Taller woman, shorter man
March 29, 2010 10:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm a taller than average woman who is often asked out by shorter men. How can I stop being bothered by the height difference when dating?

Since I'm a fairly shy and introverted person, I tend to meet potential dates online; my profile clearly states that I'm 5'8". Many of the men who message me are shorter than I am according to their profiles, or if we meet in person, turn out to be shorter than their stated height. Usually, the height difference is an inch or two, but I do have an upcoming date with someone 6 inches shorter.

Obviously, a man's height has little to do with with any shared interests or personality traits that would make him attractive to me. The problem is that I have a hard time feeling physically attracted to someone shorter than me, largely because of how awkward I feel standing next to them in public (cue corny joke about everyone being the same height lying down). Mostly I feel like a big hulking lump.

I know that I'm not extraordinarily tall or anything, but I've always been taller than nearly all of my female friends. I'm considerably (5 inches) taller than my sister, and was taller than my brother for a long time. Height has always been a fraught subject in my family, where I'm referred to as Sasquatch (at least I'm not terribly hirsute), and my father complained that "all the height was wasted on a girl" since my brother is less than 6 feet tall.

Obviously, this is a whole lot of bean-plating over a not-so-important issue. I want to give these guys a fair chance in person, since I enjoyed talking to them online. So is there a way I can put aside my awkward feelings? Or in the MeFite experience, is a date's height important enough to physical attractiveness to justify not pursuing a relationship? If I do hit it off with a shorter guy, how do I respond to comments about the height difference?
posted by mesha steele to Human Relations (78 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
If I do hit it off with a shorter guy, how do I respond to comments about the height difference?

"...I wasn't aware I had to follow the regulations for amusement park rides," followed by a dark look.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:57 AM on March 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

No one else can answer this for you. Some women are attracted to guys with red hair, or guys who are skinny, or guys with fake tans and fauxhawks. For some people it's a preference, for others, it's a deal breaker. The only way to find out is to go out on dates with a few short guys and see what happens. If you find yourself completely unattracted to them, then add "tall" to your mental prerequisite list.
posted by chrisamiller at 10:59 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

So is there a way I can put aside my awkward feelings? Or in the MeFite experience, is a date's height important enough to physical attractiveness to justify not pursuing a relationship?

I don't really get this question. Are you attracted to these guys or not? If you are, continue to date them and you'll get over the awkwardness through experience. If not, you have my permission not to date guys shorter than you. You don't have to give everyone a fair chance.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:59 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just because you're not immediately attracted to someone doesn't mean you won't become attracted over time. If all is going well in other ways, you might give the relationship a while to see what happens. I've frequently had the experience of suddenly realizing, months after I met someone, that they suddenly became incredibly hot. Personality can triumph over a lot of other things.

As far as other people's comments, depending on the person/situation, I've been known to point out, totally deadpan, that "it's easier to do it standing up if the guy is shorter".

posted by MexicanYenta at 11:00 AM on March 29, 2010

"...I wasn't aware I had to follow the regulations for amusement park rides," followed by a dark look.

Now that's just insulting.

As a short guy (5'6") the height thing is awkward for me too - I'm generally only attracted to women who are shorter than me. Part of it is strictly practical - women who are taller than me probably wouldn't date me, so it's just practical to not be attracted to them. I wonder if your lack of attraction for shorter men is for a similar reason.

But if I genuinely liked someone who was taller than me (and the feeling was mutual), I wouldn't let height get in the way of a good thing. The question is - though - how do you know it's a good thing before you've gotten to know each other? And that's a tough question to answer. Online dating is like that (I presume) - either you get to know each other with the intent of dating, or you call things off.

Is there any way to take a middle ground - just get together a few times, but without the pressure of making a decision too early?

It also sounds like you've got a lot of stored up issues regarding your height. You may want to seek out a therapist. Now, I'm not saying you're crazy, I'm just saying you've got issues (and we've all got issues), and there may be a place where height isn't a big deal to you that you can get to with the help of a professional. It may be that this place is not dating shorter men, or it might be that it allows you to date shorter men - the point is, a little help getting to know yourself & get past your previous stigma regarding your height may help you in more ways than just dating.
posted by Muffy at 11:04 AM on March 29, 2010

A former, female colleague of mine moved to New York City because she, being a tall woman, figured that there were more tall men in a large city than elsewhere.

She's 6'0". She ended up marrying a guy who is 5'9", who she met in NYC.

Your mileage may vary, etc.
posted by dfriedman at 11:04 AM on March 29, 2010

It sounds like the big issue is your feelings of insecurity - i.e. you don't like being tall full stop, your dad made references. And this makes you feel like a hulking lump.

I had dinner last week with a woman who is at least 6'4. She's tall. She got stared at. Someone who's 5'8 just isn't that tall. Stop worrying about it. Nobody else does.

That said, you're entirely entitled to fancy tall men. You wouldn't be the first. I don't think anyone need feel bad for what kind of people they find attractive.

Oh, and the 6'4 woman I had dinner with? She was dressed to the nines. I didn't ask - it seemed impolite - but she'd clearly taken the view that if she was going to get stared at she might as well look her best.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:06 AM on March 29, 2010 [7 favorites]

For many (most?) women, adequate height is absolutely essential in a man. It may be shallow and it may be unfair, but that's just how it is. Since short men messaging you either don't care or didn't notice your height, maybe you should mention your preference for tall men in the actual body of your profile. If that still doesn't work, some dating sites allow you to block men under a certain height from sending you messages.
posted by The Lamplighter at 11:07 AM on March 29, 2010

Is a date's height important enough to physical attractiveness to justify not pursuing a relationship?

Looks are important in dating. Period. "Shared interests or personality traits" are also important. Probably more important than looks, but my point stands. Is it an issue for you? Then it is justified. If you feel awkward in public with this person, then why put up with that while simultaneously getting down on yourself? I'm a short dude and I would hate to think that no matter how awesome a girl found me, she was outside of her comfort zone being seen with me. Would I begrudge her the fact? Never. There are plenty of awesome, attractive women I know whom I would never date simply on the basis of their physical appearance.

You know what? You might find a shorter dude who is so mindblowingly awesome that their height won't even be an issue, or, more likely, it'll be much easier to deal with the awkwardness. Why? Because that person is that awesome.

Otherwise? Don't make yourself feel bad about not being physically attracted to someone based on, well, their physical appearance. Don't try to force yourself to find someone attractive when you do not. You are not a bad person for doing this. You are not not giving them a chance.
posted by griphus at 11:09 AM on March 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

Have you read Dawkins "The Selfish Gene"? It could very well just be your caveman instincts telling you that a taller mate will produce healthier offspring. I think you are fine.
posted by cazoo at 11:14 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

...a taller mate will produce healthier offspring.

posted by griphus at 11:15 AM on March 29, 2010 [11 favorites]

It could very well just be your caveman instincts telling you that a taller mate will produce healthier offspring.

This sounds like a misinterpretation of Dawkins' theory. It may be that height is a proxy for good health.

But none of this really helps the OP.
posted by dfriedman at 11:20 AM on March 29, 2010

I dunno. Everyone says that looks shouldn't matter, but I'm pretty sure everyone is also lying. How much they matter is certainly open to debate, and having them matter a lot arguably makes one shallow, but saying they don't matter at all just doesn't fly. Everyone's got certain things--or at least a spectrum of things--which work for them, and there's no reason height can't be one of those things. I personally have trouble dating girls taller than me, but I'm almost six foot, so that doesn't happen as often as it might.

Height is one of those things you can't do a lot about either. Yeah, losing 20 pounds is tough, but most people can do it if they want to badly enough. But you really can't add or subtract much from your natural height without majorly unnatural procedures.

So as far as overcoming awkwardness, it may just be best to be honest about it. Something like "Hey, I'm willing to give this a shot, but you should know that I'm not normally attracted to guys shorter than I am, so this may not go anywhere." If anything, this may simply be another incentive to move things offline as quickly as possible. I've consistently found that an email exchange which doesn't lead to a date almost immediately is usually not going to. You'll probably save everyone time and trouble if you just cut to the chase anyways, so the fact that you know you've got a thing for tall guys is just another incentive to cut the crap and meet in person.

Ultimately though, I think the question you have to ask yourself is whether, in the absence of guys to date who are taller than you, dating short guys is better or worse than not dating at all. You can probably expect the answer to that question to change over time, depending on just how badly you want to date someone. If you have enough dates as it is* maybe you can afford to institute some sort of hard and fast rule.** But if you don't, well, at some point you'll either get to a place where being single bothers you more than dating people shorter than you, or you won't.

*The fact that you're looking online combined with your profession as listed on your profile suggests that, like most of us, you're looking online precisely because you don't.

**Getting the hell out of the Midwest might not hurt either. I know it hasn't exactly proven to be a bonanza of opportunities for me, whether dating or otherwise.
posted by valkyryn at 11:20 AM on March 29, 2010


Healthier as in:

- more able to survive in the wild
- more likely to be attractive to others & therefore more likely to perpetuate your genes on to future generations

Keeping in mind where we came from - lots of monkeys are still organized into packs where there's an alpha male who mates with all the females & lots of beta & omega males that don't get to perpetuate their genes on to another generation.

Those are the two halves of natural selection - survives long enough to mate, is attractive enough to find a mate.

But I digress & bring you back to your regularly scheduled helpful Ask.Me thread...
posted by MesoFilter at 11:21 AM on March 29, 2010

This is the same thing as T&A requirements for dudes. There's nothing wrong with it. You may need to be more aggressive to get what you want though.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:21 AM on March 29, 2010

So is there a way I can put aside my awkward feelings?

For me, it was the fact that I was lessening my chances to find love by setting an arbitrary height limit. Did I want love? Or were "conventional" standards about how a couple should look more important? In my case, I'm not only 5'8" but I am also fat. So I more than understand how you might feel like a "big hulking lump".

However, in my experience, a man who is willing to date a woman taller than him is already ahead of the game in many respects. He's not all tied up with proving something about his height (after all, your height calls attention to the fact that he's shorter than average). And if he doesn't care, and I don't care... then fuck the people who do care.

My partner of six years is about one inch shorter than me barefoot, but since I wear shoes of varying heights, I am usually 2 or 3 inches taller than him. And I outweigh him by about 75lbs. And there is a 15 year age difference. And we are gloriously in love... a love that has been tested and proven by deaths, lay-offs, and major illnesses. The day I trade him for an extra 5 inches is the day hell freezes over.
posted by kimdog at 11:21 AM on March 29, 2010 [17 favorites]

The problem is that I have a hard time feeling physically attracted to someone shorter than me, largely because of how awkward I feel standing next to them in public... Mostly I feel like a big hulking lump.

This really stood out to me. As a fellow tall woman (I've actually got three inches on you!), I can relate to the self-consciousness about being tall, especially because "feminine" is so often coded as petite, small, and cute. I totally get how being taller than a dude can make you feel unsexy, because there's a metric buttload of cultural programming that tells us how wonderful it is to be swept up in the embrace of a big, tall man, to be safe in his arms, blah blah blah. It can feel like a strange inversion of feminine and masculine, almost, to be taller than your honey.

That said: you need to get over this. Not because you're missing out on awesome short dudes--although you probably are--but because being with a taller guy isn't going to fix those feelings of being too-big, too-clumsy, too-THERE for you. You'll end up in a relationship with a dude and you'll still hate your body, you'll still feel unfeminine, you'll still be unhappy about it.

I dunno whether getting over it involves therapy (although I guess that probably wouldn't hurt if you have the financial means to make it happen), or reading some books about body acceptance, or a lot of journaling to really lay out and challenge the scripts in your head. I think it's really valuable work that you should do, though.

BONUS INSIGHT: It might also be worth thinking about the fact that you're conflating "being attracted to a dude" and "feeling attractive while I'm with a dude." Those two things aren't the same, and a big part of my personal journey of accepting and lovin' my body was rejecting the idea that sexy was something I performed (that is, I felt sexy when other people looked at me like I was sexy), rather than something I felt (that is, I look at a cute dude and wondered what he looked like nekkid). Dunno if that's useful to you but it's worth thinking about.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:22 AM on March 29, 2010 [30 favorites]

There's no rule that says one physical trait can't be decisive in whether you're physically attracted to someone. And almost everyone cares about physical attractiveness in choosing a mate. So, you're allowed to turn down a potential relationship based on one physical trait, but I think you already know you're free to do what you want -- the question is whether that's the smartest approach.

I have no idea if this will be useful, but you could try this thought-experiment: How would you react to a man who allowed one physical trait to be a deal-breaker? What if there's a man you're potentially interested in, and you find out he has a policy of not dating any women with less (or more) than a certain bra size, or more (or less) than a certain height-weight ratio? (You could imagine that he wasn't so tactless as to mention this to you, but you accidentally overheard him mentioning it to a friend.)

Or, how would you react if a female friend (or gay male friend) of yours mentioned that she'd never date a bald man, or a man with a smaller-than-average penis?

Maybe you wouldn't have a big problem with people who take these positions. You could say, and I wouldn't entirely disagree, that they're all entirely to have superficial preferences.

But I'd bet you, and most people, would find these attitudes pretty off-putting and narrow-minded. The same goes for having an inflexible height preference. You don't really have a choice whether to have some height preference, but you do have a choice of how flexible to be in prioritizing other factors.

Here's another way to look at it: if you have a rule about what height range you're open to, how many men are you ruling out based on this one criteria? If the rule is he has to be over 5'2", that's actually not ruling out many men, which is a good thing. However, if you have a more demanding rule, e.g. he has to be at least 6'0", you're ruling out most men. Are women entitled to be especially attracted to men over 6'? Of course. They're also entitled to be especially attracted to men with large penises, just as men are entitled to be attracted to women with large breasts. But any dating requirement about height or weight or penises or breasts is going to have a straightforward consequence of ruling out lots of people -- real individuals who might have great personalities and lead exciting lives. That doesn't make it wrong to have superficial standards, but it's a reason not to apply those standards inflexibly unless they're that important to you.

All that aside, it's just a fact of life that the odds are against a 5'8" woman and a 5'2" man getting together. I feel sorry for that man, but there are so many women who are much shorter than 5'8" that he'd probably be better off focusing on shorter women.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:23 AM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

If this is how you feel, you should not be going on dates with men who are shorter than you. It's okay to have preferences about height, weight, whatever you want. State your preferences up front and don't waste anyone's time dating men you can't possibly hit it off with.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:24 AM on March 29, 2010 [5 favorites]

Ack: entirely to have superficial preferences ---> entitled...
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:25 AM on March 29, 2010

I'm 6'1, I'm built like a brick outhouse and you feel like a "big hulking lump"?

Yeah, I know, how someone feels isn't based all that much on factual accuracy. And on that note, your family are a pack of bastards for calling you names, and I think that's what's holding you back more than anything. You seem as worried about external validation than whether you feel attracted to them - and what you feel is what matters in the long run. My instinct is that you need to make peace with your height more than anything; perhaps dating a guy several inches taller than you might do that for you, but it might not.

Height normalisation tip: if there's one near you, go to a specialist tall women's clothing shop. When I've been in one I've sometimes been the shortest woman in the place, and it does wonders for not feeling like a freak.

My boyfriend is probably more than six inches shorter than me. People sometimes ask if it bothers him (not me, him), and I tell them that when we're standing up he's at eye level with my tits. That shuts them up. But really, not that many people ask. Not that many people care.

One thing: you are certainly not alone. Someone I know went to a couple of meetings of a tall persons club, and gave up because it was "full of women trying to score a tall date". My personal view is that cutting out a large portion of the dating pool simply for the sake of them being taller than you is daft, but other people may think differently.
posted by Coobeastie at 11:31 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're not attracted to someone, you're not attracted to them. But if you're talking about not even considering meeting someone because of height, I think you're really going to miss out.

I'm 5'10" and Mr. Arkham is about 5'5". The height difference doesn't bother me, but the reaction to it used to. After 20 years together though, now I just think it's funny. And yes, I wear heels when we go out!
posted by JoanArkham at 11:39 AM on March 29, 2010

So is there a way I can put aside my awkward feelings?

Dive in and see how it works out. Maybe it won't. That's OK. But say to yourself "I'm going to give this a fair shake, even if it does feel a little weird." We all have those moments in life where we have to step outside what we're comfortable with in the pursuit of something worthwhile. This is one of yours.

Or in the MeFite experience, is a date's height important enough to physical attractiveness to justify not pursuing a relationship?

That'll depend on the person.

I've never really discriminated among women based on height, and have been attracted to women taller than myself. In some cases, the height difference was an instant deal-breaker for them, so kudos to you for being open-minded. I will say this: if you find a short guy unattractive, don't automatically chalk it up just to his height. And don't feel bad about being tall-ish. Go out and buy a pair of outlandish platforms. Enjoy it.
posted by adamrice at 11:41 AM on March 29, 2010

Oh, and you respond to comments the same way you would respond to any stupid comment about your appearance. With a snappy comeback ("Well, I'm worth the climb!") or a withering MYOB stare and a confused "What?"
posted by JoanArkham at 11:43 AM on March 29, 2010

Wowie zowie, I'm nearly as tall as you and I yeeeaaarrrn to be taller. That said, my mother (5'10") and my father (5'8") have been happily married for 25 years. My mom said the thing that impressed her so much about him (when he sauntered over to her at the bar) is that he was ballsy enough to ask out someone taller than him. Her sister tried to talk her out of it saying "But you'll never be able to wear high heels!" That's funny if you know my mom.

It sounds to me like you're uncomfortable in your own skin. If that's the problem, no mans height is going to fix it and it'll likely manifest itself in other ways in the relationship. If it's that you're truly only attracted to people taller than you, thats cool too. Make that clear in your profile. Try to weed out short men in who you set up dates with. But let me tell you, my dad is pretty awesome, and you'd be silly to pass up someone like him.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 11:46 AM on March 29, 2010

As someone just shy of 5 foot 7 married to a man just shy of 5 foot 4, and as someone who once had a height requirement of the men she dated (that they be taller than me), and as someone who wears heels when I damn well please and my short man doesn't care a lick, I will let you in on three of the great secrets of being a tall or tall-ish woman with a short or shorter man.

1) Short men are overlooked by 99% of women. This means that many short men are GREAT CATCHES who have their shit together but who have been ignored for entirely superficial reasons.

2) When you walk into a restaurant with your short man, and you are your tall gorgeous self on his arm, other men and women notice you, I mean NOTICE and they aren't thinking "what freaks!"; they are thinking "wow, that guy must be something special" and "holy crap that woman must be sure of herself." You are both instantly sexier. I kid you not.

3) Sexy time is fun. Like whoa.

All of that being said, you fundamentally have to learn to own your skin, including your height. Being tall is FREAKING AWESOME. Being a tall woman is even more FREAKING AWESOMER. Screw your dad for being so insulting. Thank god not all women are dainty and petite.

Instead of Sasquatch, think AMAZON.
Instead of Freak, think POWERFUL.
Instead of Lump, think LOVELY.

King Solomon said it best: "How beautiful you are and how pleasing, O love, with your delights! Your stature is like that of a palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit. I said, I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit." --Song of Songs 7:6-8

(That just really stuck with me as a teenager, paging through the Bible's dirtiest book for how-tos...)
posted by whimsicalnymph at 11:49 AM on March 29, 2010 [38 favorites]

I'm 5'8" too. I don't consider myself very tall, just slightly taller than average. I'm attracted to guys that are bigger than me (not just tall, but beefy, too), because it makes me feel more feminine to be with a bigger guy. So that's who I date.
I think its an effort in futility to try and force attraction. It's one thing if you build a rapport with someone online and then find that you have chemisty in person as well, but to force it when there is nothing there, why do that to yourself?
posted by newpotato at 11:49 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm almost 5'7" (female), and my boyfriend is 5'3".

On our first few dates, I felt awkward as you do now. But I really liked him. I figured I'd get over it, so I told myself "just give it six weeks," and sure enough, I stopped noticing it long before then. Except for on the first few dates, it never interfered with his sexiness to me. YMMV, but if you otherwise like the person, you might give it a try.

No one has ever said anything to me about our height difference in the five years we've been together.
posted by slidell at 11:50 AM on March 29, 2010

Separate the two issues:

1) You are not attracted to shorter guys.
2) You feel self-conscious being with a shorter guy.

1 is probably a deal-breaker, although you may want to really examine it. (Really? There's not one guy shorter than you in the entire world that you're attracted to?)

2 is something you should just get over.
posted by callmejay at 11:51 AM on March 29, 2010

also--I absolutely LOVE being tall.
posted by newpotato at 11:52 AM on March 29, 2010

Keep in mind that the shorter men who contact you are going against the cultural current by pursuing a woman who is taller than them. They haven't ruled YOU out based on a physical characteristic.

I think it's weird that height even comes up when dating online. I can't remember ever asking, or them ever volunteering the information (unfortunately, many DID volunteer another measurement). If it's important to you, it's important to you, but I have to agree with the person that says it's probably rooted in insecurity about your own height. I think you need to deal with that, and tell your family to STFU. No one should be referred to as Sasquatch.
posted by desjardins at 11:53 AM on March 29, 2010

I'm 5'9" woman, who has had two male partners at 5'4". One was very successful financially, confident, and saw my height as a very erotic asset. The other was very insecure socially, repressed, and ashamed of being seen with me. Worlds apart. I don't care about a man's height, but others certainly insinuate themselves into the dynamic. The worst, most predictable situation I recall is having the big burly bouncers at bars humiliate my date by making a pass at me. Many people are idiots. And many tall men are so petty they are in fact tiny men, actually. Find one that treats you with respect, that's the key.
posted by effluvia at 11:53 AM on March 29, 2010

Make that clear in your profile. Try to weed out short men in who you set up dates with.

Nope, bad idea. If you have a specific preference, you should not state it in your profile.

You can weed out men of a certain height without stating it in your profile. Just don't contact them and don't respond to them.

But if you state a height preference in your profile, you won't just deter men who are under your height minimum. You'll deter men who find it offputting because they want someone who will appreciate them as a whole person. As a 5'10" man who uses dating sites, if I see a profile that says "I only date men who are taller than 5'8"," I don't think, "Yay, she might go out with me!" I think, "First of all, I'm at the low end of what she considers acceptable, which isn't a much better feeling than if I were under her minimum requirement. But more importantly, she's superficial and tactless enough to be open about her superficiality." Unless she's totally amazing in every other respect, I'll quickly move on to the next profile. (Would you be interested in a man whose profile said he only dated women who have your bra size or larger?)
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:54 AM on March 29, 2010 [7 favorites]

I heard recently that one should consider the first date from an online dating service as really the zero date. You don't know anything at all, really, about this person and you have only clicked on a very basic level -- you haven't even gotten to the stuff that really makes a romance happen. So, you go on that "date" and if the stars align, you find yourself interested or attracted to this person then it's time to have that first date.

I agree with the others who say that whether you date shorter guys will depend on how interested you are in having dates. If you need dating practice, go out on a zero date with the guys who, other than their height, are interesting to you. If their height is a dealbreaker then it just is. However, you may find that guy who hits all the other sweet spots and maybe then his height will matter less to you.

Also, please know that your Dad was being a rather obtuse jerk. Guys, when you grow up to be fathers, don't criticize your daughter's looks. Don't overly fawn over them either. It's not a woman's responsibility to be the most culturally-acceptable version of feminine beauty. Beauty is not a mark of success or failure. And, of course, neither is height.
posted by amanda at 11:54 AM on March 29, 2010

You're average height.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:02 PM on March 29, 2010

I posted above about my 5'7" (f) - 5'3" (m) relationship and was going to add that unlike whimsicalnymph and her guy, we don't get stared at. Reading other comments, I do agree that it probably helps that my various insecurities don't include my height, and his various insecurities don't include his height.

Actually, my inseurities used to include my height, because during those awkward middle school years, I had a lot of extremely petite friends. I think swimming athletically helped and yoga really helped. It's not that they made me objectively more graceful, or maybe they did, but they made me aware of my back muscles and posture, and (because I was always sore!) they made stretching tall feel good. Yoga class involved a lot of time in front of a mirror, trying my best to do graceful-looking poses that involved stretching tall, and somewhere by the end of that, I feel fine in the body I have. Good luck with this one, though: I know how hard it can be to get over things that you got teased about while you were growing up.
posted by slidell at 12:19 PM on March 29, 2010

I'm 5'4", and I dated a guy who was 5'3" all through college. I prefer men who are closer to my own height and made a rule that I'd never date a guy over 5'10". It seemed insane to need a guy that tall and I loved my short guys because they were all so very awesome and I could often steal their pants.

Fast forward 10 years and I'm dating and loving beyond my wildest dreams a man who is 6'9". Yup. 6'9". I don't feel like a freak with him, I don't really even notice his height except in certain situations. (I have to remember to not put my sunglasses on my head because when I lean up to kiss him they fall off.) I did have hesitations about dating him when we first met, but I decided that it was insane and shallow to judge a guy based on how tall he was. Also, he seemed like such an awesome guy that I never noticed his height once we were sitting down and chatting.

So, moral of the story is, once you free yourself from the notions of what "looks" like a boyfriend, you can find the most awesome guys. Both my guys at both ends of the spectrum were awesome and wonderful people to be with. However, the "normal" sized guys I dated back in the day, were less than stellar. But that may just be confirmation bias.
posted by teleri025 at 12:20 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Keeping in mind where we came from - lots of monkeys are still organized into packs where there's an alpha male who mates with all the females & lots of beta & omega males that don't get to perpetuate their genes on to another generation.

BS....bogus science... paternity testing of monkeys showed the beta & omega males reproduce just fine. When the alpha monkeys fight, the beta monkeys play.

Anyway, NPR covered the height issue.
posted by malp at 12:21 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks to all for responding. It's been especially nice hearing from other tall and tallish women about their dating exploits. I know a lot of my problem is rooted in my insecurities (like how I won't wear heels unless it's absolutely necessary for professional/formal dress). Also, I was honest with the 5'2" guy that I wasn't sure I'd necessarily be attracted to him in person.

I'm definitely not planning on setting any sort of arbitrary height guidelines. My past relationships have been with guys who were 5'10", 5'8", and 5'9", so I'm not hellbent on catchin' me a six-footer or anything. All three of those men weren't crazy about the fact that I was taller than them in heels though.
posted by mesha steele at 12:30 PM on March 29, 2010

You're average height.

No, she's not.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:33 PM on March 29, 2010

Also, I was honest with the 5'2" guy that I wasn't sure I'd necessarily be attracted to him in person.

I'm six foot myself, but... if a girl I was talking to online told me she "wasn't sure she'd necessarily be attracted to me in person," I'd probably just avoid meeting her at all. There are ten thousand and one things that can go wrong - or right - during a date, especially a first one, and height is just one of them. You don't need to start things off on a negative, pessimistic tone by focusing on what might go wrong. What if a guy said "hey, before we meet, I might think you're way too tall" or, equally, "Hey, just so you know, I might find your particular bra size off-putting."
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:34 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, Tomorrowful, he did ask me specifically about my comfort level in dating someone shorter. I've never brought it up with anyone else shorter than me I've gone out with, since yeah, it is a little pessimistic and negative.
posted by mesha steele at 12:39 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't understand the problem. Every guy's profile has their height. Why don't you message guys that meet your height requirements and ignore anything coming in unsolicited from guys who don't? The whole point of a dating site is you get to contact who you want to contact. Or do you subscribe to that whack theory that guys have to make the first move? Filter your search on height and then make the first move yourself.
posted by spicynuts at 12:50 PM on March 29, 2010

I am 5'8" tall too and when I was dating, I didn't like dating men shorter than me. I dated someone who was 5'7" once for about a year so it wasn't a strict rule. But to be honest, the fact that he was shorter than me always kind of bugged me. I don't think there is anything wrong with feeling this way and should make your preferences clearly known.

I say make it clearly known because there are a lot of dumb-fool men out there claiming to be 5'8" that are obviously shorter than that given that I am 5'8", I know how tall that is, and they are shorter than me. UGH!! One guy was so adamant that I was 6 feet tall and that he was 5'8" that I finally pulled out the tape measure. Weird thing was, he looked seriously deflated to find out he was not 5'8" after all --- how could he not have known this???? Fool.

But I digress...
posted by murrey at 12:56 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

A couple observations from someone who has been there.

I am dead-average for white-male height (AFAIK), at 5'10". When I was internet dating, I ignored idiot women who wanted 6'2" or taller men, but would respond to women who reasonably listed 5'11+ as their preference.

FWIW, I did lie in my stats, saying I was 5'11". Never was I called out. In dress boots or dancing shoes, it is true. :) I just didn't care. If I did it again, I'd say I was 6'.

I did have a relationship with a 6' tall, (6'+) height-preferring woman for 6 months or so. We broke up for other reasons, non-height related. To be honest, it was sometimes fairly strange dating her. I like to Salsa, and in heels she was big. To be double-honest, it would have been fine except that she had no dancing coordination. A tall woman with no coordination ... not good on a crowded dance floor.

Even more off-putting was the fact that she just wasn't graceful. At 6'+ or greater it becomes much more obvious when someone is a clutz. Still, that wasn't the reason for our breakup. It would have been forgiveable/forgettable in someone I actually wanted to see for the long term. Much less so in a casual situation.

Yes, I think you are being shallow. No, I don't think there is a thing you can do about it. Chemistry and deep-down-attraction are nearly hard-wired by the time you reach adulthood.

Oddly, I find my tastes in women tend to expand as I get older. So, maybe these tastes aren't so set in stone. I used to only like short thin boyish women, as I get older I like taller women who have actual curves. Ahhh Storm Large, if only you would date me.
posted by Invoke at 1:17 PM on March 29, 2010

I want to give these guys a fair chance in person, since I enjoyed talking to them online. So is there a way I can put aside my awkward feelings?

I agree with others that you shouldn't feel compelled to be attracted to people you aren't attracted to. However, since you say you want to give shorter guys a chance...


Sorry for the "shouting." I guess I'm trying to understand how you approach dating. Do you mean you go on ONE date, don't feel an instant spark, and so that's it? If so, then you're missing out on a lot of potentially great guys -- not just short ones.

There's nothing wrong with demanding instant chemistry. If that's what you want, that's what you want (in which case, there's no answer to your question). If you're looking for a way to change what INSTANTLY attracts you, good luck. I've never heard of anyone being successful with that. But it's okay to say yea or nae based on your first impression. It really is. Just be aware of the trade-off.

Which is that you're missing out on guys you might become attracted to later. Obviously, you shouldn't go to extremes with that. You shouldn't date a guy you're not into for a year, hoping you'll eventually become attracted to him. But if I were you, and I really connected with a guy on non-physical levels -- I would go for a second date; and maybe a third; and a forth... You might be surprised by your own feelings.

I am not, in ANY way, saying that sexual chemistry isn't important. I'm saying that most people I've met, who have "types," find out that they are more flexible than they think they are.

If, on the other hand, you have dated short guys for a long time, hoping for attraction than never came, then maybe it's just not going to work for you.

I am not immediately attracted to fat women. However, if (I was single and) I clicked with one, I would give her a shot. I know myself well enough to know that things might change. However, since I'm straight, I can't another man. I just can't. It ain't going to work. Also, I couldn't date a women who was anorexically thin. That seriously grosses me out, and I just can't see any amount of "us clicking" that would get me past that. I can barely look at people who are like that.

The trick is striking a balance between being flexible and being realistic. One date ain't gonna do that. Is your feeling about short men close to phobia level, as with me and skeletally-thin women. If so, you're going to have a hard time beating it? Does it feel deeply linked to your sexuality, as my straight-ness does with me? If so, you are going to have a hard time beating it. (I can't make myself gay, no matter how much I might like a guy.) If there's ANY part of you that has EVER been attracted to a shorter guy -- or can imagine being so -- then you should be able to get there, if you give the relationship time.

It used to piss me off when girl would go on one date with me and then tell me that they really like me as a person but aren't attracted to me. I am now thankful to them. Clearly, they and I have a bigger disconnect than them not being attracted to me. They believe in "you have to have an immediate spark." I don't.
posted by grumblebee at 1:26 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's nothing wrong with stating a height preference in your profile as long as you don't sound like a jerkoff.
posted by The Lamplighter at 1:26 PM on March 29, 2010

Your preference is a built-behavior selected against over millions of years.

Women prefer taller men across all cultures and eras. It's an innate drive programmed into your brain by your DNA.

You cannot stop yourself from feeling like shorter men are inferior to taller men.

How you react to that feeling, and the choices you make, knowing the above, are both in your control.
posted by Lownotes at 1:31 PM on March 29, 2010

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that Tina Fey is married to a really short guy. That makes it totally cool and awesome.
posted by Pennyblack at 1:35 PM on March 29, 2010

I'm surprised to see that you're only 5'8''. I'm 5'7'', many of my female friends are a similar height, and I don't think anyone has ever told us we're too tall. If anything, our shorter friends will talk about how jealous they are that we don't need to wear platforms. In that height range, up to 5'9'' or so, I'm definitely thinking "elegant" rather than "towering". So, agreeing with the folks saying that you're more influenced by family here...

Of course I also don't see any notes on race - I know my Chinese friend who's 5'7'' and average build gets a lot of flack from her family for being huge and unwomanly (although that may be more because she's a total tomboy).

Nth-ing that if you spend some time with someone and don't immediately call things off for lack of physical spark, the physical chemistry can grow. After a little while you don't even notice the things that seemed weird at the beginning...
posted by Lady Li at 1:38 PM on March 29, 2010

If I do hit it off with a shorter guy, how do I respond to comments about the height difference?

I'm 5'7" and have consistently dated people my height or shorter, and some taller guys. No one has ever said anything.

Also, if a guy you're dating tells you not to wear heels - please ditch them. (The guys. Not the heels.) So ridiculous.
posted by jennyhead at 1:41 PM on March 29, 2010

I went through exactly what you did back when I was dating (and I'm taller than you). One thought: are you sure the guy has to be taller than you, or does he just have to be... um... manly?

I went out with guys who were shorter than me, but looking back on it even the short ones could've beaten me at arm wresting. So maybe it's worth going on a date with someone even if their profile says they're shorter than you, as they might still be bigger / stronger / tougher, if that's your thing.

How can I stop being bothered by the height difference when dating?

Consider couples where the woman is the taller one, or close in height, but they still look good together. For example... Typing "taller women shorter men" or variations thereof into Google Images will give you plenty of examples.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:46 PM on March 29, 2010

If I do hit it off with a shorter guy, how do I respond to comments about the height difference?

I didn't notice this part of your post.

Unless you're in high school, where, they tell me, rudeness is encouraged, the correct way to deal with such comments is to walk away and not talk to that person any more. Someone who "comments" on something like this is an asshole, and you are just seeing the tip of the asshole iceberg. Personally, I would not respond in any way. I would not tell that person I was offended or hurt. If I did that, I would be wasting breath on a child who has no business sitting at the grownup table. Just walk away.
posted by grumblebee at 1:47 PM on March 29, 2010

Also, if a guy you're dating tells you not to wear heels - please ditch them. (The guys. Not the heels.) So ridiculous.

I agree, it is ridiculous for men to try to get women not to wear high heels, and you should wear whatever you want. However, what's even more ridiculous is women who disqualify a huge segment of the dating pool based on their desire to wear high heels.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:48 PM on March 29, 2010

You know, I'm a skinny guy (and was moreso when I was younger), and women who weighed more than I did (despite being shorter) occasionally seemed to feel uncomfortable about it. Those that got past it got to be in a relationship with me, which was (presumably) its own reward -- or good justification for not dating skinny guys. Each one either decided facing their insecurity was worth the resultant reward, or decided it was not worth it. You're allowed to make the same decisions on a case-by-case basis yourself. If someone shorter than you just doesn't make you feel good about yourself and attracted to him, then don't date him. You're not a bad person for this.

However, regarding the potential comments from other people: at least here in LA, if a shorter man is walking with a taller woman, and the woman is attractive, people generally assume the man is wealthy and/or powerful. From that perspective, nobody would bother commenting, because that's just what LA is like. Dunno how it is in your neck of the woods, but anyone making comments about it is likely feeling insecure because they've never managed to get a taller woman interested in them, or they otherwise wish they were in his place, so are trying to embarrass him. Your continued (assumed genuine) interest in him is the thing that makes these insecure people feel the need to respond, not the other way around.
posted by davejay at 2:12 PM on March 29, 2010

Almost forgot:

Obviously, this is a whole lot of bean-plating over a not-so-important issue. I want to give these guys a fair chance in person...

One thing that is important is if these guys are misrepresenting their height online. If they're being dishonest about something that will so obviously be revealed as a lie the first time you meet, what else are they willing to lie about? From that perspective, this is quite an important issue.
posted by davejay at 2:13 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Of all of my tall girlfriends over the years (your height or taller), they have ALL ended up with shorter men. All of them angsted and bitched about OMG SHORTER I LOOK AWFUL, but eventually got over it. And the guys didn't care in the first place. I tend to think that if a shorter guy doesn't mind going out with you, huzzah, he's secure in his masculinity and you won't have to deal with that problem. So that just leaves, well.. yours. Too bad your dad gave you a complex about this stuff.

There's sexual attraction and there's not, but "I want a tall guy so I don't look like a freak" is kind of depressing to rule someone out for, especially if they are someone you would date if he was taller. And in my experience, the odds are kind of against you there.

(I do sometimes wonder if it's some kind of universal compensation when short dates tall, of either gender. Maybe nature just doesn't want "matching sets"?)
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:45 PM on March 29, 2010

Guys lie about their height all the time and seem totally oblivious to it being obvious. I am 6' tall and most every guy who tells me they are 6', I can see the top of their head. Any man over 5'8" 1/2 will tell you he is "six foot-ish" if he thinks he can get away with it!

I think one thing that has not been mentioned here and that happens a lot when you are a tall woman is that men become insecure about you being bigger than them and make a lot of annoying little comments comparing your height, weight, shoe size etc. Like wow! your feet are as big as mine! Well, I'm 3" taller than you jackass, what size do you think my feet are going to be? Guys are always amazed (amazed!) that I weigh as much as I do and how strong I am. I'm slim but I'm 6' tall and muscular, I don't know why it is such a shock. After a while that kind of thing gets REALLY annoying and might cause someone to be generally uncomfortable around shorter dates. If that is the problem here, and it sounds like it might be, there isn't a lot you can do except be hyper alert for people who are going to make you feel bad about your body and not see them any more. I have no problem dating shorter men but I am not going to be treated like a circus sideshow.

And no, I won't arm wrestle you.
posted by fshgrl at 2:48 PM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I recently dated a guy quite a bit shorter than I am and had the same worry of bein unfeminine, like a giant etc (I am also athletic so I've got quite muscly arms!) but then I realized that HE obviously doesn't feel emasculated by me, and thinks I'm attractive, which in my eyes made him very attractive (confidence) and made me feel more attractive and actually helped with my previous worries of omg I'm a big hulking giant. A man that confident in his masculinity is pretty hot.
posted by Chrysalis at 3:03 PM on March 29, 2010

I love whimsicalnymph's comment so much I have to link it.

I am a 5'10" ASIAN (want to talk about insecurities growing up? haha) female dating a 5'7" male. One friend was surprised when we got together but summed it up when he said "most women wouldn't date someone shorter than them- so in my book you are super secure." My other friend saw the first photo of us together standing and said "wow, he looks like the MAN!" If you are secure enough to date someone shorter than you, you will find many people will think favorable thoughts of you both.

Also, if you are not, that is ok too. Hold off and work on loving yourself; beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

How I have responded to comments about height differences in my relationships in the past: "we're progressive :D" and I genuinely am happy about that thought. We are different but we are happy. :)
posted by pinksoftsoap at 3:15 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

If I do hit it off with a shorter guy, how do I respond to comments about the height difference?

My wife is 5'10", 4 inches taller than I am. In the 13 years we've been together, no one has derided either me or her. We stopped noticing the height differential ourselves very early on, and are only reminded of it when we get a benign "don't see that every day" smile from strangers.

If it turns out you aren't attracted to short men, no problem. But you really needn't worry about other people's reactions.
posted by ferdydurke at 4:39 PM on March 29, 2010

It may or may not make you feel better to know that, at least in my experience, worrying about what other people think about my life choices and relationships matters less and less to me as I get older, and I'm in my late 20s. When I was 23, I was freaking out about the same sort of stuff, although not height-related.

It's fair enough not to be attracted to guys shorter than you, but if you do really like a guy two look funny together. Obviously your family will notice since they've apparently made a big deal about your height for your whole life, but screw them, and I mean that in the most family-loving way possible. People date and marry those who are of vastly different heights, ages, different races, different weights, etc, all the time, and all of those things can arguably be "funny looking." Who cares? Date who makes you happy.

And yeah, your family needs to stop it with the sasquatch comments. 5'8 is tall for a woman, but it's not THAT tall.

All that said, if a guy lies about his height on a dating website, I'd have a bigger problem with his lying to get a date than his shortness.
posted by wondermouse at 5:35 PM on March 29, 2010

Something weird happened to my post and apparently a sentence in there got deleted and made two other sentences run together in a nonsensical manner. Erm.. well, hopefully you get the idea.
posted by wondermouse at 5:38 PM on March 29, 2010

I really like these guys who are coming on to you, maybe even those who are lying about their height, probably them. They've got some jam; they see someone they like (you) and they go for you, regardless cultural norms or whatever, and this in the face of knowing (unless they are asleep, and they'd not get a date with you if they were asleep, right?) that many women put at least one strike against them because of something they can do absolutely nothing about, a genetic toss of the dice.

I watch all this come down and am really sortof appalled, though I'd be lying if I didn't say that I've got my own deal-breakers that would absolutely not stand to reason. But having spent *WAY* more time around men than women in my life, I realize how stupid this particular norm is, this height thing -- it has absolutely nothing to do with smarts or leadership or goodnesses once past the first fifteen minutes of knowing the guys involved. But you, maybe spending more time around women than I have, could clearly see pieces of my blindness w/r/t women, and shake your head about my foolishnesses.

My nephew is one of the rockin-est guys I know -- he's fun, funny, alert, kind, he leads a band, he's physically brave (emotionally, too -- he'll tell you what he sees, straight up, look you dead in the eye), he's one of the best carpenters I've ever known, and I've known carpenters for over forty years; there's nothing he can't build and nothing he won't attempt to build, and if he attempts it, he builds it. He's good-looking, he's got this devil-may-care smile, some of the alivest (yeah I know it's not a word and don't care) he's got some of the alivest eyes I've ever seen. He's a winner. He's a gem. I wanna kiss this kid myself. You should hear his laugh.

His wife came *this* close to not dating him behind this whole height thing. He lied to her about his height when he saw her unwillingness to date a man his height in her profile. (I think he's 5'8") And even after meeting him, she almost let him go. A fool. She wised up, lucky for her. I think she got the best deal on the planet, and not just because we're related -- I know men. He's gold.

So you're going to be missing out on men like him, men better by far than I, at the least every bit as good; I've got my strengths I know, but if I was advising you on whether to date he or I, I'd likely point you toward him, I've got my very own genetic dice-toss stuff -- did you wanna date a guy with this manic depressive illness? I didn't think so. But if you set up your profile to filter based on height, I'd sleaze in and my nephew would be put into the spam folder.

I sure like to date a beauty, touch her arm, kiss her hair -- hurray! I'm going to suffer anyways, soon enough, may as well suffer a beauty, right? I'm a fool for whatever that beauty thing means to me, and I'm proud, also, picky, too, and prone to err on the side of, um, error, in this whole love thing, if there is a beauty about. But the fact is that I don't always -- ever?-- know what's good for me, who's good for me -- one of the woman I was least attracted to became one of the most important women in my life, we were lovers on and off for over fifteen years, living in different cities for most of that time, spanning other lovers on both our part; the reel kept on un-spooling and there we were, we kept on showing up in the next scenes, woven into each others lives.

I'm glad.

I'm lucky.

I wasn't really into dating her at the first, sortof figured a date or two, ho hum. Best we could figure, what gave our love so much juice was our shared broken-ness (another word that isn't -- sue me), we were both really vulnerable people, which can damn sure fuel a blaze, and did fuel a blaze.

If you'd have asked me after our first date would I be writing about her all these years later, telling strangers about our love, I'd have smirked at you. Rolled my eyes. I'd have missed her love had I not been open to dating outside 'my parameters' 'my guidelines' whatever; my life would be the poorer for it.

Do what you will, but don't miss a guy who'll bring as much richness to your life as she brought to mine over the height of a pair of heels.
posted by dancestoblue at 5:40 PM on March 29, 2010

> I have a hard time feeling physically attracted to someone shorter than me
--internal reaction

>> largely because of how awkward I feel standing next to them

--internal reaction

>>> in public
--reaction to others' imagined opinions

> how do I respond to comments about the height difference
--reaction to others' curiosity and opinions

>I feel like a big hulking lump.
--internal reaction

As someone above suggested, you might want to distinguish whether you're worried about finding yourself not-attracted to a particular short guy...

or being viewed as awkward and therefore unattractive, when in combination with a short guy, by the "public" around you...

or feeling awkward about others' imagined opinions, and therefore feeling unattracted to a particular short guy...

as these things are all legitimate, but very different.

Note: If you're a tall girl, then the short guys asking you out are probably extremely attracted to tall girls... so don't worry about seeming unattractive or awkward to them.
posted by darth_tedious at 6:55 PM on March 29, 2010

I could have written your post *mumble* years ago. I am six feet tall, and I weigh 250 pounds. I can go two or three years between sightings of women who are as tall as I am. I have dated numerous guys shorter than me and yes, it bugged me. I was able to overlook it and date them anyway, because I felt like I would be an asshole if I held it against them, but...

Now I'm dating a guy who is about half an inch taller and I *love* it. I can hug him and feel his big strong arms around me, and not feel like I'm going to crush him. When we kiss nobody has to strain their neck, and when we hug I can lay my head on his shoulder and kiss the side of his neck. I feel hulking and massive and out of place (being fat certainly makes this a lot worse) everywhere but at home, and I hate it. It makes me feel (even more) ugly and unwomanly. I do not have much self confidence, and dating a shorter guy was a net drain on it. I'd always wish I was smaller.

I had my fill of dating shorter guys (especially spindly ones). Yes, I gave them a chance. Yes, I always felt like I was missing something I really wanted. When things ended I always hoped I would find a guy who was at least my height.

there are a lot of dumb-fool men out there claiming to be 5'8" that are obviously shorter than that given that I am 5'8", I know how tall that is, and they are shorter than me.

If I had a nickel for every guy who said before meeting me "oh yeah I'm about six feet tall, too!" and wasn't, I'd have... a lot of nickels. I was always a bit resentful that they'd lie like that to me. By then though I was usually charmed by their personality so I went ahead with it anyway. Sigh. And I am thinking particularly about my ex-husband.

If you are already self-conscious about your height you probably should stick to the taller guys. Otherwise you might, like me, feel like something is missing that you really, really want. And it's not wrong to want to feel comfortable in your own skin around your relationship partner.

So go for it, I say. You are not a bad person for wanting what you want. I would also say be sure to meet them in person quickly, before you really start to get completely charmed by them. Otherwise it might be too late.
posted by marble at 7:02 PM on March 29, 2010

You're really not very tall. When I read the first part of your question, I thought you were going to be six feet, but you're shorter than me (5'9"). And I'm at the short end of average. You should have no problem finding guys taller than you, especially online.

I agree with the suggestion above that you not mention it in your profile. If you did, I too would think "well, I'm only an inch taller, probably not enough." Just don't go out with the short guys. Or, don't go out with most of the short guys, but stay open to the idea of one coming along who is inexplicably attractive to you anyway.

I usually don't date girls taller than me, but I have in a couple of cases, and in both cases, the women in question obviously didn't care about the height difference at all. If I thought that they had, it would have ruined it for me too.
posted by bingo at 7:36 PM on March 29, 2010

I too am 5'8". My husband is 5'6". And about 30ish lb lighter than me. How do you respond to people making comments about that? I just say that I'm not sexist and leave it at that. They can draw their own conclusions as to what I actually mean.
posted by gaspode at 7:54 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I dated a girl in college who was 5'11" (I'm 5'6"). It always blew my mind that complete strangers would bust out comments on the street, my usual reaction was to goggle up at her and say something like "no way!" as if I'd just noticed the disparity for the first time. Or just laugh and walk on because seriously, how much time and attention should one afford a random dumbass? I don't think it was of any particular significance in the relationship.

I think the guy's attitude matters, I've never felt particularly short and I really don't care about my height. There are guys who have something of a complex about it and combined with your hang-ups that could be a recipe for discomfort.

The women I've dated have been all over the map and appearance has never been the most important thing, and it became less the central issue the older I got, and it always faded progressively in importance the deeper a relationship grew. My wife is pretty much exactly my height and I definitely don't care if she wants to wear big old heels when we go out.
posted by nanojath at 10:32 PM on March 29, 2010

grumblebee put it very well:
There's nothing wrong with demanding instant chemistry. If that's what you want, that's what you want (in which case, there's no answer to your question)... Just be aware of the trade-off. Which is that you're missing out on guys you might become attracted to later.

As one of the people who has commented about how I am building a life with someone I became attracted to later, (like, a few short weeks later), that seems like a huge trade-off. I suppose it wouldn't feel like such a loss to you because you would presumably decide not to date the person long before you had made him a treasured part of your life, but ... I'm glad I didn't. :)
posted by slidell at 12:01 AM on March 30, 2010

I'm 171 cm (about 5'6"?), which is pretty tall for a Japanese woman my age, and I've always been pretty self-conscious about my height. Nowadays, girls are taller in general and I don't seem to stand out as much anymore, but I remember back in high school, whenever I got on a train, strangers would quite openly stare at me up and down. And I have crazy big feet too, by Japanese standards, which can be quite embarrassing at times in a culture where taking off your shoes is a must in various situations. My younger brother isn't much taller than I am and he used to complain (jokingly) that I took all the height and didn't leave any for him. So I understand where you're coming from and I sympathize.

However. Like the many others who have shared their experiences above, my husband is about 165 cm (5'4"?). I'd say he's short even by Japanese standards. I'd never dated anyone shorter than me before I met him, and like you I thought I didn't want to. Well, long story short, I ended up marrying him, and although we do have our ups and downs, our height differences have never been a problem between us. I admit I still sort of feel self-conscious when I'm around his parents and relatives, though, because they're all tiny, heh. Even just recently I laughed at a photo taken at a family gathering because I, of course, still towered over everybody including most of the men. And silly me, I never learn to sit down in those things...

All three of those men weren't crazy about the fact that I was taller than them in heels though.

You aren't dating the right guys. My husband has never said anything of the sort to me. I asked him once long long ago if it bothered him when I wore heels, and he just gave me a blank look and said, "Why?" You can see why I'm still married to the guy.

Hope you feel better about this after reading the many examples in this thread. I know I certainly did! ; )
posted by misozaki at 5:06 AM on March 30, 2010

I'm a white woman who is often asked out by black men. How can I stop being bothered by the race difference when dating?

I had no idea that this height thing was such a thing! I suppose it explains certain people's behaviors in my life. There are often physical dealbreakers in relationships, and that's hard to work around. It isn't pleasant or nice to tell someone "you're too short, I don't want to date you" or "your boobs are just too droopy, I don't want to have sex with you" because these things are genetic and not something your partner chooses.

Unfortunately, you don't get to choose what you are attracted to, and you can't be responsible for other people's happiness. Surely, you will miss out on really awesome fellas, and that's your loss, but that is a moot point because if you aren't attracted to short guys, or [whatever genetic characteristic] then there isn't anything you can do. Once set, the things which physically attract you are chains that bind you. It isn't pleasant to think about, and it upsets me, but I don't see how anyone can suddenly change what activates the attraction center of their brain.

For me, caring about height seems ridiculous but you aren't me, you are you and everyone should respect your preferences even if they don't like that you like what you do.

P.S. Fun fact: Kanye West is really short. Almost as short as Jon Stewart.
posted by fuq at 8:11 AM on March 30, 2010

I was 5'10" in sixth grade, and I added a couple of inches before I stopped growing. I'm quite familiar with the trials and tribulations of being a tall woman. It sounds to me like your issue is less with inherent lack of attraction to shorter men than with feeling uncomfortable being a tall woman. So I'll tell you how I became OK with being tall.

What did it for me was rowing in college. Now, this is not really a solution for most people, but I think taking up some form of athletic pursuit could help. Part of the problem with being a tall woman is that a lot of people still believe that women should be dainty, petite, weak.* Getting involved in a sport, learning a martial art, or lifting weights will get you in touch with the strengths and abilities of your body beyond the question of its attractiveness to men or acceptability to society. Once you start to enjoy the feeling of being strong (and tall), you might find yourself standing up straighter, wearing heels, and generally not giving a crap about certain members of society thinking you are the wrong kind of woman. (You'll probably also discover that most people don't care quite as much as you think they do.) I don't think you really even need to be good at whatever you do, as long as it makes you stronger and more comfortable with yourself. (I was a terrible rower.)

Second, think about why it's "bad" to be a tall woman. Again, in my opinion it's because you're supposed to be weak, you're supposed to need help changing a tire, and you're supposed to need protection. Screw that.

The final nail in the coffin for my insecurities about being tall was dating a really hot guy who was 5'7". By that time I was mostly over the whole ashamed-of-being-tall thing, but being in a fun relationship with a short guy that I was really attracted to got me over the last bit. If you go out on some dates with shorter guys, you might find yourself really liking one of them, and then height won't matter.

Finally, anyone who makes comments is an ass. You might try turning it around on them and asking why it bothers them so much. Why is it important for a woman to be small? Why do they find tall women threatening?

The only time I think about being tall these days is when I'm shopping for pants.

*Note to shorter people reading this: I am going to conflate height with strength, which I realize could be offensive to shorter people. I do not believe that short people are weak. It's also not generally true that a tall woman will be stronger than a short man. But, I think a lot of the reason why a tall woman/short man pairing is troubling to some people is because of sexist notions of big, strong men, and little ladies who need help opening jars.
posted by Mavri at 9:38 AM on March 30, 2010

OP: All three of those [former boyfriends] weren't crazy about the fact that I was taller than them in heels though.

As others have said, that is VERY MUCH their issue, not yours. I totally relate to your feelings of "unwomanly-ness" - I felt insecure with my height (6'1") and weight (190 lbs) for many years, but the older I got, and the more emphasis I placed on other things, the better it seemed. These feelings are beliefs that we create/accept, so it's time to stop accepting them.

That begins with positive self-talk, but playing sports and being physically fit definitely helps. Feeling ugly and kicking ass can't exist at the same time.

kimdog: a man who is willing to date a woman taller than him is already ahead of the game in many respects.

I aboslutely agree with this, 100%. Sure, everyone has their preferences and a tall woman isn't on everyone's sexy list. I don't mean to disparage those who prefer a shorter woman, but if a man feels imtimidated by your height (rather than simply not prefering it), you have a killer screening process against the easily intimidated and THAT, my friend, is a very useful mechanism to have in place.

I am in a 2-year relationship with a man 4 inches shorter than I am. When I brought up the height on our first date, he simply said, "Your height is not an issue for me," AND THAT WAS THE END OF IT. Truly and sincerely, he meant every word and I have never been made to feel weird about the height difference. If anything, we joke about it in a light-hearted way and enjoy seeing couples who fit into our strange, unbalanced mould.

Have fun with it! Be a freak, be a spectacle, wear high heels, walk with confidence, and you will attract the right kind of man: the one who admires you for being a strong, capable, amazon warrior and not one who is scared by tilting his head back.
posted by cranberrymonger at 9:46 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

As a 5'6" short (straight) guy, I will say that I am intimidated by taller women, only because I assume that, for example on dating sites, the first thing they'll look at is my height, and ignore me thereafter (although sadly, data suggests this may be true with some women shorter than me too, on dating sites). Similarly, in person, unless I have really strong signals otherwise, I pretty much assume a taller woman won't be attracted to me and will interact with her with that perspective in the back of my mind (which is actually great in a sense because then it's even easier to treat them completely normally, and sometimes that can be harder if I feel like attraction is a possibility), although none of this is really conscious at this point.

All of this is not to say that I'm not attracted to taller women; attraction happens first, and then all of this conditioning kicks in based on my personal experience and the messages I've absorbed from society. I've slept with women taller than me (some significantly taller actually...), but never dated any (unfortunately...not that I don't like dating shorter women!), and would have no problem with them being taller than me, wearing heals, being seen in public, etc. etc. I would view any guy who did have these problems as, well, having a problem.

This doesn't mean I'm not insecure about my height (ha, see at the end of the post), but I feel like my insecurity about my height has nothing to do with my actual self-image, and everything to do with how I sometimes respond to the messages I get from society, if that makes sense. That is, most of the time I forget about that shit, and I don't really walk around sweating the fact that I'm short, but I get insecure exactly when this issue relating to dating comes up, for exactly the stupid sorts of reasons I listed above.

So, all of this is to say that you shouldn't feel bad about being taller than a guy, but also it's fine if you're not attracted to shorter guys: I can't think of anything that would turn me off more than if a woman I was attracted to wasn't attracted to me. I don't care why they aren't attracted to me--why would I want to try and force that person to go date me?

On the other hand, if you think you are attracted to these shorter guys, and just have these hang-ups getting in the way, then give it a shot and push yourself a little; I bet you'll forget about it with a bit of effort and/or time, as other posters have suggested. And speaking as a guy, or just another human actually, don't be ashamed of your height or body as a tall woman, and don't be afraid of being tall and strong and powerful physically as a woman...that, to me, is much hotter than frail and sickly looking, not being able to pick shit up. Strength = health (regardless of height, of course). Health = someone who respects herself and takes care of herself, and that's hot. And, weight is a bullshit metric...read my posts relating to fitness if you want more opinion than you need on the subject...more women could stand to weigh more, I will boldly say.

Finally, I'll add that I would never, ever bring this up as an issue with a woman unless they wanted to discuss it (and hopefully if we did talk about it we'd talk about how it was funny but totally okay), and I think anyone who does bring it up is projecting their own insecurity. And do you really want to be dating someone like that? Maybe not.

P.S. Fun fact: Kanye West is really short. Almost as short as Jon Stewart.

5'8" is "really short?" WTF. I didn't feel insecure before that little tossed-off postscript...although, knowing Jon Stewart is right about my height makes me feel better. I know plenty of women that would sleep with Jon Stewart. Now, I just have to become as awesome as Jon Stewart...hmm...
posted by dubitable at 1:50 PM on March 30, 2010

Also, one of my good friends is dating a woman who has got to be, like, four inches taller than him...I never really have thought about it too hard, and they seem so good together. It's not an issue, I don't think. At least, he's never mentioned it, I've never brought it up, and they just moved across the country together, so there.
posted by dubitable at 1:52 PM on March 30, 2010

I've dated men ranging from 5'1" to 6'2". I'm 5'7" and not at all slight-figured. Some men's behavior makes me feel like a big lump (whether the man in question is taller or shorter than me), and other men's behavior makes me feel like a supermodel. I reckon, if a gentleman treats you well, that's the important thing - overall, and in terms of how you relate to his physicality.

And I have to say, the times I've dated someone who isn't as tall as I am, I've felt like a total bombshell on his arm.
posted by pammeke at 2:40 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

5'8" is "really short?" WTF.

Who, Jon or Kanye? I saw Kanye in real life after a MET opera event and was amazed that he was so short. I'm sure he was at least a head shorted than me, and I'm not a tall man. If he's 5'8", I'll take a vinegar and everclear shot at the next meetup.

I don't know about Jon Steward, I've just heard he was notably short. Maybe I heard wrong.
posted by fuq at 7:56 PM on March 30, 2010

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