'Friends' Gave Fans Some Terrible Relationship Advice, Expert Says
The iconic NBC sitcom Friends gave us one of the most memorable TV quotes of all time. Ross yelling, “We were on a break!” is still repeated — and debated — to this day. It’s just one example of many showing the six castmates engaged in highly questionable relationships.
The show had plenty of heartwarming moments plus instances of pure friendship. However, when it came to depicting romantic relationships, at least one expert claims Friends could promote unhealthy behaviors. Here’s how a couple’s therapist felt about the love stories on the series.
Ross and Rachel being on break was beside the point
There are lengthy dissertations dedicated to who was right in the Ross/Rachel argument about being on a break. The incident occured during “The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break” and entails Ross having a one night stand after mistakenly thinking Rachel hooked up with a coworker. He claimed it wasn’t cheating because they were technically broken up. Rachel argued he should have stayed faithful during their temporary separation.
Fans disagree on who was “right” in the situation. However, couple’s therapist and licensed clinical psychologist Bukky Kolawole said neither party was justified in acting so selfishly. She said their stubbornness caused serious damage.
“If [Ross and Rachel] had been willing to give up whose definition was right and engaged in the more vulnerable and therefore more courageous way … they could have worked together to save and restore their relationship, potentially even [making] it stronger,” Kolawole told Insider.
They had terrible communication
Besides just the “we were on a break” argument, the couple’s therapist claimed Ross and Rachel rarely took their conversations deeper than surface level. This led to a lack of understanding between them and is a huge part of why they broke up so frequently.
“Because Ross and Rachel were stuck focusing on the content of the communication and unfortunately did not know how to tune into the deeper, underlying, emotional message being communicated, they missed the opportunity to help each other in a catastrophic moment for the relationship where they were each struggling emotionally,” Kolawole continued.
Monica and Ross didn’t handle age differences well
Ross and Rachel weren’t the only dysfunctional ones.
Monica Geller had some issues during her relationship with Richard because he was much older than she was. While there’s nothing wrong with an age gap, Kolawole said deep conversations about expectations would have made their relationship stronger. Especially in the beginning.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Ross dated his student, Elizabeth, who was much younger. Their relationship suffered from different challenges — especially when her intimidating father Paul Stevens (Bruce Willis) got involved.
Both could have been strengthened through honesty, compromise, and intentional conversations.
Some relationships on ‘Friends’ worked better than others
Even one of the best relationships on Friends wasn’t perfect all the time. Monica and Chandler took their friendship to a new level and kept their romance secret for a while, waiting to see how serious it became. Kolawole said some of the best romantic partnerships begin as friendships. But those also require hard work.
She even said Rachel and Joey could have gotten past their initial hurdles and learned to create sexual chemistry, therefore creating a strong bond. However, that would have meant Ross and Rachel didn’t end up together, which most fans would have hated.
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