You’re only as young as you feel, or so the adage goes. And it seems that men like Hugh Hefner, who take that sort of advice literally, might be on to something. When it comes to the age gap between couples, numbers can matter a great deal.

The Economist’s 1843 magazine examined the evidence to determine whether we’re better off with someone our own age – and the results are interesting. It cited a Danish study, which found that men with younger partners lived longer than those who marry someone roughly the same age.

But that’s not the whole story.

Before deciding what age gap is ideal, there are clear-cut patterns when it comes to our preferences. Women look for men roughly their age, while men of all ages prefer women in their 20s, according to research by Christian Rudder, co-founder of dating website OKCupid.

Couples with a smaller age gap might be more likely to stay together, the article explains. According to a study in 2014, a five year age difference makes couples 18 per cent more likely to get divorced than couples born in or around the same year as each other.

Bigger age gaps, the article says, can also lead to both pros and cons later on in life – if you manage to avoid the divorce first, that is. “Having someone to look after you in your dotage is wise, as is avoiding widowhood,” the author writes.

Who said romance was dead?