When Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt split up, it felt like our own parents were splitting up. After seven years of what we thought was a perfect relationship, Brad and Jen were no more. Everyone decided to focus on the scandal and the failure. Did Brad really cheat with Angelina? Is she evil? Do we hate her?
But here's the thing: you don't have to hate anyone in this situation. I mean, if you want to, then go ahead. It's just that we all focus on the negatives to Brad and Jen's marriage, when we really should look at how well they worked together for those seven years, and how their relationship really was ideal.
1. They knew they were meant to be on their first date.
How do people in Hollywood meet each other? Through their agents of course! Brad and Jen were set up through their respective agents, and the rest is history. During an interview with Diane Sawyer, Jen said they both "knew on our first date" that it would work out for the future.
"It was weird...That was a really easy evening," Jen said. "It was really fun."
2. They kept everything private for a while.
There are a lot of celebrity couples who flaunt new romance right away, especially in the age of social media, but Brad and Jen wanted to make sure they were solid before inviting the public in.
"Oh, I hate this! I can't talk about it," Aniston responded when asked what attracted her to Pitt. "I'm sorry. I'm not withholding, just preserving something that's mine."
She also denied that their relationship was just for publicity.
"It's not that at all," she said. "How funny. They figure, 'People know you're together, so why not give the press their picture and be done with it?' Because we chose not to. My responsibility to the public is my work"”not what goes on in my private life. To talk about a relationship trivializes something that's nobody's business. When it comes to privacy issues, it's a tough one, because I'm a talker."
3. Their friends approved of everything.
Too often, even in regular relationships, you hear about how a person has changed since meeting their significant other. There are always a few red flags, and friends don't always approve. However, that wasn't the case for Jen and Brad.
"Jennifer's a lot more peaceful now, like a woman who's in a good relationship," Lisa Kudrow, Jen's co-star on Friends said at the time. "There's not a lot to say about them because there's no problems. They're both light-years ahead of themselves. You know how your grandparents have a certain perspective about life? They've got that now."
"My friends were all supportive," Aniston confirmed. "Especially when they found out what a loving human being Brad is. At first they're like, 'I hope he's not an a--hole, some conceited f--k or whatever.' But you get past that in five minutes. Which is a real tribute to who he is. He just disarms you immediately. But, I mean, nobody went, 'Dude. Brad Pitt!' and gave me a thumbs up and a wink. They were just happy for me."
4. They were honest about how hard marriage can be.
We all know that marriage is like a full-time job, but it's refreshing to hear a celebrity talk about the struggles that can take place.
"This has been the hardest year of my life, as well as the best year of my life," Jen said in 2001, a year after her wedding. "Marriage brings up all the things I pushed to the back-burner"”the fears, the mistrust, the doubts, the insecurities. It's like opening Pandora's box. Every question comes out"”it's like: 'Here's the key, have at it!'"
Jen also said that Brad was extremely supportive during their struggles.
"One thing Brad would always say to me, 'you know what, we're just going to do the best we can," she revealed in 2004.
5. They respected each other.
Even after their marriage fell apart, Brad and Jen respected each other and only spoke positively about one another. During an interview in 2011, years after they had split, Brad mentioned how he felt trapped during his marriage.
"I spent the '90s trying to hide out, trying to duck the full celebrity cacophony. I started to get sick of myself sitting on a couch, holding a joint, hiding out. It started feeling pathetic," Brad told Parade in 2011. "It became very clear to me that I was intent on trying to find a movie about an interesting life, but I wasn't living an interesting life myself. I think that my marriage had something to do with it. Trying to pretend the marriage was something that it wasn't."
Of course, people took that as a slam against Jen, but he made sure to clarify that it wasn't.
"It grieves me that this was interpreted this way," Brad said in a statement. "Jen is an incredibly giving, loving, and hilarious woman who remains my friend. It is an important relationship I value greatly. The point I was trying to make is not that Jen was dull, but that I was becoming dull to myself"”and that, I am responsible for."
6. They fought.
Yes, that's a good thing. Even though Jen has described herself as a "conflict avoider" in the past, she admitted that she and her hubby weren't immune from arguments.
"We do fight," she said in 2003. "Well, we have discussions. I am not a fan of fighting when it is screaming. I like accomplishing something. But I don't trust a couple that says they don't fight."
7. They split amicably.
Despite what the rumors may have said, Jen and Brad separated with relatively no drama. Even though tabloids tried to pin the breakup on Angelina Jolie, the couple released a joint statement saying the rumors weren't true.
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.
8. Jen stood up for herself.
Okay, so this may not be directly related to their relationship, but Jen wasn't about to let Angelina talk about her and Brad falling in love while they were still married. Angelina had given an interview about her time on Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and hinted that her romance with Brad started then.
Because of the film, we ended up being brought together to do all these crazy things, and I think we found this strange friendship and partnership that kind of just suddenly happened. I think a few months in I realized, 'God, I can't wait to get to work.'...Anything we had to do with each other, we just found a lot of joy in it together and a lot of real teamwork. We just became kind of a pair. It took until, really, the end of the shoot for us, I think, to realize that it might mean something more than we'd earlier allowed ourselves to believe. And both knowing that the reality of that was a big thing, something that was going to take a lot of serious consideration.
Aniston brought the interview up a couple years later, after having time to look at what happened.
"There was stuff printed there that was definitely from a time when I was unaware that it was happening," she said. "I felt those details were a little inappropriate to discuss...That stuff about how she couldn't wait to get to work every day? That was really uncool."
9. They remained friends after the breakup.
For some reason, there's an extreme fascination with how Jen and Brad feel about each other after their split, more so than any other celebrity couple. As recently as 2015, Jen confirmed that she and her ex-husband still talk to each other on occasion.
"We're not in daily communication," Aniston said. "But 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 bulls--t. There's no story. I mean, at this point it's starting to become"”please, give more credit to these human beings."
But even though they're not in daily communication, it seems that Brad Pitt is somewhat responsible for Jen's split from her husband, Justin Theroux.
Jen and Justin were married in 2011, and their relationship seemed solid. The Friends actress talked about how she's learned about what she wants in a partner from past experiences, and that she was happy with where she was.
"Having experienced everything you don't want in a partner over time, it starts to narrow down to what you actually do want," she said. "As I get older I realize what qualities are important in love and what suits me. And what I won't settle for."
After their wedding in 2015, the couple seemed to be steady as a rock. But as with everything, things change. Two years after their marriage, in February 2018, Jennifer and Justin announced their split.
"In an effort to reduce any further speculation, we have decided to announce our separation," they released in a statement. "This decision was mutual and lovingly made at the end of last year. We are two best friends who have decided to part ways as a couple, but look forward to continuing our cherished friendship."
But what caused the split? They had seemed so steady and comfortable with each other. What chanced?
Apparently, according to multiple sources, Justin found love notes that Brad wrote Jen when they were together, and she had kept them all these years.
"He stumbled upon old Post-it notes Brad had written," a source said. "Sweet little Post-its like, "˜You looked nice tonight' or "˜Miss you already.'"
Jen had never told Justin about the notes, which insiders say he took as a huge breach of trust. Despite the notes being small, the impact was large.
"Jen assured him they weren't a big deal, but Justin wasn't thrilled," the insider said. "Justin had moments of insecurity like that."
I guess it's not hard to blame Justin when your wife is keeping love notes from her ex-husband. While it's harsh to assume the Post-its were the reason for their split, it doesn't seem impossible that they could be the straw that broke the camel's back.
Since Jen and Justin's separation, everyone has been hoping that she and Brad will rekindle their romance. But frankly, so much has changed in the years since they split, I doubt they have much in common anymore. That doesn't mean their relationship wasn't wonderful at the time, it just means that people change.