Gwyneth Paltrow, first of her name, winner of Oscar, breaker of rules about vagina eggs, khaleesi of the empire of Goop, is currently making the press rounds. She appeared on The Howard Stern Show on Wednesday, and she spoke about a broad range of topics. To mention a few things on the docket: her ex-boyfriend Brad Pitt allegedly throwing Harvey Weinstein against a wall, why she and her fiancé Brad Falchuk don’t want anymore kids (they have four between them), smoking pot, and coparenting with Chris Martin, from whom she consciously uncoupled in 2014. Oh, and there was something else pretty major: Paltrow opened up about her rationale for not marrying Ben Affleck, who she dated on and off from 1997 to 2000.
Stern was pretty direct in his line of questioning. “How did you know not to marry him? You were never in love with him,” he asked Paltrow, per People.
Rather than going negative about Affleck, Paltrow put the onus on herself and where she was in her life at the time. “It’s interesting, I think there’s certain boyfriends where you are trying to work stuff out, right? Like, you’re trying to heal certain stuff from your childhood, and he was very much a lesson in that way.”
Things got a little hazy when she continued: “I’m not sure exactly what I was trying to heal in that instance, but it was…he was, you know, it was specific.”
Paltrow has talked about her relationship with Affleck before. In 2016, she co-hosted a dinner with Mario Batali and joked to Vanity Fair that the chef would rib her about the various boyfriends she brought to his restaurant Babbo over the years. “He liked Brad Pitt, if you want to know. Didn’t like Ben Affleck that much.” Neither she nor Batali went into detail as to why, but please imagine a studio audience going “Oooooooooo” (with a change in tone and octaves) right there.
Paltrow also spoke about Affleck on The Howard Stern Show back in 2015. This time, she placed the onus on the Pearl Harbor star (oh yeah, we went there). “He was not in a good place in his life to have a girlfriend,” she said, per Us Weekly.
Diane Sawyer asked Paltrow about Affleck in a 2003 interview. “Ben makes life tough for himself. He's got a lot of complication, and you know, he really is a great guy. So I hope he sorts himself out,” she said. Eep.
But wait, there’s more. Per ABC News, during their relationship, Affleck went on Good Morning America and said that Paltrow’s ideal man would be someone like her dad. In response, she said that Affleck’s perfect woman would be “any sort of stripper at Scores. Anyone that serves cold beer in a bikini.”
So, Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow weren’t beshert. You know who seemed to be, though? Paltrow and Pitt. Mario Batali liked him. Paltrow’s father was “devastated” when they broke up. The actress told Diane Sawyer that she mourned their breakup for five years, which would have included the years she was with Affleck (she and Pitt dated from 1994 to 1997 and even got engaged).
We all know what happened in the following years: Paltrow married Chris Martin, had two children (making major headlines for naming her daughter Apple — she later blamed Martin for the name), started Goop, consciously uncoupled from Martin, launched a Goop magazine, and got engaged to Brad Falchuk. Oh, and she starred in some massive movies along the way — perhaps you’ve heard The Avengers? Affleck, on the other hand, dated Jennifer Lopez (and had an iconic couple name), married Jennifer Garner and had three children, won a second Oscar and made a weird speech about marriage being “work,” divorced Garner, became Batman, and started dating Lindsay Shookus, an SNL producer with the greatest last name ever. He also got a massive back tattoo that he tried to pretend was fake, but it turned out to be REAL.
As of publishing, Howard Stern has yet to ask Gwyneth Paltrow about Ben Affleck’s back tat. There’s always next time.