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Assuming a society in which -- for whatever reason -- there exist multiple sapient/sentient species. They are significantly different enough to completely preclude procreation. Inter-species relations are generally mostly positive. Inter-species romance is quite uncommon, but not unheard of.

One expects that sexual and emotional behavioral niches would preclude most people from considering inter-species relationships. Similarly, procreation concerns limit these to people not driven by a desire to birth children. External social opposition could come from either of these fronts, or else something else that is not occurring to me.

Is it reasonable to treat inter-species attraction as deviant -- in the social sense? That is, considered a weird but harmless fetish by the permissive frame of mind, and a damaging perversion by the more absolute thought.

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Depends on the cultures involved. It's perfectly reasonable that they might think of it deviancy, but on the other hand, the inability to procreate could make it the standard relationship for people not yet willing to commit to children.

There's far too much dependent on the cultures of each species to say much about it. I'm struggling to type this past the baby on my lap, so I'll try and be concise with the next part...

Humans still attach tremendous importance to their ability to procreate, even if they don't want to. Insulting someone's virility is a potent offence in pretty much all human cultures, and women who are unable to conceive treat it as a huuuuge issue anywhere you go. An interspecies relationship where neither mate has any possibility of childbirth might be used by those unable to conceive, in much the same way as homosexual and extramarital affairs were often covered (and still, even today) by a "beard". In this way, it could have an accepted, but unspoken use, even amongst those who claim that it is a serious perversion.

Edit: There are people who still don't approve of interracial, homosexual, or hell, even open relationships. As a species we're tribal and unreasonable, and we could definitely refuse to accept interspecies relationships. Again, if it's not involving humans, who knows?

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  • $\begingroup$ Without concerns about paternity certainty or resource investment in offspring, a lot of our assumptions about what constitutes a relationship could fall by the wayside. Open relationships might become common, or society might evolve the expectation that a healthy person has both a same-species and a different species romantic partner. $\endgroup$ – octern Nov 16 '14 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ @octern That is a very interesting idea that I'll have to consider more closely. Thank you. $\endgroup$ – lea Nov 17 '14 at 7:53
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Leaving sex entirely out of it, because that is honestly not even a majority of what makes a relationship work, one other consideration that might give fuel to the intolerant would be the difficulty of cross-cultural relationships. While race has nothing to do with how well a couple gets along, upbringing has a huge role to play, what with fundamentally different views on everything from finances to hygiene to religion to politics. It can put enormous strain on even the most stable and loving couples.

A xeno-couple would have to deal with not only different cultures, but completely different mental architectures. Even the concept of love is up for grabs in that situation. Perhaps humans are cold and emotionless compared to the aliens or the aliens express genuine love through mockery and public shaming. The number of couples that could make an honest romance of it, even compared to the number of people willing to try, would be vanishingly small. And that is something that the intolerant would jump all over, "Just look at all those broken homes!"

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It might be not much of a romance - but it would be a strong friendship based on shared experience of overcoming obstacles. Think Space Marines. Different skills/abilities might be advantageous in some situation. If you know that some individual will not betray you and will protect you even in danger to himself, you don't care about species, gender or sexual preferences - and you pay back the same.

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protected by a CVn Nov 17 '14 at 13:58

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