Relationship Tips

The Reason You Care About Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck Getting Back Together (Even Though You Absolutely Don’t Care)

Erica Sloan

Getty | Lyle Stafford Getty | Jeff Vinnick
For J. Lo fans, the past few days have been a time. The multi-hyphenate superstar turned 52 on Saturday, and not only graced the world with a slideshow of bikini shots from her St. Tropez yacht celebration, but also made her rekindled relationship with actor Ben Affleck Instagram-official via a lip-locked photo. What's perhaps most interesting, though, is that the reignited romance has generated intrigue far beyond the duo's typical fan base. After nearly 8.5 million Instagram likes on the slideshow and countless re-shares and memes, it seems even for those uninterested in celebrity news, there’s an undeniable allure to Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck getting back together. And according to psychologists, a big reason why has nothing to do with romance at all.

To backtrack a bit, for the unacquainted: Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck getting back together isn’t just two people giving into an old, once-stymied crush. They were engaged for two years (from 2002 to 2004) before breaking things off. And adding to the significance of their reuniting after almost two decades is the fact that Lopez and Alex Rodriguez recently ended their engagement after two years, too.

The widespread intrigue of this storyline stems in part from our general appreciation of all things familiar, particularly when life feels out of control, says neuropsychologist Sanam Hafeez, PsyD. “From a psychological standpoint, it can be comforting to watch celebrities get back together, particularly after the challenges the pandemic has brought us this past year.”

"Their (hopefully) happy ending will feel just as intimate for the people who've hoped for the same for themselves." —Aimee Daramus, PsyD, LCP

In the realm of love, specifically, the story reflects an appealing meant-to-be narrative. “We often unconsciously look to celebrities as symbols of what we want,” says clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD, author of Date Smart: Transform Your Relationships and Love Fearlessly. “In the case of such highly visible reconnections as Lopez and Affleck, the psyche says, ‘If real love can work magic for them, then it can work that same magic for me.’”

Even for those typically immune to celebrity narratives (let alone celebrity love narratives), there's a relatable, humanizing element of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck getting back together. When we see celebrities navigate pain, grief, and heartbreak—whether related to a breakup or otherwise—we can connect those feelings to the same emotions in our own lives. As such, seeing a reversal of circumstances that led to those aforementioned feelings can promote a sense of hope. “Their (hopefully) happy ending will feel just as intimate for the people who've hoped for the same for themselves,” says licensed psychologist Aimee Daramus, PsyD, LCP, author of Understanding Bipolar Disorder.

Beyond the sphere of love, however, the second-chances storyline of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck getting back together is something we can all not only appreciate, but draw from as a point of inspiration and optimism for all things in life. “Sometimes, life gives you a chance to go back to that job you shouldn’t have left or to reconnect with the friend you wish you'd never lost,” says Dr. Daramus. Stories like Lopez and Affleck’s are tangible reminders that, in some cases, it really isn’t too late to reopen a door that may have been closed—but not locked.

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