Though Gwyneth Paltrow is now engaged to Brad Falchuk, the actress and Goop founder has no problem diving into her previous relationships for a postmortem. She recently said that former fiancé Brad Pitt defended her from alleged sexual abuser Harvey Weinstein—and in the same interview, Paltrow detailed how dating Ben Affleck was a healing process for her.
Speaking with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM radio show Wednesday, Paltrow addressed her on-again, off-again relationship with Affleck, which ran from 1997 to 2000. While the two were never engaged (like Paltrow and Pitt), the relationship was serious in Hollywood terms: She thanked him in her Oscars speech in 1999 after winning for their mutual film Shakespeare in Love, and the two reunited in 2000 for the less memorable Bounce. But Stern pushed to know why the two didn't seal the deal more officially. "How did you know not to marry him? You were never in love with him," Stern posed to Paltrow.
"It's interesting," Paltrow responded. "I think there's certain boyfriends where you are trying to work stuff out, right?," implying that Affleck fell into that category for her. "Like, you’re trying to heal certain stuff from your childhood, and he was very much a lesson in that way."
"I'm not sure exactly what I was trying to heal in that instance, but it was…he was, you know, it was specific," she told Stern.
It isn't the first time that Paltrow has opened up to Stern about her time spent with Affleck. During her last visit to the radio show, in 2015, she spoke about how Affleck was "not in a good place in his life to have a girlfriend"—and that her parents were not sad to see the two part ways. "I think they appreciated how he's super intelligent and he's really talented and funny," Paltrow said to Stern at the time. "They loved him, but they were okay with us not being together."
Two years after they broke up, both rebounded with musicians. Paltrow started seeing Martin, while Affleck created the portmanteau "Bennifer" with Jennifer Lopez.