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"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.
So, too, does an up-front conversation about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
"Make sure your brain, heart, and penis are in conjunction -- they should all be in a straight line before you have sex," she says.
Mc Clary believes all daters should invest the same amount of time conducting these 'self' conversations about personal dating rules as they do primping before a big date.
Concern about STDs and unwanted pregnancies can help create sexual boundaries, believes Mc Clary.
If, for instance, you're on the fence about whether or not to take sexual activity to the next level, a healthy dose of fear may cause you to pause, particularly if you're not prepared to take the necessary precautions.
"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.