I have been engaged for almost 10 months, so you would think I would have gotten used to it by now. There are a lot of nice things about being engaged: getting to talk about weddings, new jewellery, Pinterest, but there is one thing that I just cannot get on board with. Whenever I go to say the word ‘fiancé’, I find myself cringing beyond belief and switching back to the much more universal, and much more acceptable ‘boyfriend’ or ‘partner’. But what’s so wrong with it?
There’s something just a little bit pretentious and wanky about the word fiancé. I’m not sure whether it’s because you have to say it in a slight French accent or because the final ‘é’ is so elongated that it sounds like you’re making a big deal about it, but I have never been able to say it without feeling like I’m making a spectacle of myself. No doubt that sophisticated, continental women can drawl the word with panache, but for little old me it just feels like I’m getting above my station.
Not only that, but using the word ‘fiancé’ is a signifier that you are, duh, engaged. It’s not quite as obnoxious as shoving your ring into someone’s eye line the moment that they come into view, but it’s a close second. It invites questions and conversation, and suggests that the other person should be envious of the oh-so-sparkly rock that’s adorning your finger.
Better than you
The world already teaches women that getting married to a man is the ultimate goal, above and beyond most other achievements. A man endorsing you and willing to claim you as his own? You’re winning, lady! Dropping the word ‘fiancé’ into the conversation, whether it’s warranted or not, feels like you’re trying to remind the world that you are getting married, and are therefore worthier and more important than the other people in the room. You might not feel that way – I know I certainly don’t – but somehow the word seems to signify that. It puts your relationship status front and centre, where everyone can see it.
The problem is, there’s no real alternative. If you don’t like the word boyfriend (or indeed girlfriend) you can opt for any number of other terms – partner, significant other, better half, the list goes on. Alternatives for fiancé are perhaps even worse than the original – intended, betrothed and promised all make me want to vomit. We’ve been opting for ‘pre-husband’ and ‘pre-wife’ as an inside joke between us, but I think those terms would just raise eyebrows if used in public.
So, this all begs the question – is it time for us to ditch the term fiancé altogether? Do we even need a word that describes us during that limbo period between ‘dating’ and ‘married’, or is it all just for vanity? Or should I just suck it up and try not to grimace every time the occasion arises?
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