Jennifer Garner is following Ben Affleck's lead, parading around town with another woman, although it's just her longtime pal, Chelsea Handler.

The gals did dinner Wednesday night at Giorgio Baldi in Santa Monica ... one of Ben's favorite restaurants.

There could've been an awkward run-in -- they both live nearby. He was there a few days ago with new gf, 'SNL' producer Lindsay Shookus.

Handler's known as a loyal pal, so doubt Ben would sweat that.

Fair to mention ... Ben and Jen are getting along very well, so it seems they're fine with the situation, so we should be too.