Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux separating: “We are two best friends who have decided to part ways as a couple”

JB Lacroix/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) — Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux are separating after two and a half years of marriage but they remain “best friends,” the pair confirmed to ABC News in a statement Thursday night.

“In an effort to reduce any further speculation, we have decided to announce our separation,” the couple said in a joint statement to ABC News. “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.”

In a nod to the salacious tabloid frenzy that will undoubtedly ensue, the statement continued, “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.”

Aniston turned 49 on Sunday, and celebrated without Theroux, People reported. Instead, she celebrated with a group of girlfriends, including Courteney Cox.

The pair first met on the set of the 2008 film Tropic Thunder, while shooting in Hawaii, but they didn’t start dating until 2011.

They married in a hush-hush ceremony on August 5, 2015.

Aniston was previously married to Brad Pitt from 2000 to 2005. She later dated Vince Vaughn and John Mayer, following her split from Pitt.

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