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.


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.

Do You Have a Problem with Shorter Men?

Gossip Girl star Blake Lively this week stated her criteria for any potential boyfriends. Whilst perpetual favourite “good sense of humour” was of course stated, Lively also listed one of her requirements as height. At 5 foot 10, and with a stated preference for wearing heels, Lively pretty much ruled out any man under 6 feet tall as a future partner stating that she would not like to be with someone smaller than her and did not “want to feel like the man”. The question is – is she right to do this? And also, would it be fair for men to apply such height based rules for dating too?

Lively seems to be at odds with a number of famous celebrities who think nothing of dating shorter men – Tom Cruise is one example of a relatively short guy who has a history of dating taller women than him, including Katie Holmes and Nicole Kidman, who are not afraid to wear heels and wedges. Another example is the statuesque model Sophie Dahl who has no qualms with the height difference between herself and the pianist Jamie Cullum. Why is height such an important consideration to some women and not others?

For some, the problem can arise when, as part of a mismatched couple, they are out in public, particularly at formal events, and the lady is wearing heels – when the height difference reaches a few inches or more, the effect can be the lady is left feeling lanky and awkward; the problem is a shared one caused by height differences and to many women there is no solution to this except exclusively dating taller men. Women with more confidence in themselves may take a different approach to the situation with the belief that laid down in bed, a couple will be roughly the same height. Other women would consider giving up their heels so as to not accentuate any height difference between themselves and the partner but many will plump for their footwear if giving the choice between their shoes and a smaller man.

On the other side of the coin a lot of men would not consider dating a woman taller than themselves due to their own confidence issues – for some such a relationship is still considered taboo and a man entering such a relationship could leave himself open to risk of ridicule and feelings of emasculation. The aforementioned Tom Cruise is one such man who has faced routine jokes about his height which come about, in part, due to the fact he is made to look smaller by dating tall women.

The question, ultimately, is why would someone rule out a potential partner entirely on the basis of height? Although it can be a factor in choosing a partner – and it is undoubtedly true that taller men can help women feel safer and more protected – it seems strange that any one criteria could be a possible deal breaker when it comes to deciding future relationships. Women only considering dating tall men would be similar to men stating they would only date blond ladies; it seems somewhat crazy to cull so many potential relationships so quickly. Yet these prejudices are both true and real. There are, however, a number of pint sized men who have proven, through the years, that size is not an always integral way to win the attention of women. Prince, at 5’2”, is one such example (although it must be stated he often wears platformed heels and wedges to add a few inches to his frame).

In short, although some may consider Lively’s choice at ruling out so many potential partners from her future a foolish choice it is entirely her prerogative. Similarly were a shorter guy to rule out a lady as a potential partner due to her height that is his choice too. If a woman is not physically attracted to a man shorter than her then there is no point for him to cry over spilt milk as there is nothing he can do about that – he would be best focusing his energy elsewhere towards women who do not have such considerations.