Are Height Requirements Still Keeping You From Finding Love?

a couple who doesn't care about height requirements

In the annals of “things that definitely don’t matter when you’re 70”, nothing is more irrelevant to marital happiness than height.

Money matters. If one partner is chronically unemployed or in debt, relations can get strained.

Intelligence matters. If your partner can’t understand what you’re talking about or lacks the maturity to try, he’s a waste of time.

Weight matters. If someone is morbidly obese, he’s probably not making it to age 70.

(By the way, ladies, this does NOT mean he has to be taller, smarter or fitter than you. He just can’t be poor, stupid and fat. Got it?)

Nothing is more irrelevant to marital happiness than height.

But one thing that I’ve never really gotten – after 10 years as a dating coach – was women’s obsession with height. And it’s not a myth. It’s real. An article on Jezebel discusses a report from the Atlantic that illustrates that the average height differential between 4600 married American couples was six inches and that the wife was taller in 3.8% of couples. However, “when the author randomized the information as well to see what would come up by chance, he found something surprising: left to chance, the wives were taller in 7.8 percent of couples– twice as many as before. Meaning, people are choosing to maintain this six inches of difference by going out of their way to pair up according to this distinction.”

This is a rigid and arbitrary preference – most noteworthy, to me, in short and tall women.

With short women, EVERYBODY’s taller. So, if you’re 5’1″, what difference does it make if he’s 5’7″ or 6’1″? Yet some short women discriminate against average sized (5’7-5’11”) men.

On the other hand, with tall women, since only 15% of men are over 6 feet tall, it would stand to reason that a 5’11” woman would be well served to open up to shorter men, instead of insisting that he has to be 6’3′, because that’s how tall she is in heels. There simply aren’t enough 6’3″ men to go around, and if you restrict yourself to them, you’re killing your chances of finding love – for pretty much no reason.

It would be like a male millionaire holding out for a female millionaire who makes more than he does. Is it possible? Yes. Likely? No. Necessary? Definitely not.

The author of the Jezebel piece is 5’11” and had a very healthy and refreshing take on height:

I never felt I was making some kind of concession by dating men shorter than me – I just dated people I was attracted to. But since most men are shorter than I am, had I eliminated them on the basis of shortness, I’d have been sitting out all those dances I never actually went to. In order to find a guy six inches taller, I’d have to find a guy who was 6’5.

She ended up marrying a guy a few inches shorter than her. Good for her.

And if this bugs you and you think you should be holding out for a tall guy, that’s your business. Just keep in mind that your current height criteria cuts your potential mates drastically – and that’s before we talk about age, ethnicity, education, income, personality, religion, emotional intelligence, values, kindness, consistency, attraction to you and desire to be married. He’s gotta have all of those things, plus be in the 15% of men who are six feet tall? Good luck with that.

Please read the article here and share your thoughts below.

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  1. 41
    The InBetweener

    @ Starthrower68 #29
    Um, that’s a pretty glib attitude to have.   Just because you feel you have not been successful at weight loss, does not mean you are undatable.   I look forward to reading your comments on this blog most of the time (although you don’t post as frequently as I’d like you to) and having that attitude does not fit into the picture I’ve painted of you.
    As someone that is 66″ (according to my doctor) I’ve dated women taller and shorter than myself, as well as bigger and smaller than myself (weight wise). Only because I’m attracted to MOST type of women – always have been, regardless of height.   I’VE always found height to be a non issue.   The tallest I’ve dated – 5’9-5’10 for years with no issues at all.   Here’s the kicker – 90% of the women I’ve dated have been the aggressors – approached me.    How bout that?   Guys are attracted to taller women, they might not always admit it.  
    Let’s take this for example:
    I’m about his height.   If she was single, would I date Lucy Lawless?   Damn right.   With a passion.   🙂

  2. 42

    @36 and 37.   I relate and understand.   I’m slightly above average in height, but for most of my life I preferred much above average height men.   My brother, my dad, my first love, my best friend, etc have all been over 6 feet tall.   In my 30s I’m being more open-minded and flexible.   Last year I took away height requirements and was not at all attracted to men below average height. So I went back to average height.   I’m giving another shorter man a chance next week.   I’d love to be attracted to more men, but I can’t force it.   Likely I’ll have some height requirements (luckily for looks or whatever I have tons of 5’10 plus guys contacting me still).   I try to open up and experiment on as many criteria as possible.   But as I have learned from knowing myself and practicing dating taking this site’s advice as inspiration is best (not a rule).    You can’t change everything about your wants (changing one is great!).   From trial and error I know low ambition, low preference for education, and lack of curiosity about world isn’t going to work. Try/adjust is all I can advise.   No matter what logical post one peron presents I’m not going o want to kiss a guy shorter than me.   From my married friends I’ve seen them compromise on some things for sure, but generally most are with the kind of people they generally prefer.

  3. 43

    At the risk of being attacked for not being open-minded as people think I SHOULD be, I agree with Morris#38 and Laine#28 – I can’t help who I am attracted to.   At 5’2″, I’m also not offended by Chris#34’s comments about a gal like myself just not being sexy in his eyes – I respect his wishes, I’m not here to convince him that gals my size can be sexy, I’m not here to convince him that MY opinion is the same opinion he needs to have right now or else he’s doomed.   That being said, I played out my earlier online dating days by meeting a slew of men 5’5″, 5’6″, 5’7″,  gave them a chance, went on a few dates – I have to admit, when a few of them stood up, and I was wearing my boots, I was disppointed.   For me, it’s a protection thing – call me Cave Woman, but I like my man to be larger than myself so that I feel safe and protected in a public place.   It’s basically the same reason why I prefer a larger, beefier guy over a thin build.   Perhaps it’s simply the short men that chose me – I found them being “yes” men, where they agreed with everything I said, did not take their own stance…they were more attracted to me than I was to them.   In the end, I did something unusual I’m sure, I lied about my height and added a few inches so as to deter the 5’2-5’6″ population, and it hasn’t stopped some.   That doesn’t go without saying that if I was attracted to the guy, my preferences would go out the window, and I would still date him despite the height.   Currently, I am seeing a guy 6′, one 5’9″, and one 5’8″, so I’m really not feeling the pain of being a little picky at this time.   If none of these men work out, and I go thru a dry spell, I’ll obviously adjust my preference.

  4. 44

    Hmm .. one thing I don’t understand is people who lack a certain quality, yet demand their partner have it. I think wanting a rough equal is very valid unless you are an outlier in some area, and at that point you have to be more flexible about dating a little down in that area. So to me it’s outrageous if a short woman wants a 6 foot man, it’s reasonable for a woman to want a man at least her own height or an inch or two taller  if she’s of relatively average height, and those women who are 5″10 or 6 feet may have to be more flexible in dating someone an inch or two shorter. My own mother is 5″11 and married a 5″9 man.
    What seems more broadly relevant in this whole issue than specific, isolated traits – height, hair color – is overall attractiveness. If you are an attractive, in shape woman, it’s reasonable to seek out someone who is the same. If you’re an average looking woman, it is not as reasonable to insist on an attractive man. Conversely, if you’re a woman who’s a 9 or 10, it may be hard to find a guy who’s a 9 or 10 who’s really compatible – now you’re more of an outlier – so you may want to look for someone simply attractive but not super hot. Height can figure into that, though it’s not as much of a non-negotiable for me as it is for some here.
    But overall, I’ve met with nothing but disaster when I ended up dating people who were too far apart from me in attractiveness.

  5. 45

    I’m not going to lie as a guy who’s 5’10” my Match search caps out at 5’8″ but I rarely email any over 5’7″because I know it’s basically a waste of time. No women over 5’7″ rarely or ever initiate contact with me either. I would prefer a woman 5’6″ or shorter but nothing’s etched in stone. I’ve been with enough women to know who I physically feel more comfortable with. It’s the women that have to wear high heels and are only too happy to put in their profile ” I’m 5’7″ but in heels which I wear all time I’m 5’10” so you have to be at least 6′ “bla bla bla that aggravate us. The world is the way it is everyone’s attracted to what they’re attracted to. You can tell them to have an open mind but sadly  in the end most people would rather be alone than be with someone they don’t find physically attractive for whatever reason.

  6. 46

    This is my FAVORITE topic!!!
    And the MOST irritating aspect of online dating.
    I’ve seen everything from “Please be at least 6′ tall” ,  
    “Please be at least 6′ tall because I need to feel safe with my man”.
    And mind you a lot of these women are less than 5′ 8″ ??? WTF?
    I’m 5′ 8″ – REALLY????   4 inches? That’s how you make your initial determination? Based on ONE criteria as to  whether  you’ll  EVEN talk to someone?
    If I wrote MY profile and said “Please be Skinny and have huge boobs!”
    Do you know how much CRAP I would get?
    Interestingly – both these things  CAN be changed, but I cant’ change my height.
    See I told you this was my favorite topic.
    By the way – when I read things like this it already tells me all I need to know about the woman.   
    You’ve just filtered yourself. Another great aspect of online dating. Sometimes people save you  the  trouble and filter themselves.
    Peace  out!!!
    And women say men are shallow??? REALLY???

  7. 47

    Thank you for posting this article, EMK! I’m a 5’9” woman who has always dated taller men, but recently met a guy who is a few inches shorter than I am, and he’s smart, cute, kind, etc….and my knee-jerk reaction was to not give him a chance because of our height difference. But then I realized that my discomfort was really based on what I thought it would look like if we walked down the street together…and that that was silly, because if we are happy, who cares? I decided to be more open-minded and I’m so glad I did, because this guy is great and a real catch! It’s not to say that tall women must go out with men who are shorter than they are if they aren’t feeling an attraction, but after a few dates I realized I was actually very attracted to this guy and I would have missed out on someone truly wonderful had I not given it a shot.

  8. 48
    Karl R

    Cat5 asked: (#37)
    “But, seriously – are you being deliberately obtuse?”
    Are you?
    If you look carefully, you’ll notice that I answered my own question in the following sentence.
    Now it would be appropriate for you to slap yourself in the forehead and say “Doh!”
    Sparkling Emerald said: (#36)
    “I don’t care about height, and I used to rag on my gf’s who did, but if it comes down to what you are attracted to, you can’t force yourself to feel something you don’t.”
    I’m not attracted to most women who are in their late 50s, but I find my wife attractive. I’m not attracted to most women who are obese, but I’ve met a few exceptions. I’m not into the bleach blond look, but I’ve met a few women who I’d make an exception for.
    If I don’t find someone attractive, that’s the situation. But I’ve never looked at a woman and thought, “She’s attractive … but her breasts are too small.” Either she’s attractive or she’s not. I’m not going to talk myself out of finding her attractive by focusing on one feature.
    Deborah said: (#43)
    “For me, it’s a protection thing — call me Cave Woman, but I like my man to be larger than myself so that I feel safe and protected in a public place.”
    And that’s why the president’s protective detail is made up of former NFL linebackers.
    Oh wait … it’s not.  It’s made up of crack shots who wear body armor.
    Buy a gun. Learn how to use it well. Get a concealed carry permit (or whatever permit is appropriate where you live). Wear  Kevlar whenever the weather permits. Not only will you be far safer than you would with a large boyfriend around, you will also be    just as safe when he’s not around.
    Or you could delude yourself into thinking that tall men are bulletproof. Let me know how well that works in an actual emergency.

  9. 49

    Well.. i am 6 ft 2 in… and in ‘shoes’ i guess i approach 6 ft 3 in.   Obviously, I never have had a problem with being ‘short’.   However, m.y taste tend to be taller.. My ex was 5ft 6′ and recently dated a woman who was 5’1”and found her too short and petite.   It felt I was dating a jr hr girl.    My current girlfriend is 5’11” and 150 lbs and visually slender… though some would say   she is an ‘amazon’ type of woman.   
    A good friend of mine (woman) told me “honey, we all the same height in bed’ … She had a point and imagination, charm and passion can all be factors on attraction and potential for long term relationship.  
    Even being tall, 50% woman I have tend (within 3 weeks) have a makeover plan: teeth, haircut, furniture, bags under the eyes (I am 57). I do think its in their DNA to ‘improve’ their man; typically I have acknowledge what they think and feedback is a gift.   Then in a teasing mode, I suggest something similar to their ideas (butt lift, lose 10 lbs, cooking skills, show more cleavage,etc).   Some get it, most don’t and I have moved on from them.

    I do listen, though, as after 27 yrs of marriage, my game does need to be updated.   I just dont like to hear it when we have pillow talk or she is between my legs , trying to have a ‘conversation’ as she feel she has my undivided attention. LOL    I try not to take it too seriously as the battle of sexes have been going on for generations.   How you pivot and leverage is the talent I am refining.

  10. 50

    Guys, it’s not about being open-minded or closed-minded. It is about missing out on quality people because we are evaluating them using the wrong metrics, so to speak.
    Let me give you an analogy. Say you need a new car. You can look at the car’s reliability, gas mileage, cost of maintenance, how the car will perform in the conditions that you’re going to use it in, will the car hold as many people/cargo as you need it to hold, etc. Or you can look for a pink car with heated seats, because hey, you can’t help what you like and you like the color pink and warm seats. Now which of those two strategies is more likely to result in you buying a quality car, that will last you a long time without breaking down? Notice, I’m not saying you won’t be able to find a pink car with heated seats, or that there isn’t a chance that a pink car with heated seats will also happen to be a reliable car with good gas mileage. I’m just saying that you’re more likely to get the important things if you look for the important things first. The rest is optional.

    (Ding Ding Ding: we have a winner! – EMK)

  11. 51

    InBetweener I don’t fight the system I just go with it.   🙂

  12. 52
    Ellen (Rebekah) aka redheadinDixie

    There is a dating website for women interested in tall men only. Check it out. lol
    I am 5’6″ and for many years gravitated towards average height men, even shorter men, ’cause the men in my family tend to be short. I think it is what you’re used to maybe. And the celebrities I had the biggest crushes on as a teen were short men like Harvey Keitel.
    And when younger I found myself avoiding super tall men ’cause I felt subconciously I think that he could do major damage if we fought physically.
    I also found, like Zina, when a teen and dating that shorter men just tried harder to compensate. They were uniformly almost more attentive, fun, etc.
    Then when I started online dating a few years back I dated a few tall men and found myself getting turned on by it. I do like the height differential- a lot! It’s very primal like a poster related. And like another poster, chubbiness puts me off as well…..

  13. 53

    I am 5’ 5 1/2” tall.   I can’t say that I have ever dated anyone shorter than me but I have definitely been attracted to shorter guys.   When I was in high school there was a guy who was about 5’ 2”.   He wrote in my yearbook, “I don’t know why you and your friends are so nice to me.”   Really?   I thought, “Geez buddy, get a mirror.”   We all had a crush on him.   (Even my younger sister remembers him and believe me high school was a long time ago.)
    I feel fortunate because I actually have a strong preference for men UNDER 6’ tall. I find the body proportions of men under six foot, generally speaking, to be more aesthetically pleasing to me.   I also have a very strong preference for men within a few inches of my hight.   In my opinion bodies line up better for… everything, if there is not a big hight discrepancy.   (This does not mean I would not date a guy over 6’.)   
    I have a niece who is 6’2” and a very confident, beautiful woman.   For several years she dated and lived with a guy who was 5’10”.   I will tell you that after spending a little time with them you no longer noticed the hight difference.   (Even when she was wearing heels.)   Because they were so well matched.   
    Oh and that guy from high school… I saw him at the mall a couple of years after we had graduated and he was with a girl taller than me.   It was obvious that they had no problem with her being taller.   
    @ Karl R # 35
    Thank you for addressing that ridiculous “Napoleon Complex” bullsh*t.  

  14. 54

    Height falls under physical attraction. People who don’t want to date obese people don’t want to do so because they aren’t attracted to them. Lets not pretend that it’s about health. I’m just not physically attracted to 5’7 and under men. 5’8 is pushing it. ALL of our preferences shrink our  eligible  pool. So what? Who are these women that can turn  physical  attraction on and off like a switch just to have more options?  

  15. 55

    @ Kiesha #54
    My sister once gave me a jar of peperoncini.   A few days later she asked if I had tried them.   I told her no, I said I didn’t like them.   She asked if I had ever had them.   I had to admit that I hadn’t.   She told me to try them.   I was positive that I would hate them.   Turns out I loved them.
    Now before you jump on me for comparing the two (attraction to men and what I like to eat… hmmm…) I am just saying that maybe there is a possibility that we don’t know ourselves as much as we think we do.   Maybe the that’s-just-the-way-I-am gets in the way of moving forward in life.
    No one wants you to date someone that you have no attraction to.   But what if we didn’t look for that instantaneous knee jerk reaction to a set-in-stone criteria.   What if we didn’t think we knew everything about how it “is” and were just open to discovering what might be.   
    Maybe you would find that attraction can grow while getting to know someone outside your height requirements.   Maybe the guy that is best for me does not have my same spiritual path.   We all have areas where we have been unwilling to bend in the past and we defend these criteria vehemently.   But to what purpose?   If we are still single and alone then how is this serving us.     
    I think it would be so funny if you let go of your height requirements, dated men who were shorter than you normally would, found that you liked them, and then one day the 6’3” love of your life shows up simply because you aren’t desperately hanging onto that requirement.

  16. 56

    I agree with Kiesh (54)…”Who are these women that can turn  physical  attraction on and off like a switch just to have more options?”

  17. 57

    Hasn’t the option of online dating influenced our preferences quite a bit? Prior to online dating and personals ads, you mostly met people IRL. If I thought a 5’8″ man was attractive, he was attractive. I wouldn’t have thought, “Hmmm, here’s a profile of this other guy who is 6’2″, maybe he is more manly.” In fact, I didn’t really think about the shorter man being too short if I was attracted to him. I also wonder how much we are influenced by our fathers; mine was on the short side, so maybe that’s another reason why I’ve been open to shorter men, despite being taller myself? The men in my family have had heights ranging from 5’6″ to 6’4″, similar to the men I’ve dated.

  18. 58

    Physical attraction and the willingness to act upon it are, at least in part, shaped by social conditioning. We’d like to act otherwise, but it’s just not the case. Until recent decades in the US, dating across racial lines was either taboo or frowned upon. Same is true for same-sex attraction. The standards of female beauty, for example, were set by white men, who placed a certain subset of white women before the general public as “beautiful.” At times, such as the late 18th and early 19th century, it was the curvy woman who today is often considered “fat.” Other times, it was the ultra thin woman. Regardless, what you saw were men of the generation conforming, at least to some extent, to the standards put forth. Two hundred years ago, a thin woman was considered sickly and unattractive, even if she was actually quite healthy and good looking. The opposite is more the case today, as larger women often struggle solely because of their weight and body structure.
    The whole tall man thing is, in my view, tied to men as being protectors and providers. That’s a story fed to us for generations, until it became accepted as the norm, even though other societies throughout history have had other arrangements, and other features deemed “attractive.” So, while I wouldn’t expect people to change their attraction per se, it’s not fixed and shouldn’t be viewed as such. Preferences are a choice. Even if there is a biological element to it, it’s still a choice. Human’s override biological desires all the time.
    I agree with Ruby that online dating has heightened this issue (pun intended 🙂 In one case, I was told point blank that being 5′ 11″ instead of 6′ was the reason she rejected me. We’d never met. Only exchanged two e-mails. What the hell does one inch matter? Even if she was lying to me about the reason, the fact that she even brought that up demonstrated some hyper height consciousness on her part. And no doubt, some men are doing the same with taller women. They’ve bought into the idea that they’re not “manly” enough – whatever that means – unless they tower over their partner.
    In the end, I think more flexibility on minor traits like this is best. Cut your dating pool on things that really matter in the long run.

  19. 59

    Vanessa #2 had it right from the start, and I would have made that point myself if she hadn’t already done so. Both the Jezebel article and Evan’s article are written implicitly as though it were purely the women’s preferences that led to this  height differential in married couples. In reality, it is probably more the MEN’s preferences that drive this phenomenon; because men do most of the proposing after all.
    Karl R #35 wrote: “I’m married to a woman who is at least 10”³ shorter than me. I’ve dated a woman who was at least 12”³ shorter than me. Why is the height difference more awkward for you than it is for me?”
    Um, Karl… the simple answer is that you don’t have breasts. 😉 It is genuinely awkward to be walking around with someone whose mouth level is right around your breasts.   Even if they’re KIDS.   I’ll leave it at that.

    1. 59.1

      “because men do most of the proposing after all.”
      How do you skip the dating process and go straight to marriage? How does a short guy propose to a girl who won’t even date him? Your logic doesn’t make sense.  

  20. 60

    I’d just like to add, my brother is 5’6″ and seems to be passed up quite a bit by women his age (27), he does great with the mid-30’s crowd, however. Maybe expectations have lowered and superficiality decreased by that point?
    Anyway, my point is, he’s AWESOME.   Funny, smart, driven, manly, can fix anything, and has a great job.   It really is a shame he gets passed on because he’s such a down to earth, easy guy to get along with.   A friend of mine he once dated told me is was so much fun in bed, too.
    I get wanting a tall man, I really do.   Dating a tall/big dude comes with a certain amount of perceived status in our culture.   But that’s all it is, it means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things.
    Stick to height requirements if you like, but there is NO DOUBT you are passing up some really good men.   If you think you can’t be attracted to someone less than a certain height, and I’ll probably get reemed for this, I believe you are dead wrong and really need to re-evaluate your priorities in finding a good man.   
    Put it this way, if your best friend ended up with a short guy and was the happiest you’d ever seen her- don’t tell me you wouldn’t want what she had- regardless of the dudes height.

    1. 60.1

      you seem smart. Why does status matter? Men do not really care about status. We care what status gets us, by which I mean more sex with more attractive women. But status in itself doesn’t interest us (unless it translates to more sex). Do women like status for its own sake? For men, status has utility (sex, money), but no real intrinsic value.  
      So, from a guy’s vantage, if a woman is with a short guy whom she loves totally but whose height may lower her status, it doesn’t matter, because she has the guy she loves/wants. This is a man’s perspective, because the whole purpose of having status is to get the girl. Status is almost a non-concept. If you ask a man what he sees in his imagination when you say the word “status” (in terms of words association) he probably sees himself with a gorgeous woman. In this way, the words “status” and “sex” are almost synonyms. Status is a tool to get sex. Thus, if you ALREADY have the sex/mate you want, there’s no real reason to pursue or care about status.  

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