Ah yes, Ross and Rachel. The quintessential couple in the mainstream pop culture landscape. Friends’ biggest plot point in its 10-year runtime was the will they/won’t they dynamic between these two, and it all stemmed from their huge “we were on a break!” fight.
Even though Ross and Rachel have now been back together for fifteen years, the Friends fanbase is still divided over whether they were on a break or not (in this list, we’ve considered being “on a break” as Ross and Rachel having been broken up). Here are some reasons why Ross was in the right, and some reasons why Rachel’s logic made sense.
10 Were Not Broken Up: Rachel Never Said The Words "Break Up"
After this episode aired, Friends helped define --even in the real world-- what constitutes a “break-up.” As far as Ross was concerned, he took Rachel asking to “take a break” as “we’re breaking up.”
It’s a weirdly thin line that separates the two, but Rachel can technically get off from blame here by pointing out that she didn’t outright break up with Ross. Sure, she didn’t confirm to Ross what “a break” actually meant, but it’s not like Ross stuck around for more than two seconds after she’d said those words. Maybe she could have explained it better had he not bailed.
9 Were Broken Up: Rachel Invited Mark Over
Okay, Mark actually invited himself over, but Rachel didn’t do anything to stop him from being there. She knew that Ross hated Mark and that he was always paranoid that something was happening between them, yet she still had Mark sticking around her apartment at a sensitive time like that.
From Ross’ point of view, you can understand how the guy felt when he was on the phone with Rachel thinking they were going to make up, only to hear Mark’s voice from Rachel's end of the line. At that point in time, was it natural for him to have figured Rachel had called Mark over for a rebound?
8 Were Broken Up: Rachel Asked To Get Back With Ross The Next Morning
This can be a nice argument to counter the potential defense that Rachel never explicitly said she wanted to break up. It was Rachel herself who went over to Ross’ place the next day to apologize, also specifically asking him to take her back.
Here, we saw Rachel ask Ross to let her be his girlfriend again, which easily insinuates that she too saw the previous night between them as an actual break-up rather than just being on a break. This would also technically absolve Ross of any supposed wrongdoing, considering that, if they were broken up, he didn’t actually cheat on her. There are lots of technicalities here.
7 Were Broken Up: Ross Was Too Controlling
Honestly, who wouldn’t want to take a break from Ross when he was being so very annoying in that particular episode? He had no respect for the workplace when he showed up at Bloomingdale’s for a romantic dinner, despite the fact that he had no business being there and was asked to stay away.
Not only did Ross continually bother Rachel at her work, he didn’t have any regard for her work in general, as he called it “just a job.” At his own work dinner party, Ross took on a controlling attitude and made Rachel take his work seriously. When the situation was flipped, though, Ross wasn’t so compromising, even making fun of her profession.
6 Were Broken Up: Ross Wanted To Make Up, Rachel Didn't
During the build-up to their “we were on a break” thing, Rachel was the one who initiated the falling-out by proposing they take a break. Ross, often being Mr. Clueless in these situations, figured Rachel was trying to make up and was ready to set aside their troubles, but Rachel had to stick to it.
Ross suggests they just go out and get frozen yogurt to cool off from their fight, but Rachel, instead of seizing the moment to get back on good terms with him, reiterated to Ross that she wanted a break from their relationship. Had she agreed with Ross at the time, then there wouldn’t have been a “we were on a break” situation to begin with.
5 Were Not Broken Up: Ross Admitted He Was Unfaithful At The Time
Yes, Ross would have come across as a massive jerk had he denied any wrongdoing. He could even have brazenly claimed that, since he thought they were broken up, he was free to pursue any woman. As he did agree with Rachel that he did a terrible thing by hooking up with another woman, though, it does put the blame on Ross.
Yes, he did play this card when they had their break-up argument, but it was only as a thin cover, before he went on his knees and begged Rachel to forgive him for not being true to her. Most people would just see this as an admission of guilt over being unfaithful.
4 Were Broken Up: Rachel Still Wanted Him Back Later
Rachel became a real shrew after Ross moved on with other relationships, as she was constantly on the lookout to get back with Ross. We saw this first when she sabotaged his relationship with Bonnie by shaving her hair off and later on with Emily as well.
In the first instance, Rachel admitted she didn’t break up their relationship because she didn’t want to be with him, but only because she was angry with him. You can’t blame Ross for not seeing it this way, though, as if Rachel had felt that way, then she should have just said so and avoided a break-up in the first place.
3 Were Broken Up: Rachel Cared More For Her Career
Honestly, the writing pretty much was on the wall for their relationship when Rachel landed knee-deep in her job, as she took to keeping Ross in second place and having her job the top priority.
While we do understand her sense of accomplishment, it was rather insensitive of her to stand up Ross for their major milestone moments and blow him off by simply telling him she was staying late for work. Although we understand her excitement, there’s no denying that defending her work so much was one of the bigger factors for the break-up.
2 Were Broken Up: The Others Generally Agreed With Ross
The fandom seems to side with Rachel more than with Ross, but when it comes to the Friends gang in-universe, they tended more toward the latter. We had evidence of this when Ross pointed out that Monica agreed with him on the matter (although she quickly put the blame on Joey to avoid a fight with Rachel); Joey also agreed with him.
Chandler, being Ross’ closer pal, also sided with him on this, while Phoebe admitted she didn’t understand what exactly happened at all. The friends also agreed that Rachel was actually still in love with Ross the whole time, even though Rachel herself didn’t realize it.
1 Were Not Broken Up: They Didn't Agree On The Break-Up
It goes without saying that it takes two people to be in a relationship and that it takes two people to end it as well. While Rachel may have proposed they take a break from one another, Ross didn’t agree to the perceived break-up himself.
By process of elimination, this does mean that they were technically still together because the two hadn’t come to the mutual conclusion that their relationship was over - it was all assumption on Ross’ part that they had broken up. All in all, it was still wrong to hook up with someone the same night he thought he was single again, no matter what reasoning we come up with here.