Kramer: How Much Does Height Actually Matter in Dating?

How Much Does Height Actually Matter in Dating? (Part 1)

When I first began to learn about success with women, I found it maddening how often I would hear my dating coaches and mentors tell me that, “height doesn’t matter.”

It made no impression on me at the time that plenty of guys far shorter than me were getting better results, or that many of the top instructors in the dating industry were well below average height.

I was still fixated on the past.  I would think back to all the times I went out in college with my golf teammates.  I was usually one of the shortest guys in the group and had no doubt that this was why I wasn’t getting good results with women.

Oh, and that traumatic incident in 7th grade…I was pretty sure that my height had something to do with it.

Now that I’m a dating coach, though, I find myself saying the same thing to clients – height doesn’t matter.

What changed?

Studies on Women and Height Preference

In one sense, the notion that “height doesn’t matter” is an absurdity.

Studies show that, across cultures, height is among the most important factors in determining a man’s value in the sexual marketplace.

Consider these facts:

The bias is so acute that some experts even suggest treating shortness as a disability and heightism in dating as a moral issue.

Dating advice books are cropping up specifically for short men.  Parents are giving their children dangerous hormonal therapies to increase their height.  And more and more adults with closed growth plates are pursuing excruciating surgeries to get another couple inches.

What the Studies Don’t Tell Us

So given all this, why do I tell clients that height doesn’t matter?

For one thing, I think all these studies actually tell us relatively little about the real world.  While there may be an evolutionary basis for women’s preference for tall men, my sense is that academic studies point to exaggerated conclusions about how pronounced this preference really is.

I’m obviously not a social scientist, but a number of things make me skeptical about how much the studies can tell us:

Much of the data researchers use is from online dating; yet when it comes to online dating, a hot woman’s experience bears little resemblance to the real world.  Within minutes of logging on, girls are overwhelmed by dozens of messages from clueless guys.  With relatively little information to go on, height becomes a convenient way for girls to sift through the messages.  What researchers don’t mention in their studies is how often women either flake or simply refuse to actually meet the guys they respond to online.

Many social science studies use college students as their sample population, but then cite their research to draw sweeping conclusions.  I see little value in drawing definitive lessons on something like height based on the opinions of college chicks from Florida and Arizona, as if they have the same thought process as high class and intelligent women.

Studies on height show correlation, but not causation.  In other words, studies show that women are more likely to select tall guys, but they don’t prove that they are selecting them because they are tall.  In fact, several studies suggest that at least part of the female preference for height may have to do with other attributes such as athleticism and socioeconomic status that simply tend to be associated with height.  A 2006 study by two Princeton University economists concluded that, “taller people earn more because they are smarter.”  And a study by a group of Spanish and Dutch researchers at the universities of Groningen and Valencia found a correlation between jealousy and height: Short men were the most jealous; tall men were most relaxed; and average height women were the least jealous.

Why the Studies Don’t Matter for Any One Individual

More importantly, general findings have almost no relevance to any individual guy who makes the decision to improve with girls. 

Dating isn’t like the NBA, where every basketball player is competing for a small number of positions.  In these sorts of situations, it’s true that you can only make it with both ideal genetics and outlier talent.

Finding dates is more like finding a fulfilling career.  There are all sorts of reasons why you might not get any one particular job, but the economy generally is full of opportunities for people with all sorts of different skills.

No one obsesses over the one HR manager who didn’t like the format of your resume.  So why are guys so damn insistent on chasing the girls who don’t want them?

Short guys…Ask yourself…Do you really want to give this “Gemini vegetarian” control over your happiness?

The fact is that some girls will be inclined to reject you because of your height.  These include, women who are:

But other girls won’t.  In fact, they may not even realize how tall you actually are because of your status.

And some girls even prefer to date short guys, perhaps because they figured out that short men tend to:

I am citing all these head-spinning academic articles to illustrate a simple point:  Height is just like any other quality that might influence whether or not any one specific girl rejects you.  Women reject men for all sorts of reasons.  In most specific cases, you’ll probably never really know why.

Even the most attractive men get rejected the vast majority of times they approach a girl.  As I explained in a recent interview on the Pick-Up Change podcast, when I’m at my very best, I can convert 2 out of 10 day game approaches into some sort of physical relationship.  And this is after doing thousands of approaches all over the world and making a full-time living as a dating coach.

The Things You Can Control

Height is one of many criteria women use to evaluate men.  On average, women rank height as the third most important physical attribute to them, well behind sense of style and a handsome face, and only slightly ahead of a muscular build and fitness.

In other words, 4 out of the 5 most important physical traits women care about are almost entirely under your control.

This is to say nothing of the gains that come from deliberate practice on the areas we emphasize in the Leverage program:

The Real Reason Why Short Men Struggle with Dating

What’s the real reason why short men so often struggle with dating?

I think more than anything, it’s the whole basket of insecurities about height that guys carry — “short fucker complex” as a friend eloquently calls it.

Psychologists Leslie Martel and Henry Biller reached a similar conclusion in their book length study onStature and Stigma: The Biopsychosocial Development of Short Males: “modest stature deficits among adult males well within the normal distribution, such as being relatively short (e.g., 5’5’’ or even 5’7 or 5’8”), may be associated with a vulnerability to certain types of psychological difficulties and personality adaptations.”

This is probably what Ian Fleming had in mind in Goldfinger when he described James Bond’s prejudice against short men:

Bond had always mistrusted short men.  They grew up from childhood with an inferiority complex.  All their lives they would strive to be bigger than others who had teased them as a child.  Napoleon had been short, and Hitler.  It was the short men that created all the trouble in the world.

Where do short guys come up with all these irrational stories about height?

Maybe from our over-protective mothers: A Yale study by Ellen Finch found that parents are three times more likely to take their sons than daughters to the doctor to get evaluated for their short stature.

Or maybe from our (literally) one-size-fits-all school system.  Finch noticed that insecurities about height are exacerbated in adolescence.  This might be because perfectly normal kids who mature and develop at different rates are forced to compete with other kids who are the same chronological age, but at radically different phases of their psychosocial development.

Psychologists Mary Jones and Nancy Bayley in fact found a remarkable difference in how adults and other children tend to treat physically accelerated boys:

Those who are physically accelerated are usually accepted and treated by adults and other children as more mature. They appear to have relatively little need to strive for status. From their ranks come the outstanding student body leaders in senior high school. In contrast, the physically retarded boys exhibit many forms of relatively immature behavior: this may be in part because- others tend to treat them as the little boys they appear to be. Furthermore, a fair proportion of these boys give evidence of needing to counteract their physical disadvantage in some way—usually by greater activity and striving for attention, although in some cases by withdrawal.

Being a late-bloomer myself, I remember spending most of my junior high and early high school years on the golf course.  Looking back, it was probably a subconscious way of avoiding teenage social pressures, which, emotionally, I was not mature enough to handle.  You’d be surprised, by the way, how common this sort of story is among star athletes in individual sports.

Whatever the root cause, short guys too often seem to have a toxic mindset – a total lack of confidence that broadcasts to girls virtually every unattractive quality you can imagine.

This stands in marked contrast to tall guys, who are more likely to view themselves as sensation-seeking, likeable, and self-directive, and less inclined to believe that luck or chance directs one’s life.

In fact, I’ve been on the receiving end of this nonsense ever since I began dating my girlfriend Carly.  Carly and I are the same height – 5’9’’ — and when she is wearing heels, she towers up to 6 inches over my head.

I like it.  It turns me on.  It’s no problem whatsoever.

And not only has Carly never complained about my height, I’ve never heard any of her model friends – all of whom are quite tall – make a fuss about height.

Yet, as I was telling my friend Megan in a recent interview, many of the same guys who complain about how girls treat them “for being short” ask me if I feel “weird” or “emasculated” with a taller girlfriend.

What they’re doing, of course, is projecting their own insecurities about their height – insecurities that have little actual basis in reality.

The Way Forward for Short Guys

As a dating coach, I have every incentive to tell you that being short is a serious obstacle – one that short guys can only get handled after spewing cash on all kinds of snake oil products.

But here’s the simple truth: Any guy who is determined to get their dating life handled, regardless of his height, is in for a lot of pain.  Short guys may have a smaller margin of error, and they probably won’t be able to rely on “good-looking guy game” as Nick Krauser calls it.  But overall, their path to success is really no different from anyone else.

Short guys, like everyone else, need to accept what they cannot control, focus on what they can control, and leverage every aspect of their lives to their advantage.

To any short guys who are reading this, here’s my personal promise: If you stop making excusestake action, and implement even a small fraction of the free advice on my website, you’ll already be miles ahead of the average guy in mainstream society.  I can guarantee that your results with women will improve regardless of your height.

And if you work with a coach and mastermind group that are good fits for you – and put in the necessary work — you’ll join a very small echelon of guys who get girls far more attractive than what conventional wisdom says is possible.

What do you think?  If you’re a short guy, does this article ring true?  If, not why not?  Curious to hear your feedback.  Leave a comment or shoot me an email at

And stay tuned.  I plan to send out some more thoughts on this subject in a forthcoming newsletter.

Your friend,


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