I recently spent a lot of time home alone watching Netflix and found myself binge-watching “Friends” from start to finish – only roughly 20 years behind everyone else my age. As I was dealing with divorce, I was also spending a lot of time in therapy sessions and reading up on the toxicities of relationships. Just as people who buy yellow cars tend to recognize yellow cars more often, I found myself taking notice of toxic examples of relationships I had been reading about, including of course the toxic relationship “Friends” fans seem to ignore.
Interestingly enough (and something I think most people are oblivious of) is that “Friends” provides a pretty staggering example of the volatility of a toxic relationship against a healthy one. People were dead set on cheering Ross and Rachel on and they should have been cheering against them. We were conditioned to see Ross’ obsession with Rachel succeed, but in doing so allude to obsession as the same as love and affection.
I hate to break it to you guys, but I don’t think Ross and Rachel would ever actually last in real life. Whatever relationship they would have would continue to be volatile and toxic because Ross is a fucking controlling, suffocating, and insecure asshole that needs Rachel. Listen, I’m not keen on using a TV show as a prime example of shitty relationships, but just looking at the difference between say Chandler and Monica versus Ross and Rachel and you start to get some keen illustrations of healthy love versus toxic “love”. Might as well pull Joey into this, too.
See, Joey and Chandler are both happy bachelors. They have this amazing bromance and allowing a woman to wreck their self-sufficiency is a low priority. They both struggle with commitment because they don’t need to commit. Chandler being so non-committal seems to come off as shallow, a running joke early in the series, and yet ultimately it is these seemingly shallow standards that allow him to genuinely choose to fall in love with Monica.
It’s this same situation that causes Joey to realize he is falling in love with Rachel because she brought on feelings of commitment and love he had never really felt before. But does Joey flip shit when it doesn’t work out? Nope, because he has confidence!
Ross, on the other hand, has quite a few toxic traits that result in him coming off as self-absorbed, suffocating, and insecure which results in jealousy. He doesn’t want Rachel like Joey or Chandler found themselves falling in love. He needs Rachel because he has this obsession with her he can’t shake from the very start that results in lying, manipulation, and possessive suffocation of her. And when he isn’t with Rachel, he’s love bombing the hell out of other women and rapidly speeding those relationships up in a way that we sympathetically write him off as a nice guy.
Except, when you really think about, he wasn’t nice guy. He was a “Niceguy” – a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The fact is, he was an asshole.
- He manipulated situations.
- He lied to Rachel.
- He put Rachel’s career on the line.
- He was suffocating.
- he was needy.
- He was untrusting.
- He was intimidating.
- He schemed against her.
- He was controlling.
- He was jealous.
- He was self-absorbed.
- He jumped to conclusions.
- He was hypocritical…a lot.
- He didn’t give Rachel any choice.
We were conditioned to applaud Ross and feel bad for him, viewing his actions from a perspective of love and for his overbearing nature being sweet, yet he was really the most toxic person on the show.
What do you think? Comment below!
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