Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert revealed on Sunday that she had found new love a year after the death of her best friend and partner, writer Rayya Elias.
Her new beau, British photographer Simon MacArthur, is a longtime personal friend and “a beloved friend of Rayya’s for decades” — a connection that “means the world to me,” wrote Gilbert in an Instagram post. Her decision to make their new relationship public, she explained, was motivated not only by her desire to share the stories of her life, but also to help others embrace the unexpected twists and turns love can bring.
“If you have lost a loved one to death, and you thought you’d never love again, but you are feeling a pull of attraction toward someone new, and you’re not sure if that’s OK? Let me normalize it for you,” wrote Gilbert on Instagram. “Let me say: It’s Ok. Your heart is a giant cathedral. Let it open. Let it love. Do not let your gorgeous loyalty to the deceased stop you from experiencing the marvels and terrors of your short, mortal, precious life. It’s OK to live, and to love.”
“If you are falling in love in middle age and it’s terrifying, because you feel just as dumb and crazy and excited and insecure as you did at 16? Well, let me normalize this for you. It’s OK. You will always feel 16 when you are falling in love. Or…if you once loved a man, and then you loved a woman, and then you loved a man, and you’re wondering if that’s ok? Well, darling. Let me normalize THAT for you. It’s OK. Love who you love. It’s all OK, and it’s all impossible to control, and it’s all an adventure that I would not miss,” she continued.
In 2016, Gilbert stunned her fans when she announced that she was separating from her husband Jose Nunes, the man she met during the journey of self-discovery chronicled in Eat, Pray, Love. Her decision to leave Nunes, she explained, came after she discovered her romantic feelings for her best friend and soulmate Elias, who had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The pair had in a non-legally binding wedding in June 2017 and collaborated on a number of artistic projects, including a song and accompanying music video starring Elias, before she passed away on January 4, 2018.