Relationship Advice


Why do women love tall men?

eHarmony

By Erina Lee, Ph.D.

Look at couples in the street – usually the man is taller than the woman. Then look at some of the posts on our Advice site – it seems like all women are looking for a taller man. Sometimes it’s because they’re tall themselves and don’t want to tower over their partner, or because they just like tall men.

According to the research this isn’t just a fluke, and nor is it that the taller the better. Instead, it seems that women use a man’s height to work decide how attracted they are to them.

If you look at the couples around you, you find that most men are taller than their women.  This isn’t just a coincidence, nor it is it as simple as taller is better, although research does show some preference for taller men.  What’s interesting is how women use height, just as they might use hair colour, in gauging their attraction to a potential mate.

Why does taller seem to equal attractive?
It might seem like a no brainer that most women will end up with a partner taller than themselves, as men are on average the taller sex. But, in a 1980 study (Gillis & Avis) of 720 couples, only one couple had a taller woman and shorter man. This much smaller percentage than expected by chance suggests there is a selective preference for taller men.

Additionally tallness is seen as showing masculinity:

•    Taller men are seen as more dominant and assertive (Melamed, 1992)
•    Evolutionarily, larger men may have been seen as more able to provide, and as passing on strong genes to their children
•    Following on from this, taller men have been found to have one more biological child than shorter men (Pawlowski, Dunbar, & Lipowicz, 2000)

The way that tallness is rewarded by society in general goes some way to explaining why some women prefer tall men, as they may be perceived as more powerful and even more attractive. Women may also feel protected and more feminine by a partner taller than themselves. To back this idea up, women who have more ‘traditional’ views on their role in society have been shown to be less inclined to date shorter men (Salska, et al., 2008)

What else plays a part in height preference?
If the female preference for taller men is so strong, then we’d all be dating basketball players and Peter Crouch (!) In fact, taller doesn’t mean better – other factors play a part. For one thing, it’s been shown the woman’s own height plays a part (Fink et al., 2007), requiring the man to be at least as tall as her.

This makes sense too – if women only ever went for the tallest possible men, their dating pool would be tiny (Salska, et al., 2008). However, research also found that women are attracted to taller men during ovulation i.e. when they’re at their most fertile (Pawlowski & Jaseinska, 2005) – these women are looking to pass good genes onto their potential offspring, without considering factors needed in a mate for a long-term relationship.

Now for the good news…
If you’re a shorter gentleman you might be reading this with a heavy heart. But remember that in choosing a partner based on their height, a woman’s own height, dating pool and relationship expectations come into consideration.

Height isn’t everything, by a long chalk – especially when we’re talking about long term relationships. According to a study by Braun & Bryan in 2006, women value intelligence, personality and career over physical appearance when looking for a serious relationship.

Add to this the fact that evolutionary theory strongly suggests that women wanting a long-term partner are looking for someone who will provide and be reliable, and the height factor starts to look less and less important. It’s true that no study can ever pin point what every individual woman wants from a partner, but these deep rooted desires are a good (and reassuring) starting point.

Further reading
Braun, M. F., & Bryan, A. (2006). Female waist-to-hip and male waist-to-shoulder ratios as determinants of romantic desirability. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 23, 805-819.
Buss, D., M. (1998). The evolution of human intrasexual competition: Tactics of mate attraction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 616-628.
Fink, B., Neave, N., Brewer, G., & Pawlowski, B. (2007). Variable preferences for sexual dimorphism in stature (SDS): Further evidence for an adjustment in relation to own height. Personality and Individual Differences, 43, 2249-2257.
Gills, J. S., & Avis, W. E. (1980). The male-taller norm in mate selection. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 6, 396-401.
Hensley, W. E. (1994). Height as a basis for interpersonal attraction. Adolescence, 29, 469-474.
Melamed, T. (1992). Personality correlates of physical height. Personality and Individual Differences, 13, 1349-1350.
Pawlowski, B., Dunbar, R. I. M., & Lipowicz, A. (2000). Tall men have more reproductive success. Nature, 403, 156.
Pawlowski, B., & Jasienska, G. (2005). Women’s preferences for sexual dimorphism in height depend on menstrual cycle phase and expected duration of relationship. Biological Psychology, 70, 38-43.

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41 thoughts on “Why do women love tall men?

  1. Quite simply, I love tall men because I’m 5’11″!!!

  2. tall men are so lovely carely easy going people they forgive so easly

  3. i love tall nem too

  4. Steve, Manchester

    October 12, 2010 at 10:36 PM

    I’m 5ft 10 so I think I quality as not being a short arse but why this obsession with tall men? How boring.

  5. Can’t answer that Steve I just know I’m attracted to tall men :-) They don’t have to be mega tall, around 6ft for me, although I am flexible to a degree. I tend to go 5ft 10in and up.

  6. Steve, Manchester

    October 14, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    if you just cross someone off ‘cos they are lacking a few inches, you could be ruling out a lot of men who might be completely brilliantly compatible. and remember, when you’re sat down or cuddled up to someone in bed, you wont care how tall they are!

  7. Steve has a point, finding the perfect partner is difficult enough so why rule out 30% of the applicants based on some instinct driven by animal survival. It’s been many years since height determines one’s ability to provide, surely it’s just another tick box like personality, career, charm, wit, whatever. There’s too many Bridget Jones’s out there with rigid Darcy criteria, give Napoleon a try one day, you may be surprised and live happily ever after. I’m not saying you have to bend down to kiss somebody, just relax the rules
    Your sincerely mr 5.6 30% can kicker

  8. I find it odd that women are judged for prefering tall men. Men choose women based on their physical attributes all the time. In fact they’ve done studies that show what the prefered female measurements are among men. Having said that, I’m sure there are plenty of women who will end up with shorter men regardless. For some of us though it’s a matter of attraction. I am simply not attracted to short men. I generally don’t date men under 6′, the shortest was 5’11″.

  9. Steve, manchester

    November 12, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    John is right, there are too many girls looking for “Darcy”.

  10. “I find it odd that women are judged for prefering tall men. Men choose women based on their physical attributes all the time.”

    I sooooooooooo agree with that.

    It really doesn’t matter if I exclude x% of the population, especially seeing as I’m not attracted to them. After all I’m only looking for one person :-) .

  11. It’s nature again. Tall men had higher chances of survival ages ago and are more likely to have taller kids too. Which does not explain why most men dont like a taller woman. Maybe it’s also about who is ‘dominant’ in the couple.

  12. well being tall can’t be the only reason a women goes for a man. i’m 6′ 4″ and i’ve never been mobbed by large crowds of women in my life.

  13. Sure I dont have a problem with women who are say 5’10 and want to date tall Men. I’m 5’7 so I’m def not a tall guy but what I find frustrating is that a lot of women I meet that are around the same height or shorter still say to me, but “Oh I like tall Men”. And my response is you’re 5’3 and you only date Men over 6ft? Hmm! Perhaps its the “Darcy” thing or Media in general but its sad and it is a Confidence Knock when you’re average height like myself and told you should be taller in order to get an Attractive Woman!

  14. tall men are very attractive,wow,some men have issues,good looking women can have their pick who they like.5 10 is SHORT! 0ver 6ft only and would NOT go shoerter! i have seen one guy on here comment on lots of issues..u obviously have lots of free time and with your bad attitude toward women and ur shortfalls will be forever single!

  15. quite simply doesnt matter how tall the woman is if she likes tall men then she likes tall men simple! manchester steve on these forums like a tramp on chips..wow issues!

  16. Haha lucy – couldn’t agree more. Both Steve and John, I think, have ‘small man’ syndrome. And remember guys, the smallness isn’t restricted to the height department…

  17. I’m 6ft2″, so bring it on! :)

  18. Everyone has their preferences. I don’t like my women over 5’11″ or under 5’5″ because I’m 5’8″. And everyone is guilty as sin for choosing their mates based off appearance. Welcome to the scientific world of natural selection. It’s in our genetics and along with the rest of the species on this planent. So my suggestion to those even “shorter” men is step your game up and get yourself a taller woman, so hopefully one day your children will be taller. That’s my game plan anyway with my 5’11″ Colombian beauty queen! :D

  19. I’m 6ft7″, and many years ago, went out on a date with a lady who was 6ft4″.

    As we walked down the street after dinner, we kept getting stared at, like it was Invasion of the Giants.

    So some women like taller men? That’s nice. Some probably don’t. Does it really matter?

  20. super shiny black

    June 9, 2011 at 12:58 AM

    i’m 6ft2″, with a perfect body shape, a shiny balck skin and a baby face. i must say that i was blessed, being tall is just amazing. i dont have problems in getting the girl i want no matter how hot they are. and i’m less jealous coz i’m confident

  21. Tall men just look better! It sounds harsh on smaller men but that’s the way it is and always has been. All of my friends seem to go for men who are 6ft and above. One friend even decided not to date a guy because he was “too small”. 6 foot 2 is the perfect height for a guy in my opinion.

  22. short man syndrome

    August 12, 2011 at 5:07 PM

    as a small man myself (5’6), I’ve always felt insecure about my height, or lack of. Ive lost count of the amount of times I’ve been turned down by women for being too small.

    I vividly remember this party one time round a friend’s house. I spent a lot of time chatting with this girl and we’d been getting on really well and flirting relentlessly. We’d both been drinking a bit and as the party fizzled out people were leaving and I plucked up the courage and asked if she wanted to go back to mine. She smiled apologetically and bluntly said “sorry… I like taller guys. You’re kind of small”

    I’ve never felt so little – literally! If there was some sort of operation that made you even a few inches taller I would be willing to pay limitless amounts of money to have it done.

    Unfortunately I just have to accept my height, but tall guys, make the most of what you have. You have no idea how much small guys like me would give to have your height.

  23. michelle#14 “5ft10in is SHORT! 0ver 6ft only and would NOT go shorter!”

    ok then, but ONLY IF you are not shorter than 172cm=6ft8in(FYI I am 181cm=6ft tall and 172cm from my experience is minimum girl height that I like)

  24. After what I’ve read in this section, I very much doubt I’ll find my dream date.
    I’m only 5′ 1″, It makes me wonder why I bother in the first place.
    Personality is more important than height and physique.

  25. Yes but height and physique are what attract us girls to men in the first place. A lot of my friends would not date a short man and I myself prefer my men to be tall. It’s just more comforting/sexy.

    Sorry if that sounds harsh, I’m just being honest!

  26. 5″6 male here below average looking and never once had a problem with anyone telling me I was too short and I have had far more than average encounters with women.

    I guess personality and good humour goes a long way.

  27. Yes Conner I agree I feel the same, I’m 5’7 and never had a problem with women. obviously I would stay away from taller girls 5’10+ but wouldnt rule them out. I just think smaller girls are far prettier all the energy as gone into their looks and not just growing their bodies.

    Food for thought though if women prefer tall men why do they like Mediterranean men which are all generally short?

    Oh and how many tall old people do you see? shorter people have better genes. It is true smaller people live longer in general.

    A lot of it is media though, Like the men prefer blonds, yeah right! line up 10 blonds and 10 brunettes and you can almost guarantee the percentage of better looking women in the brunettes line will be more than the blonds.

    No offense girls but its true.

    At the end of on first impressions the tall might seem like the alpha male but a true smaller alpha male will win hands down. Its all about being a alpha male but dont be to much of a nob with it.

    If any girls want my number please do not hesitate to contact me! how ever tall or small you are..

  28. Sorry the second to last paragraph was meant to read:

    At the end of the day on first impressions the tall man might seem like the alpha male but a true smaller alpha male will win hands down. Its all about being a alpha male but dont be to much of a nob with it.

  29. Tony, I have to say, it sounds like you suffer from a classic case of small man syndrome!

    Tall men represent protection, better genes and just look better than small men! That’s why us women are attracted to them. You need to accept that. I would NEVER date a man under 6 foot.

    I also read a report that tall men generally land better paid jobs than short men. I’d suggest that that could be down to perception – employers are more likely to have confidence and trust in a tall man.

    In my experience small men are a lot more insecure, bitter and cynical than tall men.

  30. Ouch, Emily! Heheh

    I don’t think that anything Tony just said represented symptoms of small man syndrome at all. He was merely giving a good explanation of the reality of dating. I’m 5.8″, average looking and have been lucky enough to have great looking girlfriends all my life. Women that become familiar with me, like me.

    On face value, i’m not tall enough for a lot of women but so what. I don’t want to be with a women that only likes tall men either, so i’m glad they make it clear.

    There is a definite pattern that is clear from profiles on internet dating sites – the smaller the women, the taller the man has to be that they will go with. For me, a women of 5’5 – 5’8 can accept me. Try getting a woman who is 5.1, forget it!

    Women under 5’5 feel very uncomfortable with short men. Because they feel that they look like 2 short people walking down the road, and are afraid of having short children. It’s natural selection pure and simple.

    The shorter they are, the taller the man has to be to make up for that short-coming (no pun intended).

    I’ve given up looking at women under 5’4. Check out Match.com, you will clearly see, because only on match can a women specify height in the ‘about my date’ section. It’s the first thing i look at on a woman’s page. The minimum height that women specify is usually 5’8, often 5’10+. I’m often lucky enough to be at their lowest acceptable height.

    Yet, women over 5’5 tall, much less often specify the minimum height.

    So basically it is not short men, but short WOMEN who are often insecure, bitter, cynical, unrealistic, delusional Bridget Joneses.

    Small women syndrome :-)

  31. What a load of nonsense. It is a FACT that women and men do NOT know what they want – they just THINK they know what they want. Then when they experience anything different they realise they like it. E.g. tall woman short dude with donkey anatomy and awesome personality.

    I am short and have dated gorgeous women some who were models because I can. I am so glad I don’t believe nonsense. I came across this site while researching a new book I am writing on dating because I got so good at it. You make your own reality – FACT! Well at least that has been my personal experience. I am also half man half donkey (top half is man – I do not have brain of a donkey – also I’d like to add I do not have backside of a donkey either). I also suffer from 2 medical conditions:

    1) Lactose intolerance – can’t tolerate lactose in milk.

    2) Bull s*&! intolerance – can’t tolerate bull s*&! – which is why my life is awesome.

    Thank you and good night, next time the star of the show could be you!

    ;)

  32. Look at all these small men blaming others for their shortcomings. Women prefer taller men, deal with it! I should know, I’m 6’1 and nothing special in the looks department but I still get more than my fair share of women. I’ve been told on countless occasions by girls that they feel safer around me.

    And no it’s not just small women who seek out a taller partner, it’s also tall women who don’t want to be the taller one in the relationship. Having a tall boyfriend makes them feel more womanly. Afterall it’s not very feminine to tower over men is it?

  33. Although many reasons are attributed to the Psychological side of why a woman loves a tall man – The main or the most profound reason is his T*O*O*L that interests the woman. Since the days of primitive history, Woman are programmed to think that tall men have a rock solid and l*o*n*g one and imagine themselves that they get more pleasure out of a long T*O*O*L. Such is their misconception and false thinking that they think they are Leaders and best service providers, which in many cases is incorrect.

    If that is the case why are Leaders like Napolean, Hitler, Alexander, Julius Ceasar were average height people who shook the World ?. Its just the women’s S*I*C*K thinking thats it…

  34. In my previous comment when I said T*O*O*L please read it as male’s reproductive organ….

  35. I’m a 5’6 guy with soft caramel chocolate baby skin and lots of women love that. All colours, shapes, sizes you name it. It’s also good to be blessed below the belt too. I love the look on womens faces when they see me naked for the first time! I think the good old rule of nature that opposites attract with some similarites in between is important. It explains why I go crazy for tall women and they love me too! I never read into the nonsense of the man always needing to be taller that his girl. I would’ve missed out on some amazing women if I did. I don’t cut out shorter women either because they are just as hot.

  36. as you can see by these comments all the short men have a problem with their height. They are all trying to prove themselves as being amazing with women and getting beautiful women. Im 6″3 and I just laugh at all these insecure short men. Short guys stop saying that the women are wrong, its all personal preference, some women wont have a problem with your height. all you need is confidence and you will get plenty of girls JUST STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT. i know its easy for me to say but Im just giving some advice.

  37. Hi, no one chose their height when they were born so it really doesnt matter. Just find the girl who will appreciate you and you dont even need to look at anyone else. Keep your gaze for your wife alone and your love would be so intense
    That would be the muslim stance :)

  38. the taller you are the harder you fall……

  39. I agree that most women will prefer tall men and that’s their right.. but guys don’t fall for their comments on here, a lot of these women feel imsecure about their weight, breast size, leg length/width, feet size, eyebrow shape, eyelash length, facial hair, arm hair, lip size, back fat, flabby arms etc so a lot of them cant wait to find men who feel physically insecure to make you feel like them. Dont take it personally even though im not short and have insecurity about physique or height I do think its sad that both sexes are made to feel this way..just be greatful guys that we dont have as many as them just hairloss and height lol,

  40. I LOVE tall men. Having a guy tower over me is just so sexy and I love standing next to a tall man. It makes me feel more of a woman. Not too tall obviously but anything above 6 foot is good. 6’2 is PERFECT!

    Unfortunately most men who like me tend to be on the short side, I’ve only really had one boyfriend who could be described as “tall”. He was good looking but so full of himself, so personality does come into it, it’s just that height is what first attracts us.

  41. Hi! Interesting comments on here. I’m a 5’2 female and think that tall men (6ft +) exude a more masculine vibe that naturally draws women in. I’ve noticed that I find myself more attracted to tall men, even if they’re not particularly good looking. It basically comes down to women’s predetermined instincts and you can’t really criticise them for having those! That’s not to say I wouldn’t ever date a small guy but I probably wouldn’t have the same initial attraction to him as I would a taller man.

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