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"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.
One very important question you need to ask yourself is whether this person is safe for you to date.
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.
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?
Girls who've set their sights on older guys, beware.