Please Don’t Engage Me

Sorry ‘bout being late today. It’s been a busy week. I usually have some posts “in the galleys” for busy weeks, but last week was busy too. And don’t you dare look at me like that; it’s term paper season. Being “busy” doesn’t always mean being “busy.” No, I am not on the brink of engagement.

It seems like a “girl” in shidduchim can’t make any changes to her routine or appearance without being accused of serious dating. A friend of mine told me that at her friend’s l’chaim, someone said, “I thought there was something going on… she’s lost so much weight!” To which friend replied, “Nice try, but she lost half of it before she met him.”

At the beginning of last year I had a job on Mondays and Wednesdays, 9-5. So on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Touro College days, I dressed down, in a way that was probably bad for shidduchim. Then, about halfway through the year I switched to a job that had morning hours, Monday through Thursday. And suddenly I was showing up in Touro College dressed up instead of down. It is absolutely disgusting how many people said things along the lines of, “Is there something I should know about?” or otherwise hinted that it was just a matter of time before they heard from me at a strange hour of the night. Irritated, I borrowed a costume jewelry bracelet that was silver and set with a few dozen rhinestone diamonds, which, if you don’t know, is the symbol of engagement among local young ladies. It raised a few eyebrows and made a few people, in their own words, “wonder,” but nobody congratulated me. Oh well.

Then there was the time I briefly took up a tutoring job and had to get home at certain hours and be unavailable shortly after. “No it is not for a date,” I had to specify, because otherwise the rumor-mill would have my wedding date settled on by the end of the week.

Many people figure they can plot dating patterns based on frequency of “doing” hair, niceness of dress, new additions of clothing to the wardrobe, and lack of availability in the evening. When these patterns persist or increase over time, they believe they can confidently expect an engagement. Unfortunately, these are all rather superficial signs, and easily read into when there’s nothing to read.

Commenter mickey mouse has her own methodology for predicting engagements. She points out that after a certain period of dating, you begin to hear with greater frequency things like “I was discussing that with someone and…” or “Somebody told me…”

I have learned the hard way that you never ever ask “Who told you that?” no matter how outrageous it is. Not unless you want to watch a friend blush, squirm, and eventually, lie. (Because “Oh I don’t remember I heard it somewhere” is still a lie.)

But, says mickey mouse, you know an engagement is impending when the pattern changes to “we.” Meaning, “We were just discussing that yesterday!” More subtle than dress patterns, and possibly more accurate; we should probably do a serious study to test it out (and by “we” I mean the general population involved with dating couples, and not me and some significant male).

Considering how briefly I think before I speak, the “we” pattern will probably be a fair predictor for me, so please don’t monitor my clothing or availability because you are just going to be disappointed. And someone agrees with me.


34 thoughts on “Please Don’t Engage Me

  1. Hahahaha. I once had a friend who swore she could predict when someone was dating seriously by the way they dropped all their friends. And she was very often correct. The use of “we” as an indicator is probably pretty good, though.

  2. When you get eyebrows arching at the use of “we,” you could always launch into a linguistic history of pronoun use as seen in the use of the “royal we” along with the philological implications of the pronoun shift and before you get all that out of your mouth their eyes will be rolling in their heads and they’ll never, ever ask you about “we” again.

  3. I almost always speak with the “royal we”

    guess i got engaged a while back.

    seriously, though – every time i go to a shiur, and i don’t pick up my phone, a friend of mine thinks i’m engaged.
    and there’s another friend with whom i don’t speak so often, so every time i call, she thinks it’s with the “good news”

    watch it – the one time i really do call with “good news”, she’s not gonna believe me.

  4. In the religious Jewish community you get diamond bracelets as enagement tokens? Hmmm, I didn’t know that. Instead of diamond rings or in addition to them?

  5. In addition. Or actually, before the ring. He proposes with a bracelet and then you get the ring together. Strange, but so are many traditions.

  6. there are lots of ways to tell when someone is seriously involved.

    But that sounds like a pretty good one. The one about ignoring friends is pretty good as well.

    Together they’re probably almost certainly going to predict it.

    Or, perhaps, coupled with the amount of time on the phone with a mysterious person he/she won’t tell you about.

    But I always found this keeping it all hushed up rather silly. Whats so not tznius about it? Everyone dates at somepoint, or perhaps do they want to give everyone the implication that this is their first date ever, otherwise they’re tainted?

    Its all silly if you ask me.

  7. isn’t the bracelet rather more expensive than the ring? can’t they be nice to the guys?

    (I know it fits better, but maybe on every shidduch resume they should include a girls ring size…)

  8. oh, I forgot, ont other:

    calling someone at 7 oclock in the morning and asserting its just a friend (all the while using the voice that people only use with someone they love.)

    rabbi’s son did that to me and I didn’t say anything, I just started counting the days till the engagement 3 or 4 months later.

  9. The diamond bracelet thing is NOT a tradition. It exists only in the American yeshivish community, not among the MO or in any community outside North America, and it is maybe 40 years old. It’s a reaction to the fact that many women want some input into what their ring looks like. In the MO world (much like the secular world) engagement isn’t something that you do after 6 dates (!!!) so often the couple simply goes and looks at rings together at some point maybe a month or two before they get engaged. In the yeshivish world that’s longer than the entire dating period, so the bracelet thing was invented.

    Sorry, b4s, but not everything you do is a “tradition.”

  10. Chill, anonymous. I didn’t mean religious or anything. I just meant a widespread and accepted practice. Tradition may have been the wrong word. I apologize. (Though give it time and it’ll become “halacha”.) But it isn’t just “yeshivish” unless you want to define yeshivish very broadly.

  11. the bracelet isn’t tradition… but sorry Anonymous- it does exist in many communities outside North America… England, Switzerland, Belguim, Austria, Australia, South Africa, Mexico, Chille, Argentina, Israel, France… and i’m sure many more…

  12. These should be privacy rituals for pregnancy, not engagement, but that’s just this person’s opinion :>)

  13. i had some input on my engagement ring – my husband picked out the big stone and i gave him hints as to what kind of setting i wanted (“oh, look at this magazine add. i LOVE that setting”). i guess we have a similar “tradition” in the secular Jewish world too. I got diamond earings to match my wedding band on my wedding day. Just goes to show you that no matter how religious you are, you can’t have enough diamond jewelry!

  14. Sorry b4s but anonymous is mostly right. The “tradition” is only about 20 years old and basically isn’t found outside of the yeshivishe/Brooklyn-type world. Nor is it found in huge areas of the US outside of NY. But anonymous is wrong that only in MO couples does the girl have any input. Plenty of frummie girls do to. I said what shape stone I liked, and what color of band I liked and what type of setting I liked–and that’s what I got. Lots of girls today do the same.

  15. It’s amazing how each and every one of your posts hits it right on the mark. You state the obvious in a way that makes me think, “Yeah, she’s right…” For two nights in a row I wasn’t picking up my cell phone, and boy should u see the texts I got “Are you engaged?” “What’s going on?” A person is allowed to breathe without picking up their phone. I’m scared to leave my house without my phone without being “accused”. And you’re right, any random phone calls I get from friends I haven’t heard from in a while, the first question I ask is “Are you getting engaged?” So I guess I’m guilty of engaging friends myself. The best is when I call one of my friends in the morning and ask them “What are you doing tonight?” and I hear the silence at the other end – as if they think the next words out of my mouth are going to be “…cuz I want to invite you to my lechaim”, but the words are usually “cuz I wanted to know if you want to go to a shiur with me” or the like.
    So yeah, you definitely hit it on the mark this time, but you seem to do that in every post. 🙂

  16. I think that we need to change the criteria for rating the accuracy of engagement predictors. Instead of looking at the percentage of engagements predicted, the reliability should be determined by the percentage of predictions corroborated. Some people seem to think they have it down to a science because they said “I told you so” to the last 15 engagements; but never mind the 473 false alarms…

  17. On the bracelet “tradition” . . . I would venture to say it is less than 15 years old. I take that date based on my own observation of siblings and friends. I don’t recall anyone from my age group and older getting the bracelet. But my husband’s younger brother did give a bracelet to his kallah, though I think that was just before they became engaged. I would guess that the bracelet extended from the fact that some Chassidim would not give a ring before the wedding but were still expected to present something. The fact that the bracelet does not need to be sized is another advantage. And this way, the kallah has everything covered — a bracelet, then an engagement ring, and a pearl necklace at the wedding. We almost forget about the wedding band. 😉

  18. Ezzie, you are way younger than my husband’s brother, so the bracelet was probably been fairly well established by the time you met Serach.

  19. 1. a diamond engagement bracelet before the “official” engagement
    2. a diamond engagement ring at the time of the “official” engagement
    3. a gold wedding band under the chuppah/wedding canopy
    4. a pearl necklace on the wedding day

    Does anyone have any money left for tzedaka/charity?

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  21. Honey, it don’t end even when you’re married. People just change their assumptions and start thinking that you’re pregnant. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt like waving at someone and saying “Hello! Eyes are up here! Stop eyeing my stomach. I’m just fat, not pregnant.” ….forget it. Every time you decline to eat something/eat too much, they whip our their calenders and start calculating the due date.

  22. One of my jobs is at a frum place with a bunch of women. I “do” my hair — not for a date– but when my mom gets upset at me for not doing it, when I have extra time in the morning, when I’m “in the mood…” but I still remember to tell them it’s not for a date.

    And all that gossiping you said goes on at Touro- Reason #78 that I chose Brooklyn College over that place :)))) and don’t regret it for a SECOND.

  23. Well for various, non-dating reasons I have dropped most of my friends recently and not been very available on my cell either. Not had one person suspect that I am getting engaged. What am I doing wrong? 😉

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  27. Wait, I was supposed to get a pearl necklace too? Someone forgot to tell my husband that! (probably when they forgot to tell me to buy him shas…) I got my two rings and that was it. but the husband is a keeper so I have no complaints.

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