Being In The Spotlight Tore Apart Ben Affleck And Jennifer Lopez The First Time

After calling off their engagement almost 20 years prior, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez finally walked down the aisle in 2022. Kicking off this undeniably inspiring love story, the two first befriended one another on the 2001 set of the ill-received "Gigli." 

Together from 2002 to 2004, the couple occupied the cover of every tabloid throughout their entire relationship. Immortalizing the word "Bennifer" in our vernaculars, Affleck and Lopez got engaged the same year they began dating, per Us Weekly. Ultimately calling off the wedding and separating months later, both would move on to respective, high-profile marriages. J.Lo tied the knot with Marc Anthony in June 2004 — only five months after splitting from Affleck, while he married "Daredevil" costar Jennifer Garner in June 2005. Although both have since divorced their subsequent spouses, both marriages produced children for Affleck and Lopez.

Fast-forward to April 2021. After Affleck was photographed supposedly visiting Lopez's house, rekindling rumors ran amok. After months of public speculation, Lopez confirmed the news that July and by April 2022, the "Marry Me" star shared that she and her new-again beau were engaged for the second time, per Buzzfeed News. In a special edition of her newsletter, "On the JLo," Lopez showcased the second-ever engagement ring she's received from Affleck, writing,  "It was the most romantic thing I could've ever imagined... Two very lucky people. Who got a second chance at true love."

With a love story like it, the question remains: What went wrong with the O.G. Bennifer the first time around? 

Bennifer Part One was overwhelmed by media scrutiny

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are in agreement over what drove them apart the first time — the heat of the spotlight. On a December 2021 episode of "The Howard Stern Show," Affleck attributed half of the reason for their 2004 breakup to intense public scrutiny, per Marie Claire Australia. "The idea that people hate you and they hate you together and that being together is poison and ugly and toxic and the thing none of us want to be part of," Affleck reflected. 

The media obsession with Bennifer reached its zenith around their first wedding date. Originally scheduled for a September 2003 ceremony, the couple called a last-minute postponement, blaming "the excessive media attention" in a joint statement, according to CBS News. Finding themselves potentially using decoy brides as subterfuge, Affleck and Lopez "realized that something was awry." With one postponement came another, and "Bennifer: Part One" was over within the next few months.

Reminiscing on the breakup on "The Jess Cagle Interview" in 2016, via People, Lopez insisted the twosome "didn't try to have a public relationship." As she saw it, she and Affleck just happened to happen at the same time as "the birth of the tabloids," which exerted more press than either of them expected. Luckily, for their second go, Lopez told Rolling Stone in 2022 that she and Affleck are wiser with age and that they're a lot more protective of "the most important things in life."

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck can't help but flaunt their love

Despite what J.Lo said, she and Ben Affleck certainly didn't try hard to not make their relationship public. In July 2003, the twosome gave Pat O'Brien an exclusive interview on the topic of their relationship. "I don't know what's the fascination. It seems strange to me," Affleck told O'Brien at the time. Upon their 2002 engagement, the couple sat down with Diane Sawyer, during which Jenny From the Block flashed her $2.5 million Harry Winston rock. 

In fact, the duo seemingly couldn't profess their love anywhere but in public. After Lopez was named ShoWest's Female Star of the Year in 2002, Affleck took out ads in trades like Variety, heaping praise upon his partner and "Gigli" costar. "You have shown kindness, dedication, diligence, humility, graciousness of spirit, beauty in courage, great empathy, astonishing talent, real poise and true grace," Affleck's ad read in part, via The New York Times.

As for J.Lo, not only did Affleck famously costar in her "Jenny From the Block" music video (who can forget the shot of him patting Lopez's derriere fondly aboard a yacht?), the singer-songwriter penned a whole song to express her feelings for him, 2002's "Dear Ben." Fans of Bennifer must have been elated when Lopez announced that "Dear Ben...Pt II" — a direct sequel to the first — is featured on 2023's "This is Me... Now." 

Hey, put two Leos together — and that's what you get!