The Real Meaning Behind Ross Geller’s ‘We Were On A Break’ Declaration On Friends

“We were on a break!” That’s the cry that could be heard from Ross Gellar (David Schwimmer) on “Friends” from season three and on, whenever he and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) had a fight. In fact, the phrase has become so iconic that it’s been used in pop culture for years since the 1990s when Ross first uttered it after Rachel learned he did a bad, bad thing.

In fact, “We were on a break” has even made it into the Urban Dictionary, as it’s something any man can utter when they did what Ross did under misconstrued circumstances. So, what did Ross do to make him use that phrase to explain away his actions for years? And was Rachel right in thinking Ross’s behavior was beyond the pale if they were on a break? After all, it looks like Ross might not be the only one who thinks being on a break in a relationship means you can do whatever you want with whomever you want.

What was Ross really talking about every time he screamed 'We were on a break'?

In season two of “Friends”, Ross and Rachel finally got together, according to Entertainment Weekly. They remained together through much of season three, but things got dicey when Ross was jealous of one of Rachel’s co-workers and didn’t like her working on their anniversary. That argument led to a large fight and for the pair to agree to take a break from their relationship, explains Refinery 29.

Ross thought of this as a breakup and had a one-night stand with a girl at the local copy place. Rachel also believed they had broken up, but they also quickly reconcile — until Rachel learns what Ross did on their very brief break. From then on, whenever Ross and Rachel would fight, she would bring up the copy shop girl and Ross would exclaim in exasperation: “We were on a break!”

Was Ross right to use 'We were on a break' as an excuse?

HerCampus.com did an informal poll of college students and asked them to define what taking a break in a relationship means. One respondent from The University of Missouri said: “It means that a couple has taken time off, but they will probably get back together in a few weeks.” Meanwhile, another respondent from the Fashion Institute of Technology said: “I just think it’s an excuse to hook up with other people, but still have a relationship as a backup plan.”

Relationship coach and psychotherapist Toni Coleman tried to clear things up. “Taking a break means agreeing that you will not see each other for a specified, or even unspecified, period of time,” Coleman told HerCampus. “Usually this includes an agreement that both are okay with the other seeing other people. Sometimes it is not stated, but one or both individuals have this intent and assume it is understood.”

So, maybe Ross had a point when he used that as an excuse for his actions during countless fights. Or, at least according to Rachel, maybe he wasn’t.

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