A friend and I were discussing this very issue today while having lunch in an outdoor cafe. We decided to count couples and see how many had a taller man and shorter woman, and how many had a shorter man and taller woman.
There were over 20 couples and all of them was of a taller man with a shorter woman.
This is all fine and good but not very scientific. What does science say about this important issue?
A study by Gillis and Avis in 1980 found that for every 100 couples, only 2 are likely to have a taller woman and shorter man. This suggests that in general, men tend to choose women who are shorter than they are and/or women choose men who are taller than they are.
Do Men Really Like Shorter Women?
The Gillis and Avis study shows that couples very frequently consist of a taller man together with a shorter woman.
However, this does not necessarily mean that men like shorter girls. In fact, one can argue that the height preference largely comes from the woman’s side. Perhaps the man has no height preference, but simply dates shorter women because shorter women find them more attractive.
To get a more comprehensive view of this tall vs. short women issue, I also examined data from Yahoo Answers!. In particular, I did a search for “tall vs. short women” questions.
I collected a total of 54 responses over about 20 related questions. 29 of the responses were from men, and 25 from women. Of the men,
- 52% said that they like shorter women,
- 31% said that height is not an issue, and
- only 17% said that they like tall women.
These figures seem consistent with the results of my Attractive Women Survey which showed that only 19% of voters like tall women.
Of the women,
- 24% said that men like shorter women,
- 36% said that height is not an issue,
- 40% said that men like tall women.
What is especially interesting about the Yahoo! Answers data is that the woman’s view differs so greatly from the man’s view. Upon greater examination though, we found that of the 10 women who claimed that men prefer taller women, 7 were 5’8”-5’9”, and 1 was 5’5”. Therefore, the relatively small data-set and abnormal height distribution of respondents likely skewed the results.
Data from more rigorous scientific studies also support the hypothesis that men have a preference for shorter women.
“We found that shorter, slimmer females with long slender legs, a curvy figure and larger breasts are more attractive,” said lead researcher Dr William Brown of Brunel University.
Nettle’s study on 10,000 people born in the UK in 1958 also showed that –
Shorter women are more likely to have long-term relationships with men, and more likely to have children …
Why Do Men Like Shorter Women?
Most female models are very tall. Based on this female ideal, it seems that all of us have a preference for the tall, thin, and willowy look.
Therefore, why does the survey and scientific results show that men like shorter women? It seems that here, at least, there is an inconsistency between the media feminine ideal and our real-world feminine ideal.
Certainly tall women have the following advantages –
- Clothes fall and drape more naturally on taller women.
- Tall women can handle extra weight much better than shorter women.
- Tall women get noticed more easily because they naturally stand out in a crowd.
All of these attributes make taller women especially suited for the modelling profession. We want models to stand out from the crowd and we want them to look especially good in a wide range of dress styles.
However, a woman’s greater height becomes more of a liability during mate selection because height is often associated with strength and power. These are traditionally traits that are highly regarded in men but less so in women. A tall woman may therefore have an emasculating effect on a shorter man.
In addition, while women frequently select mates based on strength, success, and power; men are more likely to select mates based on fertility. Nettle further pointed out that –
… girls with late sexual maturity will be taller than those who mature early, because they are growing for longer.
According to Nettle, taller women become fertile at a later date when compared to their shorter counterparts. This could also be another contributing factor to a man’s preference for shorter women.
Don’t Men Want Tall Sons?
What’s strange is that I would like to be taller and I would like my future son(s) to be taller. So it would really make more sense to choose a tall mate with genes that will produce a son who is tall. And yet I’m attracted to short women.
Another related factor to this tall vs. short women question is the height of our resulting children. If men do indeed select based on fertility, it seems that part of that fertility question would involve the strength and power of the resulting offspring. As was pointed out in the comment above, selection of a taller woman would increase the chances of producing a taller son.
However, based on all the data it seems that the attributes of our offspring are less significant than the social effects of having a taller female spouse, as well as possible maturity issues as related to height.
Are Tall Women Out of Luck?
Finally, it should also be mentioned that height selection and preference is a relative thing.
Most men like women that are shorter than they are and most women like men that are taller than they are. Men who are over 6 feet tall will have less problems dating tall women because they will still be the taller one in the relationship.
However, the distribution of heights for men and women follow the usual bell-curve shape. This suggests that tall women will have a smaller selection of men to choose from.
Im 5’2 and 23 years old, and planning to do hardcore exercising/dieting to grow another 2 inches, at least.
Men might like shorter women, but I’m not happy with my height.
I want to be independent, so height will help me seem more capable at work, plus, I don’t like guys who are more than 4 inches taller than I am.
Seems I’m doomed At 5’9 120 pounds due to weight loss never realized how hard it’s to put weight on so ladies trying to lose us skinny gals are having a tough go at gaining as well I’ve been told by both men and women my long legs are my attribute and eyes but I honestly think looks are just wat attracts , it’s more personality that men find attractive just my opinion but if I’m wrong I’m single and kinda looking lol 🙂
Well I’m 4’11 and for some reason all the really tall guys seem to be into me. I just have no idea why. I used to feel so insecure about my height thinking no guy is going to like a girl this short, but that’s not true I get hit on by the tallest guys and most of my bfs have been really tall. my current bf is 6’3. It’s the craziest thing. It’s not that big of an issue, I just always try to wear heels and wedges when we go out to not appear so damn small next to him. Haha!
I’m really tall (187 cm) nd I’m still a teen!! I think men (and boys) generally prefer shorter women as I always have a hard time getting dates and stuff… I think most are intimidated by how tall I am… It sucks… I hate being tall!!
I don’t care what this says I’d love to be taller! I’m tiny at only 5’0 and I personally feel I can’t go out with really tall guys as I get self conscious the vast height difference will look ridiculous.
While this might be statistically true, what this doesn’t say is that this smaller pool of men will also be limited to taller men. As a taller (5’10”) woman myself, I have no problem having a smaller pool of men to choose from if that pool is from the best and most desirable men available 😉
Taller girls rules!
Tara Oman says
what a nice subject i am very short 150 cm n mu bf is 168cm he is short as well but he do sometimes make fun of my hight
I’m 5’2 very short and petite buy not skinny. My bf is 6’0 and I would go for shorter personally. But I think that’s just because I’m
So short. The comment about confidence is true, I just have none and I’m convinced if I wasn’t looking up at everybody I would be much more confident. I just feel so small and unimportant especially at work!
i’m female and tall 6’0 and i have few kilograms more than i should so it’s not exactly the perfect combination men are looking for.. also, it’s really hard to find anyone that is at least my height, and about dating smaller guys – well, their height isn’t that much of a problem for me, but the thing is that they don’t want to have some giant as their girlfriend and they would feel like i’m gonna crush them any moment.. and every guy friend i know prefer short, midget like women (no offense to short women 🙂
Im tall:/im 5’6 grrrrr…
i don’t care what boy prefer…im 1.51 and i would love to be even 1.80
wow ok some people are shallow just because someone is tall doesnt make them successfull lol i can actually intruduce you to a few if you would like that will wham bam thank you mam. hasnt any one heard of good things come in small packages. the love of my life is 5 feet 8 and iam 5 ft 6 in a half so i put heels on that by the way i wear all the time iam beyond taller than him.i also dated someone who was 5feet 4 and he was a sweet guy we are still friends. maybe you should give the shorties a chance you never know maybe you will find the one.
Im a woman and I’m 5’7″. I don’t know if that’s considered very tall, but I love my height. I think being taller makes you feel more confident, and I truly think people give you more respect when your taller. And Blue Lady, I think your right… Taller women are usually more successful than the average woman. Its rare that I see a Tall woman with a dead-end job and no money.. especially if shes pretty too.Taller people (men or women) tend to get better jobs, make more money, and be more successful in general. However, the dating part is true. Short men have more trouble attracting women, and tall women have more trouble attracting men. I’m not even really all that tall, but I still have a harder time finding dates. If he’s under 5’10” then I wont date him. I just cant. Taller men make me feel more protected, and despite my taller height, I still Love to wear high heels!
see this is a double edged sword here, there are short women who weight 100 lbs and than there are short women who have curves and weight 140lbs than there are tall women who are 100lbs or a tall women who weights 160 lbs. and then there is the face some women have a cute look and some are plain or exotic. so alot of factors play in. i mean i wish i was taller iam 5’6. i wish i was less exotic looking and had smaller lips and smaller eyes but i dont, i guess we are who we are.
You kidding me big lips are more desirable to men l love them
I don’t the no matter nan date a women without them
Blue Lady says
I’m 5’9” when i was younger i would atrract men when i went out to the bar. However, they were not substanical realtionships.My short counter parts would have more meaninfull realtionships! When i got middle aged i married a physician, but i found out later he had mental health problems.I find other tall women that do tend to get quality men have money,or a good job!If your a tall woman without money you will only get the less diserable men!That’s just my opinion.The quality men like short women.
Tall Woman says
Interesting. Majority of high fashion models are tall. I believe that shorter women should have it much easier attracting men, however, anywhere we go with my shorter girlfriends, I am the one who attracts the most attention from men. I am 5’11” tall. We are all pretty women, but somehow men do appreciate my never ending tight legs…
How tall you our really does not matter to me. Being healthy both physically and mentally is much more important.
I am quite tall especially among the asians (5’10) and my height identity has made me a confident person among the general population but has also been depressing when it comes to finding a life partner. I could safely say that less than 10% of my male friends (mostly asians) are about same height or taller than me and even those that are will be at high demand with other female counterparts. I keep telling myself that height isn’t an issue and I personally don’t care about height at all. But I think the guys care a lot about it and it’s very frustrating. I wish people can learn to love each other based on who they are and it’s stupid that height is such a great concern physiologically.
I agree Jenny.
I think we are slowly growing out of these ‘evolutionary effects’ that are no longer very applicable in our modern society.
awww Aya, you must be a little midget, so cute. No wonder you went through all this trouble to write this. Did you little fwingers fwall off while typing little girl?
There is no need to personally attack me. I am simply presenting results from scientific studies I have found on this interesting question.
What matters most is how you view yourself and not how others view you. 😀
Well done Aya_Hajime! I was wondering about the height issues on dating, because according to my observations, many men are attracted to tall women, but few men actually date them. Shorter women seemed to be the ones getting many suitors. You have explained well behind this phenomenon, along with the comprehensive and interesting statistical data. Voted up!
Very interesting hub.. I’m very short, most men are taller than I am and I definitely prefer that. Thanks for sharing your findings.