Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, & Why We Mourn Celebrity Breakups

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  • Jennifer Garner
    Jennifer Garner
    American actress
  • Ben Affleck
    Ben Affleck
    American film actor, director and screenwriter
image

Photo: Getty Images

Well, kids, it’s happened — the thing the tabloids have been raving and warning us about for what seems like the past year: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, AKA Bennifer 2.0, who literally just celebrated their 10th anniversary yesterday, are officially splitsville

The Internet’s been quick to speculate what went wrong in the marriage (Cheating! Gambling! Crazy work schedules!), but despite the varying theories, everyone seems to agree on one sentiment specifically: The concept of love, as we knew it, is dead. 

It’s irrational, sure — but it’s not completely outrageous to feel that way.

Relationships, as anyone who’s ever been involved in one will attest, can be messy — but admiring a celebrity’s is often like scrolling through an Instagram feed: We only see the happy moments; the times when they’re all dressed up on the red carpet and supporting each other at awards shows. It’s simple, and it’s a fantasy. It’s for this reason that we, as a culture, continue to glorify failed celeb romances decades after they’re finished (think: Johnny and Kate, Brad and Jen, Elizabeth and Richard).  

In that vein, the idea that more than 99 percent of the population ever had the faintest clue of what actually went on in Affleck and Garner’s relationship is absurd. We knew that they met on the set of a movie (2003′s stinker of a superhero flick, Daredevil), that they both consumed coffee frequently, and that they consummated their marriage at least three times. Maybe. Either way, it’s certainly not a lot to go off of. But still, their breakup feels like a total bummer.

And there’s a pretty logical explanation as to why. Following the sudden and unexpected death of Robin Williams last August, The Huffington Post asked the question, ‘Why do we grieve celebrities?’ 

Explained David Kaplan, Ph.D., the chief professional officer of the American Counseling Association, “We grow up with these people. We see their movies, we hear their music on a regular basis and we really get to know them. In a sense, they become a member of our family — especially the ones we really like — so when they die, it’s like an extended member of our family dies. It’s somebody we feel like we know.”

We, as a culture, tend to view the lives of celebrities as entertainment. (The Kardashians have made an entire career of it). We empathize with the ones we deem likable, and vilify those we don’t. Their lives are an escape from the reality of our own — and no one wants to see their fantasy end in divorce papers and custody battles.

While the grief of a divorce may not quite match that of a death, there’s still a major feeling of loss involved. Who hasn’t been affected by a real-life breakup, whether it’s your own, your parents’, your friend’s? It can be devastating in its own right, and it’s common enough that nearly everyone can relate. 

Is the dissolution of Bennifer’s decade-long marriage sad? Totally — particularly for their three little kids, who’ll likely have a lot more heartache and hard times ahead of them. Their parents appeared to be an (almost) normal, loving, sometimes schlubby couple, which made them seem all the more relatable. But realistically, love is not dead. It’s not even dying. At least not yet, anyway.

I mean, come on: Kim and Kanye are still together… right? 

More from Yahoo Style:
Spirited Away: The Trials & Tribulations of Breaking Up in the 21st Century
Participating in Breakup Studies Helps People Get Over Breakups
How to Help a Friend Through a Breakup