Like most things that go viral, the question is both relatable and haunting: Is he cute, or is he just tall?
It's an exposing personal critique and it calls for a moment of self-reflection. Do you have great taste in men...or is his face so far above your own that you can't get a good look at it? Do you actually like the man whose arms can reach the bar from three people back...or just his wingspan? Are you attracted to the doofus whose little toes hang off the end of your full-size bed...or just his ability to fold your sheets without any help?
There's a cultural obsession with dating big men, enough so that guys are seemingly more likely to list their height in a dating-app bio than anything substantial about their personality. And studies back it up—of the few traits that women who date men care about, height tops the list.
But is limiting your pool of dating options to the six-feet-and-over-club (a statistically small group of people) ruining your chances at finding love? It's an impossible question. So, two women—one who dates only tall dudes and another who prefers shorter mates—gave their impassioned arguments for why they're approach to height is the right one.
Emily, 26, lives in New York City and stans shorter guys
I am 5'9", and I've dated three guys, all of whom were shorter than me. The shortest was barely 5'6" and my current boyfriend is 5'7" and is incredibly cute, hot, beautiful, etc. It's comfy to date shorter guys! You can be the big spoon, but it also doesn't make the small-spoon experience any worse. I can jokingly rest my arm on their shoulder. I can reach things on higher shelves as an act of kindness.
I've always been kinda whatever about height, probably in part because I'm gray-aesexual [Editor's note: Gray-aesexual, or "gray-ace," is on the sexuality spectrum between aesexual and sexual.] and so I'm rarely super seriously measuring people by their physical attributes when I first meet them. So it just happened that every guy I ended up being interested in was shorter, but I liked them too much for it to ever matter. Also, I joke around a lot about having "big 5'6" energy."
A lot of people think I'm going to be shorter than I am in real life because I present very "cute" and "soft." I feel like people associate height with some level of power or dominance, so it's an interesting dynamic to be a taller woman who isn't intimidating. I've been with men who are confident about their height and I'm confident in mine, and I think that's pretty much all you need. Throw gender roles and perceptions of power based on appearance out the window!
People who only date taller people don't get to make nice tweets about dating "short kings," and they don't have a shoulder that's at the perfect height for their boyfriend to rest his head on. It's a very cute experience to date someone shorter, and I'm all about cute stuff.
Pam*, 25, lives in Fairfax, Virginia, and is a sucker for a tall man
I am a sturdy, small girl who would be fine with a shortish guy...but just isn't. I am 5'3" and my last ex was 6'6".
I know I'm susceptible to the tall-guy phenomenon just by looking at my dating history. With my most recent ex, I overlooked clashing values because I thought our relationship was going to get there. I kept thinking he was on the precipice of a breakthrough! But no. He wasn't all that mysterious and interesting; I was like, He's tall and I think that’' mysterious in more ways that I will soon discover beyond being shocked every time I see us in a mirror. Wrong.
I'm a victim of "is he cute or is he tall" syndrome. There's, like, an implied charisma. A tall guy has learned how to deal with his long body and height; he has to carry himself well. And even if he doesn't, it doesn't matter because he's so freaking tall, he's going to stand out anyway.
Part of my attraction is just how different it is—nobody in my family is tall. I'm already on the shorter side but someone tall emphasizes that. I like thinking about my big personality reining in this TALL dude. Plus, my lack of depth perception makes it so that I perceive any guy 5'8" and under to be my height. It's also possible I developed my attraction to tall guys as a defense mechanism, given that any situation where I've dated a guy 5'8" or under has dealt me the trials and tribulations of massive compensation in the form of an overblown ego and performative masculinity.
I guess Darwin or whoever would say that there is some animal level of my brain that thinks a tall guy can protect me, and I would agree. There is some allure in having to look up at a guy. It’s funny to project my voice constantly instead of actually looking up, which I rarely do in these relationships.
I wouldn't ever date a guy shorter than me—I am SO SHORT ALREADY, I CAN'T DO IT! I once felt extremely catfished by a guy on Tinder who looked different from his profile in many ways, and notably his height. He was 5'8" and kept bringing up crying about his ex and how he didn't believe in trigger warnings. Did that set me up to only like tall guys? Possibly.
So many of the apps list height now! I can't say that I filter, but I admit I linger a little longer on a tall guy with an average personality. And I swipe right on totally incompatible guys who are unfathomably tall just to see if they'll match with me.
One final tip: In the scenario that you, a petite person, want your tall and lanky boyfriend to lie on top of you unmoving to act as an anxiety blanket, it will not work because of the weight distribution. It is disappointing and I want to warn others. Maybe if the tall partner has more mass, it would work out just fine.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.