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Do you ever really escape your ex?

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Last Friday, Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux announced they were “lovingly” separating after seven years together, two of them spent married. And while they cautioned against projecting any sort of “fictional narrative” onto their break-up, they did make the announcement on Thursday night, U.S time, thereby almost guaranteeing several outlets would immediately pounce upon a slew of narratives just in time for the traditional deadline on Friday, because, hey, that is what the internet is for. Well, that and stalking your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend’s mother’s holiday to Croatia on Instagram.

Speaking of which: Several outlets – and fans – pointed out that Aniston’s famous ex-husband, Brad Pitt, the man who left her for Angelina Jolie over 13 years ago, is also single right now, so perhaps the two would re-ignite the flame? Or perhaps Angelina would reach out to Jen and the two would get drunk and bury the hatchet? Perhaps Jen would call Brad? Perhaps Brad has already called Jen?

 Do you ever really escape your ex?
Brad PItt adn Jennifer Aniston in Cannes together as husband and wife in 2004. 

Perhaps Brad would call Justin? Perhaps Angelina would call Justin? Actually, nobody asked for that last scenario to happen, but I just thought, while we were playing musical chairs, maybe those two might make a go of it. 

Wrong?

 Do you ever really escape your ex?
Minnie Driver and Matt Damon at the Good Will Hunting premiere in 1997. 

It’s at this point that famous friends of Aniston’s usually roll their eyes, jut their chins and fold their hands, (although obviously not all at the same time, lest they be thought of as impersonating a cocker spaniel) and admonish us for trying to make the Jen-Brad union happen.

Someone from Jen’s pilates-before-margheritas circle, such as Chelsea Handler or Courteney Cox, will step forward and say, “Brad and Jen are life-long friends, but they’ve moved on and suggest the media do the same.”

And then we’ll all feel like that well-meaning but naive Aunt who asks every Christmas if our primary school friend, James will ever come to his senses and ask us out and we must bite our tongue and try not to yell, “Aunt Susan, James is GAY!” Because that sort of information will crush her fragile, (read: menopausal) spirit.

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Still. Aunt Susan might have a point. And I guess by Aunt Susan I mean us, or actually, OK, just me, because sometimes exes really do get back together. Exhibit A: Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez! They were photographed canoodling in Jamaica this week, guys! Love lives!

 Do you ever really escape your ex?
Justin Theroux and Jennifer Aniston announced their separation last week. 

But love, to paraphrase glam-metal band, Def Leppard, also bites. Proof of this observation might be found in the shadow of Brad Pitt, and how, no matter which narrative we’re ordered to follow, it will continue to loom over Jennifer Aniston’s love life. Now, call me a conspiracy theorist; a truther, but I think this is by design.

Let’s examine the facts.

According to recent reports, Justin and Jen were quite content to stay boyfriend and girlfriend indefinitely, occupying the East and West coasts of the US respectively. Then something happened. Brad Pitt married Angelina Jolie on August 23, 2014. Less than a year later, on August 5, 2015, Jen and Justin threw themselves a wedding. Then, Angelina filed for divorce from Brad in September 2016. Just over a year later – ta-da!

Anyone who understands history – or has seen The Crown – knows that certain people still stay in silent competition with their exes for, like, ever.

Remember when Princess Margaret begged her sister, the Queen to announce her engagement before her ex could announce his? Remember in When Harry Met Sally it was Sally’s jealousy over her ex-boyfriend, Joe, marrying the woman who was supposed to be his “transitional person”, that prompted her to start kissing Harry?

There are those who claim that Jen is the happiest she’s ever been. They’ve claimed this since 2005, so her happiness must be at record levels by now – hope she’s ok. Then there are those who claim that, without Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Patron Saint of the Girl Next Door Left For A Harlot, would not exist.

Whichever view you have, it must be said, that, even in her obituary, Aniston will not be written about without some mention being made of her first ex-husband and the scandal he caused. Which prompts this question from your old Aunt Susan; because I couldn’t help but wonder … do you ever truly escape your ex?

If your name is Minnie Driver, and your then-boyfriend, Matt Damon, dumped you on Oprah during the press tour of the movie you both starred in, Good Will Hunting, the answer is a definite no. Every time poor Matt opens his mouth, Driver is there to tell him to shut it. Like, on Tuesday, Driver told The New York Times, apropos of nothing, that Damon, “represented every intelligent, nice white male who feels it is their job to comment on the way that women metabolise stuff”. This, after Damon already publicly apologised for his remarks. Driver had to watch her ex Damon win the Oscar for best screen-writing alongside his pal Ben Affleck and pretend to be happy for him. That was in 1998 and it seems twenty years has done nothing to dim her rage. Message received: do not cross Minnie. Or, maybe cross Minnie, but don’t get more famous than Minnie and become a beloved golden boy and fixture of American cinema.

And perhaps this is the key to getting over your ex. (Well, apart from the standard option of moving on and enjoying your life). Perhaps you must ensure they never usurp you in the few key areas of status or fame or new love. Or perhaps you never really get over them. Jolie and Pitt are yet to officially divorce. Indeed, they are still producing wine together, having released their latest pink rose this week. What this means, we can only speculate. But if that’s a fictional narrative I’m projecting, I’m more than OK with that.

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