where you romanced him in ME2. After meeting him on Menae and bringing him onto the Normandy, he asks if she’s still interested in him, at which point you can break things off or continue the relationship. On the Citadel later on, Garrus asks Shepard whether she wants to commit to him – confirm this to lock in the romance.
Mass Effect 3 Jack romance
If you romanced Jack in ME2, you’ll meet her at Grissom Academy, where she immediately punches you in the face and then kisses you. When you chat with her again on the Citadel in the Purgatory Bar, you can choose whether to continue or end your relationship.
Mass Effect 3 Steve romance
To romance Steve, comfort him on the loss of his late husband. In the Purgatory Bar, the two of you can dance together, culminating in a kiss – you can lock in the romance here.
Mass Effect 3 Thane romance
We advise you to have tissues at the ready. If you import a ME2 save in which you romanced Thane, you’ll be able to visit him in the hospital and kiss him. After the attack on the Citadel, he requires emergency surgery. Shepard is able to join Thane’s son, Kolyat, in prayer in Thane’s final moments.
Mass Effect 3 Samantha romance
To start a romance with Samantha, invite her to your cabin, and join her in the shower. If this occurs before you visit the Citadel, you are locked into a romance with her. If you already have a romantic partner when she comes to your cabin, you play chess together instead.
Mass Effect 3 Kaidan romance
If you romanced Kaidan in ME1, you’ll discuss that relationship during the mission to Mars. If you haven’t romanced him yet, you can start the relationship by buying him a bottle of whiskey. Either way, the romance can be locked in when they head to Apollo’s Cafe for a drink.
Mass Effect 3 Kelly romance
You can only romance Kelly if you were with her in ME2. She’s now living in the Citadel refugee camp – advise her to change her identity, or else she is killed when Cerberus attacks. After this, you can visit her on the Citadel, and she’ll give you a picture of herself for your cabin.
Mass Effect 3 Jacob romance
Sorry, Shepard – Jacob has moved on and found love elsewhere, even if you romanced him in ME2. You can discuss your relationship with him, but there’s no winning him back.
Mass Effect 3 Liara romance
If Shepard romanced Liara in ME1, after the Council meeting Liara will ask if they are still interested, and whether Shepard is willing to break up with their ME2 partner. Agree to continue the romance. Continue to flirt with her, and the relationship can be locked in on the Citadel, after the Cerberus attack.
Mass Effect 3 Diana romance
During the second interview with Diana, if Shepard doesn’t have another romance locked in, the two can flirt and kiss. However, Diana does not become a fully-fledged relationship, and there are no further cutscenes. You can complete this scene and then pursue another relationship afterwards, with no impact on the other party – unless you’re also dating Liara, in which case she chastises you.
Mass Effect 3 Samara romance
In order to romance Samara, Shepard must have attempted to woo her in ME2, must also be Paragon, and must abstain from relationships with anyone else. You can invite her to your apartment and chat – if you say you’re surprised how strongly you felt upon seeing you again, the two of you embrace or kiss.
Mass Effect 3 Javik romance
If she has no romantic relationships, female Shepard may wake up next to Javik following the party on the Citadel.
Mass Effect 3 James romance
If she has no romantic relationships, and flirts with James in their apartment, female Shepard may wake up next to James after the Citadel party.
That’s all the Mass Effect romance options we’ve got for you – good luck, and make sure to get some tips from Mordin Solus on interspecies, uh, compatibility. If you’re considering getting together with someone new on your next playthrough, find out when you should be taking them on missions with our Mass Effect Legendary Edition mission order list – and why not check out our Mass Effect face codes guide for your next Shepard. We’ve got the best Mass Effect Legendary Edition mods to spice things up, too.