There’s something painfully alluring about older men. In my teens and early 20s, I was far less likely to make moony eyes at my spotty-faced peers than at the supply teachers and rakish professors at the chalkboard. They were taller. Better dressed. Widely travelled. And, best of all, they KNEW stuff!

Older men waxing rhapsodic on James Joyce were far more attractive to me than boys who performed keg stands, wore backwards baseball caps and smelled a bit like wet dog.

Call me crazy.

Silver foxiness is a powerful force that cannot be denied. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Calista Flockhart, Penny Lancaster and Katie Holmes have all settled down with men at least 15 years their senior.

There are certain biological advantages to the pairing of younger women to older men. Males have a much longer reproductive shelf life; for women, menopause marks the end of the line for the baby train, while men can ably reproduce into old age. Tony Randall conceived two children well into his 70s and the oldest father on record, Nanu Ram Jogi, sired a daughter at age 90. (High-five, buddy.)

Physical prowess has become less important than physical wealth when it comes to a man’s ranking in society. Older men often have the money, power, experience and wisdom their youthful counterparts lack, giving them the means to immediately and comfortably provide for a family. Selecting such a mate would be advantageous for a woman in her childbearing years.

A recent study by the Max Planck Institute in Germany found that marrying a younger woman may be the key to living a longer life. According to the study, men who married women 15 to 17 years their junior were less likely to die prematurely.

Even those who married women a mere seven to nine years younger were 11 per cent less likely to expire early. One possible reason for this phenomenon is that younger women select healthier, better-maintained older men as mates.

“Another theory is that a younger woman will care for a man better and therefore he will live longer,” said institute spokesman Sven Drefahl. Or maybe waking up next to a sweet young thing every morning gives the older gent a little extra get-up-and-go.

In a strange and almost vampiric twist, the same study indicated that women who marry older men actually increased their likelihood of an early death. Perhaps caring for a silver fox can get a little, umm, old.

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