Let’s face it, there has been no shortage of attention paid to both the romantic coupling and uncoupling of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt (1998-2005), in part because they’re both shining stars, and in part because the usual narrative is that, ‘Brad left Jennifer for Angelina,’ and when anyone leaves their partner for someone else, the story is always a hostile and dramatic one, right?

The tabloids thought everything was fine

The reality of any divorce is usually a trillion times more nuanced than the tabloids would have one believe—and less dramatic too. Take this famous photo of Jennifer and Brad, one of the last ever taken of them as husband and wife.

In it, they’re depicted taking what appears to be a romantic stroll down a beach in Anguilla in 2005. At the time the picture was taken, the Angelina cat was well out of the bag: he had not planned to, but yes, he had gone ahead and fallen for another woman. The tabloids (simpletons as they are) saw these photos as evidence that Brad and Jen were doing great and that the ‘scandal’ wasn’t based in truth.

Ironically, what the photo actually shows is a loving couple breaking up with one another; this was to be their last getaway.

To recap, the media erroneously thought that rumors of Brad’s cheating were a made up scandal. It was a scandal, sure, but the clincher is, it wasn’t hostile, negative, dramatic, and there was never any bad blood.

In short, it wasn’t sensational—but try telling that to your average celeb reporter. Divorce isn’t necessarily what the tabloids make it look like—actually, it almost never is. Sometimes, what the people involved say is actually the closest thing to truth you can hope for. I think that in this case, that’s certainly resonant. When they announced their divorce to the world in 2005, Jen and Brad issued the following joint statement:

“We would like to announce that after seven years together we have decided to formally separate. For those who follow these sorts of things, we would like to explain that our separation is not the result of any of the speculation reported by the tabloid media. This decision is the result of much thoughtful consideration. We happily remain committed and caring friends with great love and admiration for one another. We ask in advance for your kindness and sensitivity in the coming months.”

If there’s anything the 15 years’ worth of coverage of their relationship, their breakup, and their subsequent friendship has taught those of us who pay attention, it’s that this statement was truer than anything that came out afterwards. 

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While Jen is human and was naturally not thrilled by Brangelina’s decision to share stories of how they got together while he was still married to her, she has ultimately stuck to her guns through the years, insisting, “…we wish nothing but wonderful things for each other.

Nobody did anything wrong. You know what I mean? It was just, like, sometimes things [happen]. If the world only could just stop with the stupid, soap-opera bullshit. There’s no story.”

Jennifer Aniston in The Hollywood Reporter

Why Lady Gaga knows a thing or two about breakups. Read here.

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Jennifer would go through yet another divorce

Jen eventually re-married in 2015, this time to Justin Theroux, whom she’d been dating since 2011. But by early 2018, it was their turn to announce they’d be calling it quits. Guess what? Contrary to what mainstream media would have us believe, their joint statement revealed that their decision to break up was “mutual and lovingly made at the end of last year,” and went on to say, “We are two best friends who have decided to part ways as a couple, but look forward to continuing our cherished friendship.”

Both Jen and Justin have spoken extensively about the challenges that go along with navigating post breakup rumors and gossip, with Jen telling InStyle:

The misconceptions are ‘Jen can’t keep a man,’ and ‘Jen refuses to have a baby because she’s selfish and committed to her career.’ Or that I’m sad and heartbroken. First, with all due respect, I’m not heartbroken.

“And second, those are reckless assumptions. No one knows what’s going on behind closed doors. No one considers how sensitive that might be for my partner and me.”

The bottom line is that Jennifer Aniston, mainstream famous though she may be, has actually proven herself time and again to be a maverick in the realm of love. Having continually defied expectations on what breakups look like (hint: not war, and not failure), we all stand to learn a thing (or ten) from her.

As she so eloquently told Elle, “I don’t feel a void. I really don’t. My marriages, they’ve been very successful, in [my] personal opinion. And when they came to an end, it was a choice that was made because we chose to be happy and sometimes happiness didn’t exist within that arrangement anymore.” 

Jen remains friends with both of her exes, and although some of us diehard Jen and Brad fans would love to believe the torrid and titillating tabloids when they hint at new flirtations between the two, People reports, “She is happy to have Brad back in her life as a friend, but that’s it.” To me, this sounds like a grown ass woman living her life to the fullest—drama be damned.

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