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).

not because you're the only person in your group who doesn't have a special someone," Gowen says. Also get your friends' input about whether the person is worth your time.

One very important question you need to ask yourself is whether this person is safe for you to date.

"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.

In fact, Gowen did a study of girls who had older boyfriends, and she found that freshmen girls who dated junior or senior boys were more likely to go further, and to be forced into doing things they didn't want to do.

A good rule of thumb is not to date anyone who is more than one grade ahead of you, Choate says."A great way to start the whole dating scene is by hanging out in groups with parental supervision," Choate says."Then the next step might be some gradual couple time, but still with parental supervision." Over time, you can ask for more and more one-on-one time with this person, proving with each step that you are mature enough to handle the added freedom. " Are you ready to handle the pressures of hanging out -- and possibly hooking up -- with someone? You have met the most amazing person, and you totally NEED to go out with him/her. Do your parents even allow you to go out and "date?Girls who've set their sights on older guys, beware.