‘Friends’: A Fan Theory Attempts to Rationalize Ross Cheating on Rachel

Ross Geller and Rachel Green’s will-they-won’t-they storyline captivated audiences for years. While the couple did originally get together in season 2 of the famed series, Friends, their love wasn’t built to last. At least, not initially. The relationship seemingly ended because of Ross’ infidelity, although questions remain about whether or not Ross’ actually cheated on Rachel. A fan theory might finally explain why Ross really thought he did nothing wrong.

How did Ross and Rachel break up?

After finally getting together, Ross and Rachel’s relationship seemed to be going smoothly, that is until Rachel landed a new job, and became a bit of a workaholic. Ross, jealous of the man who helped Rachel land the job, became increasingly clingy and paranoid.

David Schwimmer as Ross Geller and Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

The issue came to a head when Rachel insisted she needs to work on the couple’s anniversary, and Ross attempted to get her attention by showing up at the office. Eventually, Rachel was so irritated by Ross that she suggests they take a break from the relationship. With that, Ross took off and met up with Joey and Chandler at a local bar. After attempting to call Rachel and work things out, Ross ended up taking the hot girl from the copy place home.

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The next morning, Rachel called to patch up her tattered relationship, but there was one problem, Ross’ overnight guest was still there. Ross then spent the better part of a day trying to ensure Rachel didn’t find out he slept with someone else. His efforts were for naught. Gunther spilled the beans, resulting in the couple’s real breakup.  

Did Ross cheat on Rachel?

Whether or not the couple was on a break when Ross hooked up with Chloe, the hot girl from the copy place has been hotly debated by Friends fans for years. If you look at the dialogue in the moments leading up to Rachel finding out about Ross’ indiscretion and the moments immediately after, it’s pretty clear Ross didn’t exactly cheat on Rachel, although his actions were definitely questionable.

When Monica and Rachel discussed the events of the evening, Rachel told Monica that she and Ross broke up instead of enjoying a romantic evening. She also asked Ross if they could get back together and again reiterates that she wanted to be his girlfriend again. Reddit fans note that the dialogue indicates both Ross and Rachel seemed to agree that they were broken up the evening that Ross slept with Chloe.

A fan theory seems to explain the misunderstanding

During the first season of Friends, Ross admits, to Joey and Chandler, that Carole was the first woman he slept with. Ross and Carole met in college and married a few years later. If Carole was Ross’ first, it’s presumed, she was the only person he slept with before meeting Julie.

That doesn’t turn out to be the case, though. One Reddit user points out that Ross mentioned, in a later episode, that he had a tryst with a cleaning woman while in college. While the statement could come down to the writers forgetting that Ross initially suggested he was a virgin until Carole, there is another possibility.

One Redditor suggests it is possible that Ross and Carole took a break from their relationship at some point, only to get back together later. Assuming Ross had that experience with Carole, it’s possible he thought sleeping with Chloe wasn’t that big of a deal, too.

Ross maintained, for years, that he did not cheat on Rachel. Rachel, on the other hand, insisted, for years, that Ross had been unfaithful. Fans remain similarly split in their opinion, more than 20 years after the fictional cheating happened.