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Ross Geller: The Fragile Man

Ross Geller is one of TV’s original nice guys, but a closer look at the show reveals Ross as an example of male fragility. He’s a guy who is so focused on proving his masculinity that he often overcompensates, and hurts others in the process, yet still ends up with his dream girl. So, here are some toxic takeaways from Ross’s story:

1. Protect Your Masculinity At All Costs

Ross is a classic example of a guy who believes his masculinity to be under perpetual attack. He constantly demonstrates territoriality towards the women he dates. For instance, he makes a rival out of his ex-wife Carol’s new partner. Likewise, he treats Rachel’s other romantic interests and male coworkers with grudges and distrust.

2. Your Fulfilment Matters Most

When we first meet Ross, he’s reeling from his recent divorce. But Ross isn’t really missing Carol; he just wants a woman to fill the role of his wife. So, when Rachel walks into Central Park in her wedding dress, Ross takes it as a sign. He immediately sets his sights on her and uses her to complete his idealized version of himself.

Throughout their on-and-off relationship, Ross gets upset whenever Rachel does something that challenges his idea of her being solely his. Even when they’re not together, he continues to get in the way of her dating other people. He can’t stand the thought of Rachel ever becoming unavailable to him, even as he dates and marries other women.

3. You Don’t Have to Change For Anyone

Over the course of the show, most of the group changes as they’re all finding new careers, partners, and figuring out who they are. But Ross does not.

In the season finale, Rachel’s decision to go to Paris was rooted in her genuine need for growth and change. Ross could have realized his true feelings towards Rachel and used them to reprioritize his life. He had been teaching long enough to have taken a sabbatical and gone to Paris with Rachel or could have moved there to be with his daughter. Ross could have changed for someone else, but ultimately, that’s not Ross.

To conclude, Ross’s deep insecurities and unwillingness to face his flaws is his toxic combination of traits. Ultimately, the fact that he gets the girl is the show’s most toxic takeaway. In the end, Rachel has given up her dream job just to stay with someone who’s manipulated her repeatedly, who’s only professed his love for her because of the fear of losing his agency over her, and who shows no signs of changing.

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