People love to dredge up the past and make you wincingly re-live it. My brother, for example, will never let me forget that I owned a Juicy tracksuit from 2001-2006. I’ll never let my brother forget that he once fell and severely sprained his wrist rollerblading. And the masses will never let Jennifer Aniston forget that she was married to the world’s highest-paid Ken Doll, also known as Brad Pitt. It sucks, but that’s just how life works.
For most of us, the surfacing of these memories can be embarrassing, sure, but we get over it because there are only like 50 people in the world who know us. When we’re innocently impulse-buying Toblerones at the Target check-out stand to reward ourselves for picking up toilet paper, it’s not like we’re forced to see our past dissected in a tabloid next to the Trident gum. But it’s different for a celeb like Aniston. I feel bad for beating and taxidermy-ing the dead horse of Jen’s past relationship since it’s her birthday today, but every time I see her, all I can think is: “GOD, I STILL FEEL SORRY FOR YOU ABOUT THAT WHOLE BRAD THING. ALSO, YOUR BODY IS BETTER THAN EVERY 20-SOMETHING I KNOW, JESUS.” One day she’ll climb out of the Brangelina shadow, but until then, let’s poke the wounds and talk about other celebs who can’t escape their exes either.
1. Ben Affleck+ JLO
A few years ago, Ben Affleck took up directing as a strategic campaign to make you forget he appeared in a J.Lo video. Okay, maybe Ben branched into directing to grow as a human. But c’mon. Having Gigli on his IMDB page was at least 89% of the reason he picked up The Idiot’s Guide to Directing and read it cover to cover. Directing proved that he had snapped out it, that he was done calling DeBeers everyday demanding they a find pink diamond to match J.Lo’s heels. He worked hard to show he was worthy of being taken seriously. But if I were him, I would have just adopted British accent after that shitstorm, because being British=instant respect. You could put me in a room with a 5-year-old British child who’s having an animated conversation with her stuffed animals and I’d still take her more seriously than any American. Luckily, Ben got to keep his native Boston accent (that manages to sound fake when he’s acting), and earned back his dignity. But we’ll never forget Bennifer. And I have a feeling neither will Ben.
2. Justin Timberlake + Britney Spears
Once upon a time, in a land where Paris Hilton was relevant and Von Dutch trucker hats were socially acceptable, a manufactured pop-star named Justin fell in love with a manufactured pop-star named Britney. Britney broke Justin’s heart. But his story didn’t end there. He harnessed his grief to launch a solo career, and he now draws on that period of intense emotions in his impressive acting roles. JK! Justin’s a GOD-AWFUL actor, and makes me think actors should have to pass a state exam like lawyers to be able to practice their profession. But he’s a success, and I think he’s embarrassed about having bumpkin Britney on his inventory of girlfriends. Like so embarrassed that he’d finance a study to find the cause of Alzheimer’s just so he could implant it in our brains and make us forget they dated. But sorry Justin, no disease or head injury or brain worm could inflict enough damage to erase the memory of the matching denim suits you and Britney wore in 2001. The human brain is just too resilient.
3. Ryan Gosling + Rachel McAdams
Rachel and Ryan had such tender chemistry in The Notebook, I can’t imagine someone not rooting for them. Well, maybe Charles Manson would be callous to their love, or someone who’s just lost a particularly trying level of Candy Crush. But these two kids were just so endearing. I’m not even a hopeless romantic either. I personally found The Notebook more nauseating than being on a roller-coaster with food poisoning, and I contend that the sight of lovers kissing should be shown to people with alcohol poisoning to trigger vomiting. But even I was sad when they broke up. I think it’s for the best though. Rachel is a saint, and she can do better than someone who inexplicably speaks with a Brooklyn accent despite hailing from California. Good riddance, Ryan. (And good luck not being skinned alive by lady mobs, Eva Mendes).
4. Johnny Depp + Winona Ryder (See also: Johnny + Kate Moss. Johnny + Vanessa Paradis. Basically Johnny+ anyone but Amber Heard)
Johnny Depp is single-handedly responsible for my inordinate attraction to pirates. He is also responsible for making me short of breath because I can’t stop sighing at his mid-life crisis. Let’s recap: he’s left the mother of his children, is engaged to a person who wasn’t even able to use a toilet by herself when Edward Scissorhands came out and he’s hanging with Marilyn Manson like a 14-year-old who just discovered black nail polish. Of additional concern is the fact that the number of scarves Johnny dons at one time seems to correlate exactly with his age (which is now 50). Every day, he’s looking more like my new-age aunt who makes homemade bangles out of turquoise and has so many damn wind chimes in her house, you’d think there’s a tornado outside. Ugh. I miss the days when Johnny and Winona Ryder walked around all dark and brooding like they just had sex to Beethoven in an abandoned haunted house. Wino
5. Taylor Swift + John Mayer
This one doesn’t quite fit the mold, because it’s not so much the public that can’t stop talking about their relationship—it’s Taylor Swift. She’s can’t stop, won’t stop crooning about her boy problems. I should really add Harry Styles, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joe Jonas, and anyone else Taylor has looked at twice onto this list, because if you have a face and Y-chromosome, Taylor will find a way to have a fleeting catastrophic relationship with you and write a Grammy-winning song about it. No male is safe btw. Not even a Google statistician can identify an algorithm to decipher Taylor’s type because she chooses such wildly different dudes to date for 1 month and obsesses over for 2 years. I actually like Taylor and sing her songs when I know there’s no one within a 500-foot radius of me, so I’m relieved she’s no longer dating 36-year-old douchehat John Mayer. Keep skewering your exes for our enjoyment, Tay Tay.
6. Kristen Stewart + Robert Pattison
The relationship that tore asunder millions of young girls’ soccer moms’ hearts. Robsten turned WalMart erotica into true love when they hooked up on the set of Twilight. For a time, their souls seemed magnetically pulled into one indivisible unit of intensity. (Meaning, they basically became the same (unshowered) person and wore each other’s ratty clothes like identical twins who refuse to develop distinct identities). Eventually, they had to start buying their own pre-distressed skinny jeans because Kristen’s cheated with her married director. But don’t fret, Twi-hards. As recently as a few months ago these two were caught helplessly pawing each other, which no doubt prompted their PR teams to Google “Can humans safely wear shock collars?”
7. Nicole Kidman + Tom Cruise
You know when you come across a picture of one of those celebrity wax figures, and for a second, you can’t figure out if what you’re looking at is the statue or the real celebrity? That phenomenon happens every time I see a picture of Nicole Kidman. Is her dermatologist also an avid candle-maker in his spare time or something? I say this not to deride her appearance (the woman is still gorgeous with a Bath and Body Works product for a face), but because I think whatever is in her face could effectively be used in Tom Cruise’s lifts. Hear me out. I own a few insoles myself and I’d be curious to pump ‘em with whatever Nicole’s sporting for extra comfort and support. I know Tom and Nicole couldn’t make it as lovers, and I’m happy Nicole has found someone who doesn’t need to climb on couches just to prove he’s sexually attracted to women. I’m just saying, maybe these two could find common ground after all.
So, there you have it. Will these stars ever transcend their breakups? As long as there are insensitive bloggers like myself to bring it up, probs not. But hey, your friends love to drunkenly blurt out at parties that you sucked your thumb till you were 13, so we’re all sort of in the same boat. The past is a biiiitch.