The real reasons Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez broke up

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez were the original Bennifer in 2002. They were the first celebrity couple to have a portmanteau of a name (take that, Brangelina), they're gorgeous, they were in their primes, and they were the biggest thing in the world for their brief tenure as a pairing. Then it all came crashing down. What happened to Bennifer 1.0?

She was scared to be alone

Lopez has admitted more than once that she hates being single, so she tends to fall hard and fast, throwing all of herself into her relationships. In the early 2000s, this was especially evident. She moved on from rapper Sean "Diddy" Combs, who allegedly cheated on her numerous times, in 2001 and almost immediately took up with backup dancer Cris Judd, whom she married that September—but ditched for Affleck in July 2002 after they filmed Gigli (2003) together.

She told Today in November 2014, "I get scared to be alone…The first person who shows up and gives me a little comfort and we have a little chemistry, boom, we're in!" She also told Us Weekly, "I'm one of those people who does not like to be alone. I have no shame saying that at this point in my life. I think we have to own who we are…I always believed in that institution [of marriage]. My parents were married for a very long time, for 35 years. I believe in it. It's difficult. I've had my challenges but at the same time I believe in love. That's the main thing." Lopez's aversion to being alone may result in her making bad decisions about romance, settling for partnerships that aren't healthy for her, and prolonging flings into full-fledged relationships.

The publicity got to them

Affleck and Lopez both agreed that the media scrutiny surrounding their relationship was too much for them to handle. Affleck told British TV show Live (via Latina) in 2008, "I think Jen and I made a mistake in that we fell in love, we were excited and maybe too accessible. I don't think either of us anticipated the degree to which it would take on a world of its own." He also expounded to GQ in 2012 about the split, "I think I just ran away. You can only handle so much. I moved for a while to this place in Georgia that I have, was able to get away, by and large, from stuff. Come up with a plan for how to do something with my life that doesn't put me in the crosshairs of this sort of thing."

"We didn't try to have a public relationship," Lopez told People in March 2016. "We just happened to be together at the birth of the tabloids, and it was like, 'Oh my God.' It was just a lot of pressure. I think different time, different thing, who knows what could've happened? But there was a genuine love there."

She also told Today (via News.au) that Affleck didn't love her entourage. "There's a lot of people in my life and that's hard. There's people in the house. There's hair and makeup. It's a lot, I think, for someone to deal with," she said.

The press prompted them to call of their wedding

In September 2003, Bennifer was all set to tie the knot, but the public pressure became too great and the pair postponed the nuptials. People reported that Lopez and Affleck had a meeting just days before they were set to walk down the aisle because paparazzi began swarming the area of the venue in Santa Barbara, Calif., and important details about the wedding (including that Vera Wang designed J. Lo's gown; that Affleck's brother would be the best man; the actual site of the event, and more) were leaking to the press. The 400 invited guests were reportedly told by phone not to show up.

The couple released a joint statement (via CBS News), "Due to the excessive media attention surrounding our wedding, we have decided to postpone the date. When we found ourselves seriously contemplating hiring three separate 'decoy brides' at three different locations, we realized that something was awry. We began to feel that the spirit of what should have been the happiest day of our lives could be compromised. We felt what should have been a joyful and sacred day could be spoiled for us, our families and our friends."

But they courted the publicity when they wanted it

For a couple that was reportedly uncomfortable with publicity, they didn't do too much to quell it. Affleck starred with Lopez in two movies (more on that later) and also appeared in her "Jenny from the Block" video. They walked countless red carpets together, and Lopez dedicated her song "Dear Ben" to, well, not Ben Franklin. In the early stages of their courtship, Affleck purchased a full-page ad in The Hollywood Reporter, writing to Lopez, ”You have shown kindness, dedication, diligence, humility, graciousness of spirit, beauty in courage, great empathy, astonishing talent, real poise and true grace…It has been nothing but an honor and a pleasure to work with you. I only wish I were lucky enough to be in all your movies…With love, respect and gratitude, Ben Affleck.” Was the move romantic? Yes. Adorable? Yes. Private? No. Not at all. Even Madonna noted, "To a certain extent, they courted the media attention."

He may have fell out of love with her

A source told People that while the media did play a role in the couple's demise, it wasn't as big of a part as the pair claimed. "When you love someone, the media circus does not get in the way," the insider said. "You say, 'Okay, we'll figure it out. Let's do it.' Jennifer didn't realize it at that moment, but when he called [the wedding] off, the relationship was over. He got out of the trap and he wasn't going to get back in. He was looking for a graceful way to let it die."

They had a shady start

While Lopez insisted nothing untoward happened and that she and Affleck didn't get together until after she and ex-husband Judd had separated, Judd's father, Larry, argued otherwise. He told the New York Daily News, "Cris is a one-woman guy…Cris said there were no problems. But I knew there were problems. I said, 'Give her some room. Maybe she'll come out of it.' She didn't. She jumped in with the worst person she could possibly be with." He added, "During the filming of Gigli, I thought Mr. Affleck would honor a married woman and not just go right into the trailer…she was infatuated with [Affleck] from the start. She'd be happier if she'd just tell the truth. No one in her little circle is going to say one negative thing to her. I feel sorry for her."

They moved too fast

Talk about a whirlwind. A rundown of their relationship in the Chicago Tribune shows just how little time J. Lo and Affleck gave themselves to just get to know one another. Lopez and Affleck met on the set of Gigli in late 2001 when she was still married to Judd. In March 2002, Affleck ran his ad praising Lopez. In June 2002, Lopez officially filed for divorce from Judd. In August 2002, the new couple was spotted joyriding in a Bentley Affleck purchased for her. By that October, they were engaged, and Lopez was telling the press she wanted to bear Affleck's children.

Lopez would later admit to Meredith Vieira (via Us Weekly) in October 2014, "I realized that's not always a great thing. As cool as it is in the beginning, it has to sustain beyond that, and be something that has a real basis to it and…can go beyond just that beginning honeymoon phase."

As a result of their immediate infatuation, it seems like neither party really knew the other before they got serious. Lopez told People she was madly in love with Affleck, but that she may have been more enamored with the idea of the Oscar winner than with the man himself. "I felt like…'Okay, this is it,'" she said. "[But] sometimes I feel like what you think people are and how you see them when you love them is different than when they reveal later."

Their careers suffered

The couple's first foray into film together, Gigli, was a total bomb: It had a budget of $54 million but only took in about $6 million domestically. While some blamed the couple's off-screen shenanigans for giving audiences Bennifer fatigue, critics agreed that the movie itself, in terms of plot, story, and script—which featured Affleck as an inept hitman and Lopez as a lesbian assassin who somehow fell in love with him—was just plain awful. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is a sour 6 percent. Newsweek wrote, "After the schadenfreudian thrill of watching beautiful people humiliate themselves wears off, it has the same annihilating effect on your will to live." The Daily Mail griped, "Now we can see why the Jennifer Lopez-Ben Affleck marriage was called off. It was on grounds of unreasonable cruelty to audiences."

Lopez reflected on the period to HuffPost Live in 2015, "It was a very badly reviewed film. I was in a high-profile relationship at the time that fell apart in a really bad way, and so the kind of mix of those two things and the tabloid press had just come into existence at the time, so I was like a poster child for that moment. I was in the tabloids every other week about how my life was falling apart. It was a tough time."

Their second onscreen collaboration, Jersey Girl (2004), in which Lopez dies 12 minutes into the film, fared somewhat better, with a 41 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it didn't recoup its $35 million budget at the box office.

His ego took a hit

The Bennifer flops were among a string of critical and commercial bombs for Affleck, which had started with Pearl Harbor (2001) and Daredevil (2001). Affleck admits that the negative criticism and the diminishing returns at the box office associated with his time with Lopez really stung. In June 2016, he told Bill Simmons' Any Given Wednesday (via Us Weekly), "If you went by what people said…I wasn't cool and I wasn't talented, and I was, like, the lowest rung of cool and talented that you could possibly be in the public consciousness at that time. I had broken up with Jennifer Lopez and I had, like, three or four movies in a row that had bombed."

He admitted an especially low point was when comedian Robert Wuhl dissed him in a stand-up set taped for United Airlines. "So that guy had to look around and go, 'Who's below me that I can s**t on?' And he picked me. He did a whole bit about me that I saw on United Airlines and I [thought], 'This is it, it really doesn't get much worse than this.'"

A source close to the former couple told People, "I think he's more fragile than her. He's still very much a boy."

He says he lost control

Affleck told Contact Music in July 2009 that his relationship with Lopez damaged him, but he seemed to shift all the blame to her. "I was no longer in control of my life. I thought I wanted certain things, but I didn't. I got lost. I felt suffocated, miserable and gross. I should never have gone down that route or got sucked into all the publicity," he said. "I was typecast as myself. Too many people weren't getting past what they read about me. That was damaging. I can tell from experience it's bad for you, and bad for your career. So I took a break, went away for a while and let things calm down.

But he may have been controlling her

Mixing business with pleasure proved toxic for Bennifer, and some of the business dealings were alleged to be Affleck's doing. Lopez's longtime manager, Benny Medina, made her a household name, but according to The New York Times, Affleck urged Lopez to fire Medina because he couldn't contain tabloid press about the starlet. A studio exec who worked with the couple told the paper, "In Jennifer's mind, [the attention] was normal. It was not in Ben's." Sources claimed Affleck thought Lopez was overpaying her business manager, Ken Starr, and urged her to sign with Affleck's business management firm, Murphy & Kress, and hire his own good friend, Patrick Whitesell, as her agent.

Did he get cold feet?

Sources close to Affleck told People the wedding was postponed, in part, because the Gone Girl (2014) actor was getting cold feet. "As the [wedding] date got closer, reality set in that this may not be the person Ben wants to spend the rest of his life with," the insider said. "He started getting scared…What's worse—marrying someone you don't want to marry or calling off the wedding before it happens?" In the months following the wedding postponement, a source said Lopez "gave [Affleck] ultimatums. He never followed through. She finally realized they were never going to get married."

Matt Damon allegedly wasn't a fan of the romance

It seems like not everyone in Affleck's crew loved J. Lo, and some supposedly blamed her for his career setbacks. Affleck's BFF and Good Will Hunting (1997) co-star Matt Damon, told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015 that being with Lopez hurt Affleck's image and made him seem like a different person. "There's nobody who's more misunderstood. Ten years ago, the public image of him could not have been farther apart from who he actually is. It was like he was being cast in a role, that he was a talentless kind of meathead, with his whole relationship with Jennifer Lopez," he said. "He just got cast as this person that he wasn't. It was just really painful. It was painful to be his friend, because it wasn't fair, you know? To my mind, nobody really got him at all."

Bennifer 2.0 happened

Affleck hit it off with Jennifer Garner in 2002 while they were filming Daredevil. He was engaged to Lopez at the time, and Garner was married to actor Scott Foley. That didn't stop Garner from allegedly flirting with Affleck during a taping of Dinner for Five in early 2003. Affleck later admitted to Playboy that while the action movie wasn't a success, it was the most important of his career for one big reason. "That's where I found my wife. We met on Pearl Harbor, which people hate, but we fell in love on Daredevil."

She didn't share his vices

Lopez is a bit of a "square," according to People. She goes to bed early, works hard, rarely drinks, never smokes, and has no interest in partying or gambling. That made her "very different" from Affleck, a source said. "[Affleck is] fun and outgoing and likes to gamble," an insider told the magazine, reflecting on a casino trip Affleck made with Lopez and her family. "Ben played while J.Lo stared at his cards, looking bored." A pal of Affleck's said Lopez was frequently "haggling him" to quit gambling, reportedly for good reason. The friend claimed to have witnessed Affleck lose tens of thousands of dollars gambling, calling the habit "a concern," and adding, "It was hard to merge their two lifestyles."

He may have cheated right before their wedding

Affleck reportedly had a little too much fun at an impromptu bachelor party in August 2003—just weeks before he and Lopez were set to tie the knot. The National Enquirer (via the Daily Mail) reported that Affleck, who was partying with Christian Slater and Tara Reid at a strip club, got very close to some dancers, one of whom alleged they were intimate. Both Affleck and another dancer at the strip joint denied the allegations, but Radar Online reported that one of the strippers from that night, Tammy Morris, stood by her story as recently as June 2015.

There's still love there

Lopez told Today in 2014 that Affleck was her "first big heartbreak," and based on her wistful recollections of their romance, it sounds like she still carries a torch for the Argo (2012) star. The Shades of Blue (2016-17) star talked to HuffPost Live about her Bennifer drama in 2015: "[I have] no regrets. I would do it all over again I think. I really would. Even the relationship part."

Affleck said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2012 that he and Lopez occasionally keep in touch, adding that he wishes her well. "We don't have the kind of relationship where she relies on me for advice, but we do have the kind of relationship where there'll be an email saying, 'Oh, your movie looks great.' I remember when she got American Idol. I said, 'This was really smart. Good luck.' I touch base," he said. "I respect her. I like her. She's put up with some stuff that was unfair in her life, and I'm really pleased to see her successful."