Let's cut to the chase: How much time should you wait before introducing your girlfriend to your buddies? This, grasshopper, is something only you can know for sure, but we've got some good advice: Don't do it until after date No. 3.
Sure, you know girls have plenty of third-date rules for what can -- and more often, can't -- occur. The truth is, they're on to something. By the fourth date (and we mean real date here, not just grabbing a beer with coworkers on T-G-I-Friday), you've had the chance to ask lots of questions. Taking some time to ruminate about what she said will offer clues about whether it's time to bring her around your friends. Still not sure? Bait the hook. Share a story about a couple of your friends. If she says anything to the effect of, "They sound so funny/smart/interesting, I'd like to meet them," then you'll know it's time to take the next step.
Of course, that doesn't mean it has to be a big announcement. Save that for the engagement party. Instead, come up with a game plan for deflecting unwelcome comments or conversation threads heading into dangerous territory -- basically any sentence that starts with, "His last girlfriend …" Redirect the conversation by pocket-dialing your buddy's cell phone or interrupting with a topic that's sure to push his buttons (politics or sports usually work). Simply keeping your cool and brushing off awkward comments is always a winning strategy.
As for the best place to bring everyone together? We've got the 4-1-1 on that, next.