Dear Miss Emily:

I'm 17 and so is my boyfriend. We've been dating for like 4 months now. We've kissed and stuff like that. Kissing is only how far we've gotten and we both want to take the next step, but either of us is making the move. What do I do?

----------------------------Miss Emily's advice--------------------------

What's your idea of a next step -- intercourse? If that's the case, you certainly need to talk about it to see if you and he are on the same page. It could happen naturally, but that's a bad move. You need protection -- even if you are both virgins, because you can't risk a pregnancy. And you must consider the repercussions if your parents were to find out and disapprove. Lots to consider on that score. If it's just graduating to something more than kissing but not going all the way, I think that would come in time, but things can move quickly from that point and that's why you need to have the big "discussion" no matter how sensitive the subject. If you are going to be intimate with him on any major level, you also need to learn to communicate. If he won't start the conversation, you do it. This could be the very thing that breaks the ice.