Do Women Need to Look Up to Men?

Dear Dating Coach,

I am a 51 year old, twice married, (presently separated) male who stands 5' 4" tall. My first marriage lasted 7 years, and I remained single following my divorce for 13 years, due to my difficulty in finding an interested and compatible woman. I was with my second wife for 9 years before we split up, and we have been separated for 1.5 years.

My questions have to do with my difficulty finding suitable partners due to (I believe), my short stature. I've heard the explanation that when women are young they look up to their fathers (literally and figuratively), and this leads them to seek taller men because they feel a greater sense of security with them. My experience has been that women who are raised by single moms appear to have less prejudice against men who are shorter than average height.

My questions are: What is the best way for a smaller than average male to overcome this height prejudice? Secondly, why do most women list the qualities they are looking for in their online profiles, then when a man (like me) with those qualities responds, they ignore them? --Nothing Lacking Here

Dear Nothing Lacking Here--

Wow, sounds like those guys who look for adjectives like "slim and fit." We could theorize until we had enough for a book on why/if women have a preference for guys with an above average height. However, that really won't help you with your questions regarding how to deal with this issue as you attempt to meet women for dating and more.

Let's begin with an observation of mine about your history, coupled with this intuitive twitch I'm feeling. You have been married twice. Therefore, you have found two women whom you were compatible with and who were interested enough to marry you, in spite of your height. That's two more than an increasing number of people find. Sadly, your marriages have not worked out, most likely due to issues that have nothing to do with height. Therefore, I have to ask myself (and you) if your height is really THE issue that causes women to discount or ignore your profile, winks and other online overtures. I'll grant you that women who are over 5'7" or 5'8" may be looking for a guy who is of average or above average height. But what about all the other (more petite) women out there? I don't know the statistics on how many single women in each height category have online profiles, but I'd be willing to bet there are quite a few who could (literally) look up to you.

Therefore, I'd recommend you begin looking for your own answers by reflecting on what your ex-significant others said attracted them to you, as well as any feedback you have gotten from friends and family on what your greatest strengths and qualities are. Also give some thought to any constructive criticism you have gotten from past girlfriends, wives, and friends on how you come across and what it is like to be in a relationship with you. Then critically examine your online profile, from username to headline, pictures and essay. See if there are any turn-offs in there--like negative comments, too much disclosure, unflattering pictures, or an overuse of adjectives and general comments that could have been said by anyone about themselves, and therefore could be overlooked or discounted by the reader. Also consider your present style of approaching women online. Do you need to work on how you present yourself and showcase your good qualities? Perhaps your expectation that women will reject you is coming across as a lack of healthy self-esteem or a kind of defensiveness, that are both red flags and instant deal breakers.

Even if 60% of online women daters are looking for height--that still gives you a large pool of women from which to meet, date and explore the possibility of something more lasting.

(from September 2007)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

"I Know He Said, "Just Friends," But..."
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"Just Not That Into Her?"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


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