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According to this, this, and this, the dating world in Mass Effect 3 is exclusive to a singular person for the duration of the game. In other words, I'm not capable of romancing Ashley and Samantha at the same time. Also, if I put the moves on Liara, even if I later let the air out of our romance balloon, I cannot "reinflate" it with someone else down the line.

This imaginary line between friends-with-benefits and monogamous-lockdown is blurry. (Just like real life!) This leads me to my question: How do you know when you've crossed the line between friends and lovers?

Is there a notifier somewhere in the game that tells you you're exploring new territory? Or does your new belle/beau sparkle with some sort of visual cue? Do the other ex-potential-lovers avoid making eye contact when you pass them in the hall? Is there any way to tell at all?

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You shouldn't be capable of romancing Ashley and Traynor at the same time for... other reasons. –  Raven Dreamer Mar 19 '12 at 1:19
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@RavenDreamer There is that time near the end of the game where Ash gets really drunk on the floor of the observation room. Certain mistakes might be made in favor of FemShep... –  Dave McClelland Mar 19 '12 at 1:25
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+1 for asking the question in a manner that presents technical detail, yet with the kind of mounting panic one might expect IRL. –  octern Mar 19 '12 at 5:51
    
Its almost two years too late, but thanks for the great question title. I wonder as much in RL. :-) +1 –  ヴァイシャリ Jan 23 at 14:18
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4 Answers

up vote 17 down vote accepted

When you jump in the shower with someone, that's a good indication that a line has being crossed. Receiving the paramour achievement is another good indicator.

The game has lock-in moments for all the romances. These are points of no returns for choosing your soul-mate. Some examples include:

  1. Speaking with Liara on the Presidium near the markets after Priority Citadel II
  2. Speaking with Ashley/Kaiden at the Appolo Cafe.
  3. Calling Tali up to your quarters for a private discussion.
  4. Having Traynor up to your cabin for game night.
  5. After one of the interviews with Diana* (This may not lock you in, because she does not count as a normal Paramour Achievement granting romance option.)
  6. The shooting match with Garrus.
  7. Dancing with Cortez in Purgatory.
  8. Meeting with Miranda in a room off the Presidium Commons after Horizon.
  9. Meeting with Jack at Purgatory after Grissom Academy.

You have to pick dialog options in each of these instances to confirm the romance. These instances will invalidate any other possible romance. You can tell anyone you have feelings for them, before this point, and it shouldn't exclude any other options.

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Nice! But what about Miranda Lawson, Steve Cortez, and Jack? –  johnjon Mar 19 '12 at 2:33
    
I don't have any specific info on then. Hopefully someone else can expand the list. –  CaulynDarr Mar 19 '12 at 3:32
    
I'm pretty sure I stuck it to Diana and then could still romance other people because she was all about being discreet. I could be wrong though. –  Mr Smooth Mar 19 '12 at 11:27
    
@Mr Smooth That's possible, she's not eligible for the paramour achievement. She might not lock you in. I'll add a note to the answer. –  CaulynDarr Mar 19 '12 at 12:26
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@Christopher What are you talking about? That's exactly how my relationship with my wife progressed. I told her all kinds of nice things about herself over a span of time, and one day asked her an obvious dialog choice. –  CaulynDarr Mar 19 '12 at 17:41
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The details are in CaulynDarr's answer, but the really short answer to the general question is that in each case there is a clear dialogue choice that indicates whether you wish to pursue romance or not.

For example, with Allers, she clearly flirts with you by saying something like "If you keep feeding me like this I might follow you home" and your possible answers are "I'm meat" (or similar) or "Let's keep this professional".

It's not really possible to stumble into a romance unexpectedly.

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With Samantha traynor, you invite her up to your cabin, offer her a shower, then if you jump in with her, you are locked in, and believe me , Liara will find out about it, and then blue love s finished. Well she is the shadow broker. She just knows things.

For locking t in with Liara, talk to her in the citadel, a couple of times, and near the gun shop on the presidium you will confirm your love there.

Ash/Kaiden can jump in the lake after the treatment in ME2 on Horizon. Have romanced Garrus, you go shooting with him on the citadel. Feels all wrong though, he s a mate, not a lover.

Jacob has love for another, whatever dude.

Never played as a dude, so not sure on miranda, jack.

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Unfortunately, the LOCK OUT points are even less obvious - if you're not playing it a "keep my options open" kind of game...then you might arrive at the lockin point and not get the required options.

I couldn't get Traynor in the shower - the option never appeared. I couldn't get Liara to allow me close, only "let's be friends or let's just be prosessional" during the citadel railing scene.

So, SOMEWHERE I'd already given the message that I wasn't interested. No other character love flags have come up, so I know I'm not locked in with any other femShep choice...

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