Before you ask out the object of your affection, or say, "yes" to someone who's interested in you, go through this checklist of questions to make sure you're ready to handle whatever might happen in your new relationship.

It signifies the commitment and love you have for someone you want to spend the rest of your life with.

While having the strong feelings of love towards someone is essential to getting married, there are other important factors to consider before walking down the aisle.

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?

"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.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."I think people are ready at different times," says L.Kris Gowen, Ph D, Ed M, a researcher in sexual and mental health at the Portland State University School of Social Work.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.