Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were once driven apart by "excessive" media coverage. Now, they're the ones pulling the strings.

By Sam Reed
May 10, 2021 @ 6:35 pm
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All the Hints That the Return of Bennifer Has Been Brewing
Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Are we really to believe that Jennifer Lopez hasn't been calculating the return of Bennifer, the couple who choreographed the most *iconic* ass grab of the 2000s, for months, if not years? 

You're telling me that Jennifer Lynne Lopez — whose iron grip on her image is comparable only to that of Beyoncé Knowles Carter — has just spontaneously started hanging out with her ex-fiancé and co-star in the critically panned 2002 flick Gigli, Ben Affleck? 

Sure, Jan. 

If the rumors are true and Bennifer has really reunited in a romantic, not just friendly manner (I'm choosing to believe in their love, at the very least to test out my powers of manifestation), then I would be hard-pressed to assume that the reunion is recent and the two haven't been rekindling for much longer than they're letting on.

Here's why.

Hint 1: Recently single Ben Affleck showers J.Lo in compliments in a story noticeably missing a quote from her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend.

InStyle's May 2021 cover story featured quotes from many of the famous people in Lopez's life — from her ex-husband and father of her twins, Marc Anthony, to former first lady Michelle Obama, and even Tyler Posey, who starred alongside Jennifer in the acclaimed 2002 romantic comedy Maid in Manhattan (just another case of the Oscars robbing Jen of what she deserves). Curiously absent from the glowing profile? Then-fiancé Alex Rodriguez. Curiously on board and gushing about Jenny from the Block? Affleck, who said, "she remains, to this day, the hardest-working person I've come across in this business. She has great talent, but she has also worked very hard for her success, and I'm so happy for her that she seems, at long last, to be getting the credit she deserves."

Days after the cover was released, J-Rod called it quits (for real this time). 

Hint 2: Montana is for lovers. 

If I were a less gossipy, speculative person, I might read Ben and Jen's recent trip to Montana together as an act of kindness on Ben's part — a thoughtful gesture to help one of the biggest stars of the 21st century escape the riffraff of a public breakup that's so far been filled with shrines to Lopez and the stink of desperation. 

But when it comes to matters of the heart, I'm all too ready to dig into theories — and my first theory is that Montana is not just a place where Ben owns a house for entertaining lovelorn guests, but a place for love to rekindle. Montana is where Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel decamped to in 2016, inspiring the sexually charged song literally called "Montana;" the state is also home to broody bad boys Johnny Depp and John Mayer. 

You might be thinking, "Sam, it sounds like Montana is a place for middle-aged white men who are seeking a wooded escape from allegations of misogyny," and that is also true. But it doesn't mean that Montana isn't also hella romantic! In the words of Timberlake, "Let your body tingle ... Back to you, ooh Montana." Sexy. Back.

Hint 3: 17 years is a significant number — especially in 2021. 

Bennifer postponed their wedding in 2003, reportedly due to "excessive" media attention. (In their joint statement about the cancellation, the couple wrote: "When we found ourselves seriously contemplating hiring three separate 'decoy brides' at three different locations, we realized that something was awry.") A few months later in 2004, they officially called off the wedding, as well as their relationship.

Of equal significance (but far less media coverage) is the forthcoming return of the Brood X cicada, the insect that, in the words of Scientific American, "tunnel[s] up from their subterranean lairs to spend their final days partying in the sun" once every 17 years. Now sexually mature, the insects will mate, produce the next generation of cicadas, and then die. (Post-quarantine vibes, anyone?)

I'm no scientist, but if the energy in the atmosphere is right for the cicadas, then who's to say it's not right for Ben and Jen?!

Hint 4: Jennifer's Vax Live performance earlier this month may have been a nod to Ben. 

We're four hints deep and I have yet to mention the gossip account Deux Moi, so let's go. In a story posted to Instagram today, Deux Moi shared messages they received from anonymous sources claiming that one of the songs that J.Lo sang during her Vax Live performance, "I'm Glad," was about Ben. Per the source, J.Lo had avoided singing the song during her shows and pretty much ignored its existence after the song's release in 2003. Until Vax Live, where Ben was in attendance.

Jennifer also performed "Sweet Caroline," which another source says was a not-so-subtle nod to Ben's Boston heritage. During the show, wherein she pulled her mom Guadalupe onstage, Jen said she chose the song to celebrate Mother's Day. But, according to Deux Moi's source, J.Lo's mother also "adores" Ben. 

To reiterate: The source implies that J. Lo. used her mom as a cover for the fact that she was actually serenading her ex-boyfriend — a week before Mother's Day. Big if true. Iconic regardless.

Hint 5: Jennifer has always known exactly what she's doing. 

Stay with me here. Jennifer Lopez has always been in control of everything Jennifer Lopez does. A theory was floated that while she was still married to Marc Anthony, she was plotting a relationship with A-Rod. And as rumors of A-Rod's infidelity began to circulate, who's to say that Jen didn't put things in motion for a Bennifer reunion? 

Think of the timing of the J-Rod breakup: A full month before they would officially declare their breakup, news leaked that the It couple was on the rocks, if not already done for good. Gossip columnists declared that the relationship had actually been over since early 2020 and that Jennifer was simply waiting for the perfect news moment to let the public in on the relationship status. 

Meanwhile, we have Ben. The 48-year-old actor Very Publicly Dated actress Ana de Armas last year, famously being photographed walking their dogs, showing cutesy new-couple PDA, and drinking copious amounts of Dunkin'. But the seemingly perfect couple was not to last. As quickly as she appeared on Ben's lawn, the cardboard cutout of de Armas was literally tossed to the curb. 

While we've poked fun at Ben in the recent past — mostly via the Sad Affleck meme and Batman vs. Superman — and questioned his taste after we realized the Phoenix rising from the ashes back tattoo was indeed real, we'd all absolutely be lying to ourselves if we said we didn't think Ben is hot. Yes, sometimes he looks tired. Sometimes, he looks sad. And sometimes, he looks like all the iced lattes in the world couldn't revive his mood. But the InStyle Slack is never wrong: The verdict? Ben Affleck is very hot. Still. (Would he not have married Jennifer Garner, dated Lindsay Shookus, Ana de Armas, and, of course, J.Lo, if he wasn't? Hotness by association is a real thing, but it works both ways.)

All of which brings us here, to the year 2021. Bennifer appears by all accounts to be back together. The kids are getting vaccinated (mostly). The president isn't threatening nuclear war with North Korea on Twitter.  The bars are reopening, the cicadas are coming, and that one woman on my block has stopped clanging pots and pans at 7 p.m., only eight months after the rest of us. This is it, guys. Nature is healing.