What height means to women, with Tall Anna (Pt. 1)

by GK on September 8, 2012 · 4 comments

You would be surprised how hard it can be to find a 6-foot-1 woman. I’ve been trying to get my friend Tall Anna back on my blog ever since we teamed up to talk about statements vs. questions over a year ago.

tall womenAnna was playing hard to get by spending her time on such things as writing fashion copy, traveling the world and falling in love with her boyfriend. But if I can wait all year for “The Hobbit” to appear in theaters, I was going to keep persisting.

It took the perfect subject to finally track her down. We’re going to talk about how important a man’s height is to a woman, and Tall Anna is uniquely qualified for this.

Let’s first state the obvious, Tall Anna. I’m pretty sure we’ll agree that all things being equal, women DO prefer a guy who’s a little bit taller and is a baller. The question is, how much more important is it? And how much of a chance does a guy have with a girl who’s taller than him, or who is merely an inch or two shorter than him?

ANNA: It feels great to be back, GK.

And while I don’t really want to put words in the mouths of women I don’t know, I suppose I’m going to anyway for the sake of our discussion. Bottom line, I’d say yes. Short and tall women alike typically (but not always) end up with a taller partner (and I’d go out on a limb and say they prefer one, too).

I recall a few friends giving me grief when I’d set my OKCupid search filters to only show me men over 6-feet tall. After dating my fair share of men who were significantly shorter (5’8″!) than me to just my height, I knew deep down that my life partner would be taller. It just inherently feels better.

But the answer to your height question is not as clear cut of a formula as, say, age difference. A guy can’t just cut his height in half then add 7 inches. (And I’d say height is much less important than age, too. Age, to an extent, carries with it implications about maturity and where you are in life that height just can’t touch.)

The determining variable in the height equation? Confidence. Both the lady’s and the gentleman’s.

GK: Anna, it’s a good thing we men can’t cut our height in half to add seven inches. Because you’d have a lot of hung dwarves out there.

There’s one word you used that caught my eye even more than confidence: feels. That’s the invisible Olympic hurdle a shorter guy faces with women.

You don’t need to put words in women’s mouths — I’ll do it for you! As far as online dating goes, and that is how you found your boyfriend, there’s plenty of evidence to show that women like ’em tall. One online-dating study even found that for a 5-foot-9 guy to be as attractive as a 5-10 guy, he needed to earn $30,000 more. That’s A LOT of extra time I’d have to spend at the lemonade stand.

I want to talk more about online dating later, since a lot of our discussion hinges on where a shorter guy is meeting women. But let’s get back to feeling right around a taller guy. I’ve met your boyfriend, and he is indeed tall. He also seems like a genuinely cool, confident guy who you share common interests with, and he does indeed have a few years on you, so you’re not whistling Dixie about age.

Still, just what does his height make you feel that the other guys didn’t? And could a confident, 5-9 version of him have made you feel the same way?

ANNA: That feeling I mentioned is so hard to pin down because I think it’s simply written into my genetic code. It’s just how I’m wired, and frankly, how women, in general, are wired.

When two people date, they are consciously gathering data points about whether or not they want to spend more time with each other, right? But before the first date comes the first impression, those few seconds in which we’ve subconsciously asked ourselves: might I want to make babies with this person? It’s our biological drive to seek out the genetically healthy and fertile (even if you’re not looking to start a family RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT), and it’s hard to fight instinct and win.

In western society, the taller the guy, the higher his reproductive success. (Tall up to a certain point, anyway.) Height is right up there with pheromones, facial symmetry, even voice pitch and the way someone walks—the parts of sexual chemistry that act behind the scenes to significantly influence whom we find attractive.

So I guess, to a certain extent, my body knew before my mind did that it wouldn’t work out when I dated those under-6-footers. And being with my partner now—let’s call him B.—who’s 6-5, we physically fit together. When we walk side by side, my hand is at just the right height to be holding his, and my arm is at just the right height to wrap it around his waist. When we cuddle, no matter which way you contort it, I fit just right in his nook. When I want to wear my tallest pair of heels, he’s still just a hint taller. A 5-foot-9 guy just couldn’t give me that sense of rightness and feeling of belonging together.

And hey—being a tall woman isn’t as glamorous as supermodels have made it seem. I’m working against my own biological disadvantage: shorter women have higher reproductive success, and all those tall guys biologically prefer them, not me.

I don’t want to sound all doom and gloom, though. There are always exceptions, and I know some of them, including my sister, who’s happily married to her ever-so-slightly shorter husband.

Click here for Part 2 of our exchange.


1 B in Philly September 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Yet another interesting post. While nobody (including myself) is really satisfied with how they look, I always thank my lucky stars for being 6’2. All through middle school (when I hit 6’2 at age 12) I was made fun of, and actually wished I was shorter — crazy to think of now, I know.

My input:

1. Being 6’2 means you’ve essentially expanded your height range up from 5’0 (or wherever girls start at) to 5’9 or so, vs 5’0 to 5’5 if you’re 5’9 like my friend SW. However, there aren’t too many girls over 5’5, so it’s not that big of a deal. It’s much better to be 5’9 not 5’4 instead of 6’2 over 5’9.

2. For hookups, it doesn’t matter at all. SW has stolen 6’+ tall girls out from my arm. “They’re all the same height laying down,” he’d say. True story.

3. I feel bad for tall girls. I really do like them, but I always hear stuff like this (with regards to OKC specifically, actually!):

Tall girl: Why are you searching for 6 feet and up??? You can date shorter!
Short girl: But I like tall guys!
Tall girl: I do too, but I don’t have a choice! You can wear your heels with a guy who’s 5’9!

Keep ’em coming guys :)

2 GK September 12, 2012 at 12:18 am

Great to hear from you B! My admiration for SW only went up with that quote. :)

Part 2 is up and running!

3 Ashley September 12, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Whoa whoa whoa. Tall women are less reproductively successful, and not just because it’s hard to find tall guys to date?! Bummer, I had no idea. Also, I think being a tall woman is hot. Period.

Thanks to both for the great read!

4 GK September 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm

And I think tall women ARE hot, Ashley. I’ve known a lot of guys who prefer them short, though.

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