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There are plenty of famous interspecies couples throughout Sci fi and fantasy. Personally I like this trope because I am a sucker for science fiction that deals with the possibility that we can get along with each other, I am a sucker for romance, and I firmly love the idea of love conquering all.

But as a writer and a world builder I want to try and figure out how to update this trope into something more...realistic. Because in fiction it is usually portrayed as a human and humanoid pairing up. But I am of the belief that the humanoid body plan will be a rarity meaning that most interspecies newlyweds might look something like this.

Don’t they make a lovely couple?

Now I do not believe that any difference in body-plan will be enough to dissuade all humans away from such courtships. I spend far too much time on the internet to ever believe anything that foolish.

So the question is: how would Interspecies couples work around alien body-plans to continue successful loving relationships?

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    $\begingroup$ Read more Larry Niven. He has an entire book about this. Includes such marvelous chapters as "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex". Voting to close this question because the general query of how to fit tab A into slot B is very open-ended and only really directly answerable for specific species. For anyone else, well, "platonic" can be an answer. $\endgroup$ – SRM Jan 5 at 6:18
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    $\begingroup$ Aren't you already answering your own question? If they want to court it, they will just live with different body plans in their houses. If you mean in a more sexual nature, I'm sure a lot of (mechanical) aids and some clever hack of DNA mixing for reproduction can be imagined. $\endgroup$ – Trioxidane Jan 5 at 9:15
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    $\begingroup$ If you mean if they were able to reproduce, if the alien is asexual and can copy itself.... Kinda... If the alien can use external DNA to creare a clone... Kinda. If you mean how would they have sex? Usually for humans sex is either cuddly cuddly or stick inside hole. Figure it out... By the way I upvoted your question. $\endgroup$ – user81643 Jan 5 at 9:43
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    $\begingroup$ How is "body plan" related to having a "successful loving relationship"? I mean, being physically pleasing (including exciting) to look at can and usually does play a part, but how does body plan itself have anything to do with it? Are you just asking about sex without explicitly saying it, or do you mean something else here? $\endgroup$ – hyde Jan 5 at 15:45
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    $\begingroup$ I think you've got a good underlying concept here, but I can see why your question was closed. You seem to be (accidentally?) conflating "loving relationship" with "physical intimacy" by focusing on body plans. I know you've already got answers, so editing must be done skillfully; but I'd happily VTR if you could pick "physically loving (sexual) relationship" (where body plan actually makes sense) or else "non-physical loving (as a matter of choice & act of will) relationship" where body plan really doesn't actually matter. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Jan 5 at 23:31
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Any civilization which has the capability to travel interstellar distances at FTL speeds, also has other technology. This other technology can make inter-species romance easier. Some examples (from low-level to high-level):

  • Spacesuits and translators can be made so that the species can talk to each other
  • People can implant cybernetics or have their genes edited so that they can live in their partner's environment. For example, a human might have gills installed so they can live underwater or be genetically engineered to withstand higher temperatures.
  • Again using implants or gene-editing, people can adjust themselves so they can share in their partner's culture/lifestyle. For example, a human could get a cybernetic stomach capable of dissolving alien food proteins so they can share meals. Similarly, people could install "equipment" so they can have recreational sex with their partners
  • Using a neural-interface, people could remote-operate robot-bodies modeled after their partner's species. For example, a gas-cloud-space-whale alien could pilot a humanoid android around using what is essentially "full dive" technology or fully immersive VR if they want to hang out with their human partner
  • People could perform a brain- or consciousness-transplant into a cloned, brainless, body of their partner's species adapted for their use and effectively become "an alien". This also opens up the option of having natural, genetic children.
  • People could so thoroughly gene-mod themselves so that they're no longer their original species but a hybrid between the two to ensure genetic, romantic, and sexual compatibility.
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Hold deep emotional talks, look deep into each other's dreamy eyes, and hold hands, tentacles, or pseudopods. That's what holds the relationship together.

As to a physical relationship, that depends on how close the two species are, but there are humans in the real world who get sexual stimulation from all kinds of things. Having a sentient extraterrestrial involved is probably no barrier.

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o.m. already gave a useful insight on the relationship side. If you are looking also at the physical part, don't forget that body plans are important only for a subset of all living creatures.

A lot of sea creatures, for example, simply spread their gametes in the water, and let fate decide who mates who. Same goes with many anemophile plants, which spread their pollen in the wind without caring much about all the extra complications.

This to say that body plan is not necessarily a problem. It is only if you require the two bodies to entangle during the mating act.

Don't forget also that, as long as the two specimen can communicate, they can share with each other what is pleasurable or not.

By the way, I explored a branch of this possibility in this question.

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    $\begingroup$ Good point, nowadays we have dating apps and both parties can consummate their loves on cloud even though they will experience lag or disconnection. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Jan 5 at 10:42
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I have a hard time imagining the interest in a physical relationship between such different species. Sexual desire involves a lot of hormones, pheromones, physical cues etc. which will be very different across species with no common ancestry.

That said, there are all kinds of kinks, people marry their washing machines, and if the need arises, they will find a way. That will probably involve custom designed love toys, up to and including mechanical avatars & full body sensory suits to translate differing body plans.

I'm very doubtful that they will ever be able to produce offspring, though, unless entirely constructed in a gene lab to create a new species to order with characteristics of both (or more).

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    $\begingroup$ Well another thing that convinces me that a completely different body plan would not be an immediate turn off is that fact that Dino Erotica is a full genre. My general rule of thumb is people can be weirder than you can ever give them credit for. $\endgroup$ – Jacob Badger Jan 5 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ i... didn't know about that. but it's still only fiction. $\endgroup$ – ths Jan 5 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ Fiction that kind of proves the point, since not only are there people who imagine and write it, but there is an audience willing to spend money to read it. Not judging, just saying. $\endgroup$ – Jacob Badger Jan 5 at 20:52
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Internet.

People can love on the internet. People could fall in love writing letters! As compared to in-person interactions, distance communication makes body plan less relevant and sometimes body plan is not known. In some circumstances it may facilitate the interaction for one or more partners to simulate a physical body plan which is known to be pleasing to the other partner(s), sidestepping inherent and irrelevant biases which might otherwise complicate the relationship. This is true with the internet now and would be true for xenophiles.

As it exists now the internet provides a platform that can host (an amazing and growing!) variety of standardized communications between partners. A future technology mediated interaction could be even more sophisticated.

Love is not physical attraction. Distance communication facilitated with technology can make love possible that could never have been possible in person.

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