These days, Jennifer Lopez is engaged to former Yankee Alex Rodriguez and getting marriage advice from none other than Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But the public still holds a fascination with some of the thrice-married star’s other high-profile relationships. Exhibit A: Bennifer.
In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, the 50-year-old actress and singer was asked to revisit her famous romances with Sean “Diddy” Combs — then known as Puff Daddy, or Puffy — and Ben Affleck. Lopez dated Combs between 1999 and 2001; she and Gigli and Jersey Girl co-star Affleck got engaged in 2002, postponed their 2003 wedding with just a few days’ notice and eventually split in early 2004.
“The Puffy era was just kind of a crazy, heightened time in my life,” she told interviewer Tony Dokoupil. “You know, Puffy and I both grew up in the Bronx. He had been in the music business and had all this success; I was just starting and making my first album when I met him. He became kind of a mentor to me in that moment. We had this kind of crazy, tumultuous relationship that ended in a bang.”
“Almost literally,” Dokoupil interjected, referencing the then-couple’s involvement in a December 1999 shooting at a Manhattan nightclub. Combs was arrested on weapons violations but was subsequently found not guilty in a trial shortly before his breakup with Lopez.
“It was definitely a moment but I felt like it was necessary,” she said of her relationship with the rapper and music producer, who just celebrated his 50th birthday. “He was meant to be in my life at that moment to teach me what I needed to know about the music business, about what kind of artist I wanted to be in the music industry.”
As for Affleck, Lopez acknowledged that their “Bennifer” nickname in the press kickstarted the celebrity couple portmanteau trend (see: Jelena, Brangelina).
“As for the ‘Bennifer era’ — this is so weird I’m talking about this, to talk in this way, I’m just using those words because you used them,” she laughed in reference to the nickname.
“These were people in my life who I really cared about and fell in love with,” she continued. “[I] had very special, very unique relationships with both those people, and I think maybe that’s what captured the public’s attention in a sense. Because there was a realness to them. There was an authenticity to them, to those relationships, and people felt it.
“And they were very different,” she added. “Ben wanted to be — believe it or not — quiet and not be in the tabloids. And it was the beginning of the tabloid era, and we were kinda out there. I remember stacks of magazines and we were on it every week. It was scary. It was overwhelming for both of us.”
She admitted feeling “helpless” at how her relationship was portrayed in the media.
“How do I counter all of the stuff that’s being said?” she shared. “But you can’t. You just have to live your life and this is what I’ve learned over the years. This is why it’s great to be where I am now, and at the age I am now, because that stuff doesn’t bother me anymore.”