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Why Jennifer Lopez And Ben Affleck Broke Up The First Time

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jennifer lopez and ben affleck

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez first met in 2001 on the set of their movie "Gigli." The two got engaged in 2002, only to call it off in 2003. 18 years later, however, 'Bennifer' continued their romance, finally tying the knot in 2022, suggesting the two were able to get past whatever it was that split them up all those years ago, which begs the question: Why did they break up in the first place?

Why did Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck break up the first time?

According to reports, Lopez and Affleck broke up the first time in 2004 due to out-of-control media coverage. Lopez and Affleck planned to marry in Santa Barbara in 2003 but reportedly ran into some issues with "media attention," leading them to postpone the wedding.

“Due to the excessive media attention surrounding our wedding, we have decided to postpone the date,” the couple said in a joint statement, via People. “When we found ourselves seriously contemplating hiring three separate ‘decoy brides’ at three different locations, we realized that something was awry.”

After the delayed nuptials, they never rescheduled their wedding.

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Affleck has publicly blamed the media for the couple's first breakup.

In 2004, one of Lopez's reps confirmed to People that 'Bennifer' had officially come to an end. While rumors ran wild regarding the cause of the split, neither Affleck nor Lopez provided much insight into what really broke them up until 2008 when Affleck made an appearance on the British TV show "Live."

"I think Jen and I made a mistake in that we fell in love, we were excited and maybe too accessible," he said, via the Irish Examiner. "I don't think either of us anticipated the degree to which it would take on a world of its own."

In 2021, Affleck doubled down on that statement during an appearance on 'The Howard Stern Show,' explaining that the media "was about 50 percent [of what destroyed our relationship]," as the negative comments about their relationship simply became too much for the two to bear.

"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,” he said.

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Lopez has agreed that the tabloids tore them apart.

Lopez left the breakup well enough alone for years after their split. However, in a 2016 interview with People, she addressed the impact the overwhelming media coverage had on their relationship.

"We didn't try to have a public relationship," she said. "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."

Lopez and Affleck's first relationship came at a time when our perception of celebrities came straight from the tabloids. Before the rise of social media, which allows celebrities to control their own narrative by sharing directly with fans, tabloids largely drove the conversation, and their coverage was typically sensationalistic, negative, and often untrue altogether. 

The tabloids have since lost their power, with tabloid aficionado Perez Hilton even apologizing for his role in the trend of attacking celebrities.

"I know I didn't express myself as well as I could have. I didn't lead with empathy and compassion," he told SkyNews in 2021. Though his apology was specifically aimed at his treatment of Britney Spears during her most vulnerable and public moments, the sentiment is there regarding how the tabloids and the public tended to come after celebrities during those years.

Lopez and Affleck have vowed not to let the media interfere in their relationship a second time.

Though the media is still as pervasive as ever, it seems to be more controlled now that celebrities have direct access to their own fans through social media. The couple has also matured, realizing that being in the public eye, they will have to put in the work to not let the media "come into play again." 

"We're older now, we're smarter, we have more experience, we're at different places in our lives, we have kids now, and we have to be very conscious of those things," Lopez told People in 2022. "We're so protective because it is such a beautiful time for all of us."

Affleck and Lopez officially tied the knot in a low-key Vegas wedding chapel in 2022.

“We did it. Love is beautiful. Love is kind. And it turns out love is patient. Twenty years patient,” Lopez wrote in her newsletter, via Page Six, calling the ceremony "exactly what we wanted."

That said, Affleck does not have social media accounts of his own and has admitted he still feels "guarded" around the media, though he and Lopez have worked together to get past it.

"I view these things as land mines, where if you say one wrong thing, your career might be over," Affleck told The Hollywood Reporter about interviews. "So [Jennifer Lopez] tells me today, 'Relax, be yourself. Have fun. You’re actually a fun guy who is real and genuine and you just seem so serious.' Do I seem serious? But as in many things, she’s really right. And she loves me. She’s looking out for me. She’s trying to help me."

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Isaac Serna is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice and relationships.