Jennifer Aniston desperately wanted a wingman. At the Golden
Globe Awards
on Jan. 7, the former Friends star spent much of the night trying to hide from archnemesis Angelina Jolie in the ballroom of LA’s Beverly Hilton hotel. “Jen was frazzled,” says an insider. “She was overheard saying, ‘This is so awkward.’”

The one person who could’ve comforted her, husband Justin Theroux, decided to skip the festivities, so Jen clung to pal and frequent co-star Jason Bateman instead. But when he left her alone at an afterparty at Sunset Tower, Jen took off and headed home. “Jen was absolutely lost without Justin,” says a friend, “and just when she needed him the most. He knew Angie would be there, and he picked the worst time to not support his wife.”

jennifer aniston, justin theroux

Justin’s unexplained absence is the latest in a series of signs that his two-and-a-half-year marriage to Jen is hanging by a thread. But even though the pair have a laundry list of issues between them — as Life & Style previously reported, they spend long stretches apart, have different lifestyles and can’t agree on where to live or whether to start a family — “Jen just can’t let go of Justin,” says the friend. After 13 years, she’s still haunted by her 2005 split from Brad Pitt and his affair with Angelina. “Her divorce from Brad was the ultimate heartbreak for her, and she couldn’t take all that pain again,” says the friend. If Jen, 48, and Justin, 46, split, “It would be the worst kind of public humiliation,” the friend notes, “because she and Justin have put on such a united front about being one of the happiest couples in Hollywood.”

But they’re not. Jen, the ultimate California girl, and Justin, a consummate New Yorker, spent much of the past several months apart, as he filmed The Spy Who Dumped Me in Budapest, Hungary; the Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic On the Basis of Sex in Montreal; and the Netflix dark comedy Maniac in NYC. Jen, meanwhile, shot Dumplin’ in Atlanta and then headed back to LA to prep her upcoming Apple TV series. It is, says the friend, “a long-distance marriage.”

Still, Jen remains intent on salvaging it. She planned to fix things during her annual post-Christmas trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, when she and Justin — who fell in love on the set of 2012’s Wanderlust — finally had some downtime together. “Jen was hoping they could smooth over all of their problems,” says the friend. But she invited Jason, and his wife, Amanda Anka, both 49, on the trip, along with other friends. In the end, “Jen and Justin didn’t have one-on-one time to work through their dysfunction,” says the friend. “As a result, they’ve gone right back to their separate lives and marital discord.”

Yet Jen remains optimistic. “She’s always hoping that they can work out their differences — she sees a glimmer of hope every time Justin returns to LA,” says the friend, who isn’t even sure they chat regularly on the phone. “But everyone worries she’s fooling herself. Unless there is a miraculous turnaround on both of their parts and they can actually live together in the same home in the same city, Jen and Justin could be history.”

For more on Jen and Justin’s drama, pick up the new issue of Life & Style, on stands now!