Jennifer Lopez gets honest about past abusive relationships, her biggest fear and forgiving Ben Affleck in new doc

Jennifer Lopez gets vulnerable in new documentary as she opens up about romantic past.
Jennifer Lopez gets vulnerable in new documentary as she opens up about romantic past. (Robin L Marshall/WireImage) (Robin L Marshall via Getty Images)

Jennifer Lopez is ready to tell "the truth about my personal life."

Lopez's new documentary, The Greatest Love Story Never Told, is about the making of the singer's latest album (This Is Me...Now) and corresponding film (This Is Me...Now: A Love Story), both of which take heavy inspiration from her romance with Ben Affleck and her many high-profile relationships in between.

"I've been married four times now. I'm sure people watching from the outside were like, 'What is this f***ing girl's problem?'" Lopez says to open the documentary. "What I portrayed to the world was, 'Oh, this didn't work out, and it's fine, and I'm good, and they're good, and they were great, and I was great' and all of that was kind of bulls***."

Naturally, Affleck is a big part of the documentary, much to his reluctance at times, but his presence is key in helping Lopez show off a vulnerable side fans have never seen before.

Here are some of the biggest moments in her new documentary.

Affleck is uncomfortable being Lopez's 'muse' — but when they got back together, he had to 'compromise'

The documentary is named after a book of love letters Affleck made for Lopez. On their first Christmas back together, Affleck gifted Lopez a book of "every letter and every email" they ever wrote to each other. It’s titled The Greatest Love Story Never Told. It includes material from 2001 and 2021 "and counting."

Lopez explains, "There's the personal story of Ben and I that has never been told. I don't think he's very comfortable with me doing all of this. But he loves me, he knows I'm an artist, he's going to support me in every way he can because he knows he can't stop me from making the music I made and writing the words I wrote."

While Affleck "doesn't want" to stop her, Lopez says, "that doesn't mean he's kind of comfortable being the muse."

Lopez let songwriters read the personal letters as inspiration for her album This is Me…Now, which came as a surprise to Affleck.

"Jen was really inspired by this experience, which is how artists do their work," Affleck shares. "As a writer, director I certainly do the same things. But things that are private I had always felt are sacred and special because, in part, they're private. So this was something of an adjustment for me."

When they rekindled their romance after two decades apart, Affleck initially told Lopez to keep their private life private.

"The catalyst for [our breakup] was this massive scrutiny for our private life," he explains. "I had a very firm sense of boundaries initially around the press. While Jen I don't think objected to it in the way I did, I very much did object to it. Getting back together, I said, 'Listen, one of the things I don't want is a relationship on social media.' Then I sort of realized it's not a fair thing to ask."

Affleck compared wanting that to someone who wants to date a boat captain, but doesn't like water. "We're just two people with different approaches trying to learn to compromise," he states.

Lopez opens up about past abuse

One of the most talked-about scenes in This Is Me...Now: A Love Story is "the glass house," which depicts the singer in an abusive relationship as she sings "Rebound." In the documentary, Lopez explains that's rooted in her own truth.

"There were people in my life who said 'I love you' and then didn't do things that were kind of in line with the word 'love,'" she reveals.

"You have to hit rock bottom where you're in situations so uncomfortable and so painful that you finally go: I don't want this anymore. A therapist said to me, 'What if this was your daughter? What would you do?' And it was so clear. I'd tell her get the f*** out of here and never look back. But for me, it was so clouded and complicated," Lopez explains. "It was like looking through fog."

Director Dave Meyers previously told Yahoo Entertainment that filming "Rebound" was one of the toughest days on set, given the subject matter. It's clear that day took a toll on Lopez, too.

"Being thrown around and manhandled like that is not fun. I mean, I was never in a relationship where I got beat up, thank God, but I've definitely been manhandled and a couple of other unsavory things," she says. "Rough. Disrespectful."

In her 2014 memoir, Lopez wrote she was "mentally, emotionally, verbally" abused but didn't name names.

Lopez brushed off fear of how media may interpret "Rebound"

Actor Anthony Ramos wouldn't film "the glass house" scene because of his friendship with Marc Anthony.

"[Anthony] was going to do the 'Rebound' number with me," Lopez says in the doc. "And he was like, 'Ah, I'm friends with Marc."

Lopez quickly married Anthony after she and Affleck first split in 2004. They were together for more than seven years and share 16-year-old twins, Max and Emme.

Lopez is then shown on the phone trying to persuade the In the Heights star to do the project.

"[Marc's] the father of my kids, obviously. I'm never gonna do anything that's going to really like pinpoint him out, but it is very meta," Lopez tells Ramos. "It is about the 20-year journey between that last album [This Is Me...Then] and this album, and a lot of things happened, and there was a lot of relationships that I was in. That thing that you're playing in it is representative of many relationships, not one specific relationship."

Lopez later tells friend and collaborator Shawn "Beezy" Barton, "If we only did our art thinking about what the media's gonna say ... what the f*** are we doing?"

Affleck and Lopez share lighthearted moments

The documentary is a personal, and oftentimes serious, deep dive into Lopez's life. However, it's peppered with some gleeful moments that give a glimpse of Affleck and Lopez's marriage. At one point, the Oscar-winning director is reading the script for Lopez's film in which a scene describes Lopez as a 28-year-old woman.

"I love that you want to play younger, even in autobiographical," Affleck says.

"This is not my autobiographical! This is meta! This is me using some of my story," Lopez replies.

"It's your story but younger," Affleck laughs, before nuzzling into his wife.

Lopez's childhood pain fueled relationship issues, insecurity

"Jen felt emotionally neglected as a child," Affleck says. Although it's hard to imagine Lopez — someone whose "professional life" is "wildly successful and who, on Instagram looks, like they're living the happiest life in the world" — struggles, she does.

"In Jennifer's case, I don't think there's enough followers, or movies, or records or any of that stuff to still that part of you that still feels that longing and pain," he tells the camera. "Ultimately, that's the work that you've got to do on your own."

Lopez believes her relationship with her parents set her up for some of her romantic failures.

"I felt very ignored by my dad because he was always working nights and then all day he would sleep and I didn't feel like I had enough of a connection with him. My mom was a narcissist, center of attention, life of the party-type person," she says. "The combination of the two of those things set me on a course to be with those types of people. What I started to realize was I'm comfortable with this, but I don't like this. I want something different, I want something better."

Insecurity also trickles over to Lopez's professional life as she feels like she's "not good enough."

"You know that feeling you're just letting everyone down all the time and you're never really doing anything right?" she says through tears, explaining she fights feeling "not good enough" in "the movie, as a partner, as a mother, as all of the things and all you want to do is be the best at all those things."

Lopez says her "biggest fear" is failing at "being a parent."

Bennifer initially broke up 3 days before 2004 wedding

"We had a big wedding planned, 14 ushers and bridesmaids, and three days before, we just crumbled under the pressure," Lopez reveals. "For all those years, it was really hard 'cause I didn't just feel like I lost the love of my life, I felt like I lost the best friend I ever had. And I couldn't talk for so many years and that was the hardest part."

Affleck seems somewhat surprised by the devastation that ensued after they called off their engagement.

"When I first read the script, it looked like the inciting incident that causes all this pain down the road is our breakup. I thought, 'Wow.' Nobody did anything wrong, it was mutual ... we have to kind of forget it, forgive each other," he tells her. "Do you forgive me?"

It's not until the end of the film that viewers get Lopez's answer to that question.

"Yeah, I think I've forgiven you all the way," she replies. "I think I need to forgive myself [for] some things."

The Greatest Love Story Never Told streams on Prime Video Feb. 27.