Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez’s relationship, affectionately dubbed “Bennifer,” has again taken the media by storm. Since reuniting romantically with one another earlier this year, the A-list celebrities have revived their previously devout fanbase.
In early 2002, Affleck and Lopez met on the set of the ill-fated “Gigli.” In November of that year, they became engaged. The widespread fascination with the “Bennifer” love story partially contributed to the couple’s present-day infamy.
“Bennifer 1.0” is marked by various memorable moments. One example includes Lopez’s and Affleck’s amusing attempt to lampoon the flood of attention in “Jenny From the Block.” Co-starring the “Good Will Hunting” actor, the video sees the pair cuddling on a yacht. At one point, Affleck presses a kiss to Lopez’s butt and a paparazzo snaps a photo of the incident.
When examining other notorious, star-crossed pairings, the popularity of “Bennifer” begins to appear a lot less shocking. In mid-February, rumors of a Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt reunion began gaining traction online after people supposedly spotted him in the background of a selfie she posted on Instagram.
At the turn of the millennium, after two years of dating, Aniston and Pitt married in July 2000. Like Affleck and Lopez, the love affair between Aniston and Pitt received widespread media coverage; their divorce was no exception.
Aniston commented on the divorce in a January 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, stating, “Nobody did anything wrong. … It was just like, sometimes things [happen].”
Even before Aniston and Pitt’s whirlwind romance in the early 2000s, her on-screen love affair with David Schwimmer’s “Friends” character, Ross Geller, captured the hearts of America. During the “Friends: The Reunion” special on HBO Max, the actors revealed that they had a crush on one another while filming the series.
“The first season, I had a major crush on Jen,” Schwimmer admitted. “At some point we were both crushing hard on each other — but it was like two ships passing [in the night], because one of us was always in a relationship.”
The confession garnered positive reception from “Friends” fans. However, the fandom’s excitement reached new heights earlier this month once media outlets reported that the actors had begun “spending more time together” at Aniston’s LA home. Allegedly, these get-togethers are due to the special, which “stirred up feelings” for one another.
Although Schwimmer has denied the reports, fans have continued to express their joy at the idea of him and Aniston finally getting together after 27 years.
To some extent, the romantic drama that defined each celebrity couple resulted in their respective notoriety. Nonetheless, the excessive attention each relationship received begets the question: Why — after all these years — does society still care so much about these romances?
Simply put, one of the answers to this question is nostalgia. Psychologist Emma Kenny explained to The Independent that social media spurs the development of these meaningful, nostalgic memories.
“Nostalgic memories have the power to make us feel happier,” Kenny said. “But shared nostalgia… like that experienced by anyone who has tweeted about Ross and Rachel being real, or the return of #Bennifer, can make the emotional experience of those memories even more profound, particularly because, thanks to social media, you can see it unfolding in real-time.”
When someone finds themselves down in the dumps, they will likely search for a way out. Sometimes, the solution is to daydream about the “good old days.” Indulging in nostalgic reverie facilitates feelings of calmness, warmth and helps curb loneliness. Reminiscing with others — especially on social media — helps improve one’s mood and serves as a healthy way to channel those feelings.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic makes the act of fantasizing that much more appealing. An article from RTÉ Ireland supported this notion: “Nostalgia tends to be experienced during unusual times, as individuals feel a sense of anxiety towards the circumstances they face. It’s more likely when triggered by boredom, loneliness, feelings of meaninglessness or daily reminders of mortality, all of which were common during the period of forced isolation created by COVID-19 lockdowns.”
Nevertheless, everyone must recognize that the likelihood of these affairs ending unexpectedly still stands; Lopez and Affleck may split again. These scenarios, though, do not matter to the masses. After seeing a romance winning against all odds, people begin to believe in the idea of “happy endings.”
Psychologist Dr. Audrey Tang discussed this specific argument with Metro.
“This is the playbook of romcoms and fairy tales — couples meet and are attracted, circumstance keeps or tears them apart, their feelings overcome all obstacles. Ben and J-Lo gives us a sense of ‘if they can make it, so can we,’” declared Tang. “Seeing a rekindling of a relationship gives us a sense of closure — a feeling of ‘their story is complete.’”