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Rekindling Love Takes More Than a Good Match. Just Ask J. Lo and Ben Affleck.

Last year, Ben Affleck made headlines for appearing to be in a bad mood. After opening a car door for his wife, Jennifer Lopez, he shut it with what viewers decided was more force than strictly necessary.

Many claimed he also appeared to be sulking while seated next to his wife at the 2023 Grammy Awards. (He later said his expression had more to do with an unplanned bit by the event’s host, Trevor Noah.)

Then there was Mr. Affleck’s unaccompanied appearance at the Netflix roast of Tom Brady in early May, followed the next day by Ms. Lopez’s arriving without her husband at the Met Gala.

For many, Ms. Lopez’s abrupt cancellation of her summer tour last week (very possibly a result of poor ticket sales) was the final bit of proof fans needed to conclude that the couple’s marriage was on the rocks.

Rumors of issues between Ms. Lopez and Mr. Affleck, whose breakup-to-makeup story may be one of the most closely watched celebrity relationships in Hollywood history, began about a year after their surprise wedding in 2022. (The couple called off a first engagement 20 years ago.) But who’s to say the pair’s schedules haven’t made it difficult to attend events together? Perhaps Mr. Affleck’s seeming bad mood was unrelated to his wife when he shut that car door?

The frenzied speculation has only increased the already overwhelming attention the couple receives. Just this weekend, they were surrounded by a group of paparazzi snapping pictures as they left his son’s basketball game in Santa Monica. This time, they seemed happy together, even exchanging a cheek kiss.

New love is delicate in the best of circumstances, but especially when it is rekindled. And when you’re two A-list celebrities, the scrutiny that you’re under becomes even harsher. Right now, only the couple knows if they really are headed toward divorce, but the world will be watching for even the smallest of hints as to which way the winds are blowing.

For the average person, that scrutiny and pressure is still felt, albeit on a smaller scale. It can come from loved ones who are worried that you might be making a mistake, or from the parasocial spectators on your feed who are thirsty for breakup gossip to sip on.

According to Lisa Marie Bobby, a psychologist and relationship counselor, it is extremely common for people to get back together after working on themselves and to have a second chapter that’s more positive than the first. But during the breakup process, it’s also common to speak negatively about the relationship to friends and family, which can color their perception of your partner, so she recommends resisting the temptation to tell loved ones all the very intimate details and instead talk to a professional.

“There is often a lot of anger, hurt, resentment, and when we are in that emotional space, we tend to become binary in our thinking,” she said. “And when we’re in that space, that is the narrative we are telling other people.”

Of course, when a relationship is toxic or even abusive, her guidance is the opposite. Loved ones can help someone find the strength to leave instead of cycling in and out of the same relationship.

“They will often benefit from letting in the feedback or commentary from people who really love them and care about them,” Dr. Bobby said.

If you are dealing with skepticism over your rekindled romance, Dr. Bobby recommends doing some “P.R. for your relationship” and talking to friends and family members who may have developed a negative impression of an ex and reassuring them that you’ve both worked on the previous issues.

Any reunion between two exes, no matter how beautiful or passionate, occurs on shaky ground. What if it doesn’t work this time around and ends up being a waste of time? Is this a pursuit of destined love or an act of settling? Can the trust be rebuilt, or will old toxic cycles persists? Dr. Bobby said one of the main reasons people are anxious in this way is that they haven’t worked through the issues from the previous relationship.

“There is a lot of power in doing some very deep work,” she said. “If you’re going to try again in a relationship, both people need to have a clear understanding of what went wrong the first time around.”

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