As if puberty isn't sometimes confusing enough, this is also the time most teenagers start dating. School dances and parties are dating opportunities, although most of these activities do not require a date. Rather, some girls choose to go to these events and others like them with another girl or a group of friends. And while some girls are interested in boys only, some are interested in girls only, and some are interested in both.

If you are asked on a date, ask yourself these questions to help make sure it's something you want to do and that you'll be safe and have fun:

  • Do you trust the person?
  • Do you have common friends and/or interests?
  • Do you feel pressure from this person in any way at all, to become intimate or to do something you feel is wrong, for example?
  • If this person is someone you would like to spend time with, it could be exciting to begin a relationship and a friendship with this person. This person could become someone special in your life, someone you can trust and depend on and you could be the same to him or her. You could teach each other about respect, honesty, communication and loyalty.

If you date one person for a while, you might feel pressure to become sexually intimate. Friends will question you whether you've "done it," your parents might start talking to you about making the right choices and your partner might start making advances in that direction. But just because you have been dating the same person for a month or a year is not a reason to have sex.

Besides the physical considerations — such as getting pregnant or contracting an STD — there are emotional factors connected to sex to consider as well. You could feel regret, anger, shame or guilt afterwards. Most parents, health care professionals and others will advise you to wait until you are an adult to have sex. You'll be far more able to handle the personal and health responsibilities that go along with having sex. Consider these issues before you have sex:

  • If you don't want to get pregnant, are you prepared to use contraception?
  • What if you became pregnant? What would you do?
  • What if you contracted HIV and developed AIDS? Are you ready to deal with a heavy-duty sickness and possibly the end of your life?
  • What if you contracted another STD and got sick or and passed it on to another person? How would you feel?
  • What if you had sex with someone before you were really ready and it turned out to be an unhappy experience?
  • Can you consider saying "no" to your partner and/or your friends who ask about your interest in sex and your experiences?

Your parents, a health care professional, or any adult with whom you can confide can help you to think through these issues before you find yourself in a situation where you might feel compelled to have sex before you're really ready.