Height obsession is everywhere on dating apps. Here’s what the experts think about it.


Where exactly does the preference come from? There are several reasons, at least when it comes to heterosexual relationships. One is cultural, including predominantly Western expectations that reinforce the shorter woman, taller man dynamic, he said. Natalia Zhikharevaa clinical psychologist based in Los Angeles.

“We live in a society where height is still valued, being tall and attractive,” he said. “Everywhere you look, [whether it’s] social media, television, movies, even a child’s story, Cinderella – the main man is tall. Imagine if Prince Charming got off the horse and was 5’5”? We’re inundated with this message that this is what’s attractive and this is what’s attractive.”

Why some people say in their profile that they prefer taller men

On the other side of the coin, some women may be basing their own sense of attractiveness and femininity in the context of their partner’s height.

Rachael, who is 25, 5’5″ and prefers men to be her height or taller, said that increasing her height eases any self-consciousness about her body shape and size, making intimacy feel more satisfying and less uncomfortable.

“In a way, it could also affect our sense of self-esteem because it’s like, if you see short men as less compatible partners, why does that say that about me if I only have short men showing up in my DMs?” said Rachael, who asked that we not use her last name. “Does that mean none of the top muscle men will be seen? [at] me?”

On dating apps, men tend to lead with measurements, starting their bios with “Height seems to be important here, so before you ask, I’m 6’1″.” They can forego touches entirely custom by limiting deets to their height It’s a tactic that can definitely attract a right swipe – according to dating app Badoo, the main keyword for men to get matches was “6 feet.” But it also puts women in a complicated situation of having to resort to height as a representative or signifier of who they are as a person.

“I’m a rather short woman in real life who doesn’t have a height preference for guys I meet in real life,” Sabrina K. wrote to BuzzFeed News in an email. “Yet on dating apps, I find myself wanting taller men. I know I don’t care in real life, but on dating apps I do… [because] profiles aren’t as detailed, and there’s nothing to worry about when you’re swiping for men.”

This is not to say that using proxies is bad. We use them all the time when filtering by age, political status, or undying love for Lizzo. But height in particular seems to prevent us from getting a real sense of a person who might otherwise be matched on features other than their height, he said. Matthew Lundquistpsychotherapist and founder of Tribeca Therapy in New York specializing in dating therapy.

“Dating apps distort the reality of the complex, nuanced, in vivo, lived chemical complexity of two people who are in a room together, whether they want to go on a second date, kiss, kiss, kiss or build as if not. a life together,” he said.

Height stigma in the queer community

Trans men are not exempt from the height disadvantage when dating straight women, he said James Barnesa coach who helps trans people transition.

“I’ve had trans men who are clients [and] that she will meet someone she wants to date. Women will say they’re too short, they say straight up, “I’m not even against you being trans, you’re just not my type, I want a taller guy.” “Height has affected a lot of trans men in my life. … I’ve seen them miss out on what I would say would be the possibility of great relationships just because of height.”

That’s especially true if passing as a man is important to a trans man or someone who identifies as male, said Zhikareva, who specializes in transgender care and counseling.

“When you’re dating and you’re measuring up to the stereotype, which presumes to be someone tall and strong, and you feel like you’re not up to par, you’re going to have insecurities,” she said. These insecurities can, consciously or unconsciously, lead trans individuals to a self-sabotaging belief that their lack of height will preclude any hope of a second date, a mindset that cis men can have as well.

For shorter men in general, it can add to a sense of hopelessness, despair, and spiraling bitterness about something physical they can’t change, which can add up even more. their risk of poor mental health. (Swipe-based dating apps have been found to contribute to higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression; a 2020 Pew Research survey reported that 25% of online daters said apps made them feel more insecure.)

Even if you’re a petite king who has conquered dating obstacles, the fight may not be over for you. Californian Urwah Bangi (5’8″) and her husband Uwais (5’3″) originally from the UK post videos regularly in their height difference on TikTok. Bangi herself never had any height preference growing up; his mother was taller than his father, and his height was simply not discriminated against in his household. But when Bangi married her husband and they started posting videos on social media, the hate comments were relentless.

“There were a lot of transphobic comments,” Bangi said. “[People online] they said I’m a lesbian in the closet and that [Uwais] he’s a trans man because he’s short. … They feminize him and masculinize me because of my height. If it’s a video of him doing something nice for me, they’re like, “Oh, she’s just a little girl.” And if it’s a video of the two of them together, they’re like, ‘Oh, look at her with her kid,’ or something stupid like that.”

Bangi now has all the comments on her TikTok videos filtered and asks her husband or a friend to approve the comments; the hate can be too much to bear. It suggests that a fixation on height can lead to toxic behaviors and attitudes beyond dating apps.

What therapists think about height bias on dating apps

In recent years (especially during the pandemic), online platforms and dating apps have worked to achieve more authenticity, compatibility, and real interactions. However, lurking within the algorithms is the risk of being too shallow, at least for some people, Barnes said.

“I have friends who do these dating apps and the shallowness comes out, and they’re usually not shallow people,” she said. “[Most of] these apps are only designed to make it about looks, which is devastating because really everyone is there to find a relationship.”

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