Relationship Skills

Family Resources on Personal Beliefs in a Relationship

Project and Purpose

Different people have different beliefs and values, students will participate in an activity to learn how remain respectful in an intimate relationship when a partner has differing values.

Essential Questions

What values should be a consideration when choosing an intimate partner?

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students analyzed how personal beliefs can affect an intimate or romantic relationship. In class students participated in an exercise comparing beliefs and preferences, using this to discuss how people’s values can affect romantic and intimate relationships. In small groups students brainstormed various values people can bring to a relationship and how those values could possibly enhance or interfere with a long-term intimate relationship

Getting Ready for the Conversation

Part of adolescence is analyzing one’s own values and figuring out what beliefs are important. This often takes place parallel to learning about romantic and intimate relationships. Understanding the importance of values and figuring out how to communicate about values is an important part of learning how to develop and maintain long-term intimate relationships.

Conversation notes:
There are three issues that parents and adult mentors often need to discuss with adolescents: being able to understand one’s own values, being able to articulate those values to a partner and determining whether some differing values will enhance or interfere with a relationship.

Article by Dr. Lisa Firestone on healthy relationships with different values at PsychAlive:

Constructive Conversation Starters

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

During the discussion in class, what comments were made about what to do when a couple disagrees about values? Do you agree with what was discussed in class? Why or why not?

Do you think that a couple must share all the same values to have a meaningful long-term relationship? Describe why or why not using examples.

Using examples describe how you should discuss values that you share and possibly do not share with a romantic partner. Why do you think your approach would lead to a healthy relationship?

School to Home Resources on Personal Beliefs in a Relationship


  • RA resource for further reading and support can be found at website operated by the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
  • Posters or poster sized pieces of paper
  • Markers and writing utensils


Review and restate session norms. These should remind students how to interact and communicate respectfully. The topic involves intimate relationships and should be discussed appropriately. Essential question should be prominently displayed.
[2-3 minutes]

Activity 1

Have students stand up and go to an open space in the room. This activity is a group building warm-up exercise called “Bus Stop”. Using tape, string or rope have two parallel lines on the floor far enough apart that the entire group can fit in between them. Facilitator is the “bus driver” and will give students several pairs of words. Students choose their preference and get off the “bus” on the side pointed to by facilitator. For example, the driver might say “pencil” and point to the left and “pen” and point to the right; students would then go to the side they prefer. The facilitator may use the following suggestions or come up with additional ones.

  • Spend/Save
  • Dog/Cat
  • Train/Bus
  • Sports/Movie
  • Coke/Pepsi

Facilitator should do several times so that almost all students split up one time or another. Do not use personal characteristics such as hair color, every word pair should involve a choice each student makes.

Debrief with students by discussing that everyone has preferences and no matter how similar one person is to another there will always be differences of opinion and/or preferences.

[10-15 minutes]

Activity 2

Individual Reflection
Ask students the following questions. Give students time to think and possibly write down some answers or thoughts.

  • In the “Bus Stop” activity, did other students that you have a lot in common with always make the same choice as you?
  • In intimate relationships, couples usually have many things in common. Do you think that even with a partner that you share a great deal in common, that both of you will always have the same feelings and beliefs?

After students have reflected, have them share some thoughts. You may wish to read students’ comments aloud to the group to keep the comment anonymous and less emotionally charged.
[10 minutes]

Activity 3

Group Activity
Using your knowledge of students in the group, place students in groups of 2, 3 or 4.

In their groups ask students to brainstorm and write down things that they would value in an intimate (long-term) relationship. It may be helpful to mention that some of the “Bus Stop” word pairs can indicate values (such as spend/save) and other word pairs would not
be examples of values (such as Coke/Pepsi). Point out that we are talking about values not necessarily common interests.

Once students have come up with their lists of values, have students rank order the values they think are most important in their groups. If there is not inter-group agreement that is okay, have students note that if they could not agree on the order of their lists.
After groups have completed their lists and rankings, have each group share out. After students have heard each group’s lists and rankings have students stand up and play “Agree, Disagree or Neutral”. Pick a value from one of the lists and how the group ranked its
importance. Have students go to one side of the room if they agree with the importance of that value, the other side if they disagree and in the middle for neutral. Randomly choose students from each group to support their positions and allow students to move from one group to another as they see fit. Keep picking values from lists to encourage student comments. Make sure that each student has spoken if at all possible.

It is to be expected that there will be some disagreement which the facilitator should use to encourage discussion about values. The goal is for students to see that values within relationships may not always match with their partner’s values and respectful discussion if used to find common ground.

Facilitator should be mindful that abusive relationships are covered in other sessions and attempt to keep students focused on important values in a non-abusive relationship.

[20-30 minutes]


Debriefing questions.

  • What personal values are important when considering a partner in an intimate relationship?
  • What values do you think are most important to consider when entering a potential intimate relationship?
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