Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux's tabloid battles: Why it’s surprising their split is true

Taryn Ryder
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux have confirmed they’ve split after two years of marriage.

“In an effort to reduce any further speculation, we have decided to announce our separation. This decision was mutual and lovingly made at the end of last year,” they said in a statement. “We are two best friends who have decided to part ways as a couple, but look forward to continuing our cherished friendship. Normally we would do this privately, but given that the gossip industry cannot resist an opportunity to speculate and invent, we wanted to convey the truth directly. Whatever else is printed about us that is not directly from us is someone else’s fictional narrative. Above all, we are determined to maintain the deep respect and love that we have for one another.”

It’s no surprise Aniston and Theroux mention the gossip industry in their joint statement. Throughout their seven-plus years together as a couple, they have been tabloid favorites. Perhaps that’s because when they first got together, they had weeklies drooling over a Brangelina-type love triangle.

Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux attended Jason Bateman’s Walk of Fame ceremony in July 2017. (Photo: Splash News)

Jen and Justin first met in 2007 but reconnected in 2011 while filming Wanderlust. At the time, the actor was still together with his girlfriend of 14 years, Heidi Bivens. When exactly Theroux and the stylist broke up and when he got together with Aniston is unclear, but “man stealer Jen” read one of many similar-themed headlines.

The pair never publicly addressed the rumors — which is usually their MO — and forged on with their relationship. While the public ate up Hollywood’s new coupling, tabloids were at the ready to craft a “lonely Jen” narrative.

“Justin will never marry her,” a “close friend” supposedly told InTouch Weekly in August 2011. “He’s not the marrying type — as you can see from the 14-year relationship he was in that didn’t end in marriage.”

Two months later she was pregnant with twins, according to Life & Style, while OK! claimed the Friends star was planning a wedding before Angelina Jolie sabotaged it. Jen and Justin had about a hundred babies, got married, and split all in a year. It wasn’t until August 2012 (after 17 faux wedding and engagements stories) that Theroux actually popped the question.

Some of the “lonely Jen” covers. (Photos: Life & Style, In Touch, Star)

The Aniston obsession hardly went away. In 2014 alone, according to Vanity Fair,  she was “jilted” or “heartbroken” 11 times, “pregnant” nine times, planning her “dream wedding” eight times, “feuding” six times, on a “romantic getaway” three times, and “married” twice. She also had exes “reveal secrets” about her twice and had plastic surgery twice.

“Just don’t pay attention,” Aniston told CBS. “I think I used to really; there was a period where I was hell-bent on saying, ‘That’s not true, that’s not right, that’s not fair.’ And now I just think you have to let it roll off your back and you realize, I think everyone knows it’s all B.S. and like a soap opera on paper.”

As for her and Justin, she added, “We know what our truth is. That’s all just static.”

The static didn’t slow down the couple, who finally tied the knot in August 2015. With the wedding narrative out of play, it was all about babies and divorces. That first topic even prompted the actress to speak out on the topic, in an essay for the Huffington Post titled “For the Record.”

“Let me start by saying that addressing gossip is something I have never done… For the record, I am not pregnant,” she wrote in 2016. “What I am is fed up. I’m fed up with the sport-like scrutiny and body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of ‘journalism,’ the ‘First Amendment’ and ‘celebrity news.'”

She added, “From years of experience, I’ve learned tabloid practices, however dangerous, will not change, at least not any time soon. What can change is our awareness and reaction to the toxic messages buried within these seemingly harmless stories served up as truth and shaping our ideas of who we are. We get to decide how much we buy into what’s being served up, and maybe some day the tabloids will be forced to see the world through a different, more humanized lens because consumers have just stopped buying the bulls***.”

Despite the actress’s powerful essay, false headlines didn’t stop and only increased when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie announced they were divorcing in spring 2016. And the Brad-Angie-Jen-Justin love square stories have been nonstop for nearly a year and a half.  In 2018 alone, there have been nearly 20 stories involving the four stars. Brad and Jen are even reportedly engaged, if you feel like believing that one.

The fact that low-brow publications have Jen and Justin to be on the rocks all year made it white noise at this point. Which is why it’s so shocking it’s actually true.

Aniston and Theroux were last spotted together over New Year’s Eve in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Since then, he’s been noticeably absent while she has attended events solo, like the Golden Globes, Ellen DeGeneres’s birthday, and Amy Schumer’s wedding.

So what went wrong? Jen and Justin make clear in their statement not to believe any fictional narrative, but you know a lot are coming.

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