Recently, a colleague of mine, a successful psychologist in her mid-30s, confided in me about an ongoing problem she faces in her dating life: She feels that she’s simply too tall for most men, standing at almost six feet. The issue she struggles with is the same issue many other tall women deal with as they look for a good romantic partner.
When we talk about tall women, there’s what many people think of as ‘sexy-tall,’ the range of height where women are, say, 5’8” or 5’9”. These women have the best of all possible worlds: They’re tall to the point that it’s easier to stay thin or carry weight well, but not so tall that they face the stigma of men not wanting want to date a tall woman. Tall women who experience romantic discrimination the most are approximately 5’10” and taller.
If you take an informal poll of men, you’ll quickly see that many men have little or no interest in dating a tall woman. Extremely tall women are often treated as if they are freakishly tall or Amazonian, as if their height is some sort of mistake or genetic mutation. What’s more, many very tall women engage in a range of behaviors to diminish the impact of their height in order to appeal more to men. For some, they rarely wear heels – even if they like doing so; for others, they may make self-deprecating comments about their height in a defensive effort to fit in with what men want.
In no way should tall women apologize for their height. The two traits men are ultimately most attracted to in women are happiness and self-confidence, so it’s important for women’s own self-esteem – and their dating chances – that they feel confident and proud of their body.
The key for very tall women is to figure out which men are open to dating a very tall woman, and which ones are not. For example, in your online dating profile, don’t be shy about making your height a focus of your profile. After all, it’s better to be upfront – and proud! – about your physical attributes when you’ve got no investment, rather than anticipating a date but later being let down if he’s not interested in you.
It’s also important for tall women to understand that, in light of the many men who are intimidated about dating a tall woman, these women should give themselves permission to approach men they are interested in. In other words, tall women may have to put themselves out there more than other women who are less intimidating. The clincher, of course, is to develop thick skin and to not take disinterest or brush-offs from men personally.
How can you get thicker skin about your height when society – and many men – are too intimidated to date a tall woman? Check out the exercises below and practice them.
Get comfortable being naked.
This is one of the most important exercises that can truly change how you feel about yourself and your body. For anyone who deals with sex or appearance issues, I always encourage them to be disciplined about getting some private naked time at home. Spend a few minutes every day – at least for a month or so – looking in the mirror at your body, and complimenting parts of your body out loud. “Overall, I think you look pretty good,” for example, or “I like my [insert body part].” If you can’t come up with a few body parts that you like, you need to accept that you’re not going to attract a good guy until you feel better about your body. It’s that simple.
Wear whatever you want.
Some tall women give themselves permission to wear heels when they’re out with a man who is the same height or shorter, but I know many women who still cater more to men’s feelings and wear flats just in case he feels uncomfortable with the height discrepancy. Total mistake! It is crucial that you wear whatever shoes and clothing you want to wear, because you need to start every relationship focusing on your needs and desires – not the other way around. I remember after Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise divorced, she joked on a talk show that she could “finally wear high heels.” Wrong, Nicole: It would have been better for your self-esteem to have worn them all along.
Be direct about the height issue if it comes up.
If you’re a tall woman who’s dating someone new, odds are that the height issue is going to come up in conversation. If he broaches the issue, don’t be defensive but feel free to ask him where he stands on the issue.
Here’s an example:
(Smiling) “I know some guys have a thing about feeling uncomfortable with a tall woman. Are you like that, or is that not something you really care about?”
Discussing the issue directly prevents a tall woman from having to go home, internalize worry or self-conscious thoughts, and wonder whether the new guy is going to be interested in her. If you wonder, always ask; if you don’t, that’s fine, too. After you’ve heard your new guy’s response, feel free to state your own position – another indicator of confidence.
“I’m glad you don’t have an issue with that. I’ve never really understood what the big deal is, because I’m happy with my body.”
Men love women who like themselves, and confronting this issue directly allows you to remind him that you are clear, know what you want, and – most importantly – like yourself enough to stand up for the things you believe in!
At the end of the day, tall women make terrific friends, family members, and romantic partners. Just remember to never apologize for your height and to be proud of who you are. The guy you belong with ultimately is going to be a-okay with you as is!
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.