Do Shorter Men Stand a Chance with Tall Women?

Among the most important determinants of choosing a partner is appearance. For good or bad, physical attributes have always played a significant role in deciding who you want to go out with. While you have men going for women with beautiful faces or curvaceous figures, women too appear to be partial towards well-built and taller men. So do shorter men stand a chance with tall women and indeed how important is a guy’s height when it comes to dating?

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Popular media in America and other western societies almost invariably represent the average happy couple as comprising of a man who is slightly taller or at least of the same height as his female partner. Opponents of such popular cultural representations call the phenomenon height discrimination whereby men of shorter height are represented as being less successful in their professional and romantic lives as compared to taller men who have women and job promotions falling at their feet. Whether such representations have any basis in reality is open to debate but the fact remains that media images have a strong influence on actual dating trends. So you hear tall women complain of not getting ‘suitable’ partners to go out with while less than tall men speak of women giving them literally the short shrift. Even Hollywood’s cougar queen Demi Moore ensures that she can look up to her much taller husband Ashton Kutcher while the sensuous Angelina Jolie is careful that her partner Brad Pitt for all his irresistible charm does not stand an inch shorter to her.

The representation of the ideal couple as one in which the man is taller than the woman may owe something to cultural factor. Despite its present egalitarian basis, contemporary society has actually evolved from a strongly patriarchal one in which boys were brought up to believe that their role is to act as the lord and master of the family and when girls were likewise conditioned to accept that their ‘destiny’ is to bow to the will of their male partner. Successive generations of such thinking gave way to cultural predisposition where there was little chance of men literally or figuratively accepting women as their equals, much less of looking up to them. In fact in some traditional cultures which continue to be explicitly patriarchal, such constructs of masculinity and feminity still survive which is why men marrying women taller than them in these societies is largely unheard of.

However the most widely accepted reason for the female preference for taller men seems to come from evolutionary science. 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 healthy and physically fit as in being tall and muscular were most desired by women as mates. With successive generations this predisposition got strengthened with the result that women now seem to be genetically wired to choose men taller than them.

However conditions which influenced choice of a mate ages ago are no longer relevant in these times. While in the dawn of human civilization the primary determinant of the survival and indeed the growth of a community was brute strength, over time this changed 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 and clan. Therefore attributes like enterprise, wealth, and intelligence eventually 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 find tall men sexually attractive, they will not necessarily choose to have a relationship or a family with him. Social and material success as well as personality traits like kindness, generosity and a sense of responsibility are now deemed to be more important when it comes to women looking for potential life partners.

This change is increasingly apparent all around us but more noticeable in the public spaces of entertainment and politics. Leggy model and singer Carla Bruni gave no thought to the French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s diminutive stature when faced with the prospect of being feted as the first Lady of France. Power works as an aphrodisiac like no other and the physical stature of Sarkozy didn't matter. Similarlu Hollywood heartthrob’s Tom Cruise’s phenomenal material and professional success proved a far stronger magnet for actress Katie Holmes who stands a good couple of inches over her partner. Cruise's first wife Nicole Kidman was also taller than him. So if you are vertically challenged guy and are fed up with tall women turning you down, take heart from the above examples which only go to show that that wealth, power and success continue to be the biggest draws when it comes to attracting and keeping women, even the loveliest among them.

Additionally physical attributes are intrinsically related to racial or ethnic traits. Since the average Asian height is lesser than the Caucasian or African, inter-racial dating may pose its own challenges and opportunities. While men of Asian origin may face greater difficulty in dating Caucasian or African women, white men who are less than tall may have better luck while dating women of Asian origin who are more petite than their Caucasian counterparts.  However individual preferences come into play here too – witness famous Booker-winning writer Salman Rushdie who because of his Indian genes stands shorter than his current African origin girlfriend, small time actress Pia Glenn. Interestingly his former partner, well-known model and celebrity food writer, Padma Lakshmi too towered over Rushdie despite being of Asian origin. Fame has a way of making people appear more attractive to the opposite sex. So shorter guys of the world need not lose heart completely. While cultural and evolutionary predispositions still reveal a tilt in favor of taller men as dating partners, when it comes to meaningful relationships, financial success and personality traits often edge out height and other physical attributes as the winning combination.