In our new, post-vaccine world (which, reminder, is not the same thing as a post-COVID world), many people have started travelling again, socialising again, or — in Jennifer Lopez’s instance — dating Ben Affleck again. But Lopez isn’t the only one reuniting with a former love. Angelina Jolie is reportedly “reconnecting” with her ex-husband after their divorce two decades ago, and this week, Kylie Jenner was photographed attending an event with ex Travis Scott. (An onlooker told People they were holding hands and “seemed fully back on.”) As Refinery29’s Natalie Morin asked, what did Bennifer unleash? Why is everyone getting back with their exes?
At the start of the pandemic, it was reported that around 1 in 4 people texted an ex while quarantining. Now that millions of people are vaccinated, we all seem to be at a similar romantic crossroads — but for a completely different reason. After all, in March 2020, many of us felt lonely and bored. But now, some people might just know what they want. “I think COVID has been really hard on so many people, and there’s just been a lot of time for soul-searching,” therapist and relationship expert Rachel Sussman, LCSW tells Refinery29.
There’s another big reason for this trend, too. Damona Hoffman, OkCupid dating expert and host of The Dates & Mates Podcast, previously told Refinery29 that this summer could become “the season of breakups.” And, as Sussman says, breakups can lead us to start thinking about the past.
“I think sometimes, when we’re single or when a relationship is ending, we do think back towards old relationships, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Sussman explains. “For some people, that’s kind of a barometer that they even use.” In the case of Bennifer, this makes sense: Lopez split from Alex Rodriguez in April, and Affleck went through a breakup with actress Ana de Armas in January.
“In some ways, it’s like low-hanging fruit. It’s starting over but it’s not starting over, because you had a relationship with this person, you know this person,” says Sussman. But that said, it isn’t necessarily a bad idea to rekindle a relationship, as long as you’re honest with yourself about why it ended. “You’ve got to think about the relationship as a whole. Was there more good than bad? What was the bad? Have you changed? Has the person changed?”
In the past, Affleck has said that the incessant pressure that came with being so public-facing led to his 2004 split from Lopez. “I think Jen and I made a mistake in that we fell in love, we were excited and maybe too accessible,” he reflected in 2008, adding that their relationship took on “a world of its own.” This might be happening again — their reunion has spawned a seemingly bottomless pool of memes, and Vogue even published a recent essay called “Why Bennifer Matters” — but now, they might both be better equipped to deal with all that attention. Either way, a source told Us Weekly that the couple “picked up right where they left off.”
When you’re debating whether to press send on that “Hey, how have you been?” text, ask yourself whether the conflict that led you to break up in the first place might come up again. If you, your ex, and your biggest incompatibilities haven’t changed, you might just be setting yourself up for another round of heartbreak. And after the year we’ve had, who wants to go through that?