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Workshop 4: Dating Scripts

Emotions and Communication


Empathy: is the ability to feel another person’s emotions and understand their experiences by putting yourself in their shoes. You can always respond with empathy when someone is sharing their thoughts or emotions by really tuning in, listening closely, nodding, making eye contact and showing you're right there with them, even if their experience is different from yours.

Verbal Communication: is when you use words to share something with others. It's not just about what you say, but also how you say it—like the tone of your voice.

Non-Verbal Communication: is when you share feelings or thoughts without words but with body language - using facial expressions, gestures, and posture. 

Active listening: happens when you pay close attention to someone else's words, understand what they are saying, and show your engagement with eye contact, nods or other gestures. Active listening helps build strong connections.

Respect: is about showing kindness and consideration to others, ourselves, and our surroundings. It involves treating others with courtesy and fairness, no matter how different they are from us, which helps create shared spaces where everyone can feel valued and accepted.



Script: A script acts as a mental blueprint that guides our expectations and behaviors, similar to how a written script outlines dialogue and actions in a play or movie. For example, we often have a mental script for how men and women should act: sometimes expecting men to be protectors and women to be caretakers. This type of script can create unfair assumptions about others, limiting how individuals express themselves and interact.

Dating Script: A dating script is like society’s guide for how dates are supposed to go, that include expected behaviors and actions. These scripts can differ based on culture, age, religion, and are often influenced by what we see in media like movies, TV shows, and online content. For example, there might be an unwritten rule about the sequence of a date, from the first hello to the final farewell.

Gender Script: This refers to specific gendered expectations that we learn from the culture around us. For example, we often assume that men are strong, and do not show their emotions. Gender scripts can lead us to common assumptions about how individuals should act, speak, and dress. 



Consent: Giving consent means agreeing to do something. In sexual and intimate relationships, sexual consent refers to giving permission for doing or receiving any form of sexual activity (from touching and kissing, to penetration). There are a lot of aspects about sexual consent that are important to understand. Consent:

  • is always needed, no matter the partner, the context, or the types of sexual activity

  • is freely given (no threats, pressure, or coercion)

  • is informed (a person should know what they consent to)

  • is enthusiastic

  • can be revoked at any time

  • can be given for some activities, and not for others

  • is never assumed

  • can be communicated verbally or nonverbally

Consent cannot happen when:​

  • someone is incapacitated

  • someone is less than 16 (sometimes less than 18)

  • there are power dynamics

  • there are threats, coercion, pressure, or force

Boundaries: In the context of relationships, boundaries are essential guidelines that determine the limits of how individuals interact with each other, ensuring respect, trust, safety. Setting healthy boundaries involves establishing clear rules and expectations around communication, emotional support, shared responsibilities, and personal space.

Healthy relationship: When a relationship is healthy, partners feel good about themselves and each other most of the time. Partners feel like they have respect, kindness, trust, honesty, equality, and good communication. And they also give each other space to have their own lives outside the relationship.

Unhealthy relationship: Partners in unhealthy relationships usually have issues around communication, respect, boundaries, safety, and trust (amongst other things). One or more partners may feel anxious, confused, uncertain about the relationship, and unsafe. Some of the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship are put-downs, anger, jealousy, feelings of guilt, control issues, and disrespect.

Abusive relationship: An abusive relationship involves someone attempting to control and harming the other. Abuse can take on many forms, like physical, emotional, sexual, and digital. It can happen to anyone. It doesn't matter your age, gender, sexual orientation, the length or type of relationship.

Relationship Continuum: This concept views relationships as a spectrum from healthy to abusive, not fixed in one category. Healthy relationships might face occasional issues like conflicts, but their strength lies in resolving these problems before they worsen. It's important to address any unhealthy behaviors early to avoid progressing to abuse. Since abusive relationships can develop gradually from unhealthy patterns, staying alert to signs of abuse is important and taking action to address abusive behaviours if/when they do occur is essential.

Equality: In a relationship, equality refers to a balanced and fair partnership where all individuals enjoy mutual respect, shared responsibilities and decision-making, and equal opportunities for personal growth.

Honesty: In a relationship, honesty includes open communication, transparency, and a commitment to truthfulness. Honesty is a key ingredient to a healthy relationship.

Power dynamics: Power dynamics refer to the relationships between individuals where one person holds influence or control over another's decisions, actions, or circumstances. Recognizing and understanding power dynamics is crucial for maintaining healthy relationships and ensuring that all parties feel respected and empowered. There are two main types:

  • Built-in power dynamics: These are part of certain relationships, where one individual naturally has authority or influence over the other. Examples include parent-child, teacher-student, employee-boss, and coach-athlete relationships.

  • General power dynamics: These can occur in any relationship, including friendships, where one person exerts control or influence over another. For example, a friend who always dictates how you spend your free time and/or with whom

Pressure: In a relationship, pressure refers to the expectations, demands, or stressors that can be put on another person. Some examples of pressure in a relationship include:

  • A person presses their partner to not hang out with certain friends

  • A group of friends tells a person to skip class even when they don’t want to

Jealousy: is an emotional response to the perceived threat of losing someone you care about. While some may believe that jealousy is a way to show you care about them, this is not true. Jealous behaviour can be extremely problematic in a relationship, leading to conflict, and even abuse in extreme cases. Examples include:

  • Your partner constantly wants to check your texts and private messages

  • Your partner overreacts to you hanging out with others when they aren’t around

Dishonesty: In a relationship, this refers to any form of untruthfulness, deceit, or misrepresentation of information. For example, hiding how you are truly feeling, to avoid having to talk about your emotions with your partner.

Breaks in communication: refer to disruptions or lapses in the exchange of information within a relationship and can potentially lead to unhealthy or even abusive dynamics if they intensify. The significance of these interruptions often depends on the context in which they are happening. Some examples include ignoring texts for a long time, blocking contacts on social media, or refusing to tell someone why you are upset with them.

Inconsiderate behaviour: In a relationship, this refers to actions or attitudes that disregard the feelings, needs, or well-being of others. Examples include: dismissing the emotions of others, disregarding scheduled plans, or refusing to contribute to shared responsibilities.

Accusations: This refers to a claim that an individual has done something wrong. Common accusations in a relationship include:

  • Beliefs that your partner is cheating

  • Ideas that your partner is not interested in the relationship anymore

  • Believing your partner is prioritizing other individuals in their life instead of you

In a relationship, accusations can be extremely harmful and can have potentially negative effects on trust and communication when they are not based on anything. If you have concerns with your partner, it is always best to bring it up in an open and calm conversation, rather than in an accusatory manner.

Blame shifting: occurs when someone wrongly puts the fault of an issue onto another, often justifying the blame using information that doesn’t relate to the issue at hand. 

Lack of consent: Refers to any instance where consent has not been clearly given. Please see the definition of “Consent” for more information. 

Physical Force: Physical force refers to any instance of using your body physically against others in a non-consensual way. Blocking the doorway to prevent someone from leaving, throwing objects at another person, kicking, hitting, slapping, or holding someone down are examples of physical force.  

Coercion: In a relationship, coercion refers to the use of force, threats, manipulation, or pressure to control the thoughts, and actions of others. There are many other forms of coercion including:

  • Emotional Coercion: Using guilt or shame to control another person

  • Physical Coercion: Using physical force, or threatening to use physical force against someone in order to have them behave in a certain way

  • Sexual Coercion: pressuring or forcing someone into sexual activity they don’t wish to participate in, or using sexual activity as a way to control someone.

Manipulation: is the use of various strategies to gain power and control over someone's thoughts and actions. It employs psychological tricks, deceit, or emotional manipulation to subtly influence someone, leading them to think their thoughts and actions are entirely their own. Some examples of manipulation include:

  • Gaslighting: “I never said that. You fully made that up.”

  • Guilt trips: “I do everything for you. Wouldn’t it be nice for you to just do this one small thing for me?”

  • Flattery: “You’re so good at doing the dishes, even if I tried, I wouldn’t get them as clean as you. Maybe it makes more sense for you to just do them?”

Gender and Sexuality


Gender: Gender is how society thinks individuals should look, think, and act. Society has beliefs and unspoken rules (that can evolve) about how people should act based on gender. For example, many people expect men to be more aggressive than women.

Gender Identity: refers to how you feel inside about your gender. Your feelings about your gender can emerge early in life, and they can also change throughout your life. It is your personal sense of being a boy, girl, non-binary, two-spirit, agender, or something else entirely. There are many other gender identities that exist!

Gender Expression: is how you express your gender to others, including your behaviour, clothing, hairstyle, or the name you choose to go by. 

Sexual Orientation: This term is used to describe who you are sexually and/or romantically attracted to. A few examples of sexual orientations include lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, questioning, asexual and heterosexual.

Workshop 4


(1) Definition from Moss, S. (). Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children & Youth in Canada: A Prevention and Early Intervention Toolkit for Parents. Children of the Street Society.

(2)  Modified definition of normalizing violence. Source: WCASA. Social Norms Toolkit: The Normalization of Violence: Explaining the connection between the normalization of violence and sexual assault. (n.d.). Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA).

(3) Definition from Moss, S. (). Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children & Youth in Canada: A Prevention and Early Intervention Toolkit for Parents. Children of the Street Society.

(4) McGlynn & Rackley. (2016). Image-based Sexual Abuse: More than just ‘Revenge Porn’. University of Birmingham. p.g. 2.

(5) McGlynn & Rackley. (2016). Image-based Sexual Abuse: More than just ‘Revenge Porn’. University of Birmingham. p.g. 2.

(6) Concordia Sexual Assault Resource Centre. n.d. What is Sexual Violence?. Concordia University.

(7) Concordia Sexual Assault Resource Centre. n.d. What is Sexual Violence?. Concordia University.

(8) Modified from

(9) Concordia Sexual Assault Resource Centre. n.d. What is Sexual Violence?. Concordia University.

(10) Concordia Sexual Assault Resource Centre. n.d. What is Sexual Violence?. Concordia University.

(11) Concordia Sexual Assault Resource Centre. n.d. What is Sexual Violence?. Concordia University.

(12) Harvard Law School Halt: Harassment Assault Law Student Team. (2021). How to Avoid Victim Blaming. Harvard Law School Halt.

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