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Pout From Under I'm an attractive guy who's always had trouble getting dates because of my height (I'm 5'5"). Over a year ago, I joined an online dating service, but I can't find a woman I'm attracted to who wants a guy under 5'10". Out of 54 profiles, none believed I was tall enough for their consideration. Forget about having a shot -- I'm not even allowed on the playing field. Pardon the pun, but can you imagine how SMALL that makes me feel? Why is a guy's height such an issue with women, and what can I do besides sit around angry and frustrated that I can't get a date?

--Short On Answers

That chip on your shoulder isn't making you any taller.

Your first step toward getting a date is accepting that the 6'1" women of the world probably won't be falling at your feet unless they trip over them while running after some tall guy. Study after study shows that women generally aren't attracted to men shorter than they are. This is probably an evolutionary holdover, since women typically express a need to feel "protected" -- unlikely as it is nowadays that they'll be chased by mastodons around the mall. In my own mini-study, I asked 20 female friends of varying heights -- from the 3'10" Hollywood bombshell Selene Luna to a 5'10" sociology professor -- whether they'd date a shorter man. Every single one, without hesitation, barked "No!" -- including the woman who responded to my initial "How are you?" by exclaiming, "Desperate for a husband!"

Yes, at 5'5", many women are out of your reach, but hey, everybody comes up a little short on something. Look around. There are a lot of stubby hubbies out there. Just a guess, but they probably didn't land their wives by sitting in front of their computers, insisting they'd only date Scandinavian supermodels. Take Danny DeVito. At 5', he's short, but not on charisma, humor, or charm. In fact, director Barry Sonnenfeld called him "the most self-confident person I've ever met." DeVito's inner tallness is probably what scored him his slightly loftier wife, the 5'1" Rhea Perlman. There are less famous exceptions to the height rule -- including men substantially squatter than the women they're with -- suggesting that a little guy might get lucky from time to time if he feels big enough to ask lots of Amazon women's knees out on dates.

While you seem to prefer whimpering about being short to being actively rejected because of it, risking rejection is the only way you'll date again before you die. If you'd had the guts to hit on every one of those 54 apparent height queens, you might have discovered one or two with a height requirement that was merely a height preference. That said, as a short man, relegating yourself to a dating venue where tall sells is marketing genius on the level of opening a Sizzler next to a vegan commune. Pry your pint-sized behind out of the computer chair and go where you're likely to find women who top off a little lower to the ground. (Hint: Avoid the Dutch and Swedish embassies.)

Should your taste run to the more Uma-esque, heed the research of evolutionary biologists David Sloan Wilson and Kevin Kniffin. They found that people who come up short on first impression can actually become easier on the eyes if they get into a group situation where they can show what faa-a-abulous people they are over time. Just remember, if you can get a girl on the couch, she isn't going to be thinking about how tall you aren't -- unless, of course, you remind her by kicking her in the knee.

Posted by aalkon at October 18, 2005 1:05 PM


I just had to throw my two cents in here. Amy is acquainted (same high school) with my handsome, charming, smart, funny and over-the-top incredible husband who is three inches shorter than I am. If anyone had asked me before I met him, I would have said that I *preferred* men my height or taller. After I met him, it just didn't matter. He is perfect as he is, and it is his wonderful self that won me over. There is not a more decent or wonderful human being on the planet, in my opinion, than my 5'5" husband. He took a risk in agreeing to go on a blind date with me, and it was the best thing that ever happened to us. Best of luck to Short on Answers, and hang in there. There's someone out there for you.

Posted by: Harris Pilton at December 26, 2005 12:37 PM

Dude, get yourself a poster of Susan Anton. Tall and good looking, the love of her life was shorter and dorkier looking than I am. I'm 5'6", and ironically, I seem to have better luck with tall, lean blondes. Go figure. Look at it this way. When we were in grade school or high school, bigger guys picked on us because we were smaller and weaker than them. Did you run and hide like a wuss, or stand up for yourself? I found that if I stood toe to toe with these morons and told them to bring it on, I almost always won their respect. Most of the time, without having to get my ass kicked like Paul Newman did in Cool Hand Luke. The bottom line is, women, like men, admire courage. If you have the confidence to approach a woman taller than you, she may like you for it. Then again, she may get offended. Who cares? Everyone needs to be offended now and then. You're doing her a favor. Not that I don't still get bummed out by women who insist on their dates being at least 6' tall. But, a good number of these broads are short, fat and ugly. Feel empowered. If a woman can reject me for being short,I can reject her for being fat. Not to mention the short haired BBWs that look like Buddy Hacket. If you won't let a guy push you around for being short, why let a girl do it?
And when a women asks, "Where are all the tall men?" Tell her they are with women who are younger, thinner and prettier than she is. Then tell her, "You're no beauty, but hey, you're alright. Let's do something."

Posted by: dave at April 22, 2006 10:43 AM

And they say men are more superficial than women. Trust me, any women who has a hieght preference isn't worth dating. It speaks volumes of their character.

Posted by: David at September 28, 2006 4:42 PM

It does nothing of the sort. It's a hard-wired evolutionary preference, same as men's preference for young women with clear skin, symmetrical features, and a .7 waist-to-hip ratio.

You can't change what you're attracted to. Try. If you're a heterosexual guy, try to convince yourself you like dudes. To say what people are attracted to is "superficial" is...well, to be polite, simplistic and silly.

Apparently, David is yet another poor young man coopted by the gender feminists. David, do you date a lot of ugly chicks with mustaches? If not, are you "superficial"?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 28, 2006 5:35 PM

It took me many years, but I finally found the absolute love of my life. His height? 5'3". My height? 5'6" and he loves it when I wear heels, the higher the better.
His ex-wife was 5'10". And his girlfriend before me was 5'8". The only truly disastrous relationship he had was with someone who was the same height as he is.
It's all in the attitude. I was a bit taken aback when I first met him, because of his height... but one look into his eyes and nothing as superficial as height mattered. We have been together for 10 years now, and I love him more every day.

Posted by: Molly at November 27, 2006 6:00 AM

Awww, that's really sweet.

Personally, a man can be fat, bald, and a serial killer, as long as he's tall.

Well, maybe not bald.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 27, 2006 6:27 AM

I'm another person who beat the odds in this department. I'm 5'6" and my wife is 5'9". I agree that you can't tell someone to change what they're attracted to, but I think this also applies to men who like women who are taller than them.

So here's some better advice. The operative word in the sentence, "Women generally prefer taller men,' is "generally". This means that there are exceptions. That's the thing about evolutionary biology - it works on averages, not on individuals.

That said, Amy's other advice is spot-on, if you ignore the cheap short jokes. Ignore those women's stated preferences and talk to them anyway. Be confident and friendly. Dress and express yourself well. Seek a leadership position of some kind. Act as if you're height-blind, and you may inspire the same in those women whose height-seeking instinct is weaker than average.

Posted by: Aaron at February 3, 2007 7:33 PM

Hey, is anybody out there aware that there are loads of us ladies who are 5'5" and under?? Jeez, it's as if we didn't exist -- in this column, anyway! I'm 5'0" and have had boyfriends and husbands of all heights, but mostly 5'10" or more. And you know what? I prefer 5'5" to 5'8". It's so much nicer to look your partner in the eye, or dance cheek-to-cheek. If the LW would just direct his gaze a little lower, he might strike gold!

Posted by: Pussnboots [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 9, 2008 8:09 PM

Or, could it be that the LW himself prefers someone who's taller? If so, how can he complain that he's passed over because of his height when he's doing the same thing?

I think that his difficulty getting dates must have less to do with his stature and more to do with his personality, nervous tics, body odor, scruffy hair, or something worse. He should go to an image consultant and get an honest analysis so that he can work on whatever the problem is.

Posted by: Pussnboots [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 9, 2008 8:20 PM

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