The Long and Short of Dating


I've been re-reading bits of Lori Gottlieb's Marry Him!, which I bought at an airport shortly after Peter and I got engaged.  For those who haven't read it, it's a fairly entertaining case for "settling", interspersed with dating projects like speed-dating or cruising with a dating coach.

One of the things that really stuck out for me is how picky she (and many other women) are about height.  Gottlieb is short (5'2, if I recall correctly).  But she only wants to date guys who are 5'10 or above.  This was, to me, completely bizarre.  I am 6'2, and I didn't put those kinds of restrictions on my dating.  (The shortest guy I ever dated was 5'2, and he was lovely, although he did insist on standing on his front stoop and kissing me goodnight over the railing).

As it happens, I married a guy who's almost exactly my height, give or take a quarter inch.  But I certainly didn't insist on it.  If I insisted on dating people my size, I'd have had a pretty empty dance card.  In my experience, while some tall women do insist on height, they're actually more flexible about these things than their average height sisters.  Like Andrew Sullivan's correspondent, I've found that it's the men who are bothered by these things, not me:

I'm a tall woman (5'10") and I dated short guys, I even was engaged to one for awhile (we broke up for reasons unrelated to the 3-inch difference in our height.) However, plenty of guys wouldn't date ME because of my height! Not just short guys, who were often actively rude and hostile to me, but tall and average-height men as well. Discrimination against humans who are on one end or another of the height distribution curve is not limited to men.
Unless we have access to a good basketball team, tall women eventually have to give up the fantasy about being tiny and delicate.  Our guys are not going to be able to cradle us like babies, toss us around like rag dolls.  We can reach things on tall shelves by ourselves.

I don't like basketball that much; I married a journalist who labored mightily when he carried me over the threshold.  This has not been much of a detriment to our married life.

He likes that our eyes meet at the same level.  But many men haven't given up the fantasy; they really want someone they can look down on.  (Physically, not necessarily spiritually).  Discrimination is definitely a two-way street.  I don't know if a 6'2 woman gets as much flak as a 5'2 man--but the difference is in degree, not in kind.
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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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