Dating apps have surged in popularity in the US, with an estimated 30% of adults having used them at some point. Among women, the usage is substantial, with a Pew Research Center study showing that around 27% of females aged 18-34 have used online dating platforms. These apps offer a convenient way to meet potential partners, especially among younger generations, and the COVID-19 pandemic further boosted their appeal, with many people turning to virtual means to connect. While they may not be a perfect replacement for dating in person, many things that occur on dating apps tend to be a fairly accurate representation of real life. For example, we all know the age-old stereotype that women prefer tall men. While there might be some truth to this claim, the recent data from the dating app Bumble brings this into sharp focus, providing quantifiable evidence of women's height preferences in dating.
Only 15% of Women Show Interest in 5'8" Men on Dating Apps, According to Survey
A survey from Bumble found that 60% of women indicate that they are looking for a man over 6 feet tall in their search filters. However, that number drops steeply as the height of men lowers. 30% of women want to date men who are 5'11" and only 15% of women are willing to date men who are 5'8" or shorter. In fact, more women are willing to date extreme heights such as 7 feet tall rather than a man who is 5'11". Anyone who is under 6 feet tall tends to be overlooked generally by the majority of women.
While the data paints a somewhat gloomy picture for those under 6 feet tall, it is essential to put these findings into perspective. Not all women filter by size, meaning that those who prioritize height are overrepresented in the statistics. Furthermore, online dating environments tend to amplify superficial attributes like height and appearance, perhaps more than they would be in real-life dating scenarios. This can potentially skew perceptions, especially in the context of surveys. The preference for tall men isn't limited to dating, though. The data echoes studies in other areas of life, showing that tall men are overrepresented in high-paying leadership roles and are, on average, happier.
Various studies, including a 2013 survey, have delved into why women are more attracted to men who are approximately eight inches taller than themselves. Experts like John Malouff, Ph.D., propose evolutionary psychology as an explanation, positing that taller men may have been historically seen as better protectors and providers. This height preference could also translate to psychological perceptions of tall men as dominant leaders. Societal constructs and media also often portray tall men as attractive and masculine.
Some research also points to the possibility that short men may have less than desirable personalities. A study published in the Elsevier journal Personality and Individual Differences, conducted by a group of Polish scientists on 367 men and women, has found intriguing results concerning short men's behavior. The research, titled "The Napoleon complex, revisited: Those high on the Dark Triad traits are dissatisfied with their height and are short," suggests that shorter men might compensate for their height with antagonistic behaviors, exhibiting traits known as the Dark Triad—psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism.
These findings lend credence to the theory of the Napoleon complex, named after the relatively short French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who was known for his aggressive leadership style. Shorter men exhibiting the Dark Triad traits might be embracing an adaptive strategy, making up for their perceived physical shortcomings with psychological assertiveness and ambition. Perhaps women subconsciously know that short men have a higher likelihood of having the so-called Napolean complex, or maybe they have experienced some unpleasant experiences in the past with shorter men.
The numbers might seem disheartening for shorter men, but they don't paint the full picture. Physical appearance is just one aspect of attraction, and what truly resonates with people is far more complex and nuanced. There are plenty of examples of women who have married men on the shorter side (or even men who are shorter than them) because they find them to be irresistibly charming. At the end of the day, men attract women because of their humor, success, and ability to protect and provide. There are plenty of men out there who are able to do all of these things regardless of their height. Couples like Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, and Benji Madden and Cameron Diaz are some of the famous celebrity duos who defy the common statistics. Attraction and interest never boil exclusively down to looks, and men who know that and lead with other characteristics often have no problem dating in the real world.
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