What Monica and Chandler taught me about solid relationships

If you sit in my living room in anticipation to browse through Netflix, the only thing listed under the ‘Recently Watched’ category is Friends. The minute every single glorious episode of Friends became available on Netflix I started binge watching like crazy. Friends was a staple of my childhood. Back then, I remember being completely head over heels with the idea of the beautiful perfect ‘will they/won’t they?’ relationship that was Ross n’ Rachel. I wanted every future love story of mine to be filled with that much excitement and passion and…..conflict?

As a grownup, or at least a young woman at the early stroke of 30 and in the midst of a three-year relationship, it has been eye-opening re-watching the show—having swam through years of dating until I finally met the right person. The couple I’m now cheering on from my living room couch is Monica n’ Chandler. Here’s what these two have taught me about lasting relationships:

1) Your partner should accept who you really are.

From Monica being competitive over everything that crosses her path, to Chandler making fun of everyone in eye-sight, the best thing about these two is that they have always owned up to who they really are. Neither of them tries to act like the cool kid on campus, rather, they’ve always flaunted what makes them unique. By doing this, both Monica and Chandler knew what they were getting themselves into when they started the relationship. Chandler knew that his girlfriend likes to boss people around sometimes because it gives her a sense of control, and Monica knew that her boyfriend had little experience in dating but was ready to dive in. By knowing what they were in for, both parties were extremely well informed of what kind of relationship they were in for, but better yet, they were in it because they were falling for each other, quirks and all.

2) Leave the drama and games out of the relationship (or just leave it for Ross and Rachel). 

If you go back and re-watch Friends, the live studio audience would go absolute banana-sandwich whenever Ross n’ Rachel hugged, kissed, looked at each other knowingly, were maybe about to reunite, etc. I was right there with them. Shouting with absolute glee from the couch cheering on every move they made. We never knew if they would get together. When they finally did, the payoff was amazing and so well worth the wait.

Here’s the thing: Monica and Chandler never had that type of audience reaction for their love because they didn’t go through the same ‘will they/won’t they’ story arcs. Chandler and Monica always clicked and it was always easy because there were no games. Chandler would very publicly admit that he was not great with women, yet he was always open with Monica about his feelings for her (if not totally initiating moving forward with their relationship). Monica was also fantastic at being honest with Chandler whenever she was in doubt. They communicated and were ultimately always on the same page (especially when it came to bypassing a quickie Vegas wedding). No games.

3) You can’t force somebody to change—they have to change on their own. 

People change on their own terms and for their own reasons. If the awesome way that you’re growing and changing happens to be complimentary to your partner, then you might be dealing with a pretty little thing called fate. Fate can be magic. Fate=Chandler/Monica. When Monica met Chandler, he was incapable of opening up to women. As they continued to date she loved him for who he was. She didn’t argue with him every time he couldn’t open up about his feelings. Instead, she communicated with him openly and let him know that she was there for him. By opening up the dialogue without pressure, she was able to give Chandler the confidence that he needed to comfortably open up. Would that turn of events had happened if he was dating someone else? Maybe not. People will grow when they’re ready, but the awesome thing about Chanica is that they wanted to grow together.

4) The clock ain’t ticking.

Remember when Monica and Chandler first hooked up in London? I was so happy for them but of course the first thing on my mind (and theirs) was, ‘Well what now? Tell the group? Keep it a secret?’ Monica and Chandler ended up not telling their friends immediately (with the exception of Joey, who found out by accident), which led to an insane amount intrigue. Now, I feel like the whole Central Perk clique knew every detail of Ross n’ Rachel as it was happening. They were super vocal about everything from, ‘I like Ross!’ to ‘I don’t know if I like him but I might so let’s see what happens.’ It was a very public situation for those particular characters, and unfortunately, it led to a lot of drama as a couple. Monica and Chandler were focused on getting to know each other as a couple after years of getting to know each other as friends. They were building a meaningful bond and by the time they ended up telling the entire group, they had solidified their feelings without it feeling showy in front of a group of their friends. The key is to enjoy getting to know each other and focusing on that element first before racing to Facebook to post #fate #JustLikeMonicaAndChandler.

While the Ross n’ Rachel style relationship was something that was so much fun in my 20’s, I have such an insane amount of respect and admiration for relationships like Monica and Chandler now that I’m a little older. And I’ll be honest, their proposal to each other still makes me sob with happiness.

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