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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."You might find that you don't even like the person," Allen tells Web MD.Other experts agree that sex too-soon can lead to undesirable consequences."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.
"I say definitely use condoms, even if you're in a committed relationship," she adds.
According to the singles whom Allen has encountered, boomers generally play by far different dating rules than young, 20-something daters.
"I spoke with a young man in his early to mid-20s who told me that if he didn't have sex on the first or second night, he'd move on to the next person," she recalls.
Once you've decided what you want out of a date, say experts, you should make it part of your regular dating rules to tell your partner.
"If you just want a one-night stand, you owe it to your partner to tell them 'it's just sex I'm after,'" Mc Clary tells Web MD.
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?