The wicked 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.