Meeting her parents is like the ying and the yang. Her mother wants to like you. She’s hoping that her daughter has found a dashing, charming young man who makes her laugh. As long as you don’t make a complete fool of yourself, her mother will find you appealing.
Her father, on the other hand, is a different story. You’re dating his little girl (even if she is in her 20s or 30s). He wants to dislike you. Even if you’re a Harvard graduate who specializes in brain surgery and volunteers at the soup kitchen on the weekend, chances are good that he will have his doubts.
When dining with them for the first time, your objective is to keep her mother on your side while managing any potential risks you could accrue with her father. In order to keep you from making unnecessary mistakes, we’ve outlined the meal by listing potential red flags, and how you can act, or react, in each situation. All you want to do is show them your potential, so they want to get to know you better. These recommendations will help you make a solid first impression. (Though it doesn’t hurt to actually have a degree from Harvard or be a doctor.)
What to Wear
Lean on your girlfriend here and ask her to subtly find out what her father is wearing, and then mirror him. If it’s a nice restaurant and he is planning to don a necktie, then certainly don’t show up without one. If the dress code is vague, you can never go wrong with a blazer, crisp dress shirt, and khakis (no flip-flops though; choose a pair of nice brown loafers). It’s distinguished enough to fit in at a fancy establishment, but it won’t make you look overdressed at a more casual spot.
Don’t order the most expensive entrée on the menu, even if one of her parents does. They’re footing the bill, so they can choose whatever they want. Your best bet is to pick a dish that will blend in with the others pricewise. Above all, employ common sense. If you wouldn’t spend that kind of money for a dish, then don’t make them.