How Jennifer Garner Is Dealing with Ben Affleck's New Public Romance: 'It's Not an Easy Situation,' Says Source

Ben Affleck's newly public romance with Lindsay Shookus is "not an easy situation" for Jennifer Garner, a source says

Jennifer Garner isn’t happy that Ben Affleck is moving on with a woman connected to his past — but she’s staying in “mama-bear mode,” sources say.

“It’s not an easy situation for Jen,” says a source close to the actress.

She expected Affleck to start dating publicly following their split and divorce filing in April, says the source: “She knew it would happen soon. Ben just can’t be alone.”

But multiple sources have told PEOPLE that Affleck and his new flame, Saturday Night Live producer Lindsay Shookus, had an affair starting in 2013, when Affleck and Garner were still married, and that Garner found out about the fling in 2015. Other sources close to Affleck and Shookus have maintained that the two were just friends until both of them were separated from their spouses, and the romance is relatively new. (Shookus split from her husband, Kevin Miller, then a fellow SNL producer, in 2014.)

The first source close to Garner says “it would have been easier for Jen if Ben would have just dated someone that Jen wasn’t familiar with.” But another source says Garner, 45, has long since moved on: “Of course there are issues given it was a major affair, but Jen is her own woman and is completely fine. Nothing is new for her here. She’s in mama-bear mode . . . putting the kids’ happiness first.”

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Affleck, 44, and Shookus, 37, made their relationship public over the last week, stepping out to a play in London and to dinner Thursday in L.A. Shookus, who had stayed at Affleck’s L.A. home, was spotted heading to the Los Angeles International Airport alone on Friday morning.

Shookus, who shares a daughter with her ex, hasn’t met Affleck and Garner’s kids yet, the source close to Garner says. “Jen and Ben have talked about not introducing the kids to people they date until it’s serious,” the source explains — adding that now Garner “isn’t thinking about dating — she just wants to protect and spend time with the kids.”

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Since they separated in 2015 after 10 years of marriage, Garner and Affleck have made cooperative co-parenting a priority for their three kids — Violet, 11, Seraphina, 8, and Samuel, 5. They were seen spending the Fourth of July as a family at a Los Angeles parade, and took a trip to the Bahamas together earlier in the summer.

Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC

Lindsay Shookus on the set of SNL.

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“As long as he stays healthy and sober, she will support him spending as much time with the kids as he wants,” the Garner source says. Affleck completed treatment for alcohol addiction in March.

A separate source tells PEOPLE that the couple’s “goal is first and foremost is to keep a healthy and happy family. [Affleck and Garner] have an open line of communication. Ben is working hard to stay healthy.”

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