“I send this letter like someone throwing a bottle into the sea.” 10 years ago, Swiss architect Raymond Widmer, 84, decided to find a teenage sweetheart. “He looked for my name at the Brazilian embassy in Switzerland, found the address of my clinic in a phone book and wrote to me without knowing where this idea would lead”, says therapist Mary Porto, 83, who now lives in São Paulo, with Raymond .
Mary and Raymond met in 1958, in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she studied art and he studied architecture. After a semester, the Rio native had to return to Rio de Janeiro and ended the relationship through correspondence. “He was very offended, but the distance was difficult. Many of my letters didn’t even get there.”
She married three times, had children and grandchildren, but never forgot the architect. He, after years of marriage, became a widower. After going through old boxes and finding a photo of his ex-girlfriend, he decided to look for her.
Upon reading Raymond’s letter, Mary contacted him by email, arranged a video call, went to Switzerland, and came back engaged. The couple tells details of their reunion in the book “A Carta Amarela” (2021), in addition to sharing their daily lives on an Instagram profile with the same name as the work. “We talk a lot and we have our own universe”, says the therapist.
Together since 2013, the couple wants to show that there is no age limit for living a love story – especially given the increase in life expectancy in Brazil. According to the 2022 Census, the population over 65 years of age grew by 57% in the country during the last decade, and the projection is that population aging will increase even further.
Couples in old age say they have become more selective, while they are more willing to dedicate themselves to the search to make it happen. The issues with the body are left aside, opening up a new relationship with oneself and others.
Mary advises anyone who wants to find love in old age to always be on the move. “If you’re vegan, go to vegan restaurants, and make sure there’s no charming person next to you at the buffet. You never know what life will throw at you.”
Psychologist and writer Alessandra Augusto signs below. Doing what you like and going to environments that give you pleasure facilitate affinity meetings and real connections.
The recipe worked for businesswoman Silmara Ana Brenny, 63. In addition to running a curtains store, she goes to the gym and loves going out dancing. It was in this dynamic routine that she met her current boyfriend.
Seven years ago, the Curitiba native, then divorced, was with her friend at a dancing dinner when she met lawyer Clécio Menine, 71., who went to the gym in the same place as her. “He remembered me and came to our table to talk. A few days later, he asked our instructor for my phone number. She asked me if she could come by, and I said yes. He seemed like a nice person,” she says.
After many coffees and meetings with friends, they made their relationship official. For now, they do not intend to get married, as they think that this way they can maintain a lighter relationship and preserve each other’s space.
Silmara attributes part of the success of the union to the maturity that the two have acquired throughout their lives. Lessons such as not canceling yourself in favor of another person, sharing financial commitments fairly, and putting aside excessive self-criticism in relation to your own body contribute to building a solid bond between the couple. “Today we know better what we want and what we don’t want”, she argues.
Psychologist Stélios Sant’Anna Sdoukos, member of The School of Life Brasil, explains that this “selective” positioning becomes more common as time passes, because people become less willing to get involved or accept relationships at any price.
In this sense, social networks and dating apps help to “filter” a partner based on similar interests, although you need to be extra careful not to fall for scams or expose yourself to risks. This is how Sonia Suely da Silva Malheiro, 65, met Otacílio Diamante, 64, her current husband.
Both were widowers and registered on the Coroa Metade app, with more than 2,000 users over the age of 60, according to the platform’s creator, Airton Gontow. The first meeting took place when Otacílio, who lived in Sumaré, in the interior of São Paulo, visited her by surprise, in Pindamonhangaba, after driving for three and a half hours.
“He always said he would come to my house. And didn’t he actually show up one weekend?” says the retired room assistant. Six months later, they got married and today live in the merchant’s city. “We have suffered a lot in life. What we want most now is to live in peace in each other’s company.”
Psychologist Michele Silveira, a specialist in female mental health and seniors, says that achieving this balance involves adapting expectations to different stages of life. Each stage has its beauty, challenges and particularities that must be respected.
Who confirms this is the influencer Gilda Zammataro Bandeira de Mello, 81, from Instagram Avós da Razão, with more than 300 thousand followers. For her, body transformations, for example, cannot be an obstacle to stopping relationships. “Our charms are different, like wisdom, and we need to maintain the art of seduction,” she says.
“There is a big difference between the young and the old in relation to everything”, adds Sonia Verá de Arruda Massara Mourão Bonetti, 85, also the owner of the profile. But, in her view, the secret is to love others beyond the aesthetic standards that current society determines under an ageist bias. Valuing the friendship of those who are by your side is a good start.
As part of the Todas initiative, Folha offers women two months of free digital subscription.