By Maureen Lee Lenker
February 15, 2018 at 06:44 PM EST

After seven years together (two and a half of them in marriage), Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux are separating. The couple announced their split, which was first reported by the Associated Press, in a joint statement sent to EW by Aniston’s publicist Stephen Huvane:

“In an effort to reduce any further speculation, we have decided to announce our separation. This decision was mutual and lovingly made at the end of last year. We are two best friends who have decided to part ways as a couple, but look forward to continuing our cherished friendship. Normally we would do this privately, but given that the gossip industry cannot resist an opportunity to speculate and invent, we wanted to convey the truth directly. Whatever else is printed about us that is not directly from us, is someone else’s fictional narrative. Above all, we are determined to maintain the deep respect and love that we have for one another.”

The news was not altogether surprising since many questioned the state of their relationship when Aniston recently celebrated her 49th birthday away from Theroux with her girlfriends, Courteney Cox, Andrea Bendewald, Leigh Kilton-Smith, and Kristin Hahn. While Aniston celebrated in Malibu, California, on Sunday, Theroux was spotted in New York City walking his dog, according to PEOPLE.

The couple’s last public appearance together was on July 26, 2017, for Jason Bateman’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony.

Theroux and Aniston often spent time apart due to their career schedules, with Aniston recently filming Dumplin’ in Atlanta and Theroux filming The Spy Who Dumped Me in Budapest. However, a source recently told PEOPLE that this was actually beneficial to their careers.

“Justin often spends a few days in NYC by himself,” the source previously told PEOPLE. “When he is in NYC, Jen will catch up with friends and enjoys her own life. When Justin is in L.A., it’s very special for them. They socialize together with friends. They often go out to dinner or have people over.”

In the March issue of Architectural Digest, Aniston toured their $21 million L.A. home they designed together and said, “I look around at my husband and my dogs and our home, and there’s nowhere else I want to be.”

The couple met in Hawaii in 2008 on the set of Tropic Thunder, but didn’t begin dating until 2011. They married in a surprise ceremony on August 5, 2015.

Aniston and her relationships have long been the subject of attention, with her previous marriage to Brad Pitt from 2000 to 2005 ending with their divorce and his starting a family with Angelina Jolie. She had dated Pitt since 1998. After her split from Pitt, she dated Vince Vaughn and John Mayer before meeting Theroux.

This marked Theroux’s first marriage, though he previously dated hair stylist Heidi Bivens for 14 years and they split in 2011 shortly before he started dating Aniston.

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