I really and truly don’t get the whole unofficial engagement thing. Either you’re going to marry a guy, or you’re not, and if you both know that you are, then why pretend it’s not certain?
I also don’t get NMF #17, who bought a ticket home for her l’chaim three weeks in advance, but didn’t get engaged until the chosen date. Hello? That seems quite a length of time to be in suspense.
And I’m not buying the excuse that she wanted her parents around when it happened. I mean, they obviously knew why she was coming home. So she was already engaged, just not admitting it. And if everyone knows, why not admit it? …
…we can go ’round and ’round this loop forever. I will close it off by throwing up my arms and declaring people illogical and slightly cooky. Besides, I’d like to point out, unofficially engaged people are very nearly engaged, which means they’re only one proposal short of losing their senses altogether. One must be forgiving if they seem less than lucid. They’re obviously practicing.
One cheerful byproduct of this unofficial nonsense: it does lead to a delightful expansion of the vocabulary. Because, as a LeahR points out, we now have a young person in a heretofore unidentified state: that of being not-quite-engaged. So, they are not SFs (single friends), nor are they NEFs (newly-engaged friends). They are, she suggests, ANEFs (almost newly-engaged friends; pronounced “Ay-Neff”). They begin to exhibit some of the broader symptoms (being busy most evenings, not returning phone calls, smiling to themselves at odd moments in the conversation), but they don’t yet have anything sparkly on their hand to really trigger an episode.
If you’re lucky, you are let in on the secret by the ANEF, as part of their strategic preparation for their engagement (see link for details). If you’re not in the top tier of informed friends (like I was with NEF #17), then you’ll just have to infer it from their erratic behavior. (Hm… flying home shortly after starting a new job with no vacation allowance built up… odd that. She must really miss her mother’s cooking… or maybe something else?)
Either way, it’s essential to identify when you have an ANEF on your hands. It will prevent untold frustration and sleepless nights wondering if aliens abducted your friend and left one of their own in her body.