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Family Studies

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The Love Affairs in the Life of Ross Gellar:

Emotional Affairs Stand Strongest

Though I have always had an interest in defining what kind of love affairs outside a

marriage or relationship was tolerable and which ones would be the end of the primary

marriage or relationship, I had yet to discover a single answer that could be universally

agreed upon. According to our studied textbook ("Families in Canada", 2005, p. 212),

there are three main types of extramarital relationship styles: strongly emotional without

any sexual intercourse, not emotional with sexual intercourse, or emotional with sexual

intercourse. As I followed along with the well-known television series of Friends, I saw

all three types of these extramarital affairs experienced in the unfortunate love life of the

character Ross Gellar (played by actor David Schwimmer). The question is, however,

which one of these affairs would be intolerable and unforgivable (giving no leeway to

future chance of patching things up with the initial partner), and which ones could still be "

fixed" with the spouse or partner, given time.

For years before having read such a textbook as Families in Canada or having taken

a family studies course, my personal hypothesis on extramarital affairs had always been

that men were more likely to cheat sexually, and women were more likely to cheat

emotionally. Given my nature of being a female I felt luckier because I would rather

have my future spouse cheat on me sexually rather than emotionally. My hypothesis

proved to be correct according to our textbook, where it states "Women were more likely

than men to have emotional affairs, whereas men were much more likely to have affairs

that were only sexual." ("Families in Canada", 2005, p.212) I personally believe that purely

sexual affairs would be much easier to let go of in time than any affairs that contain

emotional attachments. This can be proved in an average type of guy's life, such as Ross

in Friends.

First in the life of Ross, we learn that his first wife started to spend suspicious

amounts of time out and away from Ross. As it turns out, she became a lesbian and was

cheating on him assumably sexually as well as emotionally with another woman. This is

considered as the worst type of extra-dyadic relationship by most of our society: sexual

with emotional components ("Families in Canada", 2005, p.212). Ross and she end up

getting a divorce, and she ends up staying with her lesbian lover. Ross seems to keep in

touch with her only for the reason of keeping in touch with their young son, Ben, and we

can continuously sense the bitterness he has against his ex-wife's lover in each episode

that they find themselves together in. In this type of extramarital relationship, there is a

minimal chance of reunion between Ross and his ex-wife as she chose to fully indulge

herself (sexually and emotionally) with her new lover, and each move on with their

separate lives. In later episodes, we only see her or her lesbian lover in touch with Ross

when there is something to do with Ben. I believe that without the emotional bond with

each other, there would have been less of a chance that Ross' ex-wife would so

determinedly choose life with her new lover over life with Ross. The emotional aspect

joint with the sexual led her to ditch Ross and her old family life.

Second in Ross' love life, there is Rachel (played by Jennifer Aniston), whom he has a

serious and long-term relationship with. At one point they argue and go on a relationship

"break". Ross then has a one-night stand with a young lady, purely sexual, and then tries

to keep that secret from Rachel as soon as he finds out she wants to be fully committed

with him again the next morning. Of course, Rachel finds out about this one-night stand,

and becomes furiously upset. In this case, we see that both Ross and Rachel are still in

love and want to be back together, but Rachel has been hurt too deep to accept the fact

he "cheated" on her (she explains that a "break" doesn't mean she stopped loving him, and

that it wasn't a "break-up"). They think at this point that there is no chance of fixing this

mistake of Ross', and so they eventually move on with their lives, becoming purely

friends again later on. (Little do we know at this point that this sexual incident will later

on be forgiven and that it is the least strongest affair of Ross' love life since the other

love affairs in his life which contained emotional elements ruined his committed

relationships of that particular time while this purely sexual affair still allowed him Ð'-though

not easily- to stay friends and later on become lovers once again with his one true love.)

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