Relationship Skills

Family Resources on Courtesy in a Relationship

Project and Purpose

Students will participate in a discussion focused on how to show another person courtesy in an intimate relationship.

Essential Questions

How can practicing courtesy support a stronger, more caring relationship?

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students analyzed their beliefs about what norms of courtesy to expect in a romantic or intimate relationship. In class students discussed various social norms of courtesy and compared them with some norms from the past. In groups students created posters comparing courteous and non-courteous interactions and then discussed each group’s ideas as a class.

Getting Ready for the Conversation

Courtesy is generally expected in all positive relationships, but in romantic or intimate relationships the interactions can be different. Part of learning how to interact in a romantic or intimate relationship is courteous expectations and how to communicate those expectations with a partner.

Conversation notes:
All people want to be treated with courtesy, but it is important to learn how to be courteous in the context of relationships.

Love Is Respect is an excellent resource for teenagers, this article by Sam Killermann outlines healthy and unhealthy relationships:

Guidance on talking with teens about sex and relationships from the CDC:

Constructive Conversation Starters

The first item is for follow-up after participating in class activities.

What were some of the courteous interactions that your small group discussed? Why did your group think that it was important that you show courtesy toward a romantic partner?

List several examples of ways to be courteous to someone in a romantic or intimate relationship. Why are these important to you?

Have you ever witnessed a situation where one person in a romantic relationship was not courteous to their partner (use examples from tv or film if necessary)? Describe why this situation was discourteous. What could have been done differently? Do you think the relationship could (or should) be restored? Why or why not?

School to Home Resources on Courtesy in a Relationship


  • There is a “Spotlight on SEL” lesson titled: Social Awareness: The Art of Courtesy. This lesson can be used either as a separate stand-alone lesson or in conjunction with The Art of Courtesy.
  • Blank poster boards or poster sized paper
  • Markers/pens


Review and restate session norms. These should remind students how to interact and communicate respectfully. Essential question should be prominently displayed.
[1-2 minutes]

Activity 1

  • Ask students if they can define “courtesy” or “common courtesy”. If you have an emoji chart, you might ask students to choose an emoji that could depict “courtesy”.
  • Marriam-Webster ( ) defines common courtesy as: “politeness that people can usually be expected to show”.
  • Discuss with students in enough detail to be sure everyone has an understanding of the definition, particularly the key word in the definition is “politeness”.

[5-10 minutes]

Activity 2

  • There are or have been many rules associated with common courtesy. For example, in some parts of the country it is expected that men should always open and hold a door for a woman when entering or exiting a building or getting in a car or taxi. Is this necessary?
  • It was once expected that women and men would shake hands in different ways and when walking on a sidewalk a man was to be on the street side with the woman away from the street. Do these seem odd now? Why or why not?
  • Have students share out their thoughts or comments. It will be necessary to acknowledge that many ways to show common courtesy or politeness may be interpreted as containing inequality and/or gender bias. Many ways of showing courtesy in the past may also contain assumptions that all couples were heterosexual.

[5-10 minutes]

Activity 3

  • Using your knowledge of the students, split students in to small groups of 2 or 3. Ask students to think about everyday interactions that could occur between two people within an intimate relationship, and ask students to brainstorm ways to show courtesy or not show courtesy as people interact.
  • Have students create posters with two columns. One column being ways that people in a relationship can demonstrate courteous interactions and the other column would show examples of non-courteous interactions.
  • Have students share their posters with the entire group. Focus discussion on not only on student ideas, but have students explain why courteous interactions demonstrate respect and caring within an intimate relationship

[15-30 minutes]


Debriefing questions.

  • “At some point all of us will do or say something that we will interpret as impolite or discourteous, how should you react when you feel an intimate partner has done this?”
  • “How does intentionally trying to be courteous help strengthen a relationship with an intimate partner?”
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