The Way Women Use Dating Apps Proves That Size Does Matter

When it comes to size, in a world where dating apps have overtaken face-to-face interaction, it’s not necessarily his member that we’re referring to.

Despite our phallic-centric society, and the over-sized male appetite for sending dick pics (reasons unknown, but most definitely misguided) it’s another “size” that really matters -- the vertical variety. Yes, it has become very clear: as a result of dating apps and their filters, women prefer tall men.

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Recently a certain lady said to me, “I’m filtering out anything under 5’10". I mean, if I’m on a dating app I’m going to go for the best -- and that means tall.”

Clearly, when it comes to the cream of the crop, a tall man stands shoulders above the rest. But, within my relationship-anthropologist-dating-app-researcher capacity, I couldn’t help but wonder: when did tall men start topping the chart?

So, here’s the low down. While I might have been surprised by said gal’s commentary on filtering out Napoleon Bonapartes, it’s a common thing on dating apps. Apps like Bumble allow you to filter out potential relationship “no-gos” at the onset. You can simply indicate you don’t want to interact with anyone under the specs of 5’10".

C'est un outrage.

Stipulating your desired height ratio in dating app descriptions is also common. For example:

“No shorties. If you’re under 5’10" I’m not interested.”

It seems aggressive, but could also be perceived as someone who knows exactly what they want and is not entertaining any nonsense.

Height restrictions apply. (Image: Getty)

Many men (one would assume short men) have been afflicted by moral outrage as a result. How dare they? Women, that is, make judgments on potential mates based on their physical appearance (oh, the irony!)

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Reddit threads and thousands of blogs are filled with commentary about said heightism. As you can imagine, it’s scathing. Those heightists! As if this hasn’t happened for centuries to women. You’d never have guessed it.

Still as much as this commentary is amusing, I can’t help wonder: why tall men?

Dr Susan Krauss Whitbourne from Psychology Today tells us, “There’s just something appealing about tall men… tall men are more likely to win the popular contest in presidential votes and to be re-elected once in office. Their greater leadership potential may have something to do with the fact that tall men have higher self-esteem… are happier, and less likely to feel jealous towards other men.”


In case you were wondering, Bill Shorten’s height is 1.78m, and Scott Morrison's is 1.82m (according to Google, that is). FYI for reference, Barnaby Joyce is 1.85m (yes, that makes him above those 5’10" specs …. yikes, and no words).

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Let’s go back to our evolutionary history. A taller man was likely seen as more attractive, as he would be stronger, faster, and more capable of warding off physical threats. Not to mention he could probably see further into the savannah when standing because of his height advantage, and hence warn of an oncoming threat -- as opposed to his shorter acquaintance who might have had blocked vision from his taller counterpart.

Cue the counter-argument.  Smart probably beats tall any day of the week (intellectual standouts would have stood on some ancient thang to gain a vantage point).

And yet you don’t quite see, “Must have a 170 1Q +, or beat it!” in any dating app description.

The physical bias continues. Some dating apps allow you to filter out people based on a number of lenses. From their interests and even birth dates, locations, interests, race, culture and of course their preferences: the type of bias we would never admit face-to-face but inwardly might harbor -- whether it’s politically incorrect or not.

Ok Cupid’s Christian Rudder (2014) published a series of blogs and then book about the demographic “truths” exposed on dating apps, referring to the data revealed on these apps as “naturalistic” or “the new demography” -- indicating that on dating apps our real desires are made clear.

True or not true?

As human beings, whether or not we wish to admit it, we’re deeply flawed. We come with a whole heap of baggage and yes, maybe even prejudices.  They are ingrained -- social, cultural and all the rest.

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So what’s the issue with the heightism thing? Well, truth be told, even I might lean towards a taller man. But, if we were to meet face-to-face, I might take into consideration a smaller man’s wit, acerbic tone, and even athletic bod (wink, wink).

Online, they’re filtered out, so I would never know.

Is there a case for being less height-obsessed online?  Yes, methinks so.