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Image / Living / Culture

Ross and Rachel aren’t dating, so can’t we just let Jennifer Aniston live?


By Sarah Finnan
12th Aug 2021

Friends

Ross and Rachel aren’t dating, so can’t we just let Jennifer Aniston live?

Ah, we’re back in familiar territory – talking about Jennifer Aniston’s love life again.

Friends fans the world over lost their minds earlier this week when rumours of a potential in-real-life romance between Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer began circulating. First put out there by Closer, an insider reportedly suggested that the co-stars had gotten together after “20 years of buried feelings”.

You may remember the duo revealing that they kinda, sorta had feelings for each other on the reunion episode earlier this year. Yes? Well, people have basically just run with that confession, using any sighting of the two together to suggest that they’ve finally decided to make a real go of it. 

Admitting that they were both “crushing hard on each other” at one point, Schwimmer assured host James Corden that nothing actually ever happened between them – one of them was always in a relationship, so they kept it strictly professional… to which Matt LeBlanc quipped “bullsh*t” (only further fanning the flames of a rumoured romance). 

As a child of the late 90s, I was too young and unawares to keep up to date with Friends as it played out in real-time, but no doubt people had their suspicions about whether they were dating back then too. Of course, Jen soon started going out with heartthrob of the moment Brad Pitt, and all mention of Schwimmer was erased from the picture. 

But with the show freshly back in people’s minds and nostalgia at an all-time high, we find ourselves discussing whether the two are an item once again. We should know better than to take one report from a tabloid as fact though and the whole thing has turned out to be nothing more than hearsay. 

Keen to put the rumours to bed, a representative for David Schwimmer told The Huffington Post that there was no truth to the claims, while a spokesperson for Jen reiterated much the same message. That may be the end of it in their heads, but it’s never so simple as that, is it? Especially when the relationship in question concerns one of TV’s most famous will-they, won’t-they couples. 

Here’s the thing though, it’s time to leave Jennifer Aniston alone. 

Not on a break, but definitely not together

Look, I get it. As a fellow Friends fan, I too would love if Ross and Rachel really did get together IRL. But it’s important to remember that they aren’t their characters, and we’d never be truly satisfied with an offscreen romance anyway. Think about it – what we want to see play out is an exact replica of how their love story/relationship went on the show… but that’s just not realistic. 

What if they gave it a go and then broke up? Our collective hearts would be shattered into trillions of pieces and I’m not sure there would be any recovering from that. We can’t keep projecting our own fan fiction fantasies onto celebrities and hoping that someday they’ll stick. As Dev Patel recently pointed out, the purpose of acting is “to perform, transform, change”. Both Aniston and Schwimmer were hired to play a part; maybe we believed their chemistry because there was some truth to it… or maybe, it was because they were good at their jobs. 

Ross and Rachel had their happy ending and we should be content with that. Much to some people’s surprise, actors are not our own personal playthings and just because they choose to live their lives in the public eye does not mean that we can dictate who they love, what they do or how they behave. 

Stop with the pity party

On the whole projecting what we want onto others note, “single, childless woman” is not synonymous with “unhappiness”, contrary to popular belief. Society has taught us that having children/a family is the only marker of a woman’s success in life. But – and this is truly revolutionary – not everyone wants that for themselves. 

There is a stigma surrounding single, childless women of a certain age and simply put, it’s toxic. Pitying a woman for choices she made (and is happy to have made) is extremely patronising. It’s like hearing someone order pizza when you want pasta, then turning to them with a look of “Oh, your poor fool” in your eyes and saying “Don’t worry, I’m sure your bowl of spaghetti will come soon”. Makes no sense. 

Trying to match Jen up with any single, available bachelor she happens to cross paths with, suggests that she “needs” a man to be allowed to live freely in this world – itself a contradictory statement. Single people are in fact “whole” and unless Jen comes out and explicitly says that she’s miserably lonely and asks for fans to set her up, the attempts to link her to so-and-so are completely unwarranted. 

Strong, independent woman

Revert back to your teens for a moment when your parents would try to delve into your own love life. Here’s how a conversation between you and your mother might go. 

Mother: I saw you talking to John from down the road. He’s a lovely lad, isn’t he?

You: He’s grand.

Mother: Did he ask you to the disco? Sure, wouldn’t you make a fine pair?

You: *Stream of expletives.*

Having someone speculate on your personal affairs is quite annoying, so imagine how the likes of Jennifer Aniston must feel. Not only that, but the unending interest in her love life does little to speak of her accomplishments either. In fact, it diminishes her career as an established Hollywood heavyweight and suggests that her value is only as someone else’s partner. She’s an actress, producer and businesswoman. She’s won countless awards and starred in a whole list of different TV shows and movies. Why is no one talking about that? 

Google her name and one of the first suggestions is “Jennifer Aniston dating”. The thirst for information regarding who she spends her time with says a lot more about us than it does her and it’s probably about time that we reevaluated our priorities.