There are several romance options available in Mass Effect 2 but Tali’ Zorah nar Rayya is one of the most popular characters to romance for good reason. She’s kind and believes in a better galaxy just like Shepard.
Mass Effect 2 released in a different and worse world than we currently live in so Tali is only able to be romanced by male Shepard. Romancing Tali isn’t too difficult but there are some important steps to remember beyond what gender you select for your character.
Hopefully the next console remaster (whenever that happens) includes mod support because the PC community has a lot more freedom with relationships. I’ll try to be vague and light on spoilers so this can be referenced and used early in your playthrough.
Mass Effect 2: How to Romance Tali’Zorah nar Rayya
The romance cannot be started until after Tali’s Loyalty Mission is completed and it needs to be completed without using evidence against her father. If she’s exiled then she can still be romanced but the evidence against her father cannot be used. Keep this in mind when going through that mission.
Speaking with Tali shortly after completing that mission will lead to her speaking about her fever after inquiring about her and how she’s doing. She will mention linking suit environments, which is an intimate activity among quarians and that Shepard is the person she feels closest to.
Respond with anything other than ending the conversation and then for the next dialogue option, tell her you’re interested. There are two other conversations that will take place before the romance section. These can be started after completing a mission in between each one.
The second conversation centers around if a relationship can work. Maintain your interest after telling her you’d like to talk about her. If you already started to pursue other characters then it will come up but you can reiterate you’re only interested in Tali.
The third conversation can get you if you’re not paying attention. The dialogue to continue pursuing the relationship isn’t on top or bottom; it’s in the middle of the conversation wheel. You need to select “Only if it’s safe.”
If you choose the other options then the romance option will end. If you make a mistake then just reload a save; the game thankfully autosaves a lot. After this is all finished, Tali is set as your romance interest, which will initiate after the Suicide Mission starts.
There is one other issue that can come up that can prevent the romance from happening that you’ll want to take note of and prepare for. If you bring Legion into your squad then there will be confrontation between Tali and Legion.
If your Paragon or Renegade skills are high enough then you can get through the situation without losing the loyalty of either party member — and without losing Tali in the process.
If your Paragon or Renegade skills aren’t high enough then you’ll need to pick a party member to side with and you’ll need to pick Tali if you’re wanting to romance her of course. It’s good to focus on Paragon or Renegade as much as possible for this confrontation and other situations in the games.
It’s okay to deter from one moral side sometimes but there are few rewards for Shepards that take the middle road.