Ross and Rachel, the most popular couple in “Friends” isn’t the couple that people should be hashtagging as couple goals.

Screenshot of the couple Ross and Rachel from the popular 90's sitcom "Friends."
Screenshot of the couple Ross and Rachel from the popular 90’s sitcom “Friends” embracing each other.
Source: Warner Bros Entertainment Inc. “Friends”

I remember my first watch of “Friends,” I was only a pre-teen watching the episodes via DVD at my friend’s house during our bi-weekly sleepovers. I was so enamored with the way the characters interacted with each other. I was also really interested in the possibility of Ross and Rachel becoming a couple. However, those feelings were in the past. Today, I am mostly put-off by Ross and Rachel’s relationship for a multitude of reasons. Most of those reasons are the fault of Ross’s overall character.

Spoiler warning, this article dives deep into all the things bad about Ross and Rachel’s relationship with some context from the episodes. It is here where I claim that another couple from the show is the relationship that other couples should strive to emulate.

Ross’ Superiority Complex

Screenshot from one of the many times on “Friends” Ross makes an excuse for his cheating by telling Rachel they were on a break.
Source: Warner Bros Entertainment Inc. “Friends” Season Four Episode One.

The show depicts Ross as the same male character archetype as other shows do. Like Dr. Gregory House in “House” and Rick Sanchez in “Rick and Morty,” Ross has a superiority complex. There are many instances of Ross having a superiority complex, with and without Rachel involved, but this case takes the cake. In the episode titled, “The One Where Heckles Dies” Phoebe tells Ross she doesn’t believe in evolution. Ross takes this as a serious criticism of his profession and his lifestyle, so he spends most of the episode trying to prove to Phoebe that evolution is the end all be all theory, all while she doesn’t by a single word of it, despite it being scientifically proven.

By the middle of the episode, Phoebe asks Ross, “What is this obsessive need you have to get everybody to agree with you?” However, Ross doesn’t have an answer for her. Later on, he does eventually cave and admits there is a teeny-tiny possibility he could be wrong, but this is not something Ross does lightly. In actuality, there are hardly any instances of Ross admitting he was wrong, which makes this example the most interesting one. However, Ross’s inability to admit he’s wrong translates over into his and Rachel’s relationship.

The line and delivery are so iconic, every time someone brings up the time Ross cheated on Rachel with the copy place girl, he tells them they were on a break and he never once admits he was wrong. In the episode, “The One with the Jellyfish” Rachel writes Ross a letter outlining the terms and conditions needed in order for them to get back together. Like most people, Ross did not read all the terms and conditions but agrees to them, anyway. This is significant because, at the end of the letter, Rachel asked Ross if he takes responsibility for the failure of their previous relationship. Initially, Ross agrees and the two reconcile. When Ross finally finishes the letter, he realizes quickly that he does not agree with Rachel’s terms.

Screenshot of Ross from “Friends” wrongly explaining the martial art of unagi (mistaken for zanshin) to Rachel (off-screen).
Source: Warner Bros Entertainment Inc. “Friends” Season Six Episode Seventeen.

Ross cannot stand to admit he was the one in the wrong in many instances throughout the show, but especially when it comes to him owning up to cheating on Rachel. Ross makes the same excuse for nearly a decade because his superiority complex does not allow him to admit he was the one at fault. If he could learn to accept his flaws and agree with Rachel that he was wrong, then maybe he can salvage their relationship. Until he can strip himself of his arrogance, Ross and Rachel just can’t be together.

On, Off, On a Break, Married in Vegas, Divorced, One-Night Fling, Co-Parenting, and On Again?

Screenshot from the last episode of “Friends” where Ross and Rachel reunite after Rachel decides she’s no going to Paris as she would rather stay in New York and make things work with Ross.
Source: Warner Bros Entertainment Inc. “Friends” Season ten Episode Seventeen.

The rollercoaster of Ross and Rachel’s relationship is so bad it’s laughable. When they got together at first, I along with many others cheered with the studio audience. After their breakup, many of us hoped they would get back together. They did, for a day, and broke up once more and still “Friends” fans longed for the two to fall in love again.

Instead, Ross and Rachel get married in Las Vegas, and because they were intoxicated, they had no recollection of the wedding until later. Though the couple tries to get their marriage annulled, the judge denies their annulment and so they’re forced to get a divorce. Rachel immediately asks for a divorce and entrusts Ross to sign his side of the paperwork and turn them into the court. He doesn’t. Ross exclaims many times he doesn’t want to be known as the guy who has had three divorces. For the entire length of this Ross and Rachel plot, Ross is selfish and even lies to Rachel that he got the divorce.

Selfish and dishonest, two other character traits that Ross has that makes his relationship with Rachel unstable. The constant “will they or won’t they” narrative of this couple gives audiences emotional whiplash. While the constant selfishness and arrogance of Ross’ character makes the audience question whether or not Rachel should want to be with Ross.

Which Couple is the Real Relationship Goal?

Screenshot of Chandler and Monica from staring lovingly into each other’s eyes. They’re clearly the most wholesome couple in all of “Friends.”
Source: Warner Bros Entertainment Inc. “Friends” Season Five Episode Five.

The show “Friends” is known for its iconic couple of Ross and Rachel. I believe they should be known for Monica and Chandler’s relationship instead. The couple deeply loves and respects each other; Chandler isn’t a lying, selfish, and arrogant man like Ross. Although Monica and Chandler aren’t a perfect couple because there is no such thing as a perfect couple, they are the couple other couples should want to emulate instead of Ross and Rachel.

Monica and Chandler’s relationship began in London when Ross was marrying his second wife, Emily, and though they started off in secret, the two grew into an amazing couple. I often re-watch “Friends” and I find the episodes after London to be the best ones because of Monica and Chandler’s relationship. Two friends falling in love, starting a family, and getting that happy ending? Sign me up! I adore Monica and Chandler, and I love watching them get together every time I re-watch the show. However, I cringe whenever I have to watch Ross and Rachel attempt and fail to be as wholesome of a couple as their best friends.

While Chandler and Monica have some flaws, they appear flawless compared to Ross and Rachel. Monica and Chandler support each other. In the episode, “The One With Chandler’s Dad” Monica encourages and helps Chandler on his journey to ask his father, a drag queen in Las Vegas, to their wedding. She doesn’t push him or make him uncomfortable, she is understanding of Chandler’s limits but still gives him a nudge since she knows he would regret it if he didn’t invite his dad to the wedding.

Chandler and Monica are also soulmates and were always meant to be together. In the two-part episode, “The One That Could Have Been” the friends wonder what would have happened if things were different in their lives. Monica wonders what life would be like if she were still plus-sized, while Chandler wonders what life would be like if he chose another career path. In this reality, the couple never hooked up in London because Ross is still married to his first wife, and yet, the two get together by the end of the episode. There is another instance where Monica and Chandler might not have ended up together. In the episode, “The One with the Truth About London” Chandler finds out Monica originally wanted to get with their friend Joey that night in London, and yet, she got with Chandler, meaning that fate still brought them together.

Ross and Rachel have been the “it” couple in the 90s sitcom “Friends” for over twenty years. However, their relationship isn’t one that couples in real-life should try to emulate. The constant on and off again and the toxic behavior Ross displays throughout the show are some major red flags that these two are not relationship goals. If there is a couple to base a relationship on, it should be Chandler and Monica.