Tell your parents all the reasons why you like this person and want to go out with them -- because they're kind, smart, and fun to be around ("because they're hot" isn't a legitimate reason, so don't even try it).
See if you can work out a deal where you ease into dating gradually.
She's also written a book about sexuality for teens, called Sexual Decisions: The Ultimate Teen Guide.
Gowen says being ready to go out has more to do with your maturity than your age. For one thing, could you tell the person you're dating how far you're willing to take the relationship, and what your sexual boundaries are?
Are you also mature enough to handle the rejection that can come in a relationship? On the flip side, if you were the one having to do the breaking up, could you do it in a firm, but kind way?
"Any time you open yourself to somebody, whether it's emotionally or physically, and then they reject you -- it's going to hurt," Gowen says. Don't base your readiness to date on what your friends are doing. "You have to share some common interests," Gowen says.
ANY TIME someone you're dating demeans you, forces you to do something you don't want to do, or hits you -- get out of that relationship. By dressing sexy to impress your date or acting in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, you lose your sense of self.
"Have you had a talk with yourself to say, 'Am I comfortable with kissing somebody, holding their hand, undressing to a certain level, caressing? These are decisions you need to make ahead of time -- not when you're in the middle of a make-out session and your date is pressuring you to go further.
Once you know your limits, you need to be strong and secure enough to say "no" or "stop" if things are getting too hot and heavy.
"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...
they are so much more skilled at this dating game than she would be, and they can manipulate her and hurt her," says Laura Choate, Ed D, a licensed professional counselor, associate professor of counselor education at Louisiana State University, and author of the book, Girls' and Women's Wellness: Contemporary Counseling Issues and Interventions.