Three centuries from now, in the world of Netflix’s original series Altered Carbon, death is extinct—a thing of the past. Real-world reincarnation has been achieved: Human consciousness is digitized, stored in “cortical stacks,” and simply downloaded into new bodies, or “sleeves," when an old one is damaged or worn out like a drained battery.

Of course, in this realm where you can keep body-hopping and live forever, some hairy relationship problems are bound to crop up. How do you know if your girlfriend is who she says she is? How do you deal when your boyfriend wants a better body? Here, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we take a look at the state of relationships in the 24th century.

Your girlfriend has been hinting that she’s unhappy in her body and wants to get a new and different sleeve.

Should you support her?

It’s not easy being a woman in 2384. Every day, your girlfriend walks down the street getting bombarded by holographic images—holofronts on buildings, merchant broadcast catalogs—all hawking the same thing: sex. Seduction reigns supreme, from advertisements to back-alley brothels. It’s enough to make anyone a little insecure. In the old days, people used to do quaint things like get plastic surgery. But now that anyone can get a brand-new sleeve to their specifications, your girlfriend might be feeling pressure to upgrade. If you think she’s perfect just as she is, let her know you love the skin she’s in, that she’s really one of a kind and irreplaceable. It could just be that she wants reassurance from you.

If, at the end of the day, she still wants to spring for a new sleeve, understand that bodily upgrade is highly personal and the decision is hers to make. Offer her your support, and ask if you can be in on the process—you might even have fun picking out a new sleeve together for her this Valentine’s Day.

You’ve been stressed and overworked for years, and it’s completely worn down your body. You want to trade up for a new (and rather pricey) designer model, but your mate is not happy about it.

How do you persuade her?

It’s sleek, it’s strong, it’s loaded with state-of-the-art features—12-pack abs, advanced neurachem engineering, ninja muscle memory, not to mention one hell of a package—and it’s going to require a ton of exercise and care to maintain (think endless leg days and protein powder). You’ll also be dropping a good chunk of change to acquire it.

If your mate is less than thrilled at the idea of you getting a new sleeve—maybe she thinks it’s vain, or too expensive, or she’s feeling threatened by it—explain why it’s so important to you. An upgraded sleeve is not just about status—it’s also about your health and well-being. And if you’re living your best life—a happier and healthier one—there’s a lot in it for her, too. (Especially if you go for a real top-of-the-line model with Empathin, a hormone that lets you both feel each other’s arousal and sexual pleasure along with your own.) As long as it’s your money you’re spending, and as long as it’s not the result of an unhealthy obsession, you should go for it, hopefully with her blessing. After all, there are worse grails to chase than a strong, vibrant body.

Your difficult ex from a crazy past relationship has resurfaced in a new sleeve—insisting he’s a changed person both inside and out—and wants to rekindle your romance.

Do you give it another shot?

You had great chemistry, incredible sex, and some amazing interstellar adventures together. But at some point, he let you down. Maybe he cheated, maybe he abused Stiff or Reaper or any of the other street drugs, or maybe he was just a selfish and ungenerous dick. But when he turns up on your doorstep on Valentine’s Day in a brand-new sleeve, insisting, “That was a hundred years ago—I’m a changed person now,” take a long, hard look before you open that door.
Before you even think about getting back together, ask yourself: Has this person truly changed? Most breakups happen for a reason, and those reasons tend to stick around, even if they get a shiny new wrapping. The ancients of civilized Earth had a phrase for it: “putting lipstick on a pig.” Translation: You can’t put a new sleeve on an old problem and hope it goes away. If there’s the same cortical stack under that hot new body, he’ll be the same old person, and you’ll be doomed to relive the same breakup you had last time.

Your partner wants to swap genders, but you fell in love with him as he was.

How do you tell him?

It’s a given: In any relationship, people change—your partner can go from couch potato to a fitness buff, from rooting for one sports team to its rival. But it’s a bigger deal if you got together with your partner when he was a he, and now he wants to be a she. If you’re open to trying things out with a female sleeve—great. Go for it. You never know, you might find sex with a woman just as intense, and your universe will be expanded, hopefully for the better. But if you don’t think you can swing the other way, let your mate know that you have a right to have your desires and preferences met, too.

Your partner wants kids now. You want to wait.

How do you persuade her to hold out till you’re 200, rather than rushing into it at age 75?

It’s the classic 24th-century relationship dilemma. Your mate is ready to commit, settle down, and have kids. You want to keep exploring. Hey, there are distant galaxies to visit (you’ve still got the Glimmer system on your bucket list!) and work goals to attain. Frankly, settling down at age 75 to have kids seems way premature. Propose a compromise: Set a target date, or a list of goals you want to achieve before kids, and work toward it. If she can agree to hold out till age 200, you’ll spring for a new set of sleeves for both of you so you can procreate with fresh bodies.