Body language expert decodes Bennifer's relationship: 'They adore telling the narrative of their relationship pose-by-pose'
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck have captivated the world with their romantic reunion.
Way back in the early noughties the couple, nicknamed 'Bennifer', had everyone hanging on every PDA-packed appearance.
First time around, however, the fairytale was not to be. Following their engagement in 2002, four months after getting together, the duo split in January 2004.
But earlier this year rumours started swirling that Bennifer were back together following J-Lo's split from former New York Yankees baseball player Alex Rodriguez.
On July 24, Lopez made their relationship Instagram official. While celebrating her 52nd birthday aboard a luxury yacht in St Tropez, Lopez nearly broke the internet after sharing a series of incredible bikini photos with her Instagram followers. Right at the end of her photo dump was a shot of the singer kissing 48-year-old Affleck, seemingly confirming that Bennifer 2.0 was on.
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That was followed by another loved-up red carpet appearance at the Venice Film Festival, some mask-on smooching at the Met Gala and yet more canoodling during a second New York City trip.
While it's easy to get swept away on a wave of total nostalgia, it's hard not to wonder what these 2021 cosied-up vibes reveal about the couple's new-found chemistry and potential longevity this time around.
Body language expert Judi James believes there are similarities in the couple's body language in both decades.
"Their split was so painful for Lopez that you might expect some sort of epiphany in terms of their body language behaviour this second time around to prove things are different and that they really can make it work after a gap of around twenty years," she tells Yahoo UK.
"Curiously though the pattern appears to be the same."
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James says Lopez was the huge star when they first hooked up and Affleck often got left behind in her vapour trail, standing alone while she posed solo for the camera.
"But there were also many iconic PDA set-pieces, i.e. the smooching and kissing that they became known for, which were like an ongoing press release charting the story of their love," she says.
Back in the day, however, James says there were a couple of red flags in these loved-up poses, describing Affleck as being one of the first cases of what she calls the ‘Distracted Kiss’.
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"When the couple kissed for the cameras Lopez would always throw herself fully into the kiss, stretching her neck and closing her eyes to suggest real passion and that he was the sole focus of her attention," she explains.
"Affleck, though, was seen kissing her back but with his eyes open and looking away over her head.
"It looked way too casual a response for her display of submission, as did his habit of always posing with one hand in his pocket as though barely aware he was dating one of the world’s most desirable women."
James says Lopez would always be the one gazing up at Affleck and often the one placing her hand on his torso in a gesture of attachment and admiration.
But what about now?
"This time around we are seeing the same love of PDAs, as though the couple adore telling the narrative of their relationship pose-by-pose, often via what are currently looking suspiciously like staged ‘Pap’ poses," James explains.
"We can see them walking through parks, getting in and out of boats and even kissing against walls. It still often looks like Lopez is throwing herself into the posing more than Affleck but this time he does seem to have learned to keep his eyes shut while he is kissing," she adds.
"But otherwise it is like a time warp with very little about their looks or their body language changed from the first time around."
James Preece, relationship and body language expert has a slightly more hopeful view of the couple's chemistry this time round.
"During their previous relationship, Affleck almost looked embarrassed to be with her. They clearly weren't comfortable and kept a distance," he explains.
"This time round, they are delighted to be back together. They look so much happier and their body language is strong, confident and united."
Like James, Preece has picked up on Affleck's closed eyes during the couple's recent trysts.
"This is a genuine display as they often close their eyes while kissing for the photos," he explains. "This shows trust and vulnerability. When you combine this with their warm embraces and reassuring hand placements, I can see this going the distance this time round."
Having studied images of the couple first time around and since their reunion, Adrianne Carter, an expert in facial expressions, emotions and body language believes there are a few subtle differences in the body language in both sets.
"The first relationship shows Affleck a lot more unhappy with himself and more conscious of being in the public eye," she explains.
"He seems more hesitant the first time around, not that he wasn't into Lopez but he looks like he's holding himself stiffly as if conscious of the spotlight on them and their relationship, he isn't relaxed at all and comes across as a bit surly."
This time around Carter believes the PDAs are authentic.
"In fact, I can't find a photo where they look unhappy together or uncomfortable with each other," she says.
"They genuinely look happy with each other and Affleck seems a lot more comfortable demonstrating how he's feeling with his gestures appearing natural and not posed."
Carter refers to one particular image, taken at the recent Venice Film Festival, where Lopez is holding Affleck's hand on her hip.
"The hands-on hip photo shows them both displaying possessive gestures," she says. "The hip is an intimate area of the body and is only touched and allowed by someone very close to us.
"This looks like they both are feeling possessive (not in a bad way) of their relationship and is a genuine sign of their closeness.
"This isn't a fake pose," she adds.
She points out that the recent pap-captured PDAs appear to reveal mutual engagement.
"There isn't one side more into the other, they are equally into each other," she says.
"The photo of them kissing with masks, again genuine and both equally into each other with no holding back."
But what is most notable, according to Carter, is not so much the PDAs themselves, but the genuine smiles of the couple maintain while making them, which she suggests indicate Bennifer 2.0 is the real deal.
"They are currently very happy together!"