We’re used to a certain trajectory when it comes to celebrity relationships: Couple meets, enters into a passionate, sparks-filled honeymoon phase that makes us mere mortals jealous. Couple exchanges words that resemble the stuff Disney fairytales are made of, the kind that are ripe with words like soul mate and best friend and forever — said words are also usually made in a grand gesture of public declaration. Then, the cracks start to show, first as tiny specks on the landscape, then as giant minefields set out to obliterate the entire relationship.
Pretty soon, forever is reduced to a few years or even a few months. And just like that, as quickly as the seasons change, the love is gone and the relationship is over.
That quickly became the “relationship norm,” something we all came to expect. Maybe, even, it was something we all just settled for. Who knows. Whatever the reason, we eventually start to wonder, in the wise words of the Hanson brothers, “Where’s the love?“
But every so often, just when we’re about to throw in the towel and give up on love altogether, a couple comes along. You know, they’re that celebrity couple. They completely restore all your faith in that seemingly elusive happy ending. Despite the relationship odds stacked against them, they somehow find a way to make it work, and before long, it looks like they could really and truly go the distance. They know what they’re doing and have got it all figured out — how to manage their relationship in the spotlight, how to maintain some level of privacy, how to love in a culture like Hollywood, where everything is so fleeting and vulnerable.
For my generation, that couple was Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, formerly known as Bennifer. They were practically Ken and Barbie come to life, but more than that, they always had a sense of realness that you could relate to. Their life wasn’t all about red carpets and trading barbs in the tabloids. They were more likely to be found walking their kids to school or spending the afternoon at a ball game in Boston.
Their love was genuine and that was such a beautiful thing. They were, for all intents and purposes, the holy grail.
That is, until they weren’t anymore. And maybe that’s why we’re taking their breakup so hard — well, OK, some of us are. We start to wonder, “If Ben and Jen can’t make it work, what hope do we even have…?” We saw ourselves in them; we felt like our hearts were breaking right along with them.
Love doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to — or, really, expect it to. It can chart off on its own course at any moment, sometimes without a warning signal, and we’re left pretty stunned and surprised. So, I suppose, all we can do is try to get back up, dust ourselves off and slowly move forward. It may take us awhile, but something tells me that we’ll get there. Wherever we’re going.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this, friends? How did you feel? What steps did you take to help yourself recover and heal? And, a light-hearted question: What celeb parting of ways left you the most shocked? xoxo