There was perhaps no more defining show in the ’90s and early millennium than “Friends,” especially when it comes to relationships and dating. I mean, there are actual catchphrases and dating terms that were coined on “Friends” that are now part of our everyday vernacular. The term “friend zone”? Yep, it originated on “Friends,” when Joey declared Ross the mayor of the zone.
As a Gen-X’er, I was so influenced by “Friends,” when I recently wrote a book about dating, I even re-named a few of my more memorable love interests after characters on Friends (to protect the not-so-innocent). So with the long-awaited and much-buzzed-about cast reunion dropping this week on HBO Max, I got to thinking: when it comes to dating, which Friend would I be? If you’re wondering if you’re a Monica, Chandler, Rachel, Ross, Phoebe or Joey…read on!
Monica, the Lovable Neurotic
Her infamous catchphrase: “I’m breezy!”
Obsessive, competitive, and Type-A to the point of exhaustion, Monica never met a bottle of Windex she didn’t love. While she sometimes tried to moonlight as laid back and relaxed in order to keep a man around, she would always inevitably end up “pulling a Monica” and letting her true control freak flag fly high. (Which led to the hilarious “I’m breezy” message on Richard’s answering machine and the ensuing feedback from the Friends: “You can’t SAY you’re breezy…it negates the breezy!”) A Monica is someone who wants to find love so badly, they usually end up pushing it away. But if and when you DO find your perfect match, aka your Chandler, it’s a love for the ages.
CONS OF BEING A MONICA: There is no middle-ground with you when it comes to love. Everything you feel, you feel it in such a HUGE way, it can sometimes come off as too controlling or needy.
PROS OF BEING A MONICA: You are passionate, driven and loyal to a fault. Everything you do, you do in such a huge way, the people who are lucky enough to be a part of your life will never doubt for a second how much you love them. (And in the era of COVID, your cleanliness and OCD ways also make you the Friend who all the other Friends come to for the Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer hook-up.)
Chandler, the Witty Commitment-Phobe
His infamous catchphrase: “I’m hopeless and awkward and desperate for love!”
Hilarious, insecure, and yes…awkward… Chandler uses his sense of humor both as protection and deflection. While he outwardly declares himself to be terrified of commitment, deep down, Chandler just wants to be loved. A Chandler is someone who doesn’t share his heart with just anyone, so when he finally does find someone he wants to settle down with, it’s for keeps. And though he might revert back to his commitment-phobe ways from time to time (Hello! He pulled a disappearing act on his and Monica’s wedding day), he never tries to outrun true love.
CONS OF BEING A CHANDLER: You doubt yourself when it comes to love and relationships, which in turn causes you to doubt the other person, which in turn, causes you to run.
PROS OF BEING A CHANDLER: Underneath all the fear and self-doubt and hesitation thumps the heart of a true romantic. You rarely jump off the high dive into the pool of commitment, but when you do, there’s no turning back.
Rachel, the Confident Girl Next Door
Infamous Catchphrase: “I am over you. And that, my friend, is what they call closure.”
Beautiful, self-assured, and fashion-savvy, Rachel is the woman that men want to date and women want to be. Everyone loves Rachel. In fact, everyone in high school loved her so much (except for the “I Hate Rachel Green Club,”,of course), she was a triple threat: prom queen, homecoming queen, and class president. The problem with being Rachel Green? You can get so caught up in being Rachel Green that you forget to ask yourself what it is you really want out of life and love rather than just settling for what’s expected of you.
A Rachel is always battling between her head and her heart: Does she want the rich dentist that everyone expects her to marry, or the nerdy paleontologist that she feels a soul connection with? The good news is: A Rachel always ends up following her heart in the end… even when it takes her out a bathroom window at her own wedding.
CONS OF BEING A RACHEL: The danger of a Rachel peaking in high school is real. You can get so caught up in who you used to be that you don’t allow yourself to become who you are. (To the point of donning your high school cheerleading outfit at age 30 to get a man’s attention.)
PROS OF BEING A RACHEL: When it comes down to it, you never allow yourself to settle for status quo. Underneath the sometimes superficial exterior lives a brave boss babe who just wants to break free from expectations and live the life of your dreams with the man of your dreams. Though you often stumble into less-than-perfect relationships, you’re not afraid to always get back up and try again. (And again and again and again, when it comes to Ross.)
Ross, the Serial Monogamist (see also: Mr. Divorce Guy)
Infamous catchphrase: “WE WERE ON A BREAK!!!!!”
Brainy, co-dependent, and completely impetuous when it comes to love, Ross is always acting first and thinking later. He rushed into marriage at a young age with the completely wrong person, got his first divorce a few years later, and learned absolutely nothing from the experience. Ross lives by the motto: “You’re nobody ’til somebody loves you,” and literally has zero concept of how to be alone. So much so that the very night he breaks up with his great love, Rachel, he rushes to hook up with the Xerox girl a few hours later, thereby leading to the one of the biggest debates in television history: Were Ross and Rachel REALLY on a break?!
A Ross is only content when in a relationship, meaning he often settles for whoever happens to be standing right in front of him just to avoid being single … and he’s probably racked up more than one divorce along the way. But despite his flawed approach to relationships, you can’t help but admire a Ross for his ability to keep chasing love, no matter how hard it runs from him.
CONS OF BEING A ROSS: A Ross is so determined to be coupled up, he’ll stop at nothing to attract women, including bleaching his teeth a hair-raising shade of white, spray tanning himself to an unrecognizable state, and forcing on ill-fitting leather pants that later have to be peeled off in the bathroom of his unsuspecting date. And when his plans don’t work out (or when someone eats his sandwich) he loses his cool faster than he lost Emily at the altar. Oh, and on that note: A Ross has been known to say the wrong name at his own wedding.
Better than scripted:The ‘Friends’ reunion is everything fans hoped it would be
PROS OF BEING A ROSS: A Ross is nothing if not a hopeless romantic. Key word: Hopeless. HA! Underneath his know-it-all attitude and often needy exterior is a guy who just simply loves LOVE. And who will go to the ends of the earth to find it. (Just not to Poughkeepsie.)
Phoebe, the Flaky Flower Child (AKA Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock)
Her infamous catchphrase: “He’s her lobster!”
Whimsical, zany, and childlike, Phoebe is the most inexperienced Friend when it comes to love. From her offbeat childhood to her colorful career path, Phoebe is never quite SETTLED… and that vibe carries over into her love life. A Phoebe is someone who has found herself in one almost, not quite-relationship after another, circling around love but never quite landing on it. And if learning to be in a relationship is like learning to ride a bike, a Phoebe is in trouble, because she never learned how to ride a bike. All that said, a Phoebe isn’t weighed down by baggage from past failed relationships, so she is able to bring a lightness and a joy to her love life that is truly unique. And when she does finally “find her lobster,” much like real lobsters, she mates for life.
CONS OF BEING A PHOEBE: While a Phoebe excels at life experience, she is lacking in relationship experience, meaning she often attracts men that are just as flaky as she is.
PROS OF BEING A PHOEBE: A Phoebe is kind, loving, and selfless to a fault. (Just ask the bee that she let sting her to make him look tough in front of all of his bee friends.) A Phoebe is also exactly who she is, with no apologies – and she allows you to be exactly who you are, with no apologies. Even if who you are is Crap Bag. First name Crap, last name Bag.
Joey, the Player & Likely Lifelong Bachelor with the Heart of Gold
His infamous catchphrase: “How you doin’?”
Flirtatious, promiscuous and uncomplicated, Joey just plain loves women. And sandwiches. But mostly women. A struggling actor, Joey is more committed to his chosen career path than he ever is any relationship. A Joey is too busy spreading the love to focus on settling down with just one woman – and he can sometimes come across as cocky and even a bit smarmy. But when you get past all the layers of Chandler’s clothing he put on to get back at Chandler for stealing his chair, you find a great big old soft-hearted teddy bear.
A Joey is caring and loyal and fiercely protective of his friends … to the point of proposing marriage when he finds out one of his best friends is pregnant, and accidentally proposing marriage (yet again) when she actually has the baby. A Joey rarely falls in love, but when he does, he falls HARD, and usually with the wrong woman. But at the end of the day, Joey is most comfortable when he’s a bachelor, and is “unlikely to take a wife.”
CONS OF BEING A JOEY: A Joey is such an eternal playboy, when he finally does develop real feelings, its hard for people to take him seriously. Even the Friends closest to him. But he doesn’t develop real feelings very often, so this is really a moo point.
PROS OF BEING A JOEY: A Joey could steal your heart (or our dessert) and ghost you the next day and you’d still smile from ear-to-ear the next time you see him because he’s just so darn lovable. A Joey also never pretends to be anything he isn’t, and he never promises you a rose garden. He’s here for a good time, not for a long time. And there’s something really refreshing about his honest approach to love and relationships.
So which Friend are you when it comes to dating? A combination of two? Or maybe you pivot among a few? While I almost never recommend going back to an ex, I can honestly say, “Friends” is one relationship I’m thrilled to revisit. Come Thursday night, I’ll be sitting in front of my TV screen singing “Reunited, and it feels so good!” How about you?
Author Mandy Hale’s latest book is “Don’t Believe the Swipe: Finding Love Without Losing Yourself.” Follow her on Twitter (@MissMandyHale) and Instagram (@TheSingleWoman)