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What Friends taught me about love

Jenna Birch is a health and lifestyle writer, lipstick enthusiast, aspiring yogi and diehard Wolverine based near Ann Arbor, MI. For more information, visit jennabirch.com or follow her on twitter @jennabirch.

20 years later, Friends still teaches us about love

Even though I've seen every Friends episode more than once and own every season on DVD, I'll still watch reruns and TBS marathons regularly. I still laugh like each joke is entirely new to me. I still find myself smiling as "I'll be there for you..." rings out over the opening credits. It's just that kind of show: a classic.

And although the show is ultimate proof that friends are the family you choose for yourself, there were so many other lessons along the way to glean — especially when it came to the gang's confusing, emotional, life-altering, hilarious and realistic relationship histories.

1) Timing is everything.

20 years later, Friends still teaches us about love

Photo credit: vulcanraven0213/Youtube

How many times did Ross and Rachel get together and break up, consider a relationship and then decide to stay friends? Between Seasons 3 and 10, they never get together in an official sense for more than a blink. (Unless you count that super-quick reunion after Ross dumps Bonnie at the beginning of Season 4, or that drunken marriage in Vegas at the end of Season 6.) Sometimes, the right person could walk into your life at the wrong time.

2) There is a big difference between "break" and "break up."

20 years later, Friends still teaches us about love

Photo credit: vulcanraven0213/Youtube

When Rachel tells Ross she thinks they should go on a break in Season 3, Ross thinks Rachel means break up — and totally hooks up with the girl from the copy place, Chloe. Eek. This is a communication lesson, and a language issue: "Break" means brief breather from each other (but your commitment to each other still stands!), while "break up" means legit split.

3) If you're torn between two potential partners, listen to your gut; you already know the answer.

When Ross finds out Rachel has feelings for him early in Season 2, he makes a list of pros and cons to decide between her and his current girlfriend, Julie. Only issue? Ross knew deep down he wanted Rachel — and then Rachel found the infamous list, which she was none-too-happy about. If you're even considering someone else besides your current S.O., it's a big indicator you're not as happy as you believe you could be with someone else.

4) Sometimes, the right guy is right under your nose.

20 years later, Friends still teaches us about love

Photo credit: peggin169/Youtube

Monica and Chandler had been friends for years before they finally got together in Season 4 at Ross's wedding to Emily. And look what an awesome couple they made, right? Sometimes, the right guy is already in your life. You just have to take a second and look around. So, do it.

5) Long-term goals have to align.

20 years later, Friends still teaches us about love

Photo credit: AcMilan2kkk7/Youtube

Phoebe was head over heels for Mike when she dumps him in Season 9, right after finding out he's jaded from a failed marriage and doesn't ever want to tie the knot again. Problem? She did want to get married. She knew that they would never be totally happy if their life goals didn't align. Perspective gave them both a chance to realize their relationship was worth making a compromises for, and Mike and Phoebe eventually do get married in Season 10. Yay!

6) Backsliding with your ex is dangerous.

20 years later, Friends still teaches us about love

Photo credit: vulcanraven0213/Youtube

Rekindling a relationship with your ex for a brief fling might sound like a good idea when you're lonely — I mean, you already know him — but you're better off not opening that can of worms unless you're ready for the consequences. When Ross and Rachel have a brief reunion in Season 7 (which we don't learn more about until Season 8), they wind up with a baby, sticky relationships and confusing feelings for one another for the remainder of the show.

7) Proposing marriage to someone is scary and emotional.

20 years later, Friends still teaches us about love

Photo credit: NBC Friends/Youtube

Since guys do the proposing most of the time, us ladies aren't always aware of just how scary and emotional it can be to put your heart on the line like that — until Monica tries to pop the question to Chandler at the end of Season 6, and announces, "There's a reason girls don't do this!" A lesson in perspective, ladies. If your guy is sweating bullets, no matter how long you two have been together and/or talked about marriage, it's a big moment and he wants it to be perfect. Be understanding of his feelings, Oh, yeah... and put the guy out of his misery and say yes right away if that's your answer.

8) Dating your best friend's ex is a no-no (and so awkward).

20 years later, Friends still teaches us about love

Photo credit: revolstar/Youtube

When Joey and Rachel get together briefly in Season 10, neither of them can actually tell Ross they're dating. Because it's awkward! And there is already too much history between Rachel and Ross. No matter how strong your feelings are, you are better off avoiding relationships between exes of your closest pals — unless you're OK with losing friendships. Think before you date, people.

9) Commitment isn't so scary if it's right.

20 years later, Friends still teaches us about love

Photo credit: Laggy yggaL/Youtube

Lifelong commitment-phobe Chandler nearly ditches Monica at the altar, because he's afraid he's going to screw up a "forever" relationship. However, when the friends convince him how great they are together, and he sees Monica walking down the aisle on their wedding day, he realizes it isn't scary. It's Monica. And he's madly in love with her. Lesson: If the thought of a lifelong commitment makes you squeamish, think about it another way.

10) If he's your lobster, it will all come together in the end.

20 years later, Friends still teaches us about love

Photo credit: Edward R. Jenkins/Youtube

Everyone knows how Ross is in love with Rachel when they finally get together in Season 2, and Phoebe explains they're like lobsters, because they supposedly mate for life. When Ross's longtime feelings are finally revealed in "The One with the Prom Video," it's obvious these two are meant to be. Even though timing and circumstances keep them apart for most of the show's run, we always knew Ross and Rachel would end up together. At the end of the day, if you're meant to be with someone, you will be. "See, he's her lobster!" Phoebe exclaims at the end of the climactic Season 2 episode. How right she was!

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