The scandalous truth about Ben Affleck's new romance

Ben Affleck and his new girlfriend, television executive Lindsay Shookus, have been making waves with their romance since going public in late June 2017. It's Affleck's first relationship since separating from wife Jennifer Garner in 2015 (the couple didn't announce its intentions to divorce until April 2017.) Though Affleck and Shookus seem happy together, their blossoming love connection may have ugly roots.

They were both married when it began

Radar Online reported that Shookus worked at Saturday Night Live when Garner appeared with Affleck on the show in May 2013 to celebrate his fifth time hosting. In one sketch, Garner and Affleck even poked fun at rumors about their marriage.

Multiple sources told People Affleck and Shookus began their affair in 2013 while he was still married to Garner, with one witness claiming Affleck and Shookus appeared to be flirting at a party in June 2013, about a month after he and Garner appeared on SNL together. One partygoer told the magazine, "He definitely looked interested in her."

"There was an immediate spark," a source told Radar Online. "Ben and Lindsay flirted and stayed in touch through Ben's appearances on SNL."

Shookus married then-fellow Saturday Night Live producer Kevin Miller in 2010, and they welcomed a daughter in 2013. Not long after, Shookus allegedly started shacking up with Affleck, filing for divorce in 2014. "She was married and had a baby and left her husband for Ben," a source told Us Weekly. Still, it seems the split was at least somewhat amicable because Us Weekly also reported that Shookus and Miller co-parent and live in the same building in New York City.

They snuck around for a while

A source close to Garner told Us Weekly that Shookus and Affleck took great pains to hide their hookups from their respective spouses for a while. "Ben and Lindsay started their affair about three years ago, just a few months after she became a mom. They were not casually dating — they were having a full-blown affair," the insider said. "They were sleeping together, sending each other cute texts and meeting up whenever they could."

A source told People, "Whenever he was on Fallon, he would go visit her at SNL. They were both married at the time, but there was definitely a flirtation."

Another insider dished to Radar Online, "They had secret meetings at hotels in New York and Canada, but never went out for fear of being photographed together. Whenever they met, Lindsay would go in one way and Ben went in another. Radar Online also reported that Affleck and Shookus even communicated through a secret email account, and one source told the site, "They were together on the set of Justice League (2017) in London where Ben was filming reshoots…Ben pledged to work on his marriage and the tension [with Garner] subsided, but he continued to see Lindsay in secret. She was the woman who ultimately ended any hope of reconciliation between Ben and Jen."

Garner confronted Shookus

Garner found out about Shookus and Affleck's relationship "years ago," a source told Us Weekly, and allegedly asked Shookus to end it. However, a source revealed, "Lindsay said she'd only stop if Ben asked her to." [The relationship] was the breaking point for Jen."

An insider concurred to People that Garner found out about the clandestine couplehood in 2015 and confronted Shookus in person while in the Big Apple for work, noting, "Lindsay refused to back down or quit the affair." People also reported that while Garner was in town for an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, she sought out Shookus' ex-husband, Miller, and showed him text messages proving that Affleck and Shookus were messing around. A source told Us Weekly, "They were devastated when they found out about the affair."

A source told Radar Online that Garner discovered the relationship after she discovered Affleck bought Shookus some bling. "Jen met face-to-face with Lindsay and demanded she return the jewelry. Lindsay says she'd return it, but only if Ben asked for it back."

They're not being low-key anymore

Shookus and Affleck aren't trying to hide their romance anymore, which may give a little more credence to the theories that it isn't exactly new.

"They are spending time together in L.A. Lindsay is staying at Ben's new house," a source told People on July 9, 2017. "They had dinner at Giorgio Baldi last night. They arrived in a limo. They looked happy. They had a quick dinner and then returned to Ben's house." Giorgio Baldi is an infamous hotspot for celebrities and paparazzi…and then there's the limo. Wouldn't a normal car be a lot more discreet?

Maybe, but a source told Us Weekly, "[Affleck] isn't relieved that this information is out there, but he is very happy with Lindsay and doesn't want to hide it."

Some sources deny an affair

A source close to Affleck told E! News, "There was no romance during either of their marriages. They are happy that their relationship is out there and they are moving on with their lives." Another source added that Affleck "is happy to finally have the relationship out in the open and freely date Lindsay [although he] is respectful of the kids and bringing someone new into their life." Yet another source told the site that though Affleck and Shookus had been "friends" for years, "Things did not get romantic between Ben and Lindsay until recently."

A source told Us Weekly, "Lindsay was not what led to the end of their marriage. They had a ton of other problems. Ben is enjoying Lindsay's company, and they will continue to see each other." An insider also noted to People, "The friendship's been going on for a very long time but this is newer waters for them. They've been trying to take it slow but it's progressing quickly. Their feelings are strong."

Garner is starting to accept it

A source told Us Weekly that Garner has come to terms with Shookus and Affleck's relationship. "Jen knew about the relationship and still chose to go on vacation with Ben for the 4th of July," the source said. "She is OK with it."

However, a source told People that while Garner has accepted it, she's not exactly thrilled. "It's not an easy situation for Jen…Of course there are issues given it was a major affair, but Jen is her own woman and is completely fine. Nothing is new for her here. She's in mama-bear mode…putting the kids' happiness first." Another source said, "It would have been easier for Jen if Ben would have just dated someone that Jen wasn't familiar with."

Of course, Garner can't complain too much, because: How you get them is often how you lose them.

Affleck may not be her first famous fling

A source told Page Six that Shookus was previously linked to Sex and the City star Chris Noth, as well as Mad Men star Jon Hamm, with whom she was spotted getting close at a Kanye West concert in New York in September 2016. Perhaps coincidentally, Hamm has hosted Saturday Night Live three times and made six guest appearances on the show. Hamm's rep, however, denied a relationship and insisted he and Shookus are mere "acquaintances."

A source explained, "The role that she has at SNL now, she is very much the trusted confidante of all the talent. Lindsay has developed very close relationships with all of [the cast], as well as the [guest] hosts." A Saturday Night Live associate producer added, "It's sort of common. The staff and talent are always interacting with one another. You never know when romance is going to bloom. It's just like any other office—except we work in the entertainment industry."

He loves that she's 'normal'

Affleck's previous romances include Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow, and, obviously, Garner, so Shookus is supposedly a refreshing change from dating an A-list celebrity. "He's never really dated a regular girl before," a source close to Affleck told Page Six of his relationship with Shookus. "He's always gone for high-profile women. He wants to date people that know and understand his life. When you're a TV producer, you understand that [Hollywood] life." A friend of Affleck's quipped, "Ben really enjoys [her] company. They have a really good time together. She's very smart, and they share a lot of the interests. She's a movie buff, so that clearly always excites him."

He might be drinking again

Affleck announced in March 2017 that he'd gone to rehab for alcohol abuse, which makes a particular outing with Shookus unsettling. Radar Online reported that in the last week of July 2017, Affleck and Shookus purchased several bottles of alcohol at a liquor store in Maine. 

The morning after the photos of the couple buying booze were published, Affleck's mother was photographed going for a walk with Jennifer Garner, reported Radar. Let's hope it's all for the best.

He supposedly asked her to get a makeover

A source told Radar Online that despite allegedly cheating on Garner with Shookus for years, Affleck may not think she's that pretty. "Ben takes his image incredibly seriously, and while he adores Lindsay, he's aware she's not quite the glamour puss of say, Emily Ratajkowski or Blake Lively." (Or Jennifer Lopez, or uh, his ex-wife, for that matter.) The source added that Affleck "wants Lindsay to seize the moment and get herself a brand new wardrobe, even some fillers if necessary."

The insider added, "She's totally smitten and dancing to his tune, so expect her to follow through and vamp up her image big time."

She's met some of his family already

Well, that was quick! Us Weekly reported that Shookus has already met Ben's troubled brother, Casey Affleck, at least once. The couple reportedly attended a comedy showcase in Los Angeles, where Casey played third wheel for the night.

"She was more in a work role, being a talent scout for SNL, rather than having a romantic date night," a spy said. "Casey and Lindsay said hello to each other and then Casey and Ben chatted for a while. Ben and Lindsay were very kind to all the staff there, talking with the host, manager and those sitting around them. The comedians were definitely excited when they heard Ben was there, but Lindsay was the one they were trying to impress. Ben, Lindsay and Casey were laughing throughout a lot of the performances."

Shookus reportedly attended the same event with Jon Hamm last year.

Friends think she's enabling him

An insider told InTouch in Oct. 2017 that Shookus' presence may be a bad influence on Affleck as he tries to curtail past demons. "Lindsay may not know it, but she's enabling him," said a source close to Affleck, noting that the actor was "stumbling" after allegedly drinking booze at the Emmys in Sept. 2017. "It was like old times—but this time he had Lindsay."

"Ben's drinking has gotten worse," the insider said. "He's spiraling out of control… People are urging him to into inpatient rehab. This is a disease and he wants nothing more than to be present for his family and his girlfriend. Ben is in pain and he needs help." The sourced added, "This relapse has gone on too long already."

Ben's alleged drinking puts Garner in a tough spot

The tabloid stories about Affleck's alleged drinking have put Garner in a tough spot. "She has done everything she possibly can over the years to help him get sober and battle his demons. Things are much calmer, and Jen is finally feeling peace in her life for the first time in years," a source told Life & Style. "Of course, she cares about Ben, but Jen's feeling is that he is no longer her problem. Jen is concerned about Ben because he is the father of their three children but she truly does feel that he's Lindsay's problem now… Jen thinks it's an absolute disaster. She knows Ben is his own worst enemy. He can't thrive without drama and angst."

They're already discussing marriage and kids

InTouch Weekly reported that Affleck and Shookus are getting very serious very fast. "They are already talking marriage," a source claimed, noting, "Ben knows Lindsay's the one. They plan to tie the knot as soon as their divorces are finalized." An insider also told InTouch Weekly that Affleck and Shookus have kids on the mind. "They're actively talking about having a baby," the source said. "They want to start a family." 

However, many close to Affleck, including Garner, allegedly think it's a bad idea. A source said, "This isn't a good move. His friends think he's completely out of touch with reality… This is going to be [Garner's] biggest nightmare." The insider noted that Garner and Affleck's three kids seeing him with a pregnant girlfriend "will cause a lot of drama."

Another issue: at the time of this writing, Shookus still hasn't divorced her husband. "Lindsay is in love with Ben, but she's hesitant to pull the trigger on the divorce, and Ben is getting very impatient," a source said. "He's told Lindsay how much he loves her, and he's been very public with his affection for her. He doesn't know what in the world she's waiting for."

Perhaps Affleck is anxious to take their relationship to the next level, but there's much more to Shookus' identity than being the actor's girlfriend. Keep reading to get to know this powerful, professional woman. 

Her family is close-knit

According to Hollywood Life, Lindsay Shookus' father is co-owner of Nelson-Heintz & Shookus, of Buffalo, N.Y., and her mother, Christine, is a sales rep for Gilead Sciences, a biotechnology company.

The New York Times reported that one of Shookus' uncles officiated her wedding to then-fellow Saturday Night Live staffer Kevin Miller in 2010 at the Country Club of Buffalo in Williamsville, N.Y. (She and Miller have since separated; he now reportedly works for Late Night With Seth Meyers.)

She discovered Kristen Wiig

Kristen Wiig is a Saturday Night Live legend, and we can all thank Shookus for bringing her into our lives. 

Shookus told The Hollywood Reporter, "When I started as an assistant at SNL, I got my eyes on Kristen Wiig and was able to bring her for an audition for Lorne Michaels and the other producers. Turns out, Kristen Wiig can give you some street cred early on."

Shookus also reportedly got Vanessa Bayer and Josh Rudnitsky hired for the show, too.

Her career extends past 'SNL'

Shookus' career started at Saturday Night Live after graduating from college in 2002, but she has worked elsewhere. According to IMDb, she served as an associate producer on 30 Rock from 2008 to 2010 and is credited for 42 episodes. She also produced Adele Live in New York City in 2015, as well as a slew of SNL-related specials and event programs.

She's a two-time Emmy winner

Shookus took home an Emmy in 2017 for outstanding variety sketch series for Saturday Night Life. That was her second win. She earned her first Emmy in 2015 for producing the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special. She was also nominated for two Emmys in 2016 for outstanding variety sketch series for SNL, as well as for outstanding variety special for her role in producing Adele Live in New York City.

Her 'SNL' pals may not be big fans of Ben Affleck

The Saturday Night Live cast and crew is a small, tight group, and some insiders believe that squad was hesitant to welcome Affleck into its circle at the 2017 Emmys, in part because it's protective of Shookus.

"They are a tight bunch and it takes a long time for them to welcome a new person in," a source told Radar Online. "They have all known each other for years and admire talent and comedic skills above fame. Unfortunately, no one has told [Affleck] this. All night long he was trying to crack jokes and show how smart he is. He needs to relax and just take a back seat. It wasn't his night. He can't make everything about him and expect this close group to welcome him in. They all love Lindsay but think she can do better."

She steers clear of social media

Good luck finding Shookus on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. The SNL producer keeps such a low profile that she seems to have no profiles. However, in July 2017, after her romance with Affleck went public, a poser account that many believed at first to be Shookus' took to Twitter to defend herself against affair allegations.

"It's not often one finds themselves having to use social media to address their personal life, but in light of recent media reports I felt it was only necessary that I speak out to set the record straight about my relationship," said a tweet posted by the account (via Page Six). "Relationships can be tricky in the best of times, but that is amplified when the world is watching."

She's influential in the music industry

Aside from producing Adele's concert special, Shookus was named one of the 100 Most Powerful Music Executives by Billboard in its 2016 Women In Music special. The magazine applauded Shookus for bookings A Tribe Called Quest the day after it dropped an album, following an 18-year hiatus. Shookus was also honored for booking the then relatively unknown Chance the Rapper on Saturday Night Live.

Shookus was also honored for her Saturday Night Live bookings in 2015. According to Billboard, her booking of Miley Cyrus for the show's fall premiere increased ratings by 14 percent over the prior season's premiere. 

Shookus told Billboard, "You get one chance to make the right impression. And people have long memories when you make the wrong one."