Ben & Jen's Split: The Day After

updated 01/23/2004 at 12:00 AM EST

originally published 01/22/2004 11:59AM

Now that it's over, let the speculation begin.

News of the Ben Affleck-Jennifer Lopez split was splashed across newspapers and tabloids around the world Friday morning, as "friends" and armchair therapists weighed in with why Lopez finally decided to break off the engagement.

The New York Post (which featured Lopez on its cover, giving a wave, with the headline "Bye, bye, Ben") claimed that Affleck wasn't ready to settle down, and Lopez -- who purportedly feared the prospect of another divorce -- was angry with Affleck's partying and "wandering eye."

Lopez's camp issued a short statement Thursday announcing the end of the couple's 18-month romance, saying, "Jennifer Lopez has ended her engagement to Ben Affleck. At this difficult time, we ask that you respect her privacy."

Meanwhile, Affleck's rep, Ken Sunshine, told New York's Daily News, "I am not going to confirm anything about his personal life. We don't want to get dragged into quicksand. Everybody wants a war. It's not happening from our side."

As for the stars themselves, the Post reports that Affleck was spotted on Thursday eating pizza in West Hollywood. He declined to comment to a group of photographers, quipping, "Look, there goes Michael Jackson."

Lopez, meanwhile, is still planning to attend Sunday's Golden Globes ceremony -- but she's going solo and plans to skip the red carpet, the Post reports.

Affleck didn't acknowledge any impending doom on Monday, when he said at the Sundance Film Festival, "Everything's going along fine. We're good."

But still, there were persistent rumors that the couple -- who were apart while Affleck, 31, attended Sundance and the European premieres of his film "Paycheck" earlier this month -- were growing apart. While Affleck was overseas, Lopez, 34, was seen partying in Miami with her old flame Sean "P. Diddy" Combs -- and going out minus her 6.1-carat pink-diamond engagement ring. Combs and Lopez both denied any romantic involvement, but the sightings only fueled talk that Bennifer was in trouble.

The latest breakup is not the first for the couple: The pair briefly split up after their elaborate September 2003 wedding in Montecito, Calif., was canceled. Affleck and Lopez then reconciled while in seclusion at their Georgia island hideaway, but there was no talk of rescheduling the wedding.

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