Felipe in Eat Pray Love: A New Love for a New Person

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Who is Felipe in Eat Pray Love? how do Elizabeth Gilbert and Felipe meet and how does their relationship evolve?

Felipe in Eat Pray Love is Elizabeth Gilbert’s only love interest. Elizabeth and Felipe meet in Bali and were friends before eventually deciding to be in a relationship.

Read more about Felipe, Eat Pray Love and his relationship with Elizabeth Gilbert.

Felipe in Eat Pray Love: Falling Into Old Habits?

Gilbert had come to Indonesia to find balance in her life, which she had asked for two years ago. With her life now structured around meditation and connecting with wonderful and powerful people, she felt accomplished. She’d found balance and was no longer seeking anything. During that time, her prayers mostly expressed gratitude for the peace she’d found.

The party was wonderful, with wonderful food made by Felipe, the Brazillian host. Gilbert got tipsy quickly after months of clean living. She was surprised to see that she could still flirt or even wanted to. She thought Felipe in Eat Pray Love was handsome and interesting and flirted with him throughout the night. She was surprised by her forwardness, but it felt good, too. 

After the party, everyone went dancing at a local nightclub. There was a reggae band and people of all ages from all over the world. Gilbert let loose on the dance floor. She realized she hadn’t danced since she was happily married. 

Gilbert stuck close to Felipe all night, but then she met Ian, and her focus shifted. Ian was Welsh, tall, attractive, and intelligent. They talked and laughed until almost 4 am. Gilbert knew she liked him in a way she hadn’t liked anyone since before David. But when it was time to leave, they didn’t exchange contact information. Ian said they would meet again when the gods saw fit to make it happen. 

Gilbert couldn’t believe she’d met a man she actually liked. Even more, she couldn’t believe she was up at dawn for something other than meditation. She was still flying high when Felipe drove her home. He said he could tell she was going to have a wonderful time in Bali. Gilbert made a joke about owning only one dress, but Felipe laughed. She was young and beautiful, he said. Another dress wasn’t required. 

A Beautiful Friendship With Felipe in Eat Pray Love

During the week of fundraising, Gilbert kept her actions a secret. She didn’t want to get Wayan’s hopes up. She continued her meetings with Ketut and Wayan, but she also distracted herself with her new friend Felipe. She finally admitted she had a small crush on him after seeing that he was more than what he appeared to be. When Armenia said Felipe had come to Bali to get over a divorce, Gilbert knew she’d found another kindred spirit. 

Felipe in Eat Pray Love wasn’t a real prospect for a relationship, though. He was 52 and had silver hair. But Gilbert was enchanted by this grown man. It was like encountering a new species. He’d been in a committed marriage for 20 years, had grown children who adored him, had traveled the world, and spoke four languages. He also said what was on his mind and didn’t play games. 

One night, Felipe told Gilbert she should take a lover. With all sincerity, he said there were plenty of men on the island who’d be happy to show her a good time. But Gilbert wasn’t ready for romance yet. She didn’t feel like reshaping her life or body to fit a man. And the “getting to know you” part was exhausting. Then, there was birth control to consider. It was a lot to take on. Plus, her heart was still broken.

Letting Fate Be Your Guide

After two months in Bali, Gilbert finally made it to the beach. She and Felipe drove to the coast one Sunday and spent the whole day talking, playing in the waves, napping, and reading to each other. They drank beers and filled in the gaps of their life stories. Ten hours passed and the sun went down. But neither was ready to leave. 

Gilbert linked her arm through Felipe’s as they walked through a nearby fishing village. During this walk, Felipe finally asked if they should have an affair. He asked it as casually as if he’d asked for the time. Gilbert liked the way he asked this question. There was no awkward attempt at intimacy or drama. Still, she didn’t know how to answer. 

She told Felipe that she was interested but had promised to stay celibate and focused on improving her life. She didn’t want to thwart her progress and transformation by getting involved with someone. And she didn’t want to lose herself again. Felipe listened and understood. He said they would remain friends, but he still wanted a chance to convince her. 

No More Fear: Finding Happiness with Felipe in Eat Pray Love

The next night, Gilbert went to Felipe’s for dinner. They relaxed afterwards and talked for hours. Then, Felipe moved close and said there’d been enough talking. He again asked her to come to his bed. This time, Gilbert didn’t argue. 

Before making love, Felipe said he didn’t want anything from her except to shower her with affection for as long as he could. Gilbert nodded, suddenly unable to speak. She had no more words to persuade either of them away from this moment. She’d been alone for a long time. It was time to feel something else. 

Gilbert’s memory of that night is a bit hazy. What she remembers most is the mosquito net around the bed. She imagined that it was a parachute carrying her safely through the air after jumping out of her private jet of solitude. She felt like she was free-floating between her past and future, and she landed safely in the arms of her Brazilian lover. 

Felipe was sorry to learn that Gilbert had to leave early the next morning. She’d promised to go on a road trip with Yudhi, a sort of American-style cross-country journey. Of course, the small island of Bali didn’t afford such adventures, but they would do their best. 

Gilbert felt a pang of regret that she had to leave Felipe’s inviting bed, but she was also slightly relieved. She needed to step back and look at what had occurred. She’d broken her vow of celibacy, and she wanted time to adjust her perspective on life. A week away was the perfect thing. 

Finding Her Voice

Gilbert took Felipe to Gili Meno, a small island off the coast of Bali. The island was so small, you could walk the perimeter within an hour. Gilbert chose this island for their vacation because she’d been there before. When she visited Bali two years ago, she took a 10-day trip by herself to the island for a silent retreat. 

Bringing Felipe to that island now was her way of acknowledging the origin of the person he loved. She had not been saved by a man. She had saved herself through self-love and spiritual devotion. She was happy and balanced because she fought for it. And she was ready to share her new life with someone else. 

Before they landed on the island, Felipe suggested they build a specific brand of life that suited them. He had to be in Bali for business, Australia for his children, and Brazil for his family. She had to be in America for her work and family. Why didn’t they simply exist together among those four locations? The writer in Gilbert didn’t miss the AABB connection with poetry (Australia, America, Bali, Brazil). Of course, that was how they’d move through life together, in measured couplets of beauty. She looked at him and said, “Attraversiamo.” It was time to cross over. 

Felipe in Eat Pray Love: A New Love for a New Person

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat Pray Love" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Eat Pray Love summary:

  • Why Elizabeth Gilbert needed to divorce her husband
  • How she was able to find joy again in Italy
  • How Gilbert was able to find balance with Felipe

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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