Why did Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston break up? The science of cheating

Kate Fowler September 15, 2020
Why did Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston break up? The science of cheating

It feels like 2002 again! Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston reunited at a virtual table read of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But the nostalgia of seeing them together again got us asking ourselves, why did Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston break up?

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston at the premiere of “Rock Star” at the Mann Village Theater in Los Angeles, Ca. 9/4/01. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

How did Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston meet?

Brad and Jennifer met how you’d expect any A list couple to meet— her people spoke to his people. According to a Rolling Stone interview with the actress, their managers were friends and introduced them in 1994. However, things reportedly didn’t turn romantic until 1998 after Pitt split up with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Like most celeb couples, their relationship took a fast track and they got engaged in November 1999, just a year after their first date, revealing the engagement on-stage at a Sting concert, after Jennifer was spotted with a ring on her finger.

They married in Malibu in July 2000 with a 100 people-strong ceremony. It was all going so well!

Cue Angelina Jolie.

Why did Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston break up?

As the age old story goes: Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl get married. Boy meets another actress on set. Or something like that.

In 2004 Brad met Angelina Jolie on set of their 2004 film Mr and Mrs Smith and cheating rumours ensued.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

A year later in January 2005, Brad and Jennifer announced their break up, but amicably denied any rumours of infidelity. In the official Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston break up statement to People (the lives of celebs, hey) Jennifer said, “For those who follow these sorts of things, we would like to explain that our separation is not the result of any of the speculation reported by the tabloid media. This decision is the result of much thoughtful consideration. We happily remain committed and caring friends with great love and admiration for one another.”

However, in a 2006 interview with Vogue, Angelina told a slightly different story when explaining how her relationship with Brad started, explaining: “Because of the film we ended up being brought together to do all these crazy things and I think we found this strange friendship and partnership that kind of suddenly happened. I think a few months in I realised, ‘God, I can’t wait to get to work’”

“We just became kind of a pair. And it took until, really, the end of the shoot for us, I think to realize that it might mean something more than we’d earlier allowed ourselves to believe.”

Did Brad Pitt cheat on Jennifer Aniston?

We may never know for sure which rumours are true, if any. However, if you’re wondering what compels people to cheat on their significant others, we can give you some insight into that.

A study by US researchers, published in The Journal of Sex Research, into the reasons why people cheat found seven likely reasons it happens.

The science of cheating

Love lost

The primary reason the study found was changed feelings. 77 per cent of participants marked “I had fallen out of love with my primary partner” as the reason they cheated.

Wanting more sexual partners

The second most common answer was wanting a “greater variety of sexual partners”.

Low commitment

41 per cent of responders said they cheated because they didn’t feel committed to their partner. That, presumably, made it easier to both stray and to later justify it to themselves.

Situational reasons

For 70 per cent of study participants, being drunk was their given reason for cheating. Though, we’re not so sure how well that reason will hold up with your partner.

Self-esteem boosting

Meanwhile, 57 per cent answered that low self-esteem and insecurity was a reason for cheating. That’s a tale as old as time.


Some punch walls, some.. cheat apparently. Whether it was anger at their partner, or just a particularly bad day, 43 per cent of participants said they had cheated out of anger.

Just for sex

Probably the most obvious, around a third of responders said they cheated purely for sex. Does what it says on the tin.

So why did Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston break up? Why any other couple does.

Why did he allegedly cheat on their marriage? Take your pick.

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Kate is a fashion journalism graduate from London College of Fashion with an untouchable knowledge of pop culture. Her eye for the strange corners of the internet have resulted to huge-hitting articles while she has also written features for Vice. The solar system might make your world go round, but writing about the internet, music and celebrities has Kate in orbit.