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How Much Does Height Really Matter in the Dating World?

Women, the story goes, are obsessed with height. From their dreams of the perfect ‘tall, dark and handsome’ man to their innate biologic preferences, they just can’t get enough of taller men. Yet the height obsession is not just limited to women. Men often proclaim that they would not feel comfortable dating a woman much taller than themselves, no matter how attractive she is.

I love you but you are too short

So what it is about height that causes such a fuss and why is height such an important factor in attractiveness? Is it biological, psychological or just plain practical? If you’ve ever wondered if your height was an asset or a hindrance in the dating world: read on. You’re about to have your questions answered.

What about taller men is so appealing?

There are many evolutionary reasons why women tend to prefer taller men. Biological anthropologists have guessed that taller men are seen as stronger, better protectors and therefore the best bets for women who want to pass on their genes in the battle of survival of the fittest. Even now that height is not an issue for hunting wooly mammoths, taller men still seem to have it better. On average taller men earn more, are more successful in their careers and have a better quality of living.

So why aren’t all women dating basketball players? How do men shorter than 6ft ever get a date?

Simply put, there aren’t enough abnormally tall guys to go around. Even then, short women often do not have a preference for men that are over a foot taller than they are. Height is also extremely relative. A 5ft 6’ man may not seem very short to a woman who is only 5ft tall.

The issue of height is experiencing somewhat of a resurgence, as height differences between men and women become more pronounced as our society becomes more diverse. Height varies massively between countries and ethnic groups, with the average Dutch woman being 3.5 inches taller than the average Indian man.

What about men? Don’t they have a height preference?

Although men are not completely adverse to the idea of a taller woman, a Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin study shows that the majority of men still choose women who are shorter than they are. Although some would argue that this is due to the fact that men are on average taller, it is not all down to chance. The study had only 1 couple out of the 704 involved where the man was taller than the woman, which is massively smaller ratio of women-taller relationships than if men and women were assigned at random.

Yes, women prefer tall men. But how much taller?

The most common answer to this seems to be ‘at least tall enough to be the same height/taller when I wear high heels’, which usually translates as at least 3 inches taller. Evolution must have had a crystal ball, because that range fall comfortably within the average 5.5 inches difference in height between men and women.

So what happens if you’re extremely tall or extremely small? Is dating impossible?

Short women benefit in the same way as tall men in that they have the most options in the dating pool as most people are taller than them and vise versa. The difficulty is usually if you are either a tall woman or a short man. Those two groups are much more likely to partner with someone of a similar height to them than those of an average height.

But is height all that matters?

If height was all that mattered, Tom Cruise wouldn’t have adorned so many teenage girls’ walls in the 90s. Shorter men can still be attractive, and odds are that a woman would prefer a shorter man who was good-looking with a nice personality to a taller guy who was mentally and physically awful. No matter how important height may be, it is not the only factor in the dating world.

This is a post by Liz Conaty.  Occasional poster on dating and full time fashionista.