CN: This episode contains frank discussions of sex. Listener discretion is advised.
Frankie joins Janet and Loaf to answer a flurry of dating-related queries. Are algorithms romantic? How does one politely address the logistics of interspecies relations? Is resplendent plumage enough to get you out of paying the check? All this and more on this special episode.
Janet: Will you pleeaase show me the questions?
Frankie: No. The producers are trying to make you seem more authentic.
Janet: That’s fiiine, I just, you know, want to know. It’s hard to be smart on the spot. I have to think about all the words that come out of my mouth before I say them?
Frankie: Yes. Yes you do.
Loaf: I’ve never actually done hypernet dating, but I’m confident that it’s not that different from other mating practices that I’ve participated in.
Janet: Well, I thought you had your whole uh, wives and husbands and spouses and adjective wives and adjective husbands and adjective spouses back home?
Loaf: Our definition of loyalty is someone different from your narrow human viewpoint. After all, when you have twelve mates, what’s five more?
Janet: That uh, actually, that does make sense. I don’t know. It’s so hard being emotionally available for one person that I couldn’t imagine having to do it for two people even.
Frankie: Okay guys, we’re live in - oh shoot, we were live like a minute ago.
Janet: But the theme music hasn’t started - oh.
Theme music begins as Janet speaks.
Computer generated voice: The following program contains explicit content about interspecies dating and sexuality. Listener discretion is advised. Please do not listen if you have not reached the adolescent stage, or if you are easily offended by such content.
Loaf: Greetings gentle listeners, and welcome to an exciting special episode of Solutions to Problems! I’m your host, Loaf, and this is my emotionally unavailable cohost, Janet!
Janet: Loaf, that’s not- Anyway, we have a great episode for you listeners! We hope all of our episodes are great, though, because here at IFM 2 Subspace Radio we try to bring you quality content for your quality listening organs. Today’s quality content is our attempt to bring peace to your inner or outer turmoils. Do you have a problem? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or try to find my OKWurples profile! I would love to have a message with NO pictures attached. My BotDate profile is, thankfully, more civilized.
Loaf: With so many different species in the galaxy, it can be very difficult to tell if something is a picture of someone’s genitals or a freshly baked pastry. Nonetheless, it can be distressing to deconvolute the two.
Janet: It is so very distressing! We also have a special guest in the studio today, and by special guest I mean our ……. Our um, not intern, shoot, not the intern, our Frankie!
Frankie: Hello, everyone.
Janet: We’re going to be doing something a little different today. Since we’ve been getting a lot of questions about hypernet dating lately, Frankie has sorted through them and picked out some of the more common themes for us to talk about!
Frankie: Yeah, this isn’t usually something I would do, but since dating is so different between cultures, the interns were starting to get stressed out figuring out what was a dating question as opposed to, you know, ritual combat. It was kind of fun. Dating is weird.
Loaf: Sometimes by the time you figure that one out someone is already dead. Actually that’s how I lost my third life. But I’m getting off-topic, and we have a lot to get through today. I’m excited to hear what you’ve come up with!
Frankie: I guess I should just start reading them? The first one, which was pretty common regardless of species, is “What’s the best first line for a dating profile or message?”
Janet: Ooh, this is a tough one!
Loaf: It’s highly culturally dependent.
Janet: I think it’s best to do something simple, but unique. For profiles, it’s okay just to describe yourself. You know, species, age, phase of life, time perception, the basics. For messages, I would just go with referencing something from their profile! No one is as funny as they think they are.
Loaf: My go to first question would be something like “Why are we here?” “What is the nature of consciousness?” You know, something that’s really going to start a conversation.
Janet: I also like to start new relationships with crying. It’s a great way to fake intimacy without the time involvement required in a genuine connection, but I guess humans are easily distressed by existentialism.
Frankie: I like to start with a fun fact. Like, “Did you know that there’s a species whose entire lives happen between the microchips in your phone? Every time you call someone, you murder thousands.”
Janet: Um. How does that work for you?
Frankie: Well, it hasn’t yet, but I’m hopeful. Sometimes I’ll also open with a picture of my teeth, but only if they’re from a species that likes that sort of thing.
Loaf: You do have very sharp teeth, which is a sexually desirable trait amongst much of the galaxy.
Frankie: While I’m flattered, Loaf, that’s not an appropriate comment for you to be making, as my coworker.
Loaf: Sorry, it was just an observation.
Janet: Let’s just agree to not mention our relative sexual desirability, even though I’m clearly the most sexually desirable.
Loaf: You’re just so… bipedal. I don’t know. I’m actually unclear on what secondary sexual characteristics humans even find attractive.
Frankie: You are not explaining that on air. I think uh, that covers that question? Sure. Um, here’s another one. “What are appropriate age gaps between two entities or species while dating? For instance, if one entity is 700 years old and one is 30 years old, but they’re both considered adults, is that appropriate?”
Loaf: The galaxy does have a wide range of lifespans, and while it can be disconcerting to date someone who you’ll vastly outlive or visa versa, if it makes both people happy I can’t see anything wrong with it. I once dated a Selfalian for her entire adult life. That was a crazy weekend, let me tell you.
Janet: Yeah, I personally wouldn’t date someone with a radically different life span, but I think as long as you’re in the same stage of life you can probably make it work. If you’re both at the “I’m an adult who pays taxes” stage, that’s fine, but not if one of you is in your species’ adolescent phase and the other isn’t.
Loaf: Ultimately, it comes down to whether or not there’s a power imbalance. If you have power in the relationship, you need to be aware of that and make sure your partner feels genuinely comfortable.
Janet: And some relationships are never going to work out, you know? If you’re someone’s boss, you definitely shouldn’t date them, even if they’re two centuries older than you.
Frankie: Okay, that was pretty straightforward. Um. *rustles papers* “Who should pay for the first date?” Oh, this should be obvious.
Loaf: This is pretty easy. Most species have some variation on the mating dance, which can also take the form of escalating displays of color - hair, clothing, plumage. Obviously whichever partner is more resplendent earns the right to have their dinner paid for.
Frankie: Loaf, what are you talking about? It’s more proper to assign each of you to a random number generator, and then let fate decide.
Loaf: But how, then, is your display rewarded? What is the point of donning only your shiniest of aprons if you may have to pay for your meal?
Janet: Um hey-
Frankie: Not all species value the same aesthetics, as you and Janet are constantly arguing about. Besides, isn’t it romantic to let this first important decision be decided by a basic algorithm?
Loaf: Why would I want to date someone who couldn’t appreciate my magnificently painted antlers?
Frankie: I don’t know, maybe you -
Janet: HEY SHUT UP.
Janet: Clearly, the answer is ritual combat! Hahah, just kidding. I don’t like getting blood on my date clothes. But couldn’t you just… split the bill? I feel like, um, that’s the easiest thing. Is just. Paying for your own things. I don’t really want to spend money on someone I’m still evaluating as a potential girlfriend, no matter how impressive her feathers are.
Frankie: That’s not romantic at all!
Loaf: Clearly this is a more contentious issue than I gave it credit for. Anyway, those were some ideas. Next question?
Frankie: It’s only contentious because you’re all wrong. “Which is the best dating app? OKWurples, Wurplr, Botdate, Plenty of Snurblatches, Caffeine Meets Existential Dread, GroupThinkMingle, etc.”
Janet: Um, I don’t use all of those, so uh, I don’t really know. I think each dating app has its own pro and cons, but the one with the MOST PROS and LEAST CONS is definitely OKWurples, who is by complete coincidence this episode’s sponsor! OKWurples is more personalized than those hook-up apps, um, I guess hook-up means something different after the singularity, what with all the cyborgs, but like, those casual sex apps that people act like are about emotions or whatever, but we know. We know, guys. OKWurples is better than those. There are all these questions! And you answer questions, and it tells you using MATHS and STATISTICS and ABSURDLY COMPLICATED VIRTUAL REALITY SIMULATIONS to tell you which entities best suit you based on your responses. It’s in my top three out of the twenty different apps I currently use, some of which are admittedly definitely hook-up apps.
Loaf: I do want to mention that a lot of “Niche” dating sites and apps can be really useful if your romantic needs are specific and complex. Botdate is great if you are an AI or want to date an AI, but if you’re an organic being looking to meet another organic being maybe try something else. Also, GroupthinkMingle, despite what the name might imply, is not a site for individuals looking to join a collective.
Frankie: Yeah, it’s just a cult thing.
Janet: BotDate has the best spam filter out of all of them, for obvious reasons, but it’s definitely for a niche audience. The swipe style apps have their place, but most of them don’t have a good enough search engine to go by species.
Loaf: Isn’t it classist to ban spam bots on an AI dating site? My species seldom uses dating apps that aren’t specifically designed for us, unless we’re just looking for a casual fling. Most multi-species apps don’t handle fourteen-person relationships very well.
Janet: That’s true. Species specific apps are the way to go most of the time, I think. I try to keep an open mind, but species is really important sometimes! There’s a whole phylum from Alpha Centauri that are actually toxic to humans, and it’s soooo awkward to not find that out until you’re at an experimental art show with them, and they burn your skin attempting to hold your hand with their appendage!
Loaf: It must be frustrating to have so many things be fatal to you! Anyway I think this is a good segue into the first proper letter of this episode. We’ll have more Frequently asked Questions later in the episode. Let us know what you think about this segment.
Frankie: We’re thinking about calling it FAQs with Frankie!
Janet: Are we? Why do you get a segment named after you? I don’t have a segment named after me.
Loaf: Let’s play the recording.
I’m a Blookz postal worker who travels the galaxy but has never called any part of it home. I’m a natural loner, and usually nothing makes me happier than curling up inside my hobbies, which include the history of hermits and monks across time and space. But as you would expect, this nomadic existence sometimes cries out for companionship. I’ve found many potential romantic partners on all kinds of planets and moons, but there’s been this one issue that’s always left me tongue-tied. This is a really awkward question to ask, and I don’t trust the hypernet to give me a reputable answer, so I am hoping you two can help. How do I ask someone from a different species if their genitals will work with mine when we became intimate? I don’t want to seem so narrow-minded and presumptuous when I am just trying to get to know somebody, but there are so many interspecies issues out there, and with my job I feel like I am facing a different culture shock every day. Is there a resource that maps the compatibility of each species’ anatomy in regards to physical intimacy? What words should I use with a potential partner that won’t scare them off?
Alone But Only Sporadically Lonely
Janet: How terrible to be perceived as narrow-minded and presumptuous when you are being narrow-minded and presumptuous!
Loaf: Dating apps designed specifically for interspecies relationships should do some of the work for you. But one important thing not to do is immediately open with a picture of your genitals. While a handful of species do consider this gesture considerate and helpful, many more find it offensive.
Janet: I’m not really sure I understand what compatibility means in this instance? Is it chemical compatibility? Like we’ve established, humans are notoriously fragile, so even though my species is listed, I also list my allergies and various things that can melt or damage my body on my profile as well. Acidic saliva is a biiiig no, which does limit my options pretty considerably.
Loaf: The letter writer is asking “if their genitals will work with mine” - for most species, there is a lot more to sex than genitals. I think if my experience dating a variety of species has taught me anything, it's that basically any number of bodies can be pleasurable to one another if you just get creative. And if you absolutely can’t, there’s lots of ways to temporarily change to a different body, either using virtual reality or something like Switcherooni’s Fruit-flavored cereal bites.
Janet: There’s also a lot of attachments on the market right now that are easy to clean and store. Great for any variety of sexual encounters. I’m not familiar with your species, so I really don’t know what to recommend.
Frankie: Blookz are a polypedal species that need minimum accommodations to survive in the vacuum of space. They were among the first species to establish a delivery service in the early space age because their spaceships were super cheap to build, seeing as they don’t need heating and can survive without air for up to three months.
Loaf: None of which tells us anything about how they fidget their wurples, but they do sound.. hardy? I doubt -
Janet: Wait, are you allowed to say wurples on air? Why was I not allowed to say it? What happened to being a family show, huh?
Frankie: Oh, we put a warning at the beginning. We’re experimenting with more adult-oriented content. Anyway, we really haven’t answer their question, which was how to ask about someone’s genitals.
Janet: Well, it’s not like there’s a polite way to say “Hey, I’ve placed a weird amount of importance on what genitals you have or don’t have, like I can’t just smoosh some things together or rub something a little bit and make it work, so what’s in your. We can’t say pants. Not everyone wears pants. Or even has their genitals in that particular region of the body. So what’s your reproductive organ situation like?” Besides, I always find it kind of fun to be surprised when you get to that bit. Like opening a present or a trading card pack.
Loaf: Well said, Janet. For once I agree with you completely. Shall we dive back into the dating app questions?
Frankie: This next one is kind of fun. “Any advice for dating as a shapeshifter? I molted yesterday and don’t have a new picture yet, so I look completely different from my profile picture. This can be disappointing to the other entity when we meet.”
Janet: How hard is it just to take a new picture? That seems like the easiest solution.
Loaf: How often do they molt? Lots of species with variable appearances can find members of species with static appearances to be a bit shallow and appearance-obsessed.
Janet: Maybe just have pictures from a bunch of different molts? That definitely would get the idea of “I’m not the same all the time” across.
Loaf: Yes, I tend to have one picture with antlers and one without in all my social media accounts.
Janet: It’s kind of amazing how different you look without them! Totally changes the whole thing. They could also just give the other person a heads up that they just molted, maybe.
Frankie: Okay. That seems like enough options? Let’s do, um, “What are you experiences with speed dating? Have you ever been on a singles cruise?”
Janet: If I wanted to be surrounded by other deeply unhappy single people angling to impress each other, I would just go to a stand up comedy open mic. So, no.
Loaf: That was actually my first job when I left my homeworld! I worked on a transgalactic singles cruise. I started as a dishwasher after they found me in the cargo bay - I stowed away, but anyway by the time we got to Earth I was the first officer. It was an adventure. I don’t think I’d ever go on one as a passenger though.
Frankie: Yeah, there’s just no guarantee that you don’t end up with a bunch of creeps. Humans get so weird about my ears, and I can’t stand it. Oh, that lines up with this next one, “I think my significant other has a fetish for my species. What do I do?”
Janet: Dump them!
Frankie: Yeah. It’s rough when you realize someone just sees you as a fulfillment of a sexual fantasy, but you just have to push through it and dump them hard.
Loaf: I mean if it’s a serious relationship sure, but if it’s just a fling I think you can enjoy it sometimes. There are a lot of humans who are kind of into the whole tentacle thing - I can usually-
Janet: I thINK WE HAVE A FEW MORE QUESTIONS TO GET TO.
Frankie: I mean, yeah, but we can let Loaf-
Janet: CAN WE?
Frankie: Uh. Actually, no, you’re right. We can’t let Loaf finish that thought. Another question: “I am an organic being and I feel my dating app has been sabotaged by the dating app AI, but I really like it. Am I weird?”
Loaf: I don’t know, can we stop using the word “weird” to refer to people’s preferences and desires and accept that the galaxy is a beautiful tapestry where no two threads are quite the same?
Janet: Could we do that? Sure. Are they still weird? Absolutely yes.
Frankie: Yeah, it’s pretty weird. Um, I think that’s all of them from this batch of questions.
Janet: This was fun! Wasn’t this fun?
Frankie: Uh, sure. It’s more fun than trying to figure out if leaving annoying cult pamphlets everywhere in the office is protected under religious freedom or if it’s just really annoying and needs to be stopped.
Loaf: I hope this has been helpful. Listeners, if you enjoyed this format and want to see more episodes like it, let us know! Until next time, I hope you all find the being or beings of your dreams!
[End theme plays]
Solutions to Problems was created by and features the voices of Austin Hendricks and Nathan Comstock. It is produced and musically scored by Michael F. Gill. Season 2 was written by Austin, Nathan and Michael. Our theme is by Thomas Dwyer. The voice of Frankie is Valerie Loveland. This episode’s letter was read by April March. There’s more information about us at stppodcast.com, where you can find full transcripts of every episode and links to support us through PayPal and/or RadioPublic. You can also rate and review us on Apple Podcasts or tag us on social media - our handle is stp_podcast. We’ll be back in two weeks with more Solutions to Problems.
Loaf: Your Wurplr profile just says “Fight me!”
Janet: On Wurplr I like to keep things to the point. My OKWurples profile is better. See?
Frankie: “I could make your dreams come true, or maybe you want to fight me. Let’s fight. I could win, maybe.”
Loaf: Do you get a lot of interest from Raknosians?
Janet: Actually, no, because my face is so smooth? They think I look like a shiny baby. That’s just to draw people’s attention anyway. Most people respond to the bit at the bottom, though.
Loaf: That’s really um. That’s very risque, Janet.
Janet: I’m really good at it!