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.

12 thoughts on “The ANEF

  1. I don’t quite get it either- except that my husband and I were quite sure we were going to get married, at a certain point, and told our parents- but no one else, because we weren’t quite ready for the social or planning aspects of being engaged (we had a pretty quick courtship, for our circles).

    But this seems more like- “we’re engaged, but we haven’t done a big fancy proposal yet, and for that to be valid, then we can’t be engaged- so we’re unofficially engaged”. Go figure.

  2. Your post gave me the fodder to come up with this one (groan, yes I know you’ve heard enough Sandy jokes):

    What happened when they sent the dove out to Brooklyn to see if the hurricane had subsided?

    First he visited his native Seagate, and picked up a tuna beigel.

    After visiting BP, he came back with foodstamps, and the good shtreimel yidden knew it was safe…

    Then he ventured into Flatbush, and alas, could not find any food amongst the women, but plucked up some hair extensions instead.

    Further north the dove tirelessly flew, until he landed in Crown Heights. Despite the storm, there were plenty people gathered at 770, and he was able to procure some liquor from a blushing couple who was “officially” unofficially engaged…

    To the west, he picked up some tofu from a yuppie couple eating at a “kosher” vegetarian restaurant in Park Slope.

    Exhausted from his exploits, he finally landed in Williamsburg. And promptly pooped on the pashkevilim.

  3. Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY engaged. There’s a big difference between mostly engaged and all engaged. Mostly engaged is slightly single.

  4. yeah. if they’re all engaged, there’s only one thing left to do…in all honestly, even all engaged means nothing these days. best to suspend disbelief until after the wedding actually takes place. or until after the first kid or two. apparently the frum divorce rate is still 10%.

    unofficial engagements, or “we’re about to get engaged”, means “we’re not announcing it yet, but i’d like you to find out from me and not from facebook”.

  5. I think it was obvious for us that we are getting engaged about a month before actual proposal, but there were a few things we had to accomplish prior:
    1) meet the parents (couldn’t escape that) NYC ✈ Chicago, which was possible only during the reading week (in about 2 weeks)
    2) wait for my future wife’s finals to be over
    3) have a cute proposal, which had to be arranged a little as well and happen at the right time and place; proposing in the college dorm lounge is not a viable option these days.

    I’d like to emphasize #2 which was the main culprit. My back then future wife was afraid that she’d be overwhelmed with all the phone calls and excitement and would not be able to pass her finals properly, so we decided to keep it low for 2 weeks because of that. Getting engaged and keeping it quiet for 2 weeks was not an option either.

    So sometimes there are reasons to pospone a little.

  6. Ah, was about to make some points but Dude covered it. I was going to say that all my friends (that I know of) that were in that state were all for legit reasons. Such as the father was in Israel and wanted them to wait till he returns, or the girl was studying for finals and needed time to study.

  7. [dubious/] I suppose, if those things really bother you. I know Best4’s wife didn’t meet our parents until after they were engaged. I wouldn’t be too anxious on that point either. It’s a mere technicality, if you’re only introducing them once you’ve decided to get engaged. As for phone calls: the easiest way to deal with them is to turn off your phone. Works for me all the time.

    Basically, the only different between NEF and ANEF is how many people know that you’re engaged, and some polite hoops you feel the need to jump through. If you consider that half your friends know you’re an ANEF anyway, and just stop caring about the hoops, you can get engaged whenever you feel like it.

  8. No, we weren’t engaged before we were engaged, so no one was informed. As for the phone calls, you can’t have your phone off for 2 weeks, nor would you want to avoid every single mazal tov.
    And parents… I guess that goes on per family basis. Some are ok with that, others aren’t, you don’t want to start you in-law relationship from a grey page.

  9. I just had to say, otherwise3ngaged, your little narrative with the dove made me laugh so hard I choked.

    I think some people have legitimate reasons for not making an official announcement right away. And even if they’ve decided that they’re getting married, if they haven’t told anyone yet (or at least anyone besides their parents) I think that’s their business and not mine. I was recently informed by a certain friend that she was engaged (yes, officially) but that she wasn’t making it public knowledge yet so would I please keep it to myself for now. I obliged.

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