The two started having an affair in 2013, two years before Affleck and Jennifer Garner announced their separation, according to multiple sources. Shookus was also still with her husband Kevin Miller, a fellow Saturday Night Live producer, at the time. The two split a few years later.
Affleck and Shookus “full-on had an affair. They would fly back and forth, but he would mostly visit her in New York,” a source tells PEOPLE. “They didn’t hide … They would use the Mandarin Oriental . They were regulars.”
Another source echoes the first, adding, “Both of them were married at the time. They were having secret rendezvous every time he came in to New York City and other places, too. Both of them were cheating on their spouses so they were very careful about it. Jen and husband both found out about it around the same time.”
However, a source who knows Affleck and Garner says, “They’ve known each other for a while. They’re dating — it is relatively new since he has been separated. It’s still in a really early stage. He’s working on himself, he’s working on being happy and healthy.” Adds the source: “There is not one reason why any marriage breaks up.”
Another source with knowledge of the situation maintains Affleck and Shookus were “just friends” at first. “The friendship’s been going on for a very long time but this is newer waters for them. They’ve been trying to take it slow but it’s progressing quickly. Their feelings are strong.”
Affleck, 44, and Shookus, 37, made their relationship public Thursday night when they were spotted grabbing dinner together in Los Angeles. Shookus, who had stayed at Affleck’s L.A. home, was spotted heading to the Los Angeles International Airport alone on Friday morning.
A five-time host of SNL, Affleck last appeared on the show in May 2013. A month later, onlookers spotted the actor and the SNL producer acting flirty at The Heat premiere afterparty in New York City at the Stone Rose lounge, chatting and laughing at the bar. “He definitely looked interested in her,” a partygoer told PEOPLE at the time. The two later left together with other friends and headed to the Mandarin Oriental hotel bar.
Around then, and over the past few years, “Whenever he was on Fallon, he would go visit her at SNL,” says the source with knowledge of the situation. “They were both married at the time, but there was definitely a flirtation.”
Affleck and Garner announced their separation in 2015 after over a decade of marriage and filed for divorce this past April. They have continued to closely co-parent their three children — Violet, 11, Seraphina, 8, and Samuel, 5.
“Ben and Jen continue to be dedicated to their family and kids,” says a source who knows Affleck and Garner. “They have been separated for two years now and have never strayed from that dedication. They do it better than anyone.”
Shookus married Kevin Miller in 2010 and the two share a daughter. “They’re both really good friends still,” says the source close to the situation. “They’re both good, devoted parents. Their split was very amicable.”