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Here's What People Really Think About Height And Dating

"Having an extreme physical characteristic is useful β€” the way people react to it tells you a lot about them in an instant."

Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / Via BuzzFeed

Height is quite often the first thing you notice about a person, so it plays a big role in the dynamics of ~attraction~

Yes, focusing on what's inside is more important β€”Β but that's easier said than done. It's hard to ignore something as obvious as height, especially if it makes a person stand out.

While some people find that their height doesn't impact dating at all, others may feel that it allows for judgment, fetishization, and stereotyping. In a society where there are ideals of femininity and masculinity, it can be difficult for individuals who don't fit neatly into those boxes. Plus, navigating the world of dating is already a mess, so being on an extreme end of any physical spectrum doesn't exactly make it any easier.

We talked to some of BuzzFeed’s tallest and shortest employees β€” and a few in between β€” about how their height has impacted the way they experience dating and relationships.

1. Kevin is 5'3", dates men, and finds that opposites attract.

Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / Via BuzzFeed

Kevin: I'm not one to complain about being short, because once you realize you can shop in the children's section and climb on top of things to get to out-of-reach objects, you're pretty much on a level playing field with the rest of the world. But when it comes to dating, it can be tricky. I think a lot of guys fetishize the height gap and say things like, "I'm so into you because you're so short," or "It's really hot knowing that I could lift you up in bed," etc.

Or guys can also be completely dismissive once they see me in person and say, "You seem much taller in your photos" or "I didn't realize how short you were until you got off that stool." I recently had one guy actually look over my head to see if the person he was meeting was someone else besides me. Kind of hilarious.

But of course in a completely contradictory way, I'm usually attracted to men who are much, much taller than I am. So I guess opposites attract, or I just enjoy the awkward interactions/comical antics of doing activities with someone much taller than I?

2. Caroline is 6'0", dates men, and is tired of her height being up for discussion.

Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / Via BuzzFeed

Caroline: I love my height. Standing out (physically) my whole life has led me to be much more confident and fearless of being different. But dating is interesting. There are definitely a lot of great guys who only see six feet as one small part of who I am. However, I also deal with so many ignorant men who make a huge deal about my height, probably to bury their own insecurity or intimidation. They make endless unwarranted comments, trying to reassure me that I don't seem "too tall" or "too big." They'll say, "You carry it well," or "Just don't wear heels and you're fine." They act shocked when I say I'm six feet, and beg me to stand back-to-back. It makes me feel like a zoo animal.

These comments also imply that there's a cutoff at which a woman's height becomes unattractive and unacceptable β€”Β and that luckily, I fall below it. But I don't understand why people think it's OK to shamelessly put down other women who are taller or bigger than I am. Every "amazon" and "giant" these men compare me to β€” they are PEOPLE. And they are my people; we're all tall women. So when men reassure me that I'm not "too tall," it isn't flattering β€” it's infuriating.

I think the bigger issue is how comfortable random men are talking to me about my body. My height isn't a purely aesthetic feature you can comment on candidly, like a coat or a hat. It's a part of myself I've fought, manipulated, resented, and struggled to embrace for over half of my life. So when people inevitably criticize me for taking men's comments about my height too personally, I'm the first to agree. My height is personal β€” it's incredibly personal. And I haven't worked this hard to love my body for some guy to nonchalantly tell me how to feel about it over a gin and tonic.

3. Meredith is 5'5", dates mostly men, and finds her height is more of an advantage since transitioning.

Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / Via BuzzFeed

Meredith: I'm a trans woman who's 5'5", so average height for women in the States and shorter than most trans women I know. As someone who mostly β€” though not exclusively β€” dates men, I feel like my height has helped me a lot with dating, because men unconsciously perceive me as "normal," and I don't activate their unconscious transphobia as badly. I've been told more than a few times that "there's no way I can tell you're trans," and that helps men feel comfortable dating me. I've even been in a couple of dating situations where people have thought I was kidding when I came out to them as trans.

So, contrary to popular belief, my dating life on the whole has actually been more successful after transition than it was before, as a cis gay man. Back when I identified as a gay man, my short stature was a liability, since the mainstream gay world is into tall, muscular guys. As a blonde, blue-eyed woman of average height, I get asked out a lot more, though I'm not 100% sure dating's actually any easier!

4. Brett is 5'8", dates women, and wants to stop dealing with unrealistic ideals of masculinity.

Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / Via BuzzFeed

Brett: I'm 5'8", so I've always felt I'm in this weird middle ground of not really knowing if I'm "short" or not. I mean, the average American male is technically at 5'10", so by that measure I'm shorter than average, but should I self-identify as "short"? And since I also have a wider frame, I've always felt a bit stockier than I'd like. That's low-key why I always feel the need to have my hair with a bit of body β€” to make up for lost ground.

That self-consciousness definitely stems over into my dating life too, and with online dating even more. I understand everyone has their preferences, but it's always been the most baffling thing to me how some people unabashedly put things like "Under 5'10" need not apply" right in their profile, dismissing someone right off the bat based on something so superficial. Though in fairness, when I see someone write something like that, I immediately lose attraction to their personality anyway.

As far as dating a woman taller than me, I'm definitely fine with it, but I'm also probably guilty of preemptively thinking I'm "too short" for a woman taller than me and not giving it a proper chance. When it comes down to it, it's not really even about the height. The root cause of all that self-consciousness is that toxic masculinity garbage that makes us believe the taller you are, the "manlier" you are, and the better you are.

5. Chaya is 5'0", dates mostly men, and finds her small size to be an advantage in a traditional gender binary.

Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / Via BuzzFeed

Chaya: I remember being teased for being short in middle school, as my girl friends had their puberty growth spurts and I stayed the same from sixth grade until forever. But over time, I noticed that it was hardly a problem in my dating life β€” in fact, almost all of the guys I dated in my teens and twenties were six feet or taller.

That's not to say that tall men are better, but that my own physical size didn't restrict me to any specific height range within the straight male population. And as I got older, more and more men I dated would comment on it: "I love how I can pick you up," "You're so cute and little," and even, "I'm only dating Chaya-sized girls from now on." I got rid of him shortly after. One even said explicitly, "I feel so manly with you."

It's sort of been a firsthand exercise in how a lot of guys associate traits they see as childlike with femininity β€” they equate my height with an overall smallness, and that then makes them feel "big," playing into a traditionally desirable gender binary and power structure between men and women.

There's nothing I can do about my height to resist these norms, but I can certainly say that I'm not a "small" person, aside from physically, and guys come to see that soon after meeting me. However, some things are near inescapable; I wish I had a penny for every time a guy called me a "firecracker" as a compliment. I always wonder if that's the catchall term for someone petite with half a personality.

6. Erik is 6'8", dates women, and can learn a lot about people by the way they react to his height.

Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / Via BuzzFeed

Erik: As far as dating goes, my height became less and less of an issue as I got older. When I was a teenager β€” I was 6'4" by the time I turned 16 β€” I got nowhere with the ladies. At that age, everyone is freaking out about their appearance because they just want to fit in. Having an extreme physical characteristic that's totally out of your control can be pretty crushing when your self-esteem hinges on fitting in. And there's nothing less attractive than low self-esteem.

Another thing that can make it difficult to fit in is having a giant sad guy following you around everywhere, so I don't blame the ladies for passing on that opportunity back then. Even the girl in the arcade at the bowling alley, who, when 15-year-old me worked up the nerve to ask her out on date, answered, "You're too tall." I'm totally not upset about that anymore, but I think a simple no would've done the trick.

Anyway, everything changed once I got to college. Everyone just ping-pongs around the universe, building identities all over again. Interactions with people become less superficial and you gravitate toward people who genuinely interest you. If you're tall, with a strong jaw, and you've spent the past few years practicing brooding, you do exceedingly well during this time.

Lots of people are still incredibly rude to me and say things about my height all the time. Tourists try to sneak photos with me. Guys try to pick fights with me in bars. When I was younger I would have internalized that and blamed myself and not seen it for what it actually is β€” a deep character flaw in those other people. Having an extreme physical characteristic is useful in that way. The way people react to it tells you a lot about them in an instant. Now, I'm engaged to a smart and beautiful woman who tells me that she likes my height. And since you're probably wondering, she's 5'6".

7. Emily is 5'4", dates women, and doesn't think height ever needs to be a dealbreaker.

Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / Via BuzzFeed

Emily: I will say that I used to be super intimidated by tall women. I'm not sure if it was a psychological or physical thing, but I got over it pretty quickly once I dated, like, one tall girl. It just takes a little adjusting to someone tall, if you're used to dating short people, and vice versa.

Hot tip for anyone weirded out by height differences: Just sit for the date and you won't notice how tall or short they are. Then by the end of the date, when you stand up, you'll know them as a person and not as their height. It's honestly a LOT easier to ignore than a bad personality, etc. I mean, in the end, I don't think it really matters.

8. Dan is 5'5", dates men, and feels pressure to fit a certain body type as a gay man.

Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / Via BuzzFeed

Dan: Being short is nearly as much of an identity as any other characteristic, since it affects so much of your day-to-day life. I can't reach the top shelf at the grocery store, it's hard to find clothes that don't need tailoring, and of course, dating can be an adventure. It's obnoxious to see a dating profile that says something like "guys under 5'10" need not apply." It's so superficial.

Yes, dating, to a degree, is inherently superficial β€”Β but it's still like, "Really, would you talk to me if I were wearing tiny hidden stilts?" Though it is a nice way to weed out assholes. If you're that judgmental about height, you're probably equally insufferable in some other way. I've dated people both shorter and taller than me, and it's really all the same. Sure, sometimes standing on your tiptoes for a goodnight kiss feels silly, but c'mon, if you're horizontal, the physics are all the same.

As a short guy who's also struggled with weight, it's even tougher. Sometimes you just feel undesirable. Losing weight over the past year has definitely made me more confident, but it's still a daily battle. Though I do have a few friends who are both short and super skinny, who get stuck with the "pocket gay" label, and somehow that seems even worse. Overall, if I had to pick between staying shorter than average and being way taller, I'd stay the same.

9. Rachel is 5'11", dates men, and finds it attractive when shorter guys are confident enough to be interested.

Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / Via BuzzFeed

Rachel: I've been tall my whole life. I tend to like it now, but it definitely makes dating a little tougher. I've been more or less single for about two years now, so yes, I have Tinder and a few other similar apps. I am positive that I'm left-swiped by shorter people a lot due to my height. I list my height in my profile, since I know some guys don't like it. If a guy doesn't list his, I assume he's shorter than me and I don't ask about it.

The last time I asked a Tinder match how tall he was, the guy freaked. "Listen lady, I'm so sick of women asking how tall I am. How would you like it if you were always asked about your bra size huh, and if I said I only like to date women with 34Ds and up?" Well, actually, yes, I would understand!

In an ideal world, I would date men who are taller than me, but I am definitely not opposed to dating someone my height or a little bit shorter. In fact, for whatever reason, I seem to end up with men like that; the last guy I was seriously with was 5'10". If anything, I find that if a man is 5'9" or 5'10" and likes my height, he's super confident and secure, and that's really attractive.

The first time I met my ex's father, who I think was 5'8", he referred to me as a "breeder." I don't think he meant it in a derogatory way, but he seemed way too excited about the possibility of introducing my tall genes into his family. At the time I thought it was funny, although now when I look back I should have been kind of horrified! How about liking me for my brains or personality?! Also, sorry that I never had your son's kids.

10. Will is 6'2", dates men, and wants to feel less weird about a big height difference.

Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / Via BuzzFeed

Will: In general, my height has been a positive for me in my dating life and relationships. In the society I live in, as a gay man, my height is seen as desirable. I've definitely had the experience of hooking up with someone and being really into them, but then walking down the street the next day and feeling awkward because there's a big height disparity.

I know the perception of others does influence who I date, or even decide to hang out with, when in an ideal world it would just be about the connection I have with that person. I feel that I've missed out on dating some great guys because a height difference made one of us feel awkward.

11. Terri is 5'0", dates men, and isn't too short to notice when guys add a few inches on dating apps.

Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / Via BuzzFeed

Terri: I've been on the shorter side my whole life. Because of that, I've taken being short as a fact of life. It doesn't bother me, not in social situations or dating situations. To that end, guys' height has never bothered me, either. Some shorter girls I know will say they're only attracted to really tall guys, but that's never been a thing for me. I'm not one of those people who HAS to date someone tall, but I do notice that short guys have always sought me out because I'm shorter than them.

It does annoy me when guys lie about their height on dating apps, because you can always find out when they have. I don't like wearing heels, but one time, I wore these heeled booties on a first date with a guy who said he was 5'5". The booties had about a two-inch heel on them, and I was taller than him when we met up. Why would you lie about your height when the point is to meet up with someone? Don't you know they'll find out?

I'd rather date a guy who says he's five feet tall and is honest than someone who's trying (unsuccessfully) to cover something up. It doesn't make me uncomfortable to feel taller than a guy when I'm wearing heels, but I can tell when they feel weird about it.

12. Shannon is 5'5", dates men, and has come to love her height after struggling as an early bloomer.

Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / Via BuzzFeed

Shannon: I was an early bloomer and it was hard for me, because any guy I had a crush on up until freshman year of high school was a LOT shorter than me. But after everyone went through puberty, it was never a problem again, because I basically haven't grown since seventh grade.

I have a thing for tall guys, and I've always been insecure about being short β€” even though 5'5'' is technically average β€” and having short, muscular legs. There are times where I've wanted to be taller and leggier. But the grass is always greener on the other side, I guess. I've come to terms with my height, and I love the size that I am. I have to stand on my tippy toes to kiss my 6'3'' boyfriend sometimes. But hey, it means my calves are always toned AF.

13. Chris is 6'4", dates women, and finds that a big height difference only makes things more hilariously interesting.

Lauren Zaser / Jenny Chang / Via BuzzFeed

Chris: To be honest, I never really explored the dating scene. Instead, I've had a relationship with the same, incredible lady for six years and it has helped me become immeasurably more comfortable with myself. She's 5'2" and I'm 6'4". With over a foot of height difference, life is funny, and we embrace every second of the mismatch.

Hanging out with her equally small friends, I look like I'm chaperoning a field trip. Traveling in Europe, I pretend to be a famous basketball player and we breeze through airport security. Even a simple shower together is an accident waiting to happen. If I take a little spill, it's like a redwood tree coming down with a single blade of grass trying to stop it. We've seen it all. Well, I've seen it all. Her vision is usually obstructed.

Bottom line: It's all relative.


Body Positivity Week is a week of content devoted to exploring and celebrating our complicated relationships with our bodies. Check out more great Body Positivity Week content here.

Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed

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