Ask Wendy

How to Date a Short Guy

Friday, February 8, 2019
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Hey Wendy,

I am dating a man I met online. He stated he was 5'8". I am 5'4" but have always preferred men 5'10" or taller. Once we met in person, I could tell he was more like 5'6" since we were eye-to-eye with my flat shoes on.

I feel awkward with our height being so close. I was raised to "look up" to my man and all my friends and family are with taller men. I went on more dates with him because I thought it was shallow to discount all of his good qualities just because of his height. He is charming, funny, intelligent, we have similar values, can talk for hours and we have amazing sexual chemistry.

My friends, family and even the professionals say to get over it and height means nothing but they are not married to or dating a short man, including you. I used to say the same thing until now when I am walking in those shoes. What advice can you give women in my situation to get over this stigma so we don't sabotage a good thing because of a few inches?

Jean T. - Portland, Oregon

Hey Jean,

Did you know science shows that on average women prefer their mate to be at least four inches taller, so we feel safe? Yup. This comes from our instinctive, animalistic reflexes, and has nothing to do with the actual modern-day quality of our lives. Hanging out with a person who’s 5’10” won’t keep you any more safe than roaming around with someone who’s 5’6”.

Sometimes our instincts save our lives, other times they give us seriously antiquated and archaic data. It’s a crapshoot.

So, what do you do about a few missing inches? You certainly have the right to pass. We get to be as shallow as we want to when it comes to our personal life. But it sounds like you want to keep this one, and I kinda want you to, too. He sounds pretty great for you.

So, I’m going to recommend that you try what I did to get over this back when I was dating someone who was nose-to-nose with me when he was wearing lifted shoes and I was barefoot. And for the record, I did get all the way over it – more than once.

This four-part method of claiming a victory of human spirit while squashing this superannuated instinct will take some thought but it isn’t that hard. Ready for it?

Step #1. Decide to get over it.

Oh wait, that’s actually step #4. We’ll get to that one in a minute.

Step #1. Trick Your Animal.

You need to feel safe when you’re with your sweetheart, and your instinctual human animal is telling you that you won’t be safe with this one, so you should flee. It’s tricking you. So, trick it back! Make a list of the things he brings to the table that do make you feel safe.

Intelligence tops that list. Today, that’s what will save your bacon from a real life-threatening sitch. If he has to rely on his physical strength and size to get you two out of a jam, he’s already lost the battle. Using brute force as a day-saving choice is option D for any smart guy.

How about charm? That’s a good one. Charisma and charm change hearts and minds and can turn a dangerous situation right around.

Can he calm you? Being calm makes you feel safe, doesn’t it?

Do you want to know the most important person he needs to save you from? Can you guess? It’s you. He needs to be able to save you from yourself. Can you see that? Can he do that?

Once you’ve made your “he can totally keep me safe” list, you can move to…

Step #2. Assess All the Perks in the Package.

Think of him as the total package he is. Height is a perk. If you don’t get that specific perk, what other perks do you get in this package? Is he a trivia buff and can give you an accurate answer to any question on a dime? Is he supportive of you and stands unwaveringly by you because he believes in you? Can he make you laugh so hard your Pellegrino water shoots out of your nose? Does he look at you with so much hunger and heart that you feel sexy, desired and cherished? Will he tell you how it really is even when it’s hard to hear? Does he have your back? And wait a minute… didn’t you say something about amazing sexual chemistry? That’s definitely a perk.

What are all of the perks you’d be giving up?

Is it worth it to trade all of that to be in the arms of someone who’s 5’10”?

Ted Bundy is 5’10”.

Ok, let’s move past that image and on to…

Step #3. Him or Alone?

Integrate what you know about him, how he makes you feel safe, and all the other perks he brings and answer this question:

“Would I rather be alone than be with a guy shorter than 5’10”?”

Asking “alone” vs “with a different and taller person” will help you see if height is truly a deal-breaker for you. There probably is a real number where yeah, you’d rather be alone. And that’s your prerogative; it’s fine to own that. (I say this reluctantly — now I can’t stop thinking of Peter Dinklage’s crush-worthiness. There’s always gonna be the exceptions.)

And finally…

Step #4. Decide.

How do we do anything? We decide to. And in this case, it’s not hard: In or out?

There’s not a steep learning curve here, or a need for a decade of therapy to get past it. It’s your sheer will that makes this choice.

And if you pick “in” please be both-feet-all-the-way in.

One of the most disappointing things I see in couples is when one person reluctantly signs on to be with someone when they don’t accept something that will never change. It’s a pointless way to spend your energy.

So… are you ready?

In or out?

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