Opinion: Bennifer 2.0 – love’s greatest conscious recoupling

Hanna Flint's Column | Soho House

JLO and Ben Affleck have finally tied the knot after a 20-year split – and the world couldn’t be happier

Friday 22 July 2022   By Hanna Flint

On Sunday night at 11.45pm I got an email notification from J.Lo with the subject line ‘We Did It’ and of course, I had to click. As someone who has been musically, cinematically, and emotionally invested in Jennifer Lopez ever since I first bought the album Love Don’t Cost A Thing in 2000, I knew who the ‘we’ referred to and needed the confirmation that she had indeed, finally, become Mrs Jennifer Affleck. Well, the second Mrs Jennifer Affleck, at least.

I have to admit, I was pretty sceptical last year when it was first revealed that she had reunited with Ben Affleck nearly 20 years after they called off their wedding. The fangirl in me just wants her to be happy, so the idea of her getting back with the guy who broke her heart had me wanting to send my WhatsApp location to the actor just so, you know, we could talk. 

There has always been something earnest in the way Lopez seeks love. She’s thrown herself full throttle into marriages and relationships in a way that gave her recent movie Marry Me that extra bit of meta-authenticity. As a world-famous pop star, Lopez’s character is outwardly empowered and successful, but internally struggling with loneliness, romantic disappointment, and just wanting to share her life with someone who loves her without the pomp and flair. 

Hanna Flint's Column | Soho House
Hanna Flint's Column | Soho House

It was that pomp and flair which is said to have caused the breakdown of Bennifer 1.0 with media attention running the gamut of classist and racist to downright obsessive. But according to one Page Six report, another factor was that they were on different timelines. ‘Jennifer was ready to settle down and have kids, but Ben wasn’t keen on giving up his bachelor lifestyle just yet,’ a source said. ‘In the end, she got tired of waiting for him to come around — even though it broke her heart to end things.’

After the split, Lopez married fellow Latino Marc Anthony and had two kids while Affleck married American sweetheart Jennifer Garner and had three of their own. His marriage was rocked by infidelity allegations and addiction issues on his part and they broke up in 2015. In the years since, he’s had ups and downs in the public eye from Batman beef to awkward Raya dating app videos being published online, but to his credit he did deliver a stomping performance in Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, which he deserves all the campy props for. She deserved an Oscar for Hustlers and I will die on that hill. But as someone who recently broke up with someone who I still love, I felt somewhat moved by her wedding announcement despite my fragile state. 

‘We did it. Love is beautiful. Love is kind. And it turns out love is patient. Twenty years patient,’ Lopez writes in that. ‘When love is real, the only thing that matters in marriage is one another and the promise we make to love, care, understand, be patient, loving and good to one another. 

Hanna Flint's Column | Soho House

‘Stick around long enough and maybe you’ll find the best moment of your life in a drive-through in Las Vegas at 12.30 in the morning in the Tunnel of Love drive-through, with your kids and the one you’ll spend forever with. Love is a great thing, maybe the best of things – and worth waiting for.’

It reminds me of Before Sunset, the sequel to Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, both starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who come together several years after a fateful night in Vienna laid the foundation for their love. They’re no longer the young lovers who made a promise to reunite, but evolved human beings who have worked, loved and suffered while navigating the world separately from each other. Maybe their romance wouldn’t have worked out if they didn’t have that time apart. Maybe they needed those years to become better partners for each other, ready to share a life they were both ready to commit towards. 

Uncoupling with someone you love can break both your hearts into pieces, but maybe with time and space it can be mended into something even more exquisite. Like the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi, in which broken pottery is repaired with all its imperfections, celebrated and embraced by putting the pieces back together with golden lacquer. Maybe Bennifer 2.0 is stronger for the break; now their love serves as the golden glue securing their future and the cracks are a beautiful reminder of what they’ve been through to get here. I wish them all the best.

Hanna Flint's Column | Soho House

Is it hot or what?

Nothing like a climate change-induced heatwave to bring out the clowns. I include myself in that after I had to take a bus into town and found myself frantically fanning sweat patches dry under my boobs before doing an interview with Ryan Gosling.

But mostly, it’s been the media clowns online and on TV who have been trying to play this extreme weather down as though everything is normal and moaning about the health and safety guidance to work from home. I’m surprised some right-wing columnist didn’t invoke World War II to suggest our grandparents fought Nazis so we could have the freedom to burn in peace. And burn we have because fires have been causing chaos across the country, including in the village I grew up in. Thoughts and prayers to the Newton pub in Sprotbrough that I used to frequent in my youth.

I know it seems like a luxury to get summery days on this fair isle but we are meant to be in a temperate climate. We ain’t built for this. The world ain’t built for these rising temperatures and the ‘keep calm, carry on’ flag won’t fly when climate disasters become the norm. Stay hydrated, fam. 

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