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" Are you ready to handle the pressures of hanging out -- and possibly hooking up -- with someone?

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.

About half of 15- and 16-year-olds say they've dated, but just because you've reached a certain age doesn't really mean you're ready to date.

One out of every four teens has been verbally, physically, emotionally, or sexually abused by the person they're dating, according to the CDC. Finally, never get so wrapped up in another person that you forget who you are.

ANY TIME someone you're dating demeans you, forces you to do something you don't want to do, or hits you -- get out of that relationship. By dressing sexy to impress your date or acting in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, you lose your sense of self.

If you really want to be with this person and your parents won't give in, try talking to them about it. Gowen suggests trying to show your parents how mature and responsible you are.

Don't start off with a confrontational attitude -- "Why won't you let me date? Remind them about the chores you've done around the house and how well you've been keeping up with your schoolwork.

Once you -- and your parents -- feel ready and you've found someone you like and who likes you, you can start going out.

But when you begin any new relationship, take it slow.

"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.

This is the all-important question, because if your parents say "no," you're not going to get very far.