My Husband is Shorter Than Me

Published On: March 28, 2024|Categories: Dating Tips|4 min read|

I met my husband on the soccer field. It was 2012, and I was new in town. I had just graduated from college and was happy to be exploring life as a single person in Austin, TX. I worked shifts at a grocery store during the day, and on my days off, I biked around town stopping at a park or a coffee shop to relax. This was the life I wanted in my mid-twenties, stress was low (as were my obligations and adult responsibilities) and my social life took center stage. 

The day we met, I showed up late to a game of pick up soccer that I had been invited to earlier that day by a new friend. Alex, my now husband, was already there, on the field when I arrived. As he explains it, I was the “tall and beautiful” girl he quickly told his soccer buddies he had “dibs” on getting my number first. He waited until the game was over to introduce himself. Smiling and still damp with sweat, he asked for my number. 

My first impression of Alex was his confident, sure-of-himself demeanor, and his big smile that makes the corner of his eyes wrinkle. He was easily handsome in that dark-hair-olive-skin kind of way. He was funny and good at making conversation. He was also, and still is, shorter than me. 

Statistically speaking, a lot of men are shorter than me. I’m a statistically tall lady, measuring 5 feet 11 inches. The average man in the U.S. stands at 5 feet 8 inches tall according to the U.S. CDC. By the 4th grade I was taller than most of my classmates, especially the boys, and this has remained true ever since.

I guess at some point, I accepted that I would probably be taller than my significant other. Throughout my dating years, I dated several men shorter than me. Although I’ve noticed it at times, I’ve never found it to be a disqualifier. I can’t recall my shorter partners ever feeling uncomfortable about it either. At most, we may have laughed over the fact that, in heels, I was noticeably taller than my date, but it was something that stayed at that. We shrugged it off the way you do with physical traits when you develop a genuine connection with someone.

It wasn’t until I started working in the dating industry that I realized how many women consider a man’s height a major factor when choosing who to date. Women commonly want a man who is over 6 feet tall, when we look at the numbers, that brings the dating pool down to less than 15 percent of men.

In diving a little deeper into why this is such a common request from women, I came across something called the “male-taller norm” phenomenon, which is driven by women preferring taller men much more than men preferring shorter women. It says, “Some studies postulate that the male-taller norm evolved in ancient times when men’s physical strength and violence determined resource allocation, mate access, and thus reproductive success.” As other outdated dating norms like interracial and same-sex relationships have become more mainstream with time, it seems this one has held strong in the minds of women.

Reflecting on my relationship with Alex, who is 2 inches shorter than me, I can’t think of any times our height difference has been an obstacle. Like many things we’ve come to accept about our relationship, our height gap is just a fact about us. Because met Alex in person, not online, I didn’t have the chance to judge him on his profile stats. Had I been given that opportunity I wonder if his height would have made me hesitate, but I don’t think so. I’ve never been insecure about being tall, and the same for him with his stature. Perhaps we’ve been lucky to be on this side of dating unscathed by the pressures of the male-taller norm.

It’s been 12 years since that afternoon on the soccer field when I first met Alex. We’ve been married for 8 of those years, and are raising our 2 daughters together. A lot has changed for us in the years since we met, but our sources of connection have stayed constant. Namely, our love for soccer (we now cheer on our favorite English team together, Go Gunners!), getting dressed up for a fancy dinner reservation, playing each other new music, and hosting our friends for home-cooked meals. We like who we’ve become as a pair, equals in life where no one’s comparing inches.  

As I finish typing this story, I answer a call from my mom, who also happens to be in a relationship with a smaller man. She reminds me of moments when his size does enter her mind, like when she’s folding his laundry, specifically his jeans that are noticeably smaller than my mother’s. She laughs, “I can’t even fit into his jeans.” But she quickly moves to how grateful she is to have him in her life, a partner who treats her with such kindness and generosity. “I can’t imagine disqualifying a person like this based on height alone. Think of what I would have missed out on.”

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