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Researchers quizzed 700 men and women about their ideal partner height, as well as what would be the minimum and maximum acceptable. A second part of the study asked 50,000 men and women how satisfied they were with their own height. The most satisfying height for a man is 6ft 3in; for a woman, it’s 5ft 9in.
“Both men and women prefer to be in a couple where the man was taller than the woman, but not too tall, and the preference was most pronounced in women who, unlike men, considered partner heights unacceptable if they resulted in her being taller,” says evolutionary psychologist Gert Stulp, from the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, who led the study. “We show for the first time, that men and women differ strongly with respect to the partner height difference they found most satisfactory.”
A researcher at Similar Minds conducted their own survey and asked short, average, and tall men and women about their height preferences in the opposite sex:
If you adjust for the height difference of men and women (men are @5in taller), men have an almost identical opposite direction height preference. Adjusting for the height difference of men and women, women would still prefer men .3 to 5.4 inches taller than them (the unadjusted preference range is 5.3 to 10.4 inches taller). Men prefer women 4.93in shorter to 1.65in taller than them. Thus, men have approximately a one inch larger acceptable range, on average. That one inch is on the taller end of the preferred range. So men, are more likely to self report as being attracted to slightly taller girls, whereas women do not share that accommodation in the opposite direction. The female range preference ends at slightly above their gender adjusted height. From an evolutionary standpoint this all makes sense. Preference selection should be mirrored in the sexes and any flexibility is more likely to show up in males since women exert greater selection power than men, on average.
This is an obvious mismatch of preferences. If the short woman prefers the average man and if the average woman prefers a man somewhere in between the average and the tall, then it is clear that more men are left without a chair when the music stops. One rebuttal is that tall women are left out, but these surveys indicate that men won’t shut out tall women as quickly as women will shut out short men. Women and men do end up settling for something less than their preferences, but settling doesn’t come without a cost. But in general, short men are out of favor. Female hypergamy acts on other male characteristics as well, but height is one that is easily observed and can also serve as a proxy for overall dominance. It’s not the end of the world; it’s just a setback.