When you start dating someone, chances are you have about six months, before meeting her parents. This can be a stressful event.
I've heard a lot of parents talk about the dumb-ass their daughter is dating... you don't want to be that guy.
Show that you're responsible
"Responsible" takes on slightly different meanings depending on your age.
In high school, if you're asking to drive off with their daughter in your first car, you have demonstrate that you're trustworthy. If you're the messy looking kid with the reputation of liking to drink, her parents aren't going to be too thrilled.
In college, parents may be over the whole driving issue, but their little darling is away from home 90% of time now. So in their mind, 90% of the time you might be a bad influence on their baby. So, on the occasion of meeting her parents, it's important that you keep this likely preconception in mind but not take it personally. It's your job to show them they don't have to worry.
When you're an adult, things aren't that different, but higher expectations are placed on your shoulders. You need not walk around with your paycheck taped to your forehead, but don't complain about money or act cheap either. Obviously, many women can provide for themselves just fine on their own, but you should still act as if you can handle the situation if need be. Parents want to see their daughter with someone who can provide for her when the need arises.
Don't sound like a slacker
Not the brightest student? Stuck in a boring job? That might be the case... but you don't want to sound like a loser to her family.
When describing what you do, put a positive spin on it. If you're working your way up the ladder at your company, focus on the moving up part rather than the boring shit you might be stuck doing at the moment.
If you're a student, don't dwell on the history class you hate, focus on the business class you love.
Be relatable and open-minded
This one is extremely important. There is a good chance, in college especially, that your girlfriend and her parents are from a different place than you. Maybe you're from New York City, and your girlfriend is from the Midwest (like mine is). Or, you're from Florida, and she's from Texas... you get the idea.
Traditions, sensibilities, politics, etiquette, and other factors may differ between you. This is not a bad thing, but it's something you must be vigilant of. You don't want to meet her parents, make some joke without thinking, and quickly offend everyone in the room. It's easier to do than you think...
Speaking for myself, being from New York City, I know some stereotypes are applied to me before I even open my mouth. Some might be true, others probably not. It's your job to show who you are, and disprove any predeterminations that might have been made about you.
The most important thing is to show that you're open to how other people think and act, and don't judge them for it, even if it's different than what you're used to. It's much more productive to find what you have in common than focus on what makes you different.
This is simple advice, but it will serve you well.
Keep the PDA to a minimum
Let her be the leader when it comes to Public Displays of Affection around her parents. Sure, you can put your arm around her or hold her hand, but anything beyond that, tread lightly. Trying to grab some ass in front of her dad is probably not a good move.
At the same time, even a simple kiss might make her uncomfortable in front of her parents, so let her set the standard. The last thing you want to do is make your girl or her parents feel awkward because you went too far.
This comes back to basic manners, but is even more important in meeting-the-parents situations. Get used to saying "Please," "Thank you," "No, thank you," "Mr. ____," and "Mrs. _____." Until her parents ask you to call them by their first names, the safe bet is to use Mr. and Mrs.
If you go out to dinner with her parents and they pay, make sure to thank them for dinner. If you stay in their house, be sure to thank them for their hospitality.
Be mindful, and vocally appreciative, of ways in which her parents try to make you comfortable or accommodate your preferences -- even when those efforts are slightly off target. I will confess, I am an extremely picky eater. So, I've gotten accustom to turning down, as politely as I can, offers for food that I don't expect to like. No matter what you're particular about, it's important to be gracious no matter what is being offered to you.
Dress like a man
If you've read any amount on our site, you probably know our feelings on crap like Ed Hardy. If you are mid-transition into real dudedom, and you still have some of that junk in your closet... be sure not to wear it to meet her parents. Her mom's first thought shouldn't be "Why is this jackass wearing a shirt with a dragon on it?"
I'm not saying you have to whip out the boat shoes
, polo shirt, and dress like a yacht club douchebag... but be sure give it some thought.
You need not dress up, unless you're going somewhere that necessitates it, but don't look like slob either. Find the proper middle ground... think casual Friday at work: jeans and an ironed (non-novelty) shirt is perfect.
If you follow these basic guidelines, you should be drinking a beer with her dad and joking around with her mom in no time. All that potential awkwardness will be water under the bridge.