I am willing to fight for this statement: in Friends, Monica and Chandler have a much healthier and romantic relationship than Ross and Rachel.
Why? Because it wasn’t based on whether they loved each other – they knew they did – but on the real challenges that couples face. This is why they are the real OTP of the show.
Yes, Ross and Rachel were dramatic and intense, and they kept you wondering throughout the whole show whether they would end up together. However, their relationship was very unhealthy and full of drama.
Monica and Chandler’s friendship is the basis of their relationship.
Ross and Rachel can never seem to be on the same page, and they always argue about the same issues. All of their fights show a clear lack of respect and trust in each other.
They never seem to sit down and have a conversation about how they feel or what they want despite seeing each other every day for 10 years. They are always coming back to the fact that Ross smothers Rachel and whether he cheated on her or not (he did).
Ross and Rachel don’t work on day-to-day life. They depend on grand gestures to get together: their Vegas marriage, Ross saying her name at his wedding (with someone else), and even Rachel’s decision to not go to Paris.
Let’s be honest, if you met a couple in real life that had as much drama and Ross and Rachel you would never root for them. We need to stop believing that fighting with someone is a sign of your love for them.
Instead, Monica and Chandler’s relationship comes from a place of friendship and respect for each other. By the time that they sleep together, they know each other’s personalities and quirks. They fall in love with full knowledge of who the other person is and never try to change them.
They support each other’s dreams and careers.
The plot around them is not based on the will-they/won’t-they trope but on the development of a real relationship and the challenges that come with it.
For example, one of the main conflicts that they have is Chandler’s fear of commitment, with contrasts with Monica’s desire to get married and have a family as soon as possible. They never doubt whether they love each other but whether they are ready to commit for something as big as marriage.
Despite their different personalities, they learn from each other and put the other person’s needs before theirs. Monica tells Chandler that she is willing to wait for as long as it takes for him to feel comfortable in their relationship, and he eventually realizes that he loves Monica enough to want to build a family with her.
They face real-life relationship problems, such as infertility and long-distance relationships. They both respect each other’s careers and dreams enough to be long-distance so that neither of them has to lose on a professional opportunity (take note, Rachel). Eventually, Chandler decides that it is not worth it and moves back to New York, without any pressure from Monica. She is there for him when he’s looking for a new job and he supports her when they learn that they can’t conceive children.
One of the most moving plotlines is their infertility journey. They support each other through it and Chandler even suggests that they get a sperm donor so that Monica can get pregnant, as she always dreamed. However, Monica states that she doesn’t want to carry a child that is not Chandler’s and lets go of this dream. Together, they decide to adopt. The way they handle this problem, always being there for each other instead of blaming each other, is incredibly touching.
A real relationship is based on communication and respect.
Of course, they fight, and there is jealousy, but it never leads to a breakup and none of them cheat on the other. They talk through their fears and insecurities and come out as a stronger couple.
The main reason for their fights is Richard, Monica’s ex-boyfriend. After all, it is a TV show and they need to throw in some drama. Although Chandler’s reaction to the news that Monica has been seeing Richard is not a model of conduct – to the point of doubting whether he is being overly possessive, Monica stands for herself and stresses that she doesn’t love Richard anymore.
For me, the scene that is most telling of their relationship is when Monica is upset because she feels like she and Chandler don’t have the same passion that Phoebe and their new boyfriend. Chandler replies that he is more excited about where they are themselves. Monica agrees and they both joke about each other’s personality.
That is a real relationship; one that has lower and higher points but that is grounded on love and respect. One where you can laugh about each other’s obsessive behavior and confess your fears. All in all, one where there is COMMUNICATION and respect.
Monica and Chandler’s drama was never based on whether they loved each other – they knew they did – but whether they had the same goals in life. Friends shows them facing every-day and big issues. Real relationships are much more similar to that.
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