Do Women Like Short Men?

Physical characteristics, for good or bad, have always been a significant factor in the choice of a partner. If most men are choosy about the looks and figures of their girlfriends, many women are equally careful not to be seen with men shorter than they are. So how important is a guy’s height when it comes to dating? Do women like short men and if so, do you have a chance with the leggy lass you have been eyeing for some time now?

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Representations of the regular American heterosexual couples in popular media either have the man and woman of the same height or more often, the man slightly taller than his partner. Some social critics regard this phenomenon an example of the media implicitly succumbing to height discrimination or the phenomenon where men of lower than average height are shown to be less successful in career and relationships. Whether this kind of representation constitutes the ideal is open to debate but so much is beyond doubt that the picture reflects the dating norms in mainstream culture. Women most often look for guys slightly or even significantly taller to them while dating. So you have Hollywood’s ultimate cougar queen Demi Moore looking up to her far younger hubby Ashton Kutcher while the industry’s most paid actresses Angelina Jolie still stands an inch or so shorter than her partner, the equally irresistible Brad Pitt.

This preference of women for taller males can actually be traced back to evolutionary reasons. In primitive times, when survival of individuals and indeed the species depended on physical strength, females naturally looked for partner who would be best able to provide food and shelter for them as well as protect from enemies and the hostile elements.  In other words, men who were physically fit as in being tall and muscular were most desired by women as mates. And perhaps this is why women in modern times too seem to be genetically wired to choose men taller than them. So if you are hoping to date a girl significantly taller than you, perhaps you should start off by exploring her thoughts in this matter or better still start looking for partners who are likelier to see ‘eye to eye’ with you.

However reasons which mattered eons ago need not be as important as now. Over time, the primary factor which determined the survival and indeed the growth of a community changed from brute strength to the human ability to harness resources. The more resources a male partner could command, the likelier he was to ensure the successful upbringing of his family. Therefore attributes like enterprise, wealth, intelligence and resourcefulness gradually came to be desired more by the women of the group, a trend which is fully evident in contemporary society. This essentially means that while women may still give a tall and attractive man a second look, they will not necessarily choose to have a relationship with him. Social and material success as well as personality traits like kindness, generosity and sense of responsibility are increasingly getting more importance when it comes to women looking for potential life partners.

One celebrity pairing which adequately illustrates the above point is that of Hollywood actor Tom Cruise and actress Katie Holmes. The latter gave Cruise’s diminutive stature barely a thought when confronted by his perennially boyish charm and huge material and professional success, much like first wife Nicole Kidman who was a good four inches taller than him. Similarly former model and singer Carla Bruni found the prospect of being the partner of one of the world’s most powerful countries a much more potent attraction to petty matters like President Sarkozy’s 5’ 5’’ height. This goes a long way to show that wealth, power and success continue to be the biggest draws when it comes to attracting and keeping women, even the most attractive of them.

The significance of the respective height of a man and woman in a relationship may have a cultural angle too. In societies which are explicitly patriarchal, men marrying women taller than them is largely unheard of. This may have more to do with cultural constructs of masculinity and feminity rather than individual preferences. When boys are brought up to believe that their role is to act as the lord and master of the family and when girls are likewise conditioned to accept their ‘destiny’ to bow to the will of their male partner, there is little chance of men literally or figuratively accepting women as their equals, much less of looking up to them.

Again, physical attributes are intrinsically linked to ethnic or racial traits. The average height of Asians is lesser than their Caucasian or African counterparts. This becomes a significant factor in cases of interracial dating where the guy may be Asian and thus shorter than the girl who is perhaps a Caucasian or African. One such high-profile couple includes Booker-winning author Salman Rushdie who is of Asian origin and his current girlfriend, small time actress Pia Glenn who is of African heritage. Interestingly Rushdie’s previous partner Padma Lakshmi who was also an Asian still towered over him which perhaps just goes to show that some guys, whatever their race or ethnicity, just like their women to be long and leggy.

Napoleon Bonaparte is perhaps the most famous example from history of a guy having the power to attract women much taller than him. On March 9, 1796, Napoleon Bonaparte caused a flutter in the top echelons of French society when he married Josephine de Beauharnais, a woman not only taller but also older to him. Even though contemporary historians believe that Napoleon’s height or the lack of it has been blown out of proportion over the ages to make way for the construction of the Napoleon complex, fact is he did depart from convention by choosing a partner taller than him. There is no telling what brings a man and woman together. Some women may be attracted to the ‘tall, dark and handsome’ kind of men while for others, qualities like intelligence, power and success may prove to be much more potent aphrodisiacs than physical attributes like height.