Their Separate Ways

07/06/2001 at 10:00 AM EDT

Her clean sweep of the statuette season gave Roberts abundant opportunity to gush. "It really doesn't mean as much if there's not somebody there to say, 'Have a good day, honey' and 'How was your day, honey?' " Roberts said after accepting a best actress Golden Globe on Jan. 21. "Benjamin Bratt does that for me." Sources deny they stayed together through the Oscars for appearances' sake, but for Bratt the awards bonanza was bittersweet. Though visibly pleased for the woman he called "my lady," he was also increasingly aware, with each new accolade, that the tide of her career was too strong to turn back. When she accepted the Best Actress Oscar for Erin Brockovich -- with only a passing reference to him -- on March 25, "he was really proud," says a source, "but in a way it solidified his fear."

Which some might consider well-founded. Roberts has made no pretense of wanting to marry -- or have children. "I live for today," she told reporters at a press conference earlier this year. "Things happen when they happen. I'm not a plotter or planner. And I like my little flat belly." Even so, friends say she was supportive of Bratt's career and sensitive to the impact of her own overwhelming success. "She went out of her way not to make him feel like he was Mr. Julia Roberts," says producer Rosenman. "She reveled in playing the anonymous housewife who wants to go on the set but says, 'We'll go shopping and let Ben do his work' instead."

In fact, "wife" is hardly a role Roberts has coveted. She bailed out on Kiefer Sutherland just three days before their planned 1991 wedding, then took up with his friend Jason Patric. Her marriage to singer Lyle Lovett lasted just 21 months before ending amicably in 1995. Later that year Roberts briefly dated Matthew Perry after appearing as a guest star on Friends. And in 1996 she had a relationship with Pat Manocchia, a Manhattan personal trainer and pal of the late John F. Kennedy Jr. Whether that résumé amounts to a fear of commitment is a matter of opinion. "She has had about six or seven serious relationships in her whole life," says one source. "On Sex and the City they have six or seven a day."

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