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Were Ross and Rachel On A Break? Therapist Dana McNeil’s Take

Dr. Dana McNeil
Latest posts by Dr. Dana McNeil (see all)

Recently I sat down with the amazing Alexia Dellner for PureWow to give my take on one of the most “controversial” questions in pop-culture’s past 25 years. First, though, Alexia is a fabulous columnist with a focus on wellness. It truly is a pleasure to explore this topic!

Let’s get to it; were Ross and Rachel actually on a break?

First, there are different kinds of breaks.

Watching the show as a therapist, it’s clear that this wasn’t a very defined break. There was no indication of when they were going to come back and talk about this or if this means that they’re actually breaking up from the relationship. From the get-go, it was also clear neither Ross nor Rachel were in the right mindset to fix their problems.

What they were experiencing in that argument is a term that we call ‘flooding,’ also known as a fight-or-flight or freeze response.

‘Flooding’ is a way to describe impaired decision making in the prefrontal cortex, making impulse control very difficult. Rachel was clearly in a ‘flooded’ moment and needed to take a pause, but was not able to look forward and realize there would be consequences. Rachel’s impulsive stress behavior made Ross ‘flood’ as well. Neither of them had the foresight or ability to think their actions through.

I don’t think Ross’s heart told him that he was on a break.

When you watch his mannerisms and how he’s just kind of responding and reacting to stimulus coming at him (an attractive girl, music, alcohol, etc.), I don’t think his heart thought he was on a break. In fact, he declines Chloe’s advances at first. This moment of doubt is evidence enough that he knew it wasn’t over with Rachel.

If it were my partner, I would feel totally cheated on. Disagree? Read Alexia’s full article here for some extra information.

If you want to learn more about ‘flooding’, decision making, and healthy relationships; schedule a phone consultation with us at The Relationship Place today!

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