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This question is awkward to ask, but it's still legitimate and has gone unanswered, as far as I can tell.

In shows like TNG, where ships carry officers and families, we know that there are Starfleet officers who are in romantic relationships. We know that officers are engaged sexually as well because Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Doctor Beverly Crusher

Have a kid, who appears in Star Trek: Picard as a fully grown Jack Crusher.

[Star Trek: Picard spoiler]

And, of course, we know at least two swashbuckling captains (Pike and Kirk) who are prone to sleeping around with various women in their brief, exploratory, interstellar relationships. This is despite the fact that Starfleet has some rules against these kinds of relationships, although they're absolutely pointless since nobody pays them any heed whatsoever.

My question is, how do lower-ranking officers (e.g. such as ensigns and lieutenants) copulate? They lack the privacy that captains and commanders are afforded thanks to their large, private quarters. I could make an example of how "Lower Deckers" in Star Trek: Lower Decks literally sleep in the walls of the corridors, but this sleeping arrangement is most likely comical exaggeration, or specific to the California class. I also remember one scene (perhaps from a Star Trek: Voyager episode?) where Tuvok, at a time when he is assigned to an Excelsior class, rooms with three or so other officers. In Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Ensign Uhura is shown sleeping in a wall bunk as well, though she at least has a room. The point is, none of them had much private, intimate space to themselves.

There is one place on the ship that has been mentioned a few times regarding these...issues.

I distinctly recall a scene in Lower Decks where Beckett Mariner is assigned holodeck cleaning, and she complains about people "doing that" in the holodeck. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, there are the "holosuites" where Quark peddles nefariously-obtained holographic fantasies to customers.

So then, is the holodeck where..."it all happens?" Are there any other places where lower-ranking officers could make it work? Or do they have to sneak off to some secret corner in the Jefferies tubes to do it? Unless the whole crew gets infected with some sexy virus and suddenly starts engaging in public indecency (see TNG: "The Naked Now" and LD: "I, Excretus"), in which case the need for privacy apparently vanishes, but let's not talk about that.

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    I guess no college students living in dorms have sex either since they don’t have cushy private rooms…
    – Jon Custer
    Commented May 11 at 18:02
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    College students don't sleep in walls either... Commented May 11 at 18:04
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    They can't put a tie on the doorknob because they don't wear ties and the doors don't have knobs. Commented May 11 at 18:36
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    Generations of real people lived and loved in basically a single room with their entire family. It comes down to the culture you live and grow up in.
    – DavidW
    Commented May 11 at 18:54
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    People bang on water Navy ships with a lot less space and privacy than Star Trek ships have. Life, uh, finds a way.
    – Shawn
    Commented May 12 at 0:37

4 Answers 4

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You're just expected to be discreet. It's not like Starfleet vessels aren't filled with rooms that can be locked.

CHAKOTAY: (sotto) This morning I interrupted a couple who were kissing in the turbolift, and I've been wondering if we should establish a policy regarding fraternisation.

JANEWAY: (sotto) Well, the couple in question might be urged to show a bit more discretion, but Starfleet has always been reluctant to regulate peoples' personal lives.

On most ships anyone above the rank of lieutenant seems to have their own quarters and even if you're having to share, you can just negotiate with your roommate to have the use of the room for an evening. If you don't have a room of your own, you can always borrow one from a higher-ranked friend, use one of the many empty crew rooms or just go shag on the holodeck.


At Starfleet Academy, it's not uncommon to hang a metaphorical sock on the metaphorical doorknob to let your roommate know not to walk in.

“I’m not sure he’s noticed yet,” he said. “After winning that stupid race, Thanas has been too busy fielding attention from everyone else at the Academy. He really only talks to me when he’s kicking me out of the room so he and his latest girlfriend can be alone.”

Starfleet Academy: Abramverse - The Edge

Roommates don't necessarily share shifts. You may get lucky and you can do the nasty while you're home and they aren't.

Once he was finished, Bart rinsed his face in cold water and studied his reflection. He’d never worried about looking older. Not even now was that the catalyst for shaving. He’d intended to take a picture of himself without the beard and send it to Jolen before growing it back again. But as he turned his face to the left, and then the right, Bart considered leaving it bare and smooth for a while.

He could just see the gaping face of Fabian later in the day when his roommate got off shift.

Star Trek S.C.E. #59: Blackout

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    Is it worth pointing out that Kirk deals with the roommate/lack of privacy issue in his own unique fashion?
    – Valorum
    Commented May 11 at 22:16
  • The first part of your answer is similar to how doctors and nurses handle it on hospital shows.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 12 at 17:56
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    @Barmar - I don't remember them having a holodeck on Scrubs.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 12 at 17:56
  • I meant "rooms that can be locked". On all the hospital shows I've watched, supply rooms seem to be used far more for nookie than actually getting supplies.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 12 at 18:03
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    @Valorum: That does work, but I prefer not to do that: you may not mind, but a lot of users do object to extra fluff being added to their answers. In most cases if there's one typo, there are usually enough other things to tidy up at the same time; yours was the rare exception where I couldn't find more than a single character out of place :)
    – psmears
    Commented May 13 at 11:07
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You don't really need a nice private room to "do it". It certainly helps, but many people living in small/cramped rooms/houses also reproduce. It depends on the culture and prsonal values of the participants.

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    While this is true in principle, your answer says nothing about what actually goes on in practice on Star Trek starships. Commented May 12 at 8:52
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    It kinda does. Who knows how open or repressed modern society is in Star Trek? Commented May 12 at 14:03
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    The position that wild speculation may be right because we don’t know doesn’t seem useful. Commented May 12 at 15:42
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    @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas Well, significantly, everyone who does have access to a private place (personal quarters, holosuite) and is sexually active uses that private place to do it. At a minimum that would suggest that people in Star Trek prefer privacy if they're able to get it.
    – Cadence
    Commented May 12 at 22:55
  • @JamesMcLeod In the absence of solid information, wild speculation may be all we have available. When discussing a FICTIONAL universe, unless the writers put something specific in the script that answers the question, all one can do is say, "Based on what we can see about the society that the writers posit, it seems likely that ..."
    – Jay
    Commented May 23 at 19:04
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This issue is hardly unique to star ships. Throughout history there have been people who lived in close quarters with little privacy. Many people today in poor countries live in one-room houses where the entire family sleeps in the same room. I recently saw a video by a woman who grew up in such a home. At one point she commented that she had 3 older brothers, and she wondered how she was conceived, but didn't really want to know the details.

I don't claim any in-depth knowledge of Star Trek. (I've seen TOS and some episodes of TNG and DS9.) So I can't make sweeping statements about it. But does Star Fleet really have a rule against sexual activity by its people? I don't recall ever hearing such a rule mentioned, but maybe I didn't watch the right episode, or I don't remember because I don't care enough.

When I was in college, we shared dorm rooms. This did little to stop sexual activity: people just asked their roommate to go somewhere else for the evening to give them some privacy.

If neither party has a private cabin and neither can convince roommates to give them privacy, you look for some other place. You find a storage room or an isolated corner of the engine room or some such.

What happens if someone walks in on you? That depends a lot on the culture. I could see that ranging from "everybody laughs and the person who walked in slips back out" to "the person who walks in declares that he will report you to the authorities for illicit sexual activity". Or I suppose to, "the person who walked in stays and watches".

RE holodecks: I saw several episodes where people reacted in surprise and shock to the idea of someone using the holodeck to live out sexual fantasies. And I thought to myself, Come on now. If such a device was invented, surely it wouldn't be more than about 10 minutes before someone got the idea of using it to live out sexual fantasies. I presume the reaction would be much like the reaction to people watching pornography on the Internet: some people would think this good clean fun, others would disapprove, but no one would find it surprising.

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In one episode of Voyager Seven is investigating human romantic relationships, and Tom and B'Elanna in particular. B'Elanna realises Seven is making notes about them, grabs her PADD and reads the notes. From memory, it goes like this:

B'Elanna: "Stardate [x]: couple resume intimate relations." How do you know when we're ... having intimate relations.

Seven: There is no one on deck 9 section 12 who doesn't know when you are having intimate relations.

Ahh, found it:

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    Yes, but as senior staff both B'Elanna and Tom have their own private quarters. After a while they even move in with each other. OP is asking about people who don't have access to their own rooms - "how do lower-ranking officers", etc
    – Valorum
    Commented May 18 at 18:12

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