Dating isn’t always easy for short guys and tall girls. Evolution has hardwired us to seek taller mates. Society tells guys to feel protective and girls protected. Plus, kissing someone too tall or short can be awkward and walking down the street might elicit stares. But hardwiring and pressure aside, what do we gain from closing ourselves off to dates outside of our height comfort zones? And who has it worse, short guys or tall girls?
According to a recently buzzed-about study, luck runs short for guys under 5-foot-9 dating online in New York City. I’ve come across plenty of girls’ profiles that tell undersized admirers to stay away. “Tall guys only please” appears in profile descriptions often, like it’s a defining characteristic. Some sites and apps enable users to list their heights and filter out undesirable matches. Even on sites and apps that don’t ask for height, some tall girls list it anyway, appearing simultaneously arrogant and insecure.
My friend Charlie, who is 5-foot-7, says he hasn’t had any problems dating, although he does add an extra inch to his online profile. He says that his date’s height doesn’t matter to him as long as his height doesn’t matter to her. “If a girl mentions her height in her profile I am very unlikely to message her,” he says. “It’s probably not going to go well.”
Short guys aren’t the only ones who can run into trouble. Ask any tall girl about past dates and hook ups and she’ll probably have a horror story. “If a guy was comfortable being shorter than me in heels without making any comments then it would be fine, but that’s generally not the case,” says Caitlin, who is 5-foot-10. Her ex-boyfriend was her height and acted weird when she wore heels. “He would never specifically tell me,” she says, “but he would always make snide comments.” Now Caitlin only dates guys who are taller than she is. Online, she filters out anyone under 6-foot.
My female friend Morgan, who is 6-foot, has had similar experiences. “I have definitely met guys who are dicks because they’re insecure about their height. But I probably wouldn’t be attracted to a guy who is super insecure for any reason,” she says. Morgan says that her partner’s height is important for physical reasons. “I’m just naturally more attracted to people I physically look up to,” she says. “Also, something is sort of nice about feeling smaller and protected.” Her current boyfriend, who she met online, is 6-foot-1.
For guys looking to score dates, short and sweet works. Caitlin says she had a fling with someone who was 5-foot-8 and liked him because he didn’t care about the height difference. “He was really confident in his own skin,” she says, “although I did refer to him as a Polly Pocket.”
See – tall girls can also learn a thing or two. They can start by not comparing their men to ’90s toys or otherwise drawing attention to their compressed statures. “Don’t make a big deal out of it,” Charlie says. “Bitchiness is a way bigger turnoff than height.”
And even when height is a turn on, it’s best not to mention it. “I don’t want to feel like you’re dating me only because I’m tall,” Caitlin says. Morgan agrees. “I don’t think my height has much to do with my personality and capacity to be a good person,” she says. The same goes for guys; shortness isn’t a defining factor.
If you think that a partner’s height (or lack thereof) is a deal breaker, that probably says more about you than it does them. That can’t help their size, but you can help how you think about them.