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Do women really find short men unattractive?

Posted by
Sam Diss
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Take any dating article you’ve ever read. Go beneath the line - dip your head into the murky pool that is the comment section below - and you’ll see a familiar refrain:

“Yeah, but why do women only want to date tall guys?”

Evolution made women side with taller men for “protection”. Who doesn’t wanna feel safe, right? There’s sabre tooth tigers and famine and all that. Sure. We get it.

And then there’s pop-culture’s obsession with TDH - the Tall, Dark, and Handsome man with piercing eyes and a square jaw and arms like Burmese pythons. What about the short, blonde, kinda-average-in-the-face guys? What’s out there for them?

A YouGov poll in 2014 showed that women find romantic partners 5’3” or shorter to be "too short for comfort" with 5'11" deemed to be ideal with those 6'3" or over deemed "too tall".

But why the specificity? Is there really truth to the stereotype? Or are these little fellas just grasping at (thankfully) low-hanging fruit in a desperate bid to justify their rejection? 

So we went there. We asked women to give us the unvarnished, unapologetic truth on how they feel about short men. 

NICKY, 33 - 5’3”

SL: So what do you think about short blokes, then?

I used to actively prefer dating shorter guys. No idea why, I just fancied them more. Possibly it was because when we were younger shorter guys felt like they had to have more 'out there' and gregarious personalities, and I was ultra-shy so at least I knew where I stood.

SL: Did any of those dates ever blossom into something beautiful?

Well, all my long-term boyfriends have been over six-foot. I’ve always wondered if there was something about taller guys that made them more keen to settle down. Maybe they felt like they were more confident in themselves and therefore didn't have to spend every weekend going out trying to get girls...

We feel you, Katie.

FIONA, 26 - 5’8”

SL: Do women care about height as much as men think they care about height?

I think most women do care about height. Most of my friends wouldn't feel terribly comfortable dating someone shorter than them and personally - though I'm above average height - I find it off-putting if a bloke is shorter than me. I really don't want it to be an issue!

SL: Have you had any experiences with the less-than-tall?

I have dated men who are shorter than me, but the height difference always mattered more to them which is probably why I would rather avoid that altogether. I don't think men should be too concerned about it, if it's an issue then you obviously aren't compatible enough. As long as the guy makes up for his shortcomings by being a lovely, funny, confident person then height difference is such a minor thing.

AUBREE, 33 - 5’7”

SL: How tall is your ideal guy?

6’4”

SL: Fuck. That’s so tall. Why do you like them so high?

I enjoy, at minimum, a full head of space to myself. I find it extra attractive but it's also practical you can find them anywhere major crowd. I'm like "Dude spotted -  EASY!" Also - and this is like sort of pathetic - it's fun dating the tallest boy in the room (or being married to them). I will say, there is a fine line between good tall and too tall…

SL: Go on.

It can be crossed over VERY fast. I find anything over 6'5" starts to get weird. Also, and this is subway or tube riding specific, but it's nice to be with someone and still have your own space.

SL: That makes total sense.

Like, if we are on the train together, he isn't just right in my line of sight. All up in my grill. That seems fucking annoying. I would always go with someone taller or shorter - same height would be my undoing.

SL: Is that just your personal preference? Or do you think a lot of women feel that way? Like, when guys get all defensive about their height, do they have reason to?

I don't think so, but I fully think the Napoleon Complex exists and is literally one of the world’s worst traits. I like tall men, but I've been totally down for shorter guys with a lot of confidence. I think that tall men just have it a touch easier, growing up with that confidence - or at least get it in their early twenties. I think it's more about being comfortable with yourself, and weirdly enough I find men who are taller to be more comfortable. Although, this is not an exclusive thing - there are some fucking weirdo tall dudes...

KATE, 26 - 5’8”

SL: Why do you prefer tall guys?

Because I'm tall and like to wear heels. If I was shorter it probably wouldn't be a requirement but I think men should always be taller than women.

SL: Do you think you could ever date someone a little shorter than you?

No, and I wouldn't consider it. At a push 5'10"-ish maybe, but the same height or smaller? Definitely not.

SL: But why?

Probably more embarrassment, I wouldn't feel comfortable being taller in an intimate way if that makes sense, like kissing and me having to bend down? I do prefer a more “manly” man though so height to me is important to that side of it. I wouldn't feel like I'm with someone manly if he’s shorter than me. I even had a height requirement on my Tinder profile…

SL: Oh, god. How did that go down?

Mostly pretty positive, actually. Like “Oh, thank god I meet the cut” etc. But a few were like “Sorry, I'm only 5ft 9”.

SL: Would you let them off that last inch?

You know what, I probably would. But only one. 

FRANCES, 31 - 5’7”

SL: So you used to date a guy who was 5’4”?

Yep.

SL: What was that like?

He made more of a thing about it than I did. At the start, he was really okay with me being in heels, but got progressively angrier about his shoe size and his height. We got a lot of hassle in public, but this may have been because he was black too. People said to me things like "How big is his dick?' And he got crap about his height shouted at him.

SL: Did he ever ask you if you were embarrassed by it?

He did, and he asked me if I wished he was taller. He asked me this at least once a week when we first started dating and once a fortnight later on. But he also asked me if I was worried about us being a mixed race couple too.

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SL: What would you say when he asked you those questions?

I would reassure him because I didn't care. He would be okay until someone else made a joke about it, then he would lose his shit. I told him that continually asking me meant he didn't trust me and that he felt I wasn't being honest about how I felt when I genuinely wasn't that fussed.

AMY, 25 - 5’9”

SL: What do you prefer - tall or short guys?

Well, I think I "look" better with taller men but I've had good experiences with short guys because they usually try very hard or overcompensate. Sometimes tall men can be quite arrogant or entitled because they generally get a lot more female attention.

SL: Do you think the onus is on shorter guys to try harder?

Yeah or just generally make more of an effort - both romantically and sexually. I think men give themselves complexes about their height and make it a way bigger deal than it actually is. And sometimes that manifests itself in bed, so like a 5'7" guy will be extremely grateful to get with a girl his height because he will have assumed she's only into six-foot plus. This is not a science obviously - short men can be pricks too the napoleon complex is also very real, but generally it’s men creating their own insecurities rather than women being really demanding about what height they want in a guy.

SL: It would seem that guys are their own worst enemies, at times.

I remember when I was on Tinder and had my height in my bio. I got a lot of self-deprecating messages like "I'm not tall enough for you" AFTER WE HAD MATCHED. They self-sabotage themselves, these poor men. Like, I was just listing my own height I didn't say "only tall men allowed" but that's an immediate vibe killer if someone rules themselves out over something so superficial.

COLLEEN, 26 - 5’5”

SL: Do you care about how tall a guy is?

Yes! I prefer men under six-foot because over six-foot makes me feel like they are my father, and I want nothing to do with a paternal vibe in my relationship. Also, hugging a tall man means having a penis near your bellybutton and I HATE that.

SL: Did you tell the guy that you were getting weird “daddy” vibes off him?

Mmm, no I don’t think I did. But it took me a while to realize that that was the reason I didn't like hugging/being with tall guys. There is nothing sexy to be about "feeling little" with a romantic partner. I immediately feel like their daughter and I despise it.

SL: Do you feel like guys have a propensity to overcompensate for their height sometimes?

Well, I did date a short guy who happens to be a demon from hell - he's just all around little - and yes, he very VERY much overcompensated for his smallness. Everyone in my life compared him to a chihuahua.

SL: I bet that could get annoying.

Everything about him was annoying. He would constantly be looking for a fight with other guys which, was L O L since he was so small and would have surely lost.

SL: What a cool guy.

MARIE, 24 - 5’4”

SL: So, Marie… What do you think of shorter men?

As a woman who's 5’4” - and anyone claiming I am in fact 5’3” is lying and should not be trusted - I have had to get used to the idea that tall, handsome men are out of my reach. Literally.

SL: That’s a good joke.

I once dated someone taller than 6ft and, given that I don't wear heels, making-out actively made my neck hurt, and the less is said about awkward sex positions, the better...

SL: I guess that’s practical.

Well, I initially turned to shorter men because I'm quite a practical person, but I have come to greatly enjoy them. If I want to kiss them, I can just run my face into theirs without having to get on the tip of my toes. I can steal their clothes. I don't have to speak louder to make myself heard all the way up there. We also now have a tiny mayor of London so I believe our time has come. Shorter-than-average people, arise! They won't see us coming.

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Author

Sam Diss

The Associate Editor of New Projects at ShortList, Sam enjoys making up words to annoy editors, writing features about sports, music, weird things, and cool people, and listening to Mark Morrison's 'Return Of The Mack'. He's also a fairly capable centreback. Follow Sam on Twitter: @SamDiss

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