Bennifer's back. After a 17-year break, a couple of marriages and children, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck seem to be doing the merengue again.
The evidence looks compelling: a few long-lens snaps of the pair boarding a private jet and sitting in an SUV, having apparently spent a few days at Ben's chalet in Montana.
If you missed Bennifer the first time, a quick recap: Affleck and Lopez were darlings of the red carpet from 2002 to 2004, having met on the set of Gigli. He appeared in the video for her hit Jenny from the Block, rubbing sun-cream lotion into her bottom and, by February 2003, the pair were engaged.
Just days before their September wedding, however, the ceremony was called off due to "media attention". By January 2004 it was all over – until now.
Ben, it appears, has steamed in after 51-year-old J-Lo's split from her latest fiancée, Alex Rodriguez. Or should that be "Boomerang Ben"? For this isn't the first time the 48-year-old has bounced back to an ex.
First came Gwyneth Paltrow, with whom he briefly rekindled a romance in 1999, after several months apart. In 2018, he split from Saturday Night Live producer Lindsay Shookus after two years, only to reunite in 2019.
His divorce from Jennifer Garner, with whom he shares three children, took three years to finalise during which time the pair were dogged by "back together" rumours. Last year, Affleck called their separation "the biggest regret of my life".
And yet, just over a year on, Bennifer fans are thrilled by the suggestion that the couple are back on. Plenty of us, it seems, are entranced by the idea that true love can survive decades – and other relationships – but that, ultimately, the couple who are "meant to be" come back together. All we need now is for Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston to start dating again.
So why are we so invested in the idea of ex appeal?
"We can relate to it," explains psychologist Jo Hemmings. "It actually makes them less like superstars and more like real people: they have that same desire to be with someone they love and who loves them."
Not just someone, but the one who got away. It's a fantasy many of us occasionally allow ourselves to indulge in: what would happen if a significant ex came back? What are they up to? Are they thinking about me? And when we're presented with evidence that it can happen, as with Bennifer, it only encourages these daydreams.
It's a subject that intrigues me so much I made it the theme of my new book, Did You Miss Me? Nell, the heroine, is leading a nice-if-dull-life with her nice-if-dull-boyfriend, when a chance meeting with her first love shakes things up.
The inspiration was pinched from my teenage years. Tragically, I was in love with the same boy from 13 until 18. It was proximity, more than anything: he lived nearby and all my teenage energies were diverted towards him.
I was convinced we'd marry and I'd move into his castle, and the occasional snog fuelled this fantasy until I was old enough to know better. Luckily, 36-year-old me understands that castles are cold and I'm better off in my cosy flat. But every now and then, I wonder what might have been.
So is it a good idea for Bennifer to have another crack? Is it ever a good idea for anyone?
Hemmings says: "When it comes to relationships, there are three scenarios: right person, wrong time; wrong person, right time; and only if you're really lucky, right person, right time. Sometimes, years later, it really is as simple as being the right time for you both."
Some have suggested that this constant returning to former lovers is a form of regression therapy for Affleck. But it's an impulse that has struck many of us in the past year.
Shortly after lockdown last March, social media was deluged with screenshots of messages; exes using the pandemic as a pretext to make contact because they were lonely, worried – or sexually frustrated.
One of my exes got in touch to say he still thought about me every day and, because the world "had altered", he "needed" me to know (I deleted it; some past relationships are more alluring than others).
Still, many of us continue to dwell on what happened three, four or even 17 years ago. So if you really want to give it a go with an old flame, Hemmings's advice is communication.
"You've got to talk it through, be really honest. Discuss why it didn't work the first time. There will be feelings on both sides – guilt, shame, bitterness, sadness. You can't be sure going into any relationship that it will work out, but you want to minimise that risk if you're going back."
If you've got a private jet you can rustle up to fly your ex to a chalet, that's probably worth a shot, too.
• Did You Miss Me? by Sophia Money-Coutts (HQ) is published in August