What's even more frightening to men than "We need to talk?" How about: "I want you to meet my parents."
Step 1: Find out about them Find out as much as you can about her parents. Are they ultra-conservative? Aging hippies? Avid travelers? Obsessed golfers?
TIP: Knowing a bit about them will help you decide how to dress and which way to steer the conversation.
Step 2: Get haircut & clean nails Get a haircut—even if it's just a trim—and clean your fingernails. This tells her parents that you think enough of their daughter to make an effort.
Step 3: Ask girlfriend what to wear Ask your girlfriend's advice on what you should wear—and then take it. If you have any doubt, go for pants and a button-down or collared shirt.
Step 4: Bring a gift Bring a gift. A bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine are usually appropriate.
TIP: If you bring flowers, include an inexpensive vase so your hosts don't have to scramble around for one.
Step 5: Introduce yourself When you're introduced, smile, look her parents directly in the eyes, and extend your hand. Nothing says "I can take care of your daughter" better than a firm handshake.
Step 6: Ask lots of questions Ask lots of questions; people love to talk about themselves.
TIP: Score extra points by asking what your girlfriend was like as a child.
Step 7: Use etiquette Remember those little etiquette rules your mom used to nag you about? Use them! Hold doors open, pull out the ladies' chairs, and stand up anytime a woman enters or leaves the room.
Step 8: Be prepared Be prepared to answer lots of probing questions about your background and life goals. Grin and bear it.
Step 9: Say thank you When you leave, thank her parents for the evening. Single out something to make it sound sincere, such as, "Thanks so much for dinner. That pot roast was really delicious."
FACT: A survey of single people found that 42% of them wait six months or more before bringing a significant other home.