I know many an otherwise open-minded woman who swears that she would never date someone shorter than she is, and I used to count myself among them. I clock in at 5-foot-10, a good 6 inches taller than the average American woman, and had never considered dating a guy shorter than me until I ended up falling for one—and I’m happy I did. So much for that deal-breaker.
One 2012 study in the U.K. showed that in 92.5 percent of opposite-sex couples, the man was taller than the woman. According to the CDC, the average height difference between men and women is 5.5 inches (coincidentally—or maybe not—that’s about the same length as the average erect penis. Do with that what you will). And both men and women feel pressure to adhere to height norms: One 2008 study of college students found that about 50 percent of guys wanted their partners to be shorter than them, while 90 percent of women wanted their partners to be taller than them. I’m here to tell you that this requirement is overrated. Here’s why.
1. Guys who are comfortable with you being taller are likely comfortable with your ambition, intellect, and talent too.
A guy who can look at all those statistics and societal pressures and say "eff that" is less likely to be threatened by other ways that you buck gender stereotypes—for example, instead of feeling weird about you getting a raise or showing off your superior sports knowledge, he’ll celebrate the fact that he’s with someone who doesn’t make herself smaller to accommodate others.
2. You don’t have to make any calculations about the height of your heels.
While other women might feel like they have to pass on a perfectly cute pair of shoes or stick to flats so they stay shorter than their dates, you’re already taller than your man in bare feet, what’s the difference between being 2 inches taller or 5? Wear whichever killer heels your heart desires.
3. You’ll dramatically expand your dating pool.
Finding someone who is socially, emotionally, intellectually, and sexually compatible with you is hard. Yes, it makes sense to narrow your pool of potential suitors based on what you value—it’s very reasonable to look for someone with a basic understanding of grammar, for example—but too long a list of non-negotiables can blind you to people who could make you very happy. The CDC has reported that about 59 percent of U.S. guys from 20 to 29 years of age are under 5-foot-10, the average male height, while only about 20 percent of guys exceed the 6-foot mark. If you "only date" men at least 6 feet tall, you’re shooting yourself in the foot as far as selection.
4. Dating shorter can help you get over your own insecurities about size.
When I first started dating a shorter guy, I felt insecure: not about my own height but about whether I would read as "feminine" to my partner and, admittedly, to the world when we were out together. I even wondered with some concern whether I weighed more than he did, again, not because I felt like I needed to lose weight, but because I had absorbed the cultural script that says that women should be daintier than guys. But it’s not the Upper Paleolithic, and I don’t need anyone to defend me from a saber-toothed cat; it’s 2016, and we know that femininity is a social construct. If two people make each other laugh and want to have sex all the time, who cares which one is more compact?
5. Research suggests that short men do a larger share of the housework.
A 2014 working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research on men’s heights and relationship dynamics found that on average, short men (here defined as 5-foot-7 and below) did eight hours and 28 minutes of housework per week, or about 28 percent of the total. Tall men (6-foot-2 and above) completed about seven hours and 30 minutes a week, while men of average height did seven hours and 38 minutes. Yes, men of all statures are doing less housework than they should (how tall are the men who do 50 percent of it?), but short men are apparently less likely to leave their dirty dishes in the sink. Score.
6. Short men may also earn a larger share of the household income.
The same paper found that 78 percent of short men out-earn their partners, as opposed to 69 percent of average men and 71 percent of tall men. That isn’t necessarily in and of itself a good thing (cough, gender wage gap, cough), it does suggest that short men are doing more to support their partners in terms of both housework and finances.
7. Short men are least likely to divorce.
Finally, the paper showed that while divorce rates for tall and average-height men were comparable, they were 32 percent lower for short men. Maybe short men’s partners are enjoying sharing the housework, financial support, and willingness to flout stereotypes in favor of a strong relationship.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.