The ancient Greeks entertained themselves with the on-again, off-again love affairs of the gods.
We get Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, exes who are back together again, having climbed upon the world stage and taken the opportunity to exchange as much spit as possible. It’s a twist out of a soap opera that has run through every possible pairing and is returning to the couples set up in the pilot. Bennifer, or Lofleck, if you like, were last romantically involved in January 2004, when they broke off their engagement. Now, with constant paparazzi shots of the two of them, everything old is new again. (I don’t mean to suggest that 48 and 51 are old! Strike me down with a Super Bowl stripper pole first.)
Not to be outdone—by anyone, ever, for any reason—Angelina Jolie was seen coming out of Jonny Lee Miller’s apartment two times this week. Jolie and Miller were married for four years and divorced in 1999. Like a leg emerging from a slinky Oscar gown, Jolie deftly asserted herself into the celebs-back-together-with-their-exes trend.
Exes and coparents Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner were also linked this week, when Scott appeared to refer to Jenner as “wifey,” and Jenner posted a picture of them upright-spooning. That’s not all—Lopez’s more recent ex-fiancé Alex Rodriguez hung out with his ex-wife, Cynthia Scurtis, this month too. They lifted both physical weights, as well as, apparently, the heaviness of the past.
And to bring this entire thing full circle, Ben Affleck’s ex-wife Jennifer Garner recently got back together with one of her exes. His name? John Miller (not to be confused with Johnny Lee Miller). It’s almost like the celebrities are trying to entertain us.
Part of what makes these renewed pairings so satisfying is the way that—in the wake of a year of loss—they provide the temporary illusion that time has not passed. Celebrities have access to technologies and treatments that delay the visual effects of aging, so they already give the eerie impression of timelessness. But if they didn’t, seeing our old favorites together is not just nostalgic. It’s a portal to who we were.
Celebrities are acting like they invented getting back with your ex, trying each other on again like beloved jeans found in the back of a closet. As is often the case, stars probably aren’t starting a trend as much as they are very publicly exemplifying an existing one. In the early days of the pandemic, many people experienced the sudden, gnawing desire to get back in touch with an ex. Now—albeit with a much sunnier future ahead of us—the world is shifting under our feet again. When we lose our sense of control, we turn to the comfort of the familiar. If you’re thinking about sending that text, you’re not alone: Google searches for “Should I get back together with my ex” are spiking in June.
Getting back with an ex is such a formidable social shorthand for going through a hard time that it’s kind of a cliché. “You broke up for a reason” is conventional wisdom that has helped many of us avoid a painful backslide. But starting over with an ex isn’t always a bad thing. Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade broke up after four years, and when they got back together, they got married a year later and created a beautiful blended family. Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos did the exact same thing—they broke up right before they got married, and now they’ve been married for 25 years. Jillian Fink filed for divorce from Patrick Dempsey four years ago; they made up and recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.
Sydney, a 22-year-old in Kentucky, went through a breakup at the start of the pandemic, in April 2020. She and her ex hadn’t even spoken until a month or two ago, when she wished him a happy birthday, reigniting their correspondence. A few days later they met up and decided to give things another try.
“We both have worked on ourselves the past year,” she says, noting that they both used their time to focus on mental health. “I think we’ve matured a lot because of the circumstances. It made us realize what’s really important.” They both feel like they’re in a better place. And besides, they missed each other.
There is something in the air right now that says: “Text your ex.” Blame the fact that for most of June, Mercury is retrograde. Or the shock of seeing the bottom of people’s faces after so long. Or the way Bennifer’s erotic energy appears to bend and transcend time itself. Reuniting with an ex can be a terrible decision or a path to lasting love. It falls somewhere on the tantalizing continuum between hope and desperation.
Maybe the key lies in all those exes who reached out to each other at the beginning of the pandemic, when the rest of us were elbows deep in sourdough starter. Miranda, a 23-year-old living in Florida, has been back together with her boyfriend for over a year, since receiving a fateful DM from her ex in March 2020. They had broken up because of distance, and had both dated other people, but, she says, “My heart was still set on him.” He reached out, they talked it out, and he came to visit for a few days, which stretched into a few weeks.
“The rest,” she says, “is history.”
Originally Appeared on Glamour