You know that a relationship is real when your significant other invites you to meet their parents. Unfortunately, that little rite of passage doesn’t always go so well—if the stress gets to you, you’re likely to say or do something embarrassing. Someone should really make a movie about that.

The good news: Even when everything goes horribly, there’s someone out there who has a worse “meet the parents” story than you. We collected a few of the best ones we could find, then edited them slightly for readability and clarity. Try to make your way through these tales of utter awkwardness without cringing.

When you’re trying to impress the family, you really want to knock them out.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

“I met my girlfriend’s parents at their summer house the summer after my sophomore year in college,” explained Reddit user extracreddit1. “Though their daughter spoke highly of me, I was intimidated by their strict demeanor.”

“They arrived at the house late at night with my girlfriend’s sister and brother, and because it was late, I introduced myself to them, and everyone went to sleep. I shared a room with my girlfriend’s younger brother.”

“Around 2 a.m., I began sleepwalking over to her brother’s bed. The brother’s room was laid out similar to my room at home, so I thought I was in my bedroom. I panicked when I felt someone’s warm face in the other bed.”

“I could not find the light switch, so I began to attack the ‘intruder’ while screaming and swearing at him. I punched her brother in the face multiple times, even as he begged me to stop. Note: I had never thrown a punch before.”

“Her parents rushed into the bedroom, fully dressed, with their Great Dane on his leash, barking and lunging aggressively. When the lights turned on, her parents saw me in my boxers with my fists raised over their son. Her brother and I laid wide awake, silently, for the rest of the night.”

Oddly enough, that’s not the only sucker-punching-while-sleepwalking story we found.

“The first time I met my now-fiance’s mom and stepdad, I also was staying at their house,” wrote curvy_lady_92. “We had been together for a while by this point.”

“Well, his parents didn’t want us sleeping together, so I slept in the guest bed, and he in his. The next morning, he decided to be oh-so-cute and romantic and wake me up with a kiss, right?”

“I am an anxious sleeper. He kissed me. I punched him in the face. His mom still laughs her a** off when she tells the story.”

That first dinner with the parents is always awkward.

It’s especially uncomfortable if the parents are totally psychotic about mashed-potato etiquette.

“Years ago I was at my ex’s for dinner for the first time, and found out that her parents are both incredibly weird,” wrote GodTheory. “When I eat potatoes I like to mash them with a fork and then mix in melting butter. When I tried doing this at the table, her dad noticed what I was doing, got up from his seat, turned his back on me and literally shouted, ‘That isn’t how you eat potatoes!‘”

“Obviously, I didn’t have a clue how to react. I didn’t know whether he was being serious or if it was just his sense of humor, so I looked at his wife for reassurance. She gave me that teacher look that they pull when you do something wrong.”

Dinner table full of plates and food
Stefan Vladimirov on Unsplash

“She got up from her seat, took both my hands in hers—with the knife and fork in them—and cut the remaining two potatoes into quarters. Her dad sat down again, and we finished the meal in silence with him closely watching how I ate everything.”

At that point, we’d probably just invite the dad to go dancing. After all, he’s already seen you mash potatoes; he might as well watch you do the twist.

Road rage never makes a great impression.

“I was running late to meet her family for the first time, and only a few miles from my destination, the car ahead of me was creeping along at 35 mph in a 45 mph zone,” redditor professor-doom recounted. “I’m impatient, so I rode them pretty hard. They slowed down even more to spite me, so when I finally had a chance to pass them, I got a good look at the stink faces looking back at me as I sailed by. I wanted to see what these [jerks] looked like! Turns out, they looked exactly like my girlfriend’s parents. I pulled into her house and a minute later, they did too.”

“After exchanging icy pleasantries, I explained how I had been running late and nervous and excited to meet them, and that I don’t normally drive like that. Fortunately, they seemed to believe me and let it go.”

“I went on to date my girlfriend for many years afterward, and the only evidence that it ever happened was her father good-naturedly calling me ‘Speedy Gonzalez’ from time to time. Oh, and he never let me drive when we went out together.”

In the kid’s defense, he was just trying to drive the speed limit. Still, it’s a good reminder: If you’re going to give in to road rage, be prepared to face the people you’re raging against.

This story makes us slightly angry.

“I wasn’t allowed to have a girlfriend in high school, but I decided to get one anyway,” wrote one Reddit user (who has since deleted his account). “She was a real cute Italian girl whose dad was way into classic cars. I ended up sneaking over to her house for dinner to finally meet her parents, but I hadn’t told my parents that I was leaving.”

“Everything was going great. Her dad and I were getting along great, and dinner was amazing! We sat down to watch a movie and all of the a sudden, someone barges in the front door.”

“My parents, being the sleuthy devils they were, started calling around my friends asking where I was after they realized I wasn’t in the house. Eventually, they managed to call my buddy—we’ll call him Austin—and he, being a good friend, said that I was at his house. Now, Austin lives right next to this girl—we’ll call her Jenny—and so I was actually parked at his house anyways.”

“My parents were livid, so they drove to Austin’s house and asked where I was. Austin’s mom answered the door and cheerfully said, ‘Oh, he’s over at Jenny’s across the street!'”

“At this point, my dad, furious with me, walks across the road and barges in the door. He looks me square in the eye and says, ‘Let’s go Mike. Now.’ I don’t talk to Jenny or her family anymore.”

We don’t like judging parents, but trying to stop a high-school kid from dating seems pretty futile. For all they know, those parents just raged their way out of a lifetime of free home-cooked Italian dinners.

This story raises more questions than it answers.

“I was off to pick up a new girlfriend in high school one day,” wrote a user who has since deleted their account. “She was super late, so I just chilled at her house.”

That’s when he saw a pile of wood and an axe in his girlfriend’s backyard. Naturally, he decided to start splitting it.

“Hey, look, wood to split!” he recalled thinking. “Yay!”

“So I’m chopping away on the side of the house, where I can’t see the driveway. I never heard her and her dad come home. I get a text: ‘We’re here, where are you?’ I go to knock on the door, and the dad opens it to see me on the threshold, sweaty, breathing hard and holding an axe.”

“He stopped, stepped back, and we stared at each other for about five seconds. I panicked and dropped the axe, trying to say, ‘Oh, hey, just trying to help,’ but I dropped it right on my foot, so it turned into, ‘Oh, hey, ow, s***!’ I’m no smoother today.”

If we were the girl’s father, we wouldn’t have minded the profanity, but we’d be extremely confused as to why our daughter’s new boyfriend decided to start chopping our wood for no apparent reason. In the guy’s defense, chopping wood is pretty fun.

Sometimes, it’s the parents who are…let’s call it “unconventional.”

“[I] brought my first college boyfriend home for Thanksgiving,” wrote pattiaa. “We were greeted by my parents in full Star Trek uniforms. Dad was wearing Spock ears, both were giving the ‘live long and prosper’ salute. They ordered pizza, and the delivery guy asks my dad why he didn’t just have the pizza beamed over.”

Just wait until they show him the Holodeck. And although this next one is more earthly, it’s just as weird.

“Her dad was practicing bagpipes, and when she introduced us, he just kept going,” wrote eli_mao. “I said hello, but he just kept on bagpiping, didn’t even blink.”

This story works better if you read it in a British accent.

Reddit user butwhatsmyname met his girlfriend’s parents, and it didn’t go so well. He was starting to feel bad—and then she told him how her brother, James, had a much worse “meet-the-parents” experience.

“James had brought his first girlfriend over to meet the parents,” he explained. “Everyone was very nervous. It was the first time the parents had met a girlfriend, and they had hoovered and got out the best china for tea and cakes.”

Yes, this is an extremely British story. “Hoovering,” by the way, is another term for “vacuuming.”

“A lot of effort had gone into the preparation, and they had shooed the (evil and semi-feral) cat out of the house and generally made things pretty. They were halfway through tea and cakes, and polite chit-chat was had. It was all going swimmingly with everyone was being on their best behavior. It all looked like it was going to be lovely.”

“And then James’ girlfriend said ‘What’s that under the TV?’ All heads turned toward the TV stand—under it was half of a dismembered pheasant.”

“Unfortunately, in their frantic cleaning efforts, nobody had noticed that the cat had dragged a pheasant corpse into the house and proudly left it under the TV stand. The cat, at this point, was nowhere to be seen, and James’ mother apparently made a world-beating attempt to pass off the storage of half-dead game fowl in the living room as a perfectly normal thing that nobody should be worried about.”

“I gather that James’ girlfriend did not come back for tea again.”

On the bright side, at least everyone spoke the same language. That’s not the case in this next story (or, actually it is the case, but…we’ll let it speak for itself).

“The first time I met my then-boyfriend’s mother, she didn’t address me directly or speak English in front of me,” wrote then_stina_says.

“She told her son (my boyfriend) in Spanish that I had good birthing hips, and asked if I was pregnant yet. She said she wanted a white grandchild. If only her son had told her that I spoke enough Spanish to understand her. Wow.”

When you’re not really prepared to meet your girlfriend’s parents, weird stuff can happen.

This story comes from Reddit user Dogismycopilot89.

“This girl I had been seeing invites me over to her place to stay the weekend. She tells me Sunday night she has to get up for work around 5:30 a.m. and leave by 6 a.m. She tells me, ‘My dad is going to be home at around 8 a.m., you should leave before then.’ Mind you, my car is in the garage.”

“7:42 rolls around; I hear the door to the room open and the light click on. I hear: ‘Who are you?’ My heart felt like it had exploded in my chest. I casually sat up, and explained that I was a friend of his daughter.”

“‘How long have you known her?'”

“‘Oh, about two weeks.’ I should not have said that. I should not have said that.”

“It was early in the morning, I was incoherent, and I was scared s***less. When he left the room, he looked extremely disapproving. I got up, put my pants on—luckily I was wearing a shirt—and went to go feed the rabbits. Yes, she has two rabbits, which I agreed to feed before I left.”

“So I casually walked past the dad to the refrigerator to get the veggies out to feed the rabbits. All the while, he is grilling me about who I am, what I do, where I go to school, and what my parents do. I notice he doesn’t make eye contact with me but stares at the ground the whole time.”

“I’m thinking, ‘Man, I really pissed this guy off. I need to get out.’ I bolt down the stairs to the garage with dad following. I get to the garage, go to put my shoes on….and I see them. The purple-striped fluffy knee socks.”

Dogismycopilot89 had borrowed them from his girlfriend the night before, and he’d forgotten that he was wearing them. Wanting nothing more than to get out of the immediate area, he jumped into his car and tried to start it…and, yes, you probably know what happened next.

“The car won’t start. I pray to Odin to get out of this mess. I try again, one final time, as the battery slowly drains. It roars to life. I slam it in reverse and mash the pedal. It nearly chokes out and dies. I put it in drive and head for the highway.”

That’s pretty bad, but at least his clothing didn’t declare him royalty. This next one’s a little more…spicy.

“I once introduced myself to a friend’s parents for the first time while wearing a paper crown that said ‘wing king,'” wrote AcidButterfly. “I forgot it was there.”

Hey, when you’re the wing king, you can’t just relinquish your crown. Side note: Who randomly forgets that they’re wearing a paper crown, and where did it come from?

If things don’t go well, you can always plan for an early exit.

Just try not to bring other people in on your plan.

My boyfriend Jeff dropped by on Christmas Day to give me a present,” wrote Reddit user flibberdigibbit. “He had brought his 5-year-old little sister, Kimmie, with him. My entire extended family was all gathered around, sizing him up, when his little sister started tugging on his arm and saying over and over, ‘Jeeeeefffff! Can we go now?'”

He acted annoyed and said, ‘In a little bit, Kimmie.’ But she persisted.

“He kept saying, ‘In just a minute, honey.’ Finally, I guess she couldn’t help herself—in exasperation, ‘Jeff! Remember in your car, before we came up here, you told me to beg!‘”

Basically, Jeff had told Kimmie to give him an excuse to leave. That’s why you don’t trust kids with a secret.

“You could have heard a pin drop,” flibberdigibbit wrote. “His face was bright red as he said a feeble, awkward goodbye and shuffled off. Everyone in the room didn’t know what to say or where to look.”

Remember: A meeting with the relatives can strike when you least expect it.

That’s a good reason to keep your hands clean, both metaphorically and literally.

“Back in high school, I used be friends with this wonderful girl from my class, and as things in high school usually go, we ended up together,” wrote Paparika.

“Since we’ve already been to each other’s places before, that was not actually the first time I met [her parents], just the first time we had a meal with them as a couple. So here it goes: I was supposed to meet her at her place to go for a hike in the nearby wilderness.”

“Just before I got there, my bike broke down and I got my hands really dirty while fixing it. When I got there, she opened the door, I entered the hallway and asked if I could wash my hands really quickly before we go. This was not the standard operating procedure, since we would usually just meet in the hallway and head out.”

At this point, she really should have said something. Stay with us here.

“She looked at me like I was about to die horribly, kissed me again, took a deep breath and said, ‘Okay, we can do this.’ I didn’t think any of it until she opened the door to her living room and sent me to the bathroom. I did not know that, since it was a holiday, her whole family was going to be there. I’m talking aunts and uncles from both sides. The place was packed with people just waking up and lying in couches and blow-up beds (it was really early in the morning).”

“I muttered a ‘good morning’ as I made eye contact with her father, who just chose to turn to the other side of whatever he was lying on and cover himself with the blanket. I got a couple of hellos back and did the most excruciating round trip from a toilet ever.”

“After what seemed like an eternity, I finally got back to the hallway where my girlfriend at the time was waiting. We closed the door behind us in relief, and just as we were heading out, we heard the cute voice of one of her cousins: “Aunty [her mom’s name], I saw that boy kiss her and grab her a** in the hallway.’ We could hear the whole house erupt in laughter.”

Fortunately, there’s a happy ending.

“After we got back from the hike, everybody from her extended family was in a way better mood (clearly they were not morning people) and they insisted we stay for lunch. That was fun and went nicely.”

That’s pretty awkward, but when you’re randomly meeting relatives for the first time, things can go much, much worse (and why, yes, we have an example).

“I dated this girl for a few months, and one day, she invited me to come to a barbecue at her mom’s place. She had a couple things she needed to grab from there anyways,” wrote subfighter0311. “I agreed, and once we arrived, I realized it was a family barbecue with a bunch of her relatives there.”

Person grilling
Vincent Keiman on Unsplash

“This was the first time I had ever met anyone from her family, and her mother introduced me to one of her uncles: ‘This is Uncle Jack. Jack, this is Nikki’s fiancé, Adam.'”

The problem: subfighter0311 wasn’t planning on getting married.

Fiancé? What the hell? I was frozen and didn’t know what to do, so I didn’t say anything until after we left. That relationship barely lasted six months.”

Restaurant meetings are always a little sketchy.

Of course, if a restaurant meet-and-greet goes bad, you can always escape through the bathroom window. We’d have considered that option if we were Reddit user auntiepink.

“So, my now-husband was only separated when we started dating,” she wrote. “We met his mom at a buffet restaurant for lunch with some of her church friends on a Sunday. “\

“The first thing she says (at double volume) is, ‘Can I ask your girlfriend about your wife?’ The looks I got from the family in the next booth were rather scathing, but the church friends were all cool.”

If you’re not ready to sit down at a restaurant with your significant other’s parents, a home-cooked meal is a nice alternative…sometimes. We’ll warn you: This next one has a gross ending.

“My girlfriend had me over for dinner at her parents’ house for the first time,” wrote solohall. “Steak dinner with all of the fixins’. I take my first bite, swallow, immediately start choking. I’m so scared that I’m going to make a bad impression, so I take a drink of water to try to wash it down. Didn’t work, so after about 15 seconds without a single breath, my face turns red.”

“I start freaking out and point at my throat. So my girlfriend’s mom does the Heimlich maneuver, and I throw up all over the floor. Her two Miniature Schnauzers start licking up the aftermath, girlfriend’s dad puts his napkin down and leaves the room.”

Some families are downright incompatible.

For context, 4-H clubs are youth outreach organizations that typically focus on agriculture. Some of you already know that, but it’s important info for this next story.

“I’d already met her family, so I thought it was no big deal to bring her by the house to meet my parents,” wrote troycheek. “After talking for a while and exchanging family histories, my father realized that her father was the man he’d gotten into a brawl with at a 4-H camp—and had spent a weekend in jail because of—about 20 years before.”

“My father then forbade me from seeing her anymore because she was from a family who were the type to get into brawls at 4-H camps. So I took her home, and she told the story to her father. Her father then forbade her to see me anymore, because I was from a family who were the type to get into brawls at 4-H camps. We saw each other secretly for another year or so.”

At least their families shared some similar interests. That’s not the case for Reddit user SuperSpy_.

“I once met a girl’s family and found out that they were super old-fashioned,” he wrote. “The women cook and clean while the men sit around drinking. It felt like I stepped into the 1950s. I helped clean the dishes, and all the guys were looking at me with ‘[What] are you doing’ faces. Very uncomfortable feeling. Nice girl, but her family scares me a bit.”

If you’re currently dreading a “meet-the-parents” moment, this story should help.

It’s awkward, yes, but it’s also pretty heartwarming (and after some of the stories in this article, we need something uplifting).

“I met the entirety of my boyfriend’s family without him, about a month after we started dating,” wrote thatonegirlyaknow.

“He was in Atlanta for health reasons, so I decided I would go up and visit whenever I could. I wanted to just book a hotel, but his mom insisted I just stay with her at her sister and brother-in-law’s house.”

“It wasn’t a big deal, aside from the fact that I have horrible social anxiety and I’d never traveled alone before or stayed anywhere without my parents. I met his aunt, uncle, mother, father, and cousin in Atlanta and nearly had a panic attack.”

“They kept paying for things for me—they took me to historical societies, museums, dinners, lunches, pedicures. I was floored because I’m not entirely well off in comparison, and I feel just terrible being spoiled by the family of a boy I’d only just started dating. And they kept asking me questions, and never let me sleep in past 6 a.m., for some reason.”

“On the way home, I drove with his mom instead of flying. She took me to a peach orchard and kept telling me that she was so happy to have me in his life because I was the most stable thing so far, and I was all he talked about. The same day, she decided to stop at her parents’ house.”

“So I met his other aunt, his sister, his brother, and his grandparents. Meeting your boyfriend’s family without your boyfriend is a very horrifying experience when you’re a socially anxious poor girl, basically.”

We can understand her anxiety, but when your worst meet-the-parents story involves a stroll through a beautiful peach orchard, be sure to count your blessings.

“The entire family is full of wonderful people,” she added.

Most of the entries in this article were horrific—but at least they make for good stories.

If you’re currently prepping for your own meet-the-parents odyssey, remember: Even when things go horribly wrong, you’ll at least have something to look back on…provided that you survive.