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‘Eat Pray Love’ Author Elizabeth Gilbert Is in Love With Her Female Best Friend After Splitting From Husband

Elizabeth Gilbert ended her almost decade-long marriage in July to be with her best friend, Rayya Elias, the Eat Pray Love author revealed in an emotional Facebook post on Wednesday, September 7. 

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Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert

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“There is something I wish to tell you today — something which I hope and trust you will receive with grace,” the bestselling author, 47, started her post, in which she reveals she’s dating a woman, and that her partner is dying from cancer. “This spring, I received news that would change my life forever. My best friend Rayya Elias was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer — a disease for which there is no cure.”

Gilbert, who has traveled and appeared on stage with Elias throughout her career, explained that Elias’ diagnosis contributed to her divorce.

“Something happened to my heart and mind in the days and weeks following Rayya’s diagnosis. Death — or the prospect of death — has a way of clearing away everything that is not real, and in that space of stark and utter realness, I was faced with this truth: I do not merely love Rayya; I am in love with Rayya,” she wrote. “For those of you who are doing the math here, and who are wondering if this situation is why my marriage came to an end this spring, the simple answer is yes.”

The award-winning writer announced via Facebook in July that she was ending her nearly 10-year marriage to husband José Nunes. Gilbert, who detailed their love story in Eat Pray Love, explained at the time that she and Nunes were splitting because of “very personal” reasons and that it was “amicable.”

“Here is where we stand now: Rayya and I are together,” she continued in her post on Wednesday. “I love her, and she loves me. I’m walking through this cancer journey with her, not only as her friend, but as her partner. I am exactly where I need to be — the only place I can be.”

The Big Magic author explained that they hadn’t spoken publicly about their relationship out of privacy for their families, but she felt the need to announce their relationship as she is “someone who lives her life in the public eye.”

“For reasons of my own integrity and sanity, I need to be able to walk into any room in the world with Rayya on my arm, feeling relaxed enough to stand comfortably in simple openness about who we actually are to each other,” she concluded. “If I can’t be my true self (whether at home in privacy, or out there in the world in public) then things will very quickly get messy and weird and stupid in my life. Sure, I could pretend that Rayya is still just my best friend, but that would be … you know … pretending. … So that is why Rayya and I have decided together to speak up publicly now — both about her cancer and about our love for each other. It’s for the sake of our own integrity, but it’s also intended to make our lives simpler.” 

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