Respectful vs disrespectful relationships

Year level: 10


Students develop an understanding of respectful relationships using fun interactive games, and identify the characteristics of respectful and disrespectful relationships.  

Learning focus

Different people value different qualities in relationships.

Key understandings

  • Decisions about sex, gender, respect and relationships are personal and different for different people.

  • These decisions may be affected by beliefs, faith, culture, friends, age, gender and a desire to fit in.

  • The choices we make can change depending on who we are and what’s happening around us now.

  • We experience many different kinds of relationships and love.

  • It is important to be able to identify aspects of a respectful and disrespectful relationship.  


  • Teaching Resource: Relationship cards [3 cards per student]
  • Sticky tape
  • Butcher's paper
  • Teaching Resource: Relation-ship board game pieces [photocopy one set per group]

General capabilities

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Health and physical education(P)

Personal, social and community health

This strand will develop students' knowledge, understanding and skills to support a positive sense of self, to effectively respond to life events and transitions and to engage in their learning. Effective communication, decision-making and goal-setting skills are integral to this strand as they help to establish and maintain relationships in family, school, peer group and community settings, support healthy and safer behaviours, and enable advocacy. Students will source and examine a range of health information, products, services and policies, and evaluate their impact on individual and community health and safety.

Relationships and sexuality

Blooms revised taxonomy

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Inquiry learning phase

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Related items

Teaching resource (download) Guides Resource collections

Before you get started

Learning activities

Whole Class

Students share values about sexual relationships and identify the qualities that they value in a relationship through a negotiation process to simulate a real-life relationship.

  1. Read the statements below about sexuality and gender roles, or develop your own statements that are likely to create a difference of opinion. Using signs spread across the floor to create a four-point continuum (‘strongly agree’, ‘agree’, ‘disagree’, ‘strongly disagree’), ask students to physically move to the position which best reflects their view. A piece of rope or string on the floor, or a chalk line drawn on the floor, can also be used so students can actually stand on the line. Remind them of the ground rules they have developed and demonstrate what this actually means, i.e. to listen, show respect etc.:

    • Boys always put pressure on girls to have sexual experiences.

    • Having sex should be something that both people want to do.

    • If you love your boyfriend/girlfriend you have to have sexual experiences with them.

    • Beliefs about gender vary from one culture (or society) to another.

    • Cultural norms affect laws and policies about sexuality.

    • Contraception is a girl’s responsibility.

    • It’s hard for same sex attracted people to come out at our school.

    • Young people should experiment with sexual experiences.

    • Sexual intercourse should only be with someone you love.

  1. Ask:

    • How do you think you developed your position/s [on this statement]?

    • If you asked your parents to do the same activity, where do you think they would position themselves?

    • What differences do you think there might be if we did this with only girls or with only boys?

    • What differences do you think there might be if we did this with a group of same sex-attracted young people?

    • What differences could strong beliefs have on how young people would position themselves?

  1. Explain that we have many different kinds of relationships and many different kinds of love. There are many different ways to love somebody. People may feel love for members of their immediate or extended family, for close friends, and for their partners or spouse of the same or the other sex. The terms ‘true love’ or ‘real love’ often refer to an intimate partner bond that has moved beyond the ‘falling in love’ or infatuation stage. Sorting out feelings of affection, romantic love, sexual desire, and ‘true love’ is often difficult and confusing. Everyone receives messages from their culture about what love is, whom we should (or should not) love, and how we should express (or not express) our love.

  2. Have students work in small groups to develop their own definitions of love, sexual desire and intimacy and whiteboard common findings. For instance:

Love: A deep feeling of affection, attachment for another person.
Sexual desire: A wish, longing or craving, especially for sexual activity.
Intimacy: The capacity to relate to another person in an emotionally open, equal, and caring way – feeling free to express your inner most feelings.

  1. Draw a boat on the board called a ‘Relation-ship’. Ask students to nominate one quality that they would value in a romantic relationship that they would like to bring on board. Record these suggestions on the board.

  2. Give each student three relationship cards from the Teaching Resource: Relationship cards. Allow 10 minutes for students to bargain and trade their cards with other students for cards with attributes that they value the most in a relationship.

  3. Ask students to report on what cards they have and their experience of negotiating with other people for cards that they wanted.

    • What cards do you have?

    • What cards did you want?

    • Was it difficult or easy to get the cards that you wanted?

    • How is this similar to a family relationship?

    • Discuss that sometimes the positive qualities that we bring to our relationships can also be negative. For example, honesty can be a good quality but it can also be hurtful. Ask students to reflect on this and think about how their qualities could be either positive or negative.

Alternative activity: Place students into small groups. Laminate the cards and place a magnet on the back of each one. Provide each group with a pile to scatter face down. Students can make fishing lines out of their pencils with a piece of string and a magnet on the end. Students each start off with 3 cards and can take turns fishing for better cards, trading as they go. For each turn they must explain why they decided to either keep or trade their card.

Independent or Small Group

Students explore positive and negative aspects of a romantic relationship.

  1. Have students use graffiti sheets (butcher’s paper) or the board to brainstorm examples of positive or negative romantic relationship situations (e.g. your boyfriend/partner puts pressure on you to do something you don’t want to do; or your girlfriend/partner calls you to wish you good luck for your music exam).

  2. Ask students to work in groups of four to construct their own board game called ‘Relation-ship’ that deals with romantic relationship situations. Use the Teaching Resource: Relation-ship board game pieces to assist students.

    • Explain that each group of four is to construct a set of 24 game cards that describe positive or negative actions that affect a relationship.

    • Each card will need to outline a positive or negative relationship situation and the amount of spaces that the player moves forwards or backwards if he/she were to experience this situation. Some examples are ‘Your boyfriend/partner asks you to come to a family dinner - forward two places’ or ‘You have a huge shouting match with your girlfriend/partner on the way to school – move back one place’.

    • Discuss the need to have appropriate rewards and penalties for different relationship situations.

  1. Each group’s cards are shuffled and given to another group. They should then be placed in the middle of the game board. Each student has a token that represents him/her and they take it in turns to select a card and move around the board. After all cards are used they are re-shuffled and the game continues. The aim is to be the first person to get to the treasure chest.

  2. Whole class alternative: If time permits, write relationship situations on the board, dividing the board into four squares. Have students read the situations on their group’s cards and stick each relationship situation card under one of the following headings – family, personal, friendships and acquaintances. Encourage students to discuss if they agree or disagree with the ‘placement’ of the situation.

    • Discuss how relationships vary depending on which category (family, personal, friendship, acquaintance) they relate to.

    • Allocate specific relationship categories (and the associated situations) to pairs of students and ask them to discuss how to either avoid a negative outcome or enjoy the benefits of a positive outcome.

    • Have students suggest and demonstrate the use of assertive and active listening and speaking skills to improve each relationship situation. 


  1. Explain that just because you’re in love does not necessarily mean you are ready to have sex. Because love is different for everyone, there is not a checklist for you to go through to make sure this is the real thing. However, there are some indicators, such as: trusting the person; knowing that even when you’re not together there is an emotional attachment; being able to be yourself when you’re together; sharing some common values and interests; and enjoying each’s company.  

  2. Students discuss and/or write responses to:

    • What are some of the best strategies you have used to maintain the quality of a relationships with your:

      • family?

      • friends?

      • boyfriend/girlfriend/partner?

    • How does the type of relationship (e.g. family, friends, or boyfriend/girlfriend/partner) change the way that we act?

    • Which types of relationship problems can be the most challenging to deal with? Why?

    • What are some things you can do to improve your relationships with family and friends?

    • What are some things you can do to improve your relationships with your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner?

    • Given there are some negatives to loving someone, why do people take the risk of falling in love?

    • How might you be able to lessen the impact of the negatives? For example, if one of the negatives is breaking up, how might that occur with as little impact/sadness as possible?

    • Where can people get help if they are having difficulties in their relationship?

    • If you were in a respectful relationship, how do you think you might feel?

    • If you were in a relationship that was not respectful, how do you think you might feel?