"My advice is this: wait as long as you can," Allen says.
Her rationale for these dating rules may seem obvious, but many people tend to forget in the heat of the moment.
"Every woman and man should know their boundaries before they start dating, and most of us don't," says Cheryl Mc Clary, Ph D, JD, professor of women's health at University of North Carolina-Asheville.
When Mc Clary refers to boundaries, she's not talking just about the physical boundaries that come with sexual territory. "Emotional wholeness is crucial to the decision process of whether or not to have sex," Mc Clary tells Web MD.
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Having an honest conversation with yourself about sex is just as important as discussing it with your partner, experts say."The risks of STDS have got to be discussed and prevented from spreading," Allen tells Web MD."I say definitely use condoms, even if you're in a committed relationship," she adds.Whether you're new to the dating scene, a regular player, or jumping back into the game after a long hiatus, the same questions about dating rules apply: How soon do you lean over for that first kiss? And last -- but by no means least -- how do you know when the time is right for sex?"There's really no formula that I've encountered," says 28-year-old Andrew Reymer, a single resident of Baltimore, Maryland.Plus, not having adequately prepared for these practical aspects of sex may signal an overall non-readiness to engage in it.At some point during their courtship, many dating couples decide its time to break down initial boundaries -- be they emotional, physical, or both -- and engage in a sexual relationship.She also says the conversation, like the primping, should happen at the same time -- before that big date."Think about your sexual boundaries before you've had that first drink," Mc Clary advises."It depends on how rapidly or slowly things progress." Joan Allen, a relationship expert, finds that baby boomers are far more likely to wait to have sex than younger daters."Especially among older people who went through the sexual revolution, with maturity they realize there are emotional consequences for getting involved in a sexual relationship," says Allen, author of Celebrating Single and Getting Love Right: From Stalemate to Soulmate.