My roommates and our friend Q have recently gotten quite addicted to the famous 90s sit-com Friends. After a month of watching the show, we’ve almost finished season two, constantly bribing ourselves to get our schoolwork done so we can watch another episode without feeling too guilty. We’ve even gone so far as to cast each of our friends as one of the characters on the show. I just so happen to be Rachel, and my very good friend Q is Ross.
Now, when we cast our friends, it was purely based upon personality characteristics. Q and I being Ross and Rachel had nothing to do with relationships. We’re best friends and that’s all. Certainly not a Ross and Rachel.
Or are we?
I’ve been grappling with this relationship for a few weeks now. It all started when I noticed some “red flags.” Not real red flags- our relationship is great- but the kind that reminded me of my ex-boyfriend. Both Q and my ex are Boy Scouts, both loved to perform in musical, they have similar stature, even a similar personality… And our friends began to tease me.
I began to notice some slight changes in his behavior. He treated me differently than either of my two roommates. He began to get protective of me- almost a little jealous of other guys, even fake boyfriends that I’d jokingly talk about. When I started talking about the possibility of studying abroad next spring, he was happy for me, he really was, but it also bothered him. The more we talked about being apart- the week of spring break, the three months of summer, the eighteen weeks of study abroad… it visibly bothered him more and more.
I’d seen this movie before: my ex and I had been best friends. He’d been quite protective of me; we called it “papa-bearing.” Our friends started whispering about how they thought we’d be a great couple. Somehow our feelings changed, and we decided to give it a try. Only to have it fail miserably.
Naturally when I began to notice these similarities, especially in light of being “Ross and Rachel,” I began to worry. I did not want Q to turn out the way my ex was. My mind started reeling: did I feel that way about him? Did he feel about me? There’s five ways this could go: 1) we really don’t feel that way about one another and no pasa nada, 2) we do feel that way and everything goes great, 3) we do feel that way but we’re trying to force something that wasn’t meant to be and therefore ruin our friendship, 4) we do feel that way but never do something about it because we’re terrified of messing something up and instead miss out on something great, or 5) we don’t feel this way but let our friends get in our heads and feel obligated to give it a try only to still have it ruin our friendship. Over half of these outcomes are hardly desirable, and how will I even know where to start in hopes of achieving one of the more desirable outcomes?
Thinking about it all has been driving me insane. I can’t stop thinking about him, trying to figure out whether or not I feel any sort of romantic feelings toward him. And as my cousin and I drove home for spring break, I realized that I could be doing just what Rachel did: driving myself insane thinking about my Ross and trying to rationalize away my (potential) feelings out of fear.
Because it’s not fair to hold Q accountable for what my ex did. He’s not my ex. And as my “Phoebe” pointed out: I don’t have a crappy group of friends. I have friends who will love and support me through this no matter what.
“Ross and Rachel.” We’re Ross and Rachel for a reason.