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So, one of the races in my headcanon is a race of draconic humanoids (dragonkin/dragonborn, basically). One of their salient features is that the species develops the ability to spit a pyrophoric, oily "venom" from a young age and retains it throughout life -- this effectively is a short-range breath weapon of sorts, capable of inflicting painful if not crippling wounds or even killing its victims outright if the wounds are not promptly tended to. It evolved from the ability to spit ordinary venom as a defensive weapon against predators that kept evolving immunities to various poisons. As a result, both genders have it in equal potency, but it takes a long time for the venom glands to refill after they're emptied of their dangerous contents.

Otherwise, they're fairly typical for dragonkin, bestowed with tall (1.8-2+m), heavy builds as well as scales over their leathery skin. While their scales and skin are resistant to ordinary burns, their own breath weapons still pose a serious threat despite this. Reproductive-physiology-wise, they are oviparous, internally fertilized, and operate on the one-hole plan (i.e. they have cloacas), if that matters at all.

So, what differences in mating and courtship rituals would there be between my dragonkin and regular humans, considering the stronger consequences that a violent failure of courtship poses to both parties involved? (If you wish to be specific to societal time periods -- you can use a late medieval/early Renaissance era human society as a reference point.)

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  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by violent failure? A failure in courtship? $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Nov 5 '17 at 23:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Bellerophon -- yeah, a failure mode of courtship where violence gets involved. (clearly, that's not what's supposed to happen) $\endgroup$ – Shalvenay Nov 6 '17 at 0:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Bellerophon -- not particularly. I'm wondering if the higher consequences if violence does get involved would enter the equation, though... $\endgroup$ – Shalvenay Nov 6 '17 at 0:16
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    $\begingroup$ No kidding - when I first saw the title I somehow had this mental image of someone with very severe halitosis... $\endgroup$ – Xenocacia Nov 6 '17 at 1:02
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    $\begingroup$ This adds a whole new meaning to domestic violence. Your dragonkin will probably have developed and maintained high levels of gender equality. $\endgroup$ – a4android Nov 6 '17 at 6:35
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Okay, let's dig in. First, for brevity, we'll call these guys Draconics.

I imagine that, just like humans, the Draconics are not all of a piece. That is to say, they will evolve a wide variety of mating behavior, especially because they are sentient. So let's look at some common patterns which may emerge...

Egalitarian Disarmament

Imagine each partner expends his or her breath weapon as part of a mating ritual. This shows mutual trust -- we're disarming ourselves to come together in love -- and probably cuts down on the collateral damage.

Not so Egalitarian Disarmament

Some Draconic societies may be dominated by one gender. The dominant partner may require the less-dominant one to discharge his or her weapon and submit.

Or, given they have similar neck range movement as humans ... I don't want to get graphic, but the male may be able to hold down the female in such a way that she can't zap him. Don't expect a lot of "after-cuddles" in this society.

Some like it hot

Some groups might favor taking the risk (exciting, eh?) and coming together without disarming. Talk about trust!

Commonalities

Because the Draconics are so easily capable of mauling one another, I expect that in all the above cases, mating is not entered into quickly or lightly. Expect a lot of formal ritual (tea ceremonies, dates, what have you) ahead of time. Expect gift-giving, either mutual or one-sided. Expect very stereotyped courting or seduction routines in a given society -- these are people it is not wise to startle.

Once the (ahem) "festivities" actually begin, you might expect Draconics to be surprisingly tender with one another. Again, not wise to startle them, right?

There might be ripple effects from all of this. Would sex-related deaths be legal? "Officer, he jostled me." "Very well ma'am, carry on."

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The simple answer is sexual selection. Over time surviving mating pairs will favour reproductive partners less likely to harm each other. Their mating rites will develop to accommodate mates who are more likely not to harm each other.

Considering each reproductive partner has their own lethal weapon this selection will work powerfully and inevitably. Any mating rites between dragonkin will emphasize mutual non-harm. It is possible this could far enough that the ability to use their pyrophoric venom could be completely inhibited between dragonkin sexual partners.

If their society is the equivalent of European medieval, then it is plausible that their mating rites will be courtly and chivalrous.

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  • $\begingroup$ Courtly and chivalrous was Church propaganda. The actual contemporaries certainly didn't believe it. Martin's GoT got the violence part right $\endgroup$ – nzaman Nov 6 '17 at 11:15
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    $\begingroup$ @nzaman The dragonkin have a much more pressing incentive to do it for real. Real history is, almost, always otherwise to the images people project about themselves. $\endgroup$ – a4android Nov 6 '17 at 11:47
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Birds do not mate facing one another. That evolutionary dependency would have been retained along with a strong taboo against immolating your partner.

If you're tempted to close-vote based on the length of this answer, bear in mind my response will be something along the lines of, "go sate your salacious desires elsewhere."

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