"There's a big difference between a seventh-grader and a ninth-grader when it comes to experimentation," Gowen says.
By the time they're in high school, guys may have gone a lot further than you're ready to go.
This is the all-important question, because if your parents say "no," you're not going to get very far.
It could be because they're very conservative, or because they remember how they acted during their own teen years.
Even if it seems like everyone around you has paired off, you want to go out with someone for the right reason -- because you really like that person. You also want to be with someone who will treat you right, she says. One clue is the way they treat their friends, teachers, and parents.
"The motivation to be drawn to this person is based on who they are as an individual ... If you're not totally sure about this person, ask yourself if it's worth getting into the relationship.
"Just because a girl looks like she's 16 when she's only 11, it doesn't mean that psychologically or emotionally she's ready to date older boys...