FRIENDS Analysis: Chandler Bing’s Soulmate is Kathy

Chandler Bing's Soulmate is Kathy

Chandler’s parents suck.

I’ve read more than my fair share of articles on Chandler. And some are inflammatory, calling his homophobia the WORST part of Friends, but what the author fails to take into account is Chandler’s dad is an asshole. Of course Chandler’s going to be homophobic, he fears his narcissistic father.

How do we know he’s narcissistic?

[Narcissistic fathers] manipulate their children by withholding affection (until they perform), and neglect to meet their children’s needs because their needs come first.

-Mark Banschick M.D., Psychology Today

Not only this, but narcissists are known to ALWAYS be the center-of-attention:

Chandler: …he used to come to all of my swim meets dressed as a different Hollywood starlets.

And the “withholding affection until they perform” explains Chandler’s line in The One with Chandler’s Dad:

Chandler: When I was growing up I played the one on the far left.

Chandler’s dad is not a good guy. I know we live in a generation of equality and acceptance, but Chandler’s opinion of gay people should not be condemned — especially given his father.

Banschick’s article sums up Chandler’s dad, Charles, in a nutshell and it’s all the more reason why Monica’s surprise trip to Vegas for Chandler to reconcile with his father shouldn’t be viewed as loving, but controlling — wanting her traditional wedding. Monica is such an awful match for Chandler and it’s clear that it’s a result of his parents.

chandler-bing-parents-narcissists

Speaking of, let’s talk about the mom, Nora Tyler-Bing, for a moment, who is also a narcissist — I’m not just saying that because it’d be convenient. Look at Dr. Karl McBride’s, overview of a narcissistic mom:

“They cannot put themselves into your shoes and feel or understand how something might affect you. They can only see how it affects them.”

-Dr. Karl McBride, Psychology Today

Banschick then goes on to explain that narcissistic moms:

“The outside world may embrace her, but you know mom as self-centered, brittle, easily angered and “always right.” She may be loved by her friends and colleagues, but they don’t know the mom you know. You get maternal love now and then, but it’s unpredictable and punctuated by control, anger and a need to walk on eggshells.”

No where is this clearer than in The One with Mrs. Bing where Chandler finds out his mother is going to visit him via a Jay Leno interview.

Mrs. Bing: (on TV) I’m leaving for New York tomorrow, which I hate, but I get to see my son, who I love…
All: Awww!
Chandler: This is the way that I find out. Most moms use the phone.”

His friends swoon and adore her, but Chandler could not be more anxious. She says this for public adoration, not for her child. She loves herself. According to Banschick, at heart, narcissistic mothers are insecure and that’s why they need validation from their children (and men) — hence why she’s been married (and divorced) 4 times, and kisses Ross. The fact that Nora didn’t understand or care how it affected Chandler gives more credence to the narcissism.

The result of two narcissistic parents is clear, an insecure, anxious, and inferiority-complex-ridden boy. Chandler didn’t pursue a dream job, he had to stay out of the spotlight because “daddy” was hogging it; Chandler didn’t touch a girl’s breast until he was 19 (TOW all the Embryos) because that’s when he MOVED out of his mother’s house! His mother demanded all of Chandler’s affection.

Chandler Bing walking down the aisle between his mother and father
Between a Rock and a Phallic Symbol

Dealing with divorce is one thing — the heated arguments and battling for a child’s favoritism — but dealing with divorce between two narcissists is war.

Chandler’s parents are both narcissistic, and the scary thing is, there’s some evidence that Chandler’s dad might not even be gay — he may have chosen to be gay to win against his wife.

 Nora: Did you know that I slept with the best man?
Mr. Bing: Yes he told me. At least, I think that’s what he said. It was difficult to understand with his legs wrapped around my head.”

-The One with Monica and Chandler’s Wedding

Otherwise his dad exhibits more qualities of a transgender… But that’s not a door I’m here to open. I want to talk about why Chandler’s soulmate is Kathy and how she helps him conquer the insecurities of his parents; filling the void as the perfect piece.

Chandler Muriel Bing

chandler-muriel-bing

1. Background

  • Family Life

To make this analysis more manageable, here are the facts:

  • Chandler’s parents divorced on Thanksgiving when he was 9 (TOW Underdog Gets Away)
  • The divorce initiated because Chandler’s father was caught with the pool boy (TOW All the Thanksgivings)
  • The divorce caused Chandler to wet the bed (TOW the Two Parties)
  • Chandler started smoking at 9 (TOW the Ski Trip)
  • Chandler quit smoking at 23 (TOW the Thumb;
    • Phoebe: You’ve been so good for three years)
  • His mother is a successful erotic novelist (TOW Mrs. Bing)
  • Nora bought Chandler his first condoms (TOW Mrs. Bing)
  • His father is a gay transvestite (TOW Chandler’s Dad)
  • Chandler’s only heirloom is a feather boa passed down from Charles’ father (TOW the Yeti; 
    • Chandler: The only heirloom I ever got was a feather boa. Got it from my dad. He got it from his dad. How did I ever get born?)
  • Charles attended Chandler’s high school swimming events dressed as different starlets (TOW Chandler’s Dad)
  • Charles slept with Mr. Garibaldi (TOW Chandler’s Dad)
  • Charles moved to Las Vegas to start a Burlesque show called Viva Las Gaygas (TOW the Embryos)
  • Chandler used to perform in said show (TOW Chandler’s Dad)
  • Charles once invited Ross up to his hotel (TOW the Dollhouse)
  • Nora kissed Ross (TOW Mrs. Bing)
  • Charles kidnapped Chandler after cub scouts (TOW the Ski Trip;
    • Chandler: You know what this is like? This is like when my parents got divorced. Man, I hope Ross doesn’t try to kidnap me after Cub Scouts.)
  • Nora has been married and divorced 4 times (TOW Rachel’s Book;
    • Chandler: My mother spent most of her money on her fourth wedding. She’s saving the rest for her divorce)
  • Both Charles and Nora slept with the best man at their wedding (TOW Monica and Chandler’s Wedding)

 

chandler-bing-analysis

So with this wealth of information, what do we know about Chandler? How did it affect him?

1. Fear of Confrontation

Being a child of divorce, Chandler must have eavesdropped on countless arguments and fights between his parents. After the divorce, the fighting stops because they’ve separated, so Chandler equates “fighting” to mean it’s the end of a relationship.

Chandler: Well, y’know, you and me, it had to end sometime.
Monica: Why, exactly?
Chandler: Because of the weekend… we had a fight.
Monica: Chandler, that’s crazy! If you give up every time you have a fight with someone, you’d never be in a relationship with anyone for longer than…. Oh!

-The One with the Kips

Additionally, this is why Chandler is loathe to get involved in confrontations.

Example 1: Chandler can’t fire his attractive co-worker (The One with the Two Parts).
Example 2: Chandler can’t end things with Joanna (The One with the Dollhouse).
Example 3: Chandler can’t dump Janice (TOW the East German Laundry Detergent; TOW the Candy Hearts; TOW all the Rugby; etc.).

2. Fear of Inadequacy

im-sure-youre-right-but-why

Perhaps most importantly (in regards to dating), Chandler suffers an inferiority complex, always feeling inadequate and second-rate because his parents refused to ever let him feel more than that.

Worse, he points out the inadequacies in others because that’s all he knows. He never grew up in a nurturing or affectionate household, instead his parents tore him and everyone else down in an effort to raise themselves higher. Plus, given that Chandler’s dad was wealthy, it’s very likely his friends growing up turned to judgments and ridicule at Chandler’s expense.

As a result of all this, Chandler writes people off for their flaws — while being wholly aware of his own.

Chandler says it best in The One where Mr. Heckles Dies:

Chandler: Look at this. Pictures of all the women that Heckles went out with. Look what he wrote on them. Vivian, too tall. Madge, big gums. Too loud, too smart, makes noise when she eats. This is–this is me. This is what I do. I’m gonna end up alone, just like he did.
Joey: Chandler, Heckles was a nut case.
Chandler: Our trains are on the same track, ok? Yeah, sure, I’m coming up 30 years behind him, but the stops are all the same. Bitter Town. Aloneville. Hermit Junction…What if I never find someone? Or worse, what if I found her, but I dumped her because she pronounces it ‘supposably?’

3. Fear of Commitment

 

chandler-bing-fear-of-commitment

He fears commitment because he doesn’t want to become a father — specifically, his own. He hates what his father did to him and how his father destroyed his family. In fact, if you take his monologue to Janice as to why they can’t be together, but throw out the “joke” at the end, it sounds like Chandler is talking about his dad:

Chandler: I don’t wanna be the guy that breaks up a family, y’know when my parents split up, it was because of that guy. Whenever I would see him I would always think y’know ‘You’re the reason, you are the reason why they’re not together,’ and I hated that guy.

-The One with the Giant Poking Device

The line I cut at the end there is “And it didn’t matter how nice he was or how happy he made my dad,” but Chandler always uses humor as a defense mechanism and I think he was getting uncomfortably vulnerable. Plus, it makes more sense since Chandler wouldn’t blame the Pool Boy, but identify with him, whereas the vessel for all his fears is his father. To back up this claim (that Chandler identifies with the Pool Boy) check this out:

Children of divorce (whose parents’ relationship ends with an affair) often identify with the Other Person:

“Daughters will tend to secretly identify with “the other woman” and sons with the “other man.” Daughters want to be the “Apple of Dad’s eye.” If Dad is more desirous of another woman or more interested in something other than the family (like being at the bar), the daughter will, at some point, want to explore this “other world.” The daughter will tend to keep this a secret from mom for fear of being “disloyal” to her. The case is similar for sons.”

-Robert Stone, PsychCentral

Since Chandler’s dad is a transvestite, he had no male role models outside of his father’s lover: the Pool Boy.

more-turkey-mr-chandler

This gains credence when you consider the fact that Chandler is the “Other Man” a lot:

Example 1: Chandler is one of many “other men” in Aurora’s — the polyamorous exotic Italian woman’s — extensive love affairs (TOW the Butt).

Example 2: When Janice and Chandler start dating seriously, Chandler becomes the “Other Man” through Janice’s divorce and Joey makes this clear:

“They have a kid together, y’know. They’re a family, and if, I don’t know, there’s chance they could make that work, I know I wouldn’t want to be the guy who stood in the way of that.”

TOW the Giant Poking Device

Example 3: When Chandler kisses Kathy, he’s the “Other Guy” who ends her relationship with Joey.

More over, Chandler very clearly tried to be in his father’s good graces. He “performed” in his father’s burlesque show, he attempted a figure-skating career, he did the things his father asked for and in the end, Chandler was left to the wayside. The Pool Boy allegedly got his own Pool Boy, but that wouldn’t crush Chandler, rather he pursues the same route by living with his mother instead.

What no doubt caused Chandler to see his father for the narcissistic monster he is, is when Charles found another man. The Pool Boy was replaceable and Chandler realized he was as well. With a narcissist, you need to keep feeding their ego, and they are insatiable.

 

Chandler Bing's Dad: Charlies Helena Handbasket Bing

So Chandler chose to stay with his mother and evaded his father. The “kidnap me after cub scouts” line shows that Chandler’s father tried to spend more time with Chandler… but Chandler was not inclined to do so because he knew it wasn’t out of “love” for Chandler but because Charles wanted to win his son from his ex-wife; it was a competition.

Had Chandler continued trying to win his dad’s affection, he’d probably be a house staff or a butler since his father would never let him succeed. Living with a narcissistic mother however drove Chandler to get a high-paying job and notable career, since Branschick states that narcissistic mothers believe their children’s success reflects well on them as parents.

Although this gives Chandler a better life… that’s the silver lining. A sad circumstance to this is that Chandler’s mother didn’t love Chandler any more for choosing her over his father. It boosted her ego, but it’s been said that children of divorce who stay with the opposite sex parent feel resentment from them. In other words, when Nora looked at Chandler, she saw Charles.

The last thing Chandler EVER wants to be is his father. His “homophobia” is completely justified — it has nothing to do with gay people, and everything to do with distancing himself from his father.

This, combined with the divorce, is why Chandler is afraid of commitment. He saw it didn’t last between his parents, but more over, he doesn’t want to become his father.

2. Chandler’s Relationships

When you run the gamut of Chandler’s relationships, there are women he’s awestruck by and women he settles for.

“Chandler needs Janice like he needs a bullet to the head.” -@aRobotDinosaur

The women he settles for are relationships he falls into, i.e. Joanna, Janice, Mary Angela. Chandler is not emotionally invested in these people. (Ginger falls into this category too, once the artificial leg is exposed.)

Meanwhile, the women Chandler is awestruck by overwhelm him with beauty, so much so that all he can focus on is the fact that they’re “into” him. His ego is being charged by their looks and, for a time, they remedy his feelings of inadequacy because he cannot believe they are actually allowing him to pursue them… Women like Jade (when Chandler is “Bob”), Nina (co-worker), Susie (Julia Roberts), the Dutch Girl and, to some extent, Jill Goodacre. With those women, Chandler is awestruck, but before these relationships can mature, they’re ended quickly.

Plus, if anything, these short-term relationships simultaneously abolish Chandler’s fear of inadequacy… and then validate it.

For Chandler’s Soulmate, she must eliminate his 3 fears: inadequacy, confrontation, and becoming his father.

The women who Chandler is awestruck by and their relationships are able to mature with him are: Aurora, Kathy, Monica… and Yasmine Bleeth (and Kathy is the only one he turns her off for).

Of course each of these women help Chandler conquer his feelings of insecurity — feeling second-rate, unlovable, inadequate, etc. — because they’re gorgeous and they’re interested in him. Which means his other two fears (of confrontation and commitment) need to be conquered.

Chandler does both with Aurora, confronting her about their relationship and wanting to be monogamous… but it’s not reciprocated.

Meanwhile Monica is such an ill-suited choice. Monica is basically Chandler’s mom: another narcissist who always needs to win:

No you didn’t. Oh and honey, just so you know, now that you’re marrying me, you don’t get to win anymore.

-The One with Chandler’s Dad

3. Chandler’s Soulmate is Kathy

chandler-and-kathy

For starters, you would never hear Chandler say to Kathy that he loves her “in spite of” anything; any quirks; any habits; any neurotic OCD. Chandler tried to find flaws in Kathy, but he couldn’t. In The One Where Chandler Crosses the Line:

Chandler: …And now I have seen her naked. I mean at least when I’ve seen her with clothes on, I could imagine her body was covered in boils or something. But there are no boils, she’s smooth! Smooth!

Kathy helps Chandler overcome his insecurity because she chooses Chandler over Joey — a man Chandler holds in high esteem and loves dearly. The fact that Kathy picks Chandler assuages any feelings of insecurity.

Kathy even enhances Chandler’s intimacy with his friends. To become a better a lover, Chandler reaches out to Rachel and Monica. Although usually much more reserved around women, Chandler approaches them for one of his biggest insecurities: sex. Chandler has always feared how well he’s able to perform, and no doubt suffered from feeling second-rate to Joey, but because of Kathy, he overcomes his self-doubt and now has quantifiable proof that he’s a good lover. This conquers the fear of confrontation as well.

Finally, Kathy (like Joey) has elements of both his parents: his father’s showmanship (she’s an actor) and his mother’s raw sexuality. Kathy is perfect for Chandler… but it’s the “father” aspect that also makes their relationship fail… and it leads into a bit of a digression.

Chandler as Joey’s Adoptive Father

Despite the fact that Chandler always feared becoming his father, he becomes a father to Joey, his adopted child (more or less). Before explaining why, here’s the evidence.

 

chandler-bings-soulmate-analysis

Chandler supports Joey like he would his own son. He pays for his “school” (acting classes), his rent, his food. He cooks pancakes and explains to one-night stands how Joey’s not one to commit (as mentioned in TOW Ross’s Library Book). Additionally, Chandler helps Joey pursue the girls he’s interested in, be it Kate or Annabelle (TOW the Breast Milk).

Chandler takes him to the doctor: for the thing sticking out of his stomach (TOW Joey Loses his Insurance); for his broken arm from jumping on the bed (TOW the Jam); for his snoring (TOW all the Wedding Dresses). And he even refers to Joey as his child in The One with Rachel’s Other Sister:

If I die, you don’t get Joey.

Beyond that, look at highly nuanced scenes like the one where Joey and Chandler are robbed (TOW the Cat). When Chandler comes home to see that all their furniture is missing and (it appears) no one is home, he shouts, “Oh my God!” Then, as soon as Joey makes himself known, Chandler’s reaction is, “Are you okay?”

Any other character (Ross, Rachel, or Monica) would’ve asked “What happened?” before asking if Joey was okay.

Just look at The One that Could Have Been when Phoebe cries out, “No! No! No!” And Monica’s instinct is “Oh my God, you didn’t sit on my Kit-Kats, did you?” She cares more for herself than her friends – and the argument that “it’s a hypothetical episode” doesn’t hold any water as it’s a character trait of Monica’s (see the canonical episode The One with the Lottery where Monica wishes for money vs Chandler getting a job).

 

chandler-bing-and-kathy

Chandler even makes the cardinal “parent-of-divorce” move when he kisses Kathy and causes Joey’s relationship to crumble. Chandler lavishes Joey with gifts by buying new furniture in hopes of “winning” Joey over.

Chandler’s relationship with Joey is different from any other Friends-relationship; it’s paternal. It’s no wonder Chandler is so heartbroken when Joey moves out — he suffers as any parent does watching their kid go off to college. Chandler loves Joey (paternally) and part of the reason is because Joey fills the void his parents made.

Unconsciously or not, Chandler assumes the role of a father (sometimes mother) to Joey, but the difference is Chandler’s not a narcissist. Chandler provides and nurtures Joey and Joey responds with affection.

 

chandler-and-joey-adopted

Chandler can see this as a reflection of his childhood and perhaps, for the first time in years, started to empathize more with his father. Chandler isn’t always gung-ho about helping Joey, he feels the burden of responsibility.

There’s a good chance that Chandler felt like he was being dishonest with himself by providing for Joey, but still putting his own needs first — which is exactly what his father did, a wealthy man who cared more about himself than his son.

But then… 20 years (to the day) after his parents divorce on Thanksgiving, Chandler has confirmation that he’s NOT his father. Chandler’s “selfish” needs of wanting Kathy are put to the test. Rather than jump out of the box and pursue the love of his life, Chandler honors Joey’s wishes. Chandler put his “son”‘s needs before his own — something his father would never have done.

 

chandler-in-a-box

That “box” is symbolic of many things (maybe warrants its own episode analysis).

But the reason Chandler and Kathy’s relationship falls apart is, in my opinion, due to his father.

In The One with Chandler’s Dad, we learn:

Chandler: I don’t know if I’ve told you this, but he[Chandler’s Dad]’s kinda tried to get in contact with me a lot over the last few years…he’s made phone calls, written letters, he even came to New York, but I always said I was too busy to see him.

This is Season 7. Kathy was in Season 4. By “few”, Chandler must mean more than 2 years or he would’ve used “last couple years”. I think Chandler’s father tried to contact Chandler while he was with Kathy and this is what caused his insecurities to erupt in a moment of weakness.

When Chandler and Kathy break up, it’s completely valid. She’s an actress so her time is spent with her co-stars on-stage — much like his father. The fact that she’s getting hot and heavy with a good-looking guy is probably reminiscent of Mr. Ghirabaldi — who is on the piano at his father’s burlesque show.

 

chandler-and-kathy-breakup

Charles unravels all the progress Chandler made and you can see all his fears manifest. When Chandler and Kathy breakup in The One with Rachel’s Crush, Chandler’s insecurity comes first:

I-I could see how this could happen, y’know you’re up there every night, you’re naked, touching, kissing.

Then his fear of his father (the cheating and being replaceable):

Well, you can understand, given how we started.

And the fear of confrontation and fighting:

Kathy: I’ll tell you what, Chandler, why don’t you call me when you grow up!
Chandler: Yeah, well, don’t expect that to happen anytime soon!

What’s worse is Chandler does realize this. He understands it’s his father that made him regress because unlike every other relationship, Chandler does snap out of it and approach Kathy:

I think this is a good thing. Y’know? ‘Cause we’ve had our first fight, and now we can move on.

Chandler has never had a fight in a relationship and believed it could progress, but it’s because he’s conquered all his fears and insecurities with Kathy that he feels he can finally move on… Of course, when you accuse someone of cheating on you, project your insecurities onto them, and then use the fact that they cheated because they’re in love with you AGAINST them… it’s not easy to recover.

 

chandler-kathy-soulmates

And for anyone wondering, “But Monica reminds Chandler that “fights” don’t end relationships, so how can you say he overcame this?” Chandler and Kathy’s first fight became their only fight because it effectively ended the relationship. Plus, the previous women who dumped Chandler, like Jade and Susie, reinforced his insecurities in the end, much like Kathy.

Fin.

For more reviews and detailed Friends’ analysis, visit Doz’s Reviews

Related posts:

36 Comments on FRIENDS Analysis: Chandler Bing’s Soulmate is Kathy

  1. I love, love, love, love, love it!! Oh, if it’s not obvious enough. I will say this in, Je l’aime beaucoup !!!! Chandler has always been an ’emotional” survivor because he tried to heal his past whereas Phoebe is a “circumstance” survivor which is why those horrifying experience never scarred her as much … I love love love this.. Thank you. 🙂

    • I am learning French… if that counts. The Mrs. and I are heading to Provence and the Riviera in… 4 days for 2 weeks, so I’ll have to look into it, if only to give me something to talk about with the locals.
      — I take it you recommend it?

      • Cool… check out these French series, Les Revenants, Braquo and I can’t think of anymore at this moment.. heheheh…

        Provence is lovely… don’t believe in the hype that the frenchies are snobbish … I had the best experience there… in Paris, a complete stranger helped me out… I mean, come on 🙂

        Carnival is actually American .. hehehe…

        If u want to talk to them, talk politics – Obama and Hollande… and this is the magic phrase when u need help, Desolé (for u and an extra e at the end of the word for your mrs.) de vous déranger mais…. Works every time (imagine me saying à la Rachel after Joshua came back to confess that he changed his mind.)

        Have a great time in France. And thanks for these great articles… 🙂

        • I will definitely check out these series!

          It’s always hard for my wife and I to find a new show to agree on, but she loves French culture, so there’s a much higher likelihood of us watching these than something like Breaking Bad.

          Thank you for the French phrase and heads-up on conversation topics. I have very little in the way of planning (just the flight and a few hotels), so I’m sure I will be troubling people often, haha!

          And thanks again for reading!

  2. These are brilliant, if rather sad for the most part. I love how you look at the series as a whole rather than cherry picking for your analyses as many people do. You have a very interesting brain!

    If it interested you, I would love to hear your take on The Big Bang Theory characters and their soulmates. I think the relationships depicted in that show are amongst the most unhealthy I have ever seen, and it baffles me how so many people watching seem to root for them. Especially when there was so much potential to the show to start with.

    • Thank you (for the compliments and for reading)!

      I’m glad it feels whole! There’s still some Friends stuff I want to write about like The One where No One is Ready as the opposite of The One with Emma’s First Birthday… and Gunther’s soulmate (haha), but it’d probably be good to take a look at other shows.

      I watched the Big Bang Theory through Season 4… I think. The last episode I saw was Howard and Bernadette getting married on a rooftop. I really like Jim Parsons, but they’re on Season 8 or 9 now, right? I’d have a lot of catching up to do, but I never liked the Leonard and Penny thing… well… sort of. I really liked that dinner scene where he teaches her the difference between centripetal and centrifugal force — there was something magical happening there.

      One thing I will say is I always imagined that the Big Bang Theory was one of the few shows that could/should handle kids well.

      Like you know how most shows avoid children/babies like the plague? Or they’ll pull an Angel or Desperate Housewives where they do a timeskip so they can avoid baby stuff? I always thought BBT would be great with children.

      I was kinda hoping the very first episode where they were at the sperm bank would be called back and Sheldon’s stalker girl would’ve taken his sample and now that its been 8-9 years, he’d have an illegitimate son.

      I’ve rambled for too long.

      Thank you for reading! I will look into it.

    • I have a whole separate one on Why Chandler’s Soulmate is Janice–I was running with her for awhile until the “Joey is like Chandler’s son” revelation.

      I have several pages for why Janice works and what she means to Chandler, but I cut it all out because I wanted to focus on Chandler and Kathy. The argument for Janice is REALLY strong, but I thought Kathy’s was stronger by a hair.

      • I think she meant on why Chandler kept returning to her if they weren’t soulmates. what was it about her that he continued calling her? I’d like to know your thoughts on this, he acted like she was the worst of all his exes and yet, she was his got-to date.

        • Yeah, the biggest problem with Janice was that — outside of Season 3 — Chandler never wants Janice. She’s more a security blanket.

          That said, she does do a lot of stuff to get Chandler out of his shell, makes him less nitpicky, forces him into confrontation, embraces his shortcomings, etc. Plus, Janice has a lot of flaws… yet she’s extremely confident and that’s something I think Chandler envies and latches on to.

          But the reason I felt Janice didn’t work was the episode where Mr. Heckles died. She’s a safety net, someone who appears to be even more flawed than himself, and therefore will never leave him. She helps his abandonment issues, but there’s not much love there. And what I mean by that is…

          If you imagine Chandler working in Tulsa where the hot co-worker hits on him. Chandler refutes her advances because he’s with Monica — I think he’d do the same with Kathy — but I don’t think he would do the same for Janice… which, again, would make him more like his father for breaking up a marriage due to infidelity.

          I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but I do think in his spiel to Janice when he says the whole, “You’re the reason they’re not together… and I hated that guy,” I think he’s referring to his father, not the pool boy (the pool boy is just him feeling uncomfortable for feeling so vulnerable).

  3. I’m stillpositively impressed by the depth of your analysis. It is just that you often read too much in small things and I have the feeling that while your stream of logic seems sturdy, it’s partially because you are ignoring many other things.

    I just assume that you see this as a theory, rather than absolute thuth 🙂

    • Yeah. If it helps, my background is in “reading too much into things” — I have a BA in English and the majority of the time, we had to take a 1,000-page novel and explain why it makes sense; or makes no sense. We weren’t allowed to use conjecture though, only the text. You have to use the author’s own words against them, so I just applied that to Friends.

      My favorite school of thought is Deconstruction which is what you just described, “a theory rather than an absolute truth”. The idea is that anyone can make a compelling argument for or against something, but it’s all meaningless. And if it’s meaningless, why do it? Because it’s fun. It’s “free play” of the mind.

  4. I have two pretensions. One, as I mentioned before is your view on a concept of soulmate which based on your ideas is essentially a compatibility of psychological needs, While I belive that soulmate is somewhat different than that but won’t discuss it right now. And the second is how little time you spent on Monica part here, just comparing her to Chandler mom. That was so unfare to me. Monica tends to be selfish but the key situations always suggest that she is willing to sacrifice anything for Chandler. Her job when Chandler had to move, or her dream wedding when Chandler refused to use up all the money. But more importantly she’s not Chandler’s mom because unlike his parents, Monica is a source for his security as a family man and sexual performer. Monica is energy-sucker but not esteem-sucker in my opinion. 🙂

    • It’s a valid point… but then she doesn’t put her job before Chandler. Of course, like you’ve been saying, you kinda have to disregard that part for the show. It’s funnier if Chandler leaves but Monica doesn’t… but yeah, I’d have to factor in her taking the job.

      I spent less time on Monica here because I felt like I did plenty on her and Chandler in Monica’s.

    • Thank you! His had the most revisions, but I’m really happy with it. His and Joey’s are my two favorites, but I think I like Joey’s the most if only because I don’t dislike that character anymore.

  5. You made up a lot of stuff here. Kathy choosing Chandler over Joey might have come as a hit to Joey’s ego, but it was never an esteem booster to Chandler. (You just called Chandler as Joey’s “adoptive father”, you can’t expect him gloating about it.) As a matter of fact, Monica too chose Chandler over Richard. Secondly, Kathy never said anything about Chandler being good at sex, even in the episode where Chandler thought he would be second-rate to Joey, it was Monica who told him what to do , as a friend, and in season 5 when they were in a relationship, it was Monica who publicly acknowledged “her new secret boyfriend” was the best she ever had. Also, Kathy getting on with Nick hours after they have a fight suggest otherwise. Monica taking Chandler all the way up to Vegas is debatable, for I can see it as a gesture, where she intended that Chandler shouldn’t hold grudges against his parents ( remember, Monica too has an incredibly emotionally abusive mother), and if Chandler continued to be uncomfortable about it, she would have dropped it ( note: in the burlesque, Chandler had got up to leave and Monica didn’t stop him). The job thing is again debatable, but I really believe it wasn’t fair to Monica to quit her dream job to accompany Chandler for a year and for a job he hates. She was incredibly supportive when Chandler quit, and didn’t throw a fit at him about trying to be pregnant when he showed his financial insecurity. Same goes for the donor episode. The whole money vs friends was just a jokey banter between friends and I cannot remember when Monica wished for money instead of Chandler’s job.

    I understand that Monica is annoying and becomes self-obssessive at times, but I’m tired of her getting so much heat.

    • Ooo! Good point about Monica not stopping him from leaving — and the dream job vs Chandler’s loathsome career.

      Rereading the Monica bits, I see how that comes off, but I’ll clarify here, I don’t hate Monica by a long shot. I think she was a better character in the first 4 seasons… but I also feel that way about Joey. Which isn’t to say that they’re bad characters by the end, just that they were better, more whole in the first 4.

      I wasn’t trying to say Monica is bad, but that she’s a bad match for Chandler — which I still believe.

  6. That was one heck of a good read!
    Chandler is my favourite character so it was really nice to read such a lovely analysis of him. It was very well done.
    Regarding the soulmate thing, here’s what I think: Chandler and Kathy psychologically might have been better wired for each other but I guess at the end of the day your actions and the way you overcome the flaws of your personality for those that matter are what makes up true relationships. Kathy blows it up with Chandler by cheating on him once they have a fight, and she cheats on Joey as well at first. That just kinda closes it all with Chandler.

    What works with Monica and Chandler on the other hand is that though they might not be psychologically perfectly wired for each other, they understand each others flaws (Monica’s obsessiveness and competitiveness, Chandler’s fear of commitment and confrontation) and act accordingly, also complementing each other. They also manage to communicate well with each other, and know the way to tackle each other. An example of this would be when Chandler convinces Monica to save up the savings for their future rather than blowing it up on the wedding party by using negative psychology in a way, agreeing with her at first, saying they would pick their favourite child for college cos of limited money and so on, then relating what all he had planned for their future. He effectively appeals to Monica’s maternal and romantic side to make a valid point across- that it was useless to blow up all the money on one day. On the other hand, Monica encourages Chandler to follow his dream, take up a job he loved not one that he had to do for money, even at a point when their savings saw a decline. (And that is why she made the wish for money for both of them). This eventually results in Chandler doing something he had wanted to do since years- quit his job.
    Throughout the series, there are many more such examples. Monica and Chandler handle each other at their worst, she eases him through his commitment issues, finally he proposes to live in together, proposes marriage without any prodding and was completely comfortable with having a baby (at the end of season 8; ironically it was Monica who freaked out). As for Monica, Chandler, though he ignores or jokes about her ocd’s, he does exert himself when needed (like when he scolds the neighbours pestering Monica for candy when Monica is too obsessed with pleasing them, separates Rachel and her sister from fighting while Monica is busy grieving her broken plates, or in the savings example mentioned above)
    At the end of the day, intentions matter more than anything else. I personally believe that relationships work as long as you put honest efforts into them. And therefore despite not being soulmates Chandler and Monica do seem best suited to each other as they’re both innately similar- loyal, caring for their loved ones inspite of flaws, and desiring stability and family life. Their love story and happy married life eventually plays out along this important core strength of their characters is what I believe- they manage to overcome the most difficult tests- infertility (Monica doesn’t want a baby with nother man after wanting to be a mom so hard), lure of infidelity (Chandler in Tulsa), money problems and long distance relationship.

    Thanks for reading. 🙂

    • Holy s***! This right here “(And that is why she made the wish for money for both of them)” makes sooo much more sense. Great points.

      And yes, in Monica’s defense, I completely agree about the “soulmates” things. I love her bit about how, “I don’t think we’re soulmates, I think we work hard at our relationship.”

      In my limited experience (personally and interpersonally), relationships fail when people stop caring enough to work at them. I’ve seen friends cheat on their significant others, not because they’re interested in sleeping with someone else, but because they’re too cowardly to tell their current partner that they’re no longer interested in the relationship.

      And I use the term cowardly with affection, because I do love them, but on the occasions where it’s happened, it is cowardly.

      Great counterpoints, by the way!

  7. “I love how you look at the series as a whole rather than cherry picking for your analyses as many people do. You have a very interesting brain!”

    I have to agree with this after reading Ross deconstructions this entire morning, and landing upon yours, along with this Chandler article.

    One thing I’d say with Chandler and Monica: the small beats between them can be underrated. I’m not particularly a fan of their relationship, and she becomes incredibly complacent with her own flaws once they get married. But, throughout the show, she likes things “just so” and it extends to her desires for a family that will stay in place, without anything falling apart prematurely. At every point along that road in their conversations together (even before they’re romantic and just friends) Chandler’s humour voices her worst fears before she can even finish the thought, and there’s an emotional sincerity there between them that helps them both to trust and grow. Unfortunately the writers pushed that button way too hard, after marriage, to the point where emotional sincerity is just replaced by cutting cynicism, with only moments of relief through very overly sentimental drama that seems out of place with the tone of the show.

    • Thank you for reading!! And completely agree with that “cutting cynicism”. Their digs at each other overwhelm their lovey-dovey-ness.

      I gotta say though (as it’s been awhile since I wrote/read through my Monica analysis), but I am surprised so many people think I hate Monica and Chandler together. I don’t think they’re bad, just not soulmates. I feel like that’s pretty clear cut and since it served as the basis for all 6 of the analyses, maybe I came across as more harsh than I should have.

      • Your analysis came across very balanced to me. I didn’t get the impression you hated them together. I think my comments were more just general thoughts about them that I was looking to get off my mind at the time.

  8. What a beautifully profound analysis. I must say Chandler is my favourite character of all time. Nobody can replace chandler ever.
    I feel Monica is emotionally taxing for Chandler. For eg when Phoebe degrades chandler, which she does a lot (and I hate her character for that), Monica says and does nothing. She doesn’t abide by the man she claims to love. She either nodes along or stands silently. She grows increasingly captious of Chandler in later seasons, because she’s assured about their relationship and Chandler’s insecurities. I would say Janice was a better partner but than she didn’t give chandler the gratification, emotional and Confidential boost.

    • Yeah, to be honest, Janice was the original suitress I went with, but I nixed her since she’s a good complement, but she also does the things Chandler hates about his family and himself (the whole, cheating on your spouse thing). But yeah, Chandler is great!

      Thank you for reading!

  9. This is a very deep and interesting analysis. Thanks for writing and sharing.
    (I know this post is old but I’m going to leave a comment anyway. And English is not my first language so please excuse any mistakes I may make in the following comment.)

    I watched friends as these random episodes when it first aired. I was a teenager back then and for years to come I would remember Chandler just as the funny guy who jokes. But I’ve rewatched the series in its entirety two times in the past year and this time as an adult, and with fresh eyes, and it’s funny how I suddenly found myself not only understanding Chandler but quite liking him too.

    I completely agree with your analysis that the Chandler character is a victim of emotional/narcissistic abuse. His social anxiety, fear of confrontation, fear of commitment, self-esteem issues, trouble developing a sense of self in the first place (which is evident as in Chandler never fully finding his passion in life), they all stem from the fact that his parents were two huge narcissistic egomaniacs to begin with and also add the fact that their divorce resulted in putting little Chandler in the middle of nasty fights and a broken home.

    Both personal experiences of real people in real life and recent studies prove that the best healing step for a victim of narcissistic abuse is going NO contact with the abusers, which Chandler instinctively and rightly did. Victims of narcissistic abuse may take a long time to heal (they may even never heal completely) since they struggle with either lack of a sense of self or lack of self-worth among many other things, and it is recommended that they remain no contact as long as they want and not feel guilty about staying away from the abusers and about not being able to forgive them. Just because everybody else wants you to forget and forgive doesn’t mean you have to. The best way to start healing is staying away from the source of abuse until you feel completely healed and comfortable and even then reconnecting with the abusers and forgiving them is not a must or an obligation. That’s why I, too, didn’t like Monica making Chandler get in touch with his father.

    There is so much evidence to Chandler’s parents being narcissists throughout the show, but funnily enough two minor scenes are the ones that stood out to me in my recent rewatch of the show:

    It was very interesting to me how upon them meeting each other after so many years in that Vagas show, and when his father sees him and talks to him when he spots him among the audience, he asks for his name and when he says Chandler, he replies, “What an unusual name. You must have had terribly fascinating parents.” One might argue that Charles was being self-deprecating considering his, and Nora’s, history with their son, but I thought it was such a typical narcissistic behavior, turning the subject immediately around to revolve around HIM.

    The other scene is when his parents are walking him down the aisle at his wedding, and instead of complementing their son, they need to be complemented on THEIR beauty.

    As for Chandler’s relationship with Monica, I do like a lot of things about that relationship for the same reasons some of the commentators have already expressed. The actor/actress had chemistry and up around Mondler wedding, the show explored an interesting dynamic between Chandler and Monica. Monica did help Chanlder with some of his fears and Chandler was a willing participant, and in return Chandler calmed down a lot of Monica’s crazy! They also communicated well most of the times. But I’m afraid when I look at the relationship after they got married, it seems a bit one-sided and even a bit emotionally abusive since Monica became too bossy and critical and Chandler a bit too passive, who didn’t seem to have much say in how to lead their everyday married life and almost always ended up doing things the way Monica wanted them to be done. Watching the later seasons gives me the feeling that Chandler became just a supporting character and a piece in Monica’s Stepford Wife, Babies, Picket Fence life Plan. I’m afraid watching post-marriage Monica, and Chandler, it sometimes does feel like that Chandler stepped into the same Narcissist abuse trap he was as a child. So yeah, I would have loved to see more of Chandler and Kathy. I remember I liked them together even when I first saw them years ago as a teenager, and I still like them and always thought it was a shame how that relationship didn’t get explored more and was cut short so fast.

    I also would like to add something about Chandler and Joey’s relationship. I agree that a big part of that relationship is parent/child. But I think Chandler staying in that relationship and doing a lot of the things for Joey doesn’t just come from his “parental” needs. I think his poor self-esteem/self-confidence issues play a part in that relationship too, as Joey in many cases would make such a big deal out of their fights and disagreements and made such a show out of it and made Chandler do stuff such as stay in a box, wear lipstick in public, or kicked him out of the car on a bridge just because Chandler expressed his true feelings about Joe’s “big break”, let his sister punch Chandler while Chandler had just explained to him that he couldn’t remember which one was Mary Angela. IMO all these instances show that Joey’s over-reaction triggers and validates Chandler’s feelings of shame, the feelings that every person with low self-esteem already carries around in their subconscious in loads.

    This post is long already, but I’d like to point out something else about Joey: his Mafia-like interpretation of friendship and love. It screams Mafia the way you are his friend as long as you are a part of the “Family circle” and play by the rules of the circle, but the moment you “break” the rules, you are going to get “punished” for it (what Joey usually does to Chandler), and the way he is over-protective of the females in the Family circle, but any female outside of this circle can be screwed over. I’m a Middle Eastern woman and this kind of attitude is very common among Middle Eastern men too: here in the Middle East not just the men, but the women get punished too if they break the rules of the circle/family, sometimes too harshly and severely (see honor killings). The second trait of this Mafia love/friendship/whatever..is that women in the family are overly protected to the point of infantilization (just like Mary Angela was infantilized in that whole scenario. She is a grown woman who kisses a drunk man in a party and believes his confessions of love for her? What is she, ten?)

    The whole thing for me is such a tribal, possessive kind of love.
    I know most people love Joey exactly for the kind of “friendship” and “loyalty” he displays, but I see it as suffocating, controlling, sexist and chauvinistic. Joey’s behavior is a more watered down version of how many backwards, possessive men live their lives here in the Middle East, and that kind of behavior is one of my biggest pet peeve because I have seen it destroy lives since I was a child. That’s why Joey is my least favorite Friends character. The man triggers me! Lol!

    Anyway, I also read that article you linked, and the author has such a strange way of looking at the character. I think one of the things that I like about Chandler is that yes, he had anxiety, fear of commitment and fear of confrontation, etc. yet it did NOT turn him into a creep. Describing Chandler as creepy and potentially menacing is indeed strange. I never ever got such a vibe from him.

    Sorry about the long post and thanks again for sharing these thought-provoking Soulmate articles.

    • Wow, this is an incredible analysis. I admit I didn’t research nearly as much as I should have, but your comment about the dad turning the focus on the parents does seem incredibly narcissistic. And Joey’s mafia-like connections makes a lot of sense. I do think it’s interesting that a lot of people view Joey as the “best” friend because he seems to betray each of the others the least… but you’re right, he does overly punish them for what they do wrong. I also hadn’t even thought about that episode with his sister and appreciate your comment, “what is she ten?” Haha

      It’s been awhile since I reread what I wrote, but it sounds like we’re on the same page. I agree Monica and Chandler (especially early on) are not terrible, but in those later seasons it seems very unloving and abusive which was harder to enjoy.

      I really appreciate you reading the article and your response — it’s equally as insightful. I feel like I need to spend some time assessing how Kathy plays into this and what type of personality complements someone who was abused by narcissists because I think she is still the best fit, but it’d be fun to incorporate that.

      Again, thanks for reading and responding!

      • You’re welcome, although I don’t call my comment an analysis really, it was more a rant! And here comes another one!

        Yes, Joey’s type of love and friendship is quite tribal, traditional and Mafia-like. There is a subtle sense of ownership in it:

        – The men kind of “own” the women in the circle/family – the females are overprotected and infantilized (like Mary-Angela, also note how she and her other sisters screamed for Joey when they found out Chandler couldn’t remember which sister. It was like little girls calling for help and protection.)

        – The women get punished if they break the rules of the circle (see how that other sister of Joey was so scared and anxious to tell Joey she had slept with a man and was now pregnant. She had broken the rules of the Family and was now dreading the “punishment” the male of the house might have in store for her.)

        – The women outside of the circle are fair game though. The men using women for sex not calling them the next morning and even cheating on them is all fair, which is what Joey usually does.

        – The men in the circle feel a kind of ownership over one another too, hence the “bro code”, hence punishment once you “break the code” or in Joey’s case you just do something he deems as wrong.

        All these behaviors are quite common here in the Middle East too.

        Joey especially throws tantrums when it comes to Chandler. No wonder Chandler has a hard time telling the truth to him in many cases. Joey complains about not liking to be lied to but the incident on the bridge proves that he can’t handle truth very well either. The only time he didn’t make a big deal out of it was when Chandler told Joey he was in Tulsa while in fact Chandler and Monica wanted to spend the night together in their apartment in NY, and I’m sure Joey didn’t make a big deal out of it only because Monica was involved in that scenario. If it was only Chandler, I’m sure he would whine and complain and would make Chandler do something big again, maybe walk down the block in his underwear or something?

        And don’t get me started on the way he mooched off Chandler for years! Also you remember how he owed Chandler more than, what, 40,000 dollars for mooching off of him over the years and he thought he could pay all that back by taking him to the premier of his movie! I mean how egotistical of him to think seeing his movie’s premier is worth 40,000 dollars! And again he gets angry because Chandler fell asleep, he considers him out of the circle of his friends again so he wants to pay the actual money back, but once he finds out the number is too big, he lets Chandler back to the circle anyway. As somebody put it perfectly, he is letting Chandler buy his way back into Joey’s circle of friends. It shows that Chandler is desperate to have Joey as a friend and Joey is more than willing to use that desperation.

        Yeah, sorry, not the biggest Joey fan here!

        As for Monica, in later seasons she treated Chandler as if she was his boss or his mother and as if she was doing him a favor by staying with him. I also hated that even after they got married, everybody kept reminding him how hotter Monica was than him or how she could do better than someone like him.

        About Kathy, I have to admit I haven’t analyzed her as deeply as you have maybe because they gave us so little of that relationship that it is a bit hard for me to make complete sense of it. I did like the little we saw, and I really wanted to see more because I always thought Chandler needed at least one serious, (semi-)long relationship before they paired him up with Monica (and I’m not counting Janice as that relationship was mostly played as comic relief and was never long-term anyway. It mostly consisted of short get-togethers and then break-ups) But I do like the points you made about her in your article like how Kathy chose Chandler over Joey and how Chandler didn’t have to love her “despite any quirks”.

        All I can add here when it comes to who is the best match for Chandler is that it’s just important to note and to remember that victims of narcissistic abuse, especially if the narcissists were the parents, need a lot of healing and self-care before they get into a new relationship or they may attract a new narcissist into their life and repeat the same unhealthy cycle with the new partner.

        • Come to think of it, it does make Joey’s other perceived betrayal awful. I mean, first off, I realize how hypocritical it is that Joey (when he was dating Kathy) was dating 2 other women, but then when Kathy sort-of starts dating another guy, he’s livid.

          But, Chandler buys all that stuff for their apartment, and Joey accuses him of “buying his way back in”… course then he also says he’s going to keep the TV.

          Oh yeah, and Joey gets upset when he buys Chandler a gift and Chandler doesn’t like it (the bracelet)… but Chandler should have the freedom to not like something.

          This is good stuff!

  10. Ok, I won’t lie. I was in tears reading this. I think I always loved Chandler the most was because I felt such a personal connection to him.
    Nora is basically my mother to the point she actually looks like her! (Blonde, flaunting breasts every chance for attention, married 3 times (she’ll get to 4 I’m sure) and the highlights of narcissistic mothers just nailed it. (I actually sent those parts to my brother, as we’re the “Scapegoats” to older brother being the “Golden Child” and he was floored as well.) While we had known a while we have to deal with a nonther with NPD, it doesn’t make it easier to deal with.

    The difference between Judy and Nora’s influences is that Chandler recognized and broke the cycle, Monica didn’t. (Which, honestly, I can see HUGE fights to divorce with the twins and that makes me sad.)

    I hated the way they handled Kathy to make way for Monica, especially since it was so hard to believe Kathy would have cheated on Chandler in the first place. (And I wanted to smash the writers for making Ross “well if she thought they were on a break…” – which I’m really excited to read the upcoming analysis on that hot mess!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*