I Left An "Aniston" For My Current "Jolie," And Now I'm Crushed
Most of my friends looked at me like I was crazy when I proclaimed that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie would be together forever. Some of them even told me I had an unhealthy obsession with the celebrity couple. But to me, the saga of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie was more than a wild love story that included forbidden passion — their relationship has been a parallel of sorts to my own with my current partner, and I always imagined there was a lot more happening beneath the surface of the tabloid headlines that I could identify with.
Brad Pitt married Jennifer Aniston back in 2000, and there's no denying that their wedding was one of the most celebrated in Hollywood history. My ex-boyfriend was like Aniston — a blonde-haired, blue-eyed gem who had a bubbly personality and a killer smile. He was even an actor, gifted with the most stunning singing voice I'd ever heard. People told me I was beyond lucky to land a guy like him, and that he was a lifelong keeper. And like Pitt and Aniston, Matt* and I were very clearly in love, and we didn't waste any energy trying to hide it.
Everyone thought Pitt had the perfect marriage before he stepped onto the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith in the summer of 2004. According to the tabloids, things only went downhill with Aniston because he met Angelina Jolie, who was painted in the tabloids as a dark, seductive temptress who stole him from Aniston's warm embrace.
But if you look closer at the interviews and profiles that have been done over the years, you can actually see that Pitt recognized something in Jolie that he had never found in Aniston. In a 2013 cover story for Esquire, Pitt admits that his life before Jolie was dotted with drug use and procrastination. He even called himself a "drifter" at one point, lamenting about the fact that he had trouble completing goals in his life.
Jolie, too, had a colorful past, one that made us all think she was wild, eccentric, and maybe a little bit dangerous. I like to think that this sense of adventure in Jolie was what attracted Pitt to her in the first place. "In Jolie, he met someone who was wired not only to see things through but also to double down on the opportunities — for altruism and everything else—that her fame afforded," Tom Junod wrote for Esquire. They recognized something thrilling in one another, as if they instantly knew their lives could be so much more exciting if they just joined forces.
Before anything physical even took place between us, I knew I was falling profoundly in love with Jake. I couldn't picture living without him, regardless of my friends' harsh comments about what a massive mistake I would be making if I left Matt.
Something very similar happened to me when I met my current boyfriend. Matt and I were still together at the time, but there was something about Jake* that caught my eye. To this day, I can't tell you what exactly it was. I just know that something ignited in me that had been dormant before, something that made me feel more alive than ever before, and I was immediately drawn to him. It was then that I started to question whether the kind of life I had with Matt was what I really wanted.
Things between Matt and I were solid, but they were safe. What I had with him was what my mother always told me to look for in a man — security. But Jake was a world traveler who lived his life boldly. He was sweet, generous, and loyal. He taught yoga and owned a juice company. He kept quiet about a lot of the trouble he got into in his younger years, for fear that revealing the truth would chase people away. I hung around him, constantly picturing a bigger, badder, more exhilarating life with him than I had with anyone before, including and especially Matt.
Before anything physical even took place between us, I knew I was falling profoundly in love with Jake. I couldn't picture living without him, regardless of my friends' harsh comments about what a massive mistake I would be making if I left Matt. They would often say things like, "Matt's too good to let go of!" and "Jake is lust, not love!" But they had no idea, just like we all have no idea what actually transpired between Pitt and Jolie.
Whatever actually happened during the shooting of Mr. & Mrs. Smith is something we'll never know, but Pitt did basically admit that he "fell in love" with Jolie during this time. Judging by the way their life and their family turned out, I imagine that Pitt was smitten with Jolie and what she had to offer — tremendous love, adventure, and a big, loud family. He even said in the same Esquire interview that he always "wanted there to be chaos in the house." Jolie gave that to him in spades.
I deeply believed they would make it until the end, because I deeply believed that Jake and I getting together was the best decision I ever made in my life. As shitty as it may have looked on the outside that I left Matt (like it looked when Pitt left Aniston), I knew in my heart that it was the right decision. I was counting on Pitt and Jolie to prove to the world that what might seem like a sensational romance on the outside can actually be a life-changing, permanent connection. I kept telling myself that if they could last, then my partner and I could last as well, that we weren't an accident.
Now, I guess my boyfriend and I will just have to brave it in the world without Brangelina to pave the way before us. Either that, or I'll have to find a new fairytale.
*Names have been changed.