Ask the Yangxifu: What Western Women Think of Shorter Men

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise (photo by candykirby)

Anonymous Chinese Guy asks:

I have, in the past, been interested in getting to know and dating some western women, but I understand that quite a few may view my height as a glaring weakness. Can you give any insight on how important western women (or even foreign women in general) view height?


You might say I have first-hand experience with this — after all, I hesitated when I first discovered that John, in fact, was shorter than me:

Years ago, I couldn’t imagine the separation of one inch — let alone three inches — between me and my love. As John and I flirted for weeks like teenagers, the fact that we always met each other sitting down made me believe in my own version of a tall tale — that he was as tall as I was. But then I invited him to lunch one Saturday, and the moment John stood up from his chair, I traded in one cliche for another — a tall tale for a short Chinese guy.

I’d already vanquished many stereotypes to fall in love with Chinese men before: not sexy enough, not handsome, too effeminate. With every soul-stirring kiss and embrace with one of the sons of Han, I discovered that the stereotypes were no match for the beauty, strength and passion of Chinese men. But now I faced the final dragon, and I didn’t know how to cross this river without faltering. After all, I’d never given my dream man a race or ethnicity, but somehow I’d always promised myself he’d be as tall, if not taller, than me.

Clearly, I wasn’t alone on this, as fellow relationship blogger and writer Christine Tan reminded me:

I never thought I would be interested in a shorter man. Growing up feeling awkwardly tall, I always assumed my future partner would save me from my self-consciousness by dwarfing me; with this man, I would finally feel like a petite and feminine Asian girl. It was only natural, I thought, to have a taller figure by my side, the strong, masculine partner who stands protectively, or reassuringly, over me.

But unlike Christine and me (note: Christine just tied the knot with her shorter sweetheart), some women just won’t let go of that tall man fantasy. Consider this column from a guy who ran a dating service called LunchDates:

During my years at LunchDates I interviewed women who were very flexible about a man’s religion, his hobbies, and even whether he was divorced. But the one criterion they would not budge on was his height!

I am not just talking about tall women…. What really perplexed me was the number of short women who insisted that they only would date men considerably taller than themselves. It was very common for women 5 feet 4 inches or under to state that they “absolutely” only wanted to meet a man at least 5 feet 10 inches, and they really preferred 6 feet….

When pushed to the wall and asked their reasons, they replied with some of the following excuses:
“I usually wear shoes with at least three to four-inch heels,” some women responded very naturally. They also frequently pointed out that many boots have even higher heels. So these women would add at least three to four inches to their own height just to pull even, then another few inches to make sure that the man on their arm was still taller.
“My father, my brother, and all the men in my family are over 6 feet, so that is what I am used to,” one women stated, insisting that she KNEW that the average height of men was around 6 feet. When I tried to tell her that the median height of men was between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 9 inches, she got up and angrily marched out of the interview room!
“I am short, and I am looking for a man to father my children, and I don’t want to have short children,” a number of women told me, with a straight face, I might add.
“I just feel safer when I walk down the street with a man who is much taller than me,” was also a common response.
“I am only attracted to tall men, I just can’t help it!”

But here’s the thing: it’s so much easier for a woman to, say, cross shorter men off their list when — as in the case of these LunchDates clients — she’s imagining a hypothetical man. That woman might just change her mind in real life, just as I changed my mind about my husband, which I mentioned in my interview with J.T. Tran:

Jocelyn: That makes me think about my husband. He’s 5’4”. I was kind of interested in him, and then I saw him stand up and thought to myself, I don’t know about this guy. But then when I got to know him and found out he was interested in psychology. And he told me this story about how, in his hometown, there are these stone factories building up in residential areas, disturbing the peace. He actually confronted the owner of one of these factories and he was going to try to sue them. And I thought, Whoa! This guy has some character. He’s 5’4”, but he’s a fighter.

JT: That’s a really good point and I’m really glad you brought that up. That’s what I call, in attraction parlance, DHV or demonstration of high value. I use the example of how every time you see a person, you form a pie chart, and based on first impressions, you fill that pie chart in. For Asian guys, “educated” is typically one of the slices in the pie chart. “Educated,” “has a good job,” those kinds of things are filled in. But then, as you pointed out, he’s 5’4”, and the vast majority of women want a guy to be at least as tall as they are. So that right there, that huge chunk, is not filled in. So, you think in the back of your mind, he’s 5’4”, this is never going to filled in, and he’s not going to change that.

So the concept, in pickup, is that we are going to fill in that pie chart for you. We’re going to display our personality. And, in this particular case, when Asian guys are short, one of the biggest slices of that pie that is missing is “Protector of Loved Ones.” I hear this all the time from my girlfriends. I kept on hearing it until I looked into the statistics and found that, for one out of four girls, someone tried to sexually molest them. And probably, for a beautiful girl, that’s even higher. It’s an incredibly tragic thing. But I bring this up because every girl has the right to expect a man who can take care of her. So with someone that’s short, subconsciously you think he would have a more difficult time, that the “Protector of Loved Ones” slice isn’t going to be there. But in the case of your husband, or as I tell others, we’ll fill in that slice. Maybe it’s not the case of me beating up someone else, but telling a story where I take care of my friends. Or, in your husband’s case, he takes care of his people. He’s someone who stands up for himself. Because you unconsciously know that if you were to get in trouble, he would stand up for you.

Now, maybe you don’t have an “I stood up to the stone factories” story like my husband. But maybe you can show that “protector of loved ones” side of yourself in other ways, as J.T. suggests — that you would stand up for her and take care of her. That’s why you really need to get out there and talk to women in person — show them your character and your courage, and charm them into changing their minds about who they should love.

Of course, some women out there will never change, no matter how handsome, charming and courageous you are. You’re better off without them.

But then again, you might find some encouragement from the words of this woman:

I’ve heard women say that they like dating taller guys because it makes them feel smaller or petite or protected. I hate feeling smaller or petite and I don’t need to feel protected. I feel sexier having a guy stand on a curb to kiss me. It makes me feel like a goddess. I’m statuesque. I love my height, so why would I want to hide that?

Maybe your goddess is out there waiting for you, too. 😉

What advice or thoughts do you have?


Do you have a question about life, dating, marriage and family in China/Chinese culture (or Western culture)? Send me yours today.

20 Replies to “Ask the Yangxifu: What Western Women Think of Shorter Men”

  1. If it makes you feel better, I’m a 5’9 Chinese American man who is dating a 6 feet (white) American chick who is also a few years older. How’s that for breaking social convention?!

  2. I’ve noticed Westerners with a tall preference don’t really think about it — they tend to prefer it just because it’s the social norm. I’ve noticed that Chinese people see height as a proxy for overall health and “quality.”

    You’re totally right about it being able to vanish with actual people.

  3. I think it is quite natural for a woman to want someone who is taller than her for whatever reasons. But love, like they say, is blind. When you are smitten, you don’t care. Well, if you do care, you are probably still in your head, not in your heart. And of course your head thinks, it does not feel. And thinking, of course, you are not there. You are still here looking at the pie chart and wondering what you will be missing out. And of course height is here important. How can you have a pie with no height? Haha. Let love talk, not your head. You use your head for calculations, to make money or con the other guy. You use your heart to reach your soul. And here there is no pie chart – just your being resident.

  4. Short guys, don’t give up! While women may typically look for a taller guy, as Jocelyn said, this isn’t true for everyone. A Finnish friend of mine married a Chinese guy who was 2-3 inches shorter than her. It didn’t matter to her, and truthfully I never even noticed that he was shorter until I had known them for 6 months.

    Be willing to try asking girls out and expect to strike out a few times: that’s normal–for guys of every height! Look for women who are confident in themselves and not worried about what people think. Also, you want woman to see you for who you really are, not for your height. Be sure to do the same for them.

    I’ve gone out with guys shorter than me, and the height didn’t bother me. But what did bother me was guys with the Napoleon complex: guys who were so insecure about their height that they felt that had to “make up for it” by weight-lifting obsessively or only dating models or boasting about their alleged sexual prowess. Their height wasn’t a turnoff, but their attitude was.

    So why not give it a try? Become the person you want to be, one who accepts and loves himself inside and out. That way the next time a shallow girl writes you off, you will know that it’s her loss–not yours!

  5. I agree with the other posters, most women will say they would prefer a partner who is taller than them but more often than not love will prevail <3

    I cannot understand women who are short themselves but won't settle for anyone who is less than 6' tall! Or say they won't anyway…

  6. My sister married an American guy who’s a few inches shorter than she, and he’s a terrific guy. I’m about 5’3, and one time I was with a guy slightly shorter than I. The thing is, in the past I’ve always dated men that are way taller than I, let’s say about or almost six feet. With that guy it felt awkward, and I wasn’t really attracted to him I suppose. But still, if somebody shorter than me wanted to date me and I’d have found them handsome, I probably would give them a chance and try to get over the awkwardness.

  7. I agree with the comments here. 😀

    I am not even 5”2, though. I am way too short. I haven’t really found anybody in the past shorter than me but that wouldn’t be an issue. After all, I am short myself.

  8. I believe Western culture is more tolerance in term of height. When I saw the topic, I thought about Henry Kissinger. He is short and his wife is taller than him. In general, there are more shorter man couples in US than in China.
    Noami is right about attitute issue. Insecure is definitely a turn off. No matter how tall you are, just be yourself and feel pride of who you are. You can not change who you are, but you can work on your attitute and your confident. Prepare to get rejected more than average Joe, try extra harder, you will find love. The power of confident and persistent would serve you a long way in life and in work.

  9. Dont forget that also is a matter of preference… some girls like blonde guys, other dark guys… some tall some short… (I hav friends that actually like short boys)
    I have to say that I find tall boys really attractive.. since im 5.3 (1.60cm) the guys I’ve dated are always taller than me, including my current chinese BF. he is 1.78 …. now here’s the things… his parents dont want him to date a “short” girl because they dont want “short” babies LOL!!! .. they want someone at least 1.65 … (-_-)

  10. Here are my thoughts on this subject again over again. I’m standing at 6’1″ ,210lbs solid. Even though people and women have no problem talking to me, I feel like it’s not the height that counts. It’s the honesty, the personality and the cuteness of a person that will continue to connect two people. I always feel that if you have lots of things to talk about then women tend to be very attracted to you. You could be 6’3″and no women will consider you if you don’t talk. I will not mind if my wife is 6’3″ with high heels!!!
    In real life, I’m a very confident person so I’m not afraid of anything. I always say to my families and friends that you need to prove to others that you can accomplish so many things once you put your mind to it. You can be tall and talk all day long but haven’t accomplish a thing then we label you as USELESS! Pretending to show confidence is USELESS also! Talk is cheap. Once you say it , you have to do it. NO BS, NO BALONEY! Women are attracted to that ( the real deal). If you show to the woman that you like that you ‘ve tried to do something, maybe she will feel for you. Come on, you don’t have to be an ALPHA MALE to do this. I’m NOT even an ALPHA MALE 🙂 lol and I’ve done projects and do things that crushed/destroyed your so called alpha male attitude. I have lots of Alpha males who admire my work. The word ” chicken ” never exists on my boodk. My attitude is just do it. Research research and more research. Maybe I have multi attitudes and personalities because Alpha or Beta males listen to me most of the time. I have two twisted ankles and other sport injuries and still that don’t stop me from intensive activities or doing my job . When people talk to me and see me how I treat others, they know what they like or don’t like about me about already. Even though I’m a married man, lots of women said they like me because of my persnality and attitudes. Your attitudes mean alot to women you know. I always give 200% instead of 110% when needed so others will know what a person you are already. Trust me, a tall woman will love you once they know you and your performance even though you’re shorter or you’re a shorty :). Don’t feel hurt when a beautiful tall woman turns you down. Ugly women turn down tall, handsome guys too 🙂 hahahahah lol.( Your just too handsome , I can’t have you 🙂 ) . Some tall, beautiful women are shallow, so be careful .

  11. Three of my best friends are married to men who are their height or “shorter”. They are all extremely attractive women. I have been attracted to someone who was shorter than me. If you are taller than average and a woman, that is bound to happen because most men would be slightly shorter than you or within 2-3 inches of your height.

    To put things in perspective. Be yourself and be confident. When you are interested in someone as a person and vice versa, physical characteristics dont really dictate who you date (and honestly anyone who has chemistry with you but passes u on because of ur height… is not worth it).

    Also, being tall, tall women face some stigma too, because most men their height or shorter dont want to be with them, and we are called giants and whatnot.

  12. I’m. 5’6″ and compared to all but 2 of my girlfriends I’m really tall, so the idea that American women are tall has always been lost on me. My mother and grandmother are both 5’2″ and my friends have always been between 5’0″ and 5’6″ so I think tall American women are not very common and I don’t understand this preconception that American women are giants and whatnot or the worry that comes with it.
    As for the notion of “short” guys, most of the guys I’ve dated are between 5’2″-5’9″ with the very few that are over 5’9″ or 6ft.
    A lot of the shorter men are very cute, but some of them worry about this and tend to come off as being rude a lot of the time to make up for it. Maybe because its not a big issue in China this doesn’t happen. (Short-person Napoleon syndrome)

    I don’t think “short” men should worry so much, but this could be because the women I’ve met/know are normally short. Maybe women who travel abroad are abnormally tall?

  13. I’m about 5’11” and get up to about 6’4″ when I’m in heels.
    The majority of the men I’ve dated–Asian and non-Asian–have been shorter than me. In fact more often then not, shorter men have been more likely to approach me than taller ones. LOL like how there are many short girls that want tall guys, there are many tall guys that think I’m “too tall” for them. The shortest guy I dated was 5’5″ when I was in Japan. My current boyfriend is shorter than–though only by an inch.

    I think the key is not only to approach a taller woman with the same confidence you would someone shorter, but also not make a big deal about her height. Although I can take a joke and I’m cynical and confident enough to make fun of my own height, I do find it annoying if 80% of the conversation is some kind of “I’m short you’re tall” schtick. Because there’s more to a person then just their height. Just talk to her like any other woman.

  14. What I find most startling is that the choice of footwear would even factor into the deliberation process of partnering, as if a pair of high-heels were the touchstones of a healthy relationship. Any consideration for what goes on inside is easily overridden by the imperative to appear photogenic.

    Some of the single ladies mentioned in the survey are really reinforcing the worst stereotypes about women.

  15. My husband says that I am a heightist. In my defense it is because my parents always made fun of my height which is at most 5’1. I am also shorter than both of them which they claim is unheard of since each generation is taller than the next. Everyone in my generation is over 5’8 male/female. I am the shortest person in my family with the exception of my 80 year old grandma.

    With that said, they drilled it into my head that I must find a tall husband in the future so that my children will not be made fun because of their height. All that brain washing worked and I never dated a guy under 5’8. But my semi-tall friends those who are 5’4 and over all dated guys shorter than them or their height. It is because their parents never taught them to think like that.

    If I have kids in the future, I would tell them to judge a guy based on his merits and not something so trivial as his height.

  16. After I read this topic, I started to pay attention on this. Here is the update.

    I was in a long line waiting for checkout, so I was absent minded people watching. The store was full of couples, most of them were taller men. But there was tall blonde girl with a shorter (3+”) bold young man. So shorter man do get taller girl.

    While I was at local park and I noiticed a young AMWW couple that the man was slightly shorter than the girl. Yep, it happens more often my area.

  17. The reverse holds true for men, most guys would absolutely not date a taller woman. women aren’t the only heightists in this gender equation.

    “with this man, I would finally feel like a petite and feminine Asian girl.”
    Maybe the writer is looking at Asian culture from a Western perspective. She is a banana by her own admission. Actually, Malaysian Chinese admire tall girls. We certainly don’t think of them as less feminine. Some of our female celebs are models over 5′ 8″ (Amber Chia, Ling Tan) I’m also a banana btw 😛

  18. This blog made me think of my early 20’s, as I was rejected by the foxes who chased after the Alfa males and showed no more interest in me than glancing at a blade of grass next to the highway traveling at 75 MPH. And this made me think about my own personal experiences with tall women, a slightly different story from this blog, but same result due to being a Beta male. One 6’ tall girl, in a gym, talked to me with such a look of disinterested she couldn’t have looked or acted more uninterested if she had wanted to. I approached another, who I estimated being 5 foot 9 or 10 inches. She got angry with me for even asking her out and stuck her finger in my face informing me she didn’t date shorter men. On line, I met a girl 5’11”, and we worked out together once in my apartment complex gym, after that she did not return my two phone calls, there could be others, too, I just don’t remember them all. Now, you may say the rejections were because of my looks, that could be true, but as I approached girls closer to my height, my success rate went way up.
    This blog also made me think about the rejections by tall girls, and it angered me, but not at the time the rejection. Only years later, when I actually tallied them up, did I get angry. I was rejected not because I was fat, bald, ugly, deformed or had a rotten personality. No. The reason I was rejected by all of these women was my height. Not a one even bothered to put forth the effort to get to know me much less date me.
    I did date three women who were significantly taller than me, two at 5’11” and one at 5’10”. (I am 5’8”) And all three happened to be 32 years of age, which is more than a coincidence and a tie in with this blog. No doubt all three wanted a tall Alfa male, and lost, so a safe stable Beta male was the next best thing in their 30’s, for I certainly didn’t grow any taller and I doubt I got better looking. These women were past their prime and worried. I was in my late 30’s, at this time of my life, after being married for 10 years. It was also at this time, I could easily date younger women, and I did. When I was 38, my first girlfriend was 27, the next was 27 and the next was 24 who became my second wife. I never dated with any intent of marrying a woman my age. Younger women had no issue with me dating them, and I certainly had no issue dating them. I remember going to singles events and seeing very pretty women, who were my age, who I know 15 years earlier would not have given me the time of day. And even now, they may have looked better than myself, but now it was me who had no interest in approaching them. I did not want to take time and money away from pursuing younger women. Why go old, when I could go young? I was amazed how the dating game changed in my favor. And I used it to my advantage, just as women had done years earlier.
    I am now married and have 4 sons. I have 3 degrees, and I have co-authored 2 US patents. I could have provided a good life to any girl. I wanted a taller girl because of the physical turn on and to for fill one of my desires, yet not one single tall girl (in her 20’s) gave me a chance. I was turned down consistently and without a second thought. (Maybe due to the Alfa male fascination) So, if you find yourself in your late 20’s or early 30’s with no prospect of a husband or children in the immediate future, you have no one to blame but yourself. There were men like me, who wanted a leggy female, but they, like me, were never accorded the opportunity. (This also applies to average height women, too) And the reality is that the vast majority of tall women will not even consider a shorter man (and Beta males) until it is too late. You would think it would be obvious that if you included shorter males (and Beta males) in your suitor selection, your odds would increase of finding a mate. There are a lot more short and medium height males than there are taller ones. So my advice would be to accept the advances of all men and get to know them. I, who would have relished the opportunity of having curvy broad hips and a tapered waist to hold all night and to make love to into the early hours of the morning, was never, not once, even given a chance to start a relationship. Throw away the yardstick, for you may find someone like me, who would love to share his life and love with a tall girl.
    By the way, another tie in with this article and be found at this web site.
    This writer tell about his rejections in his 20’s by women only to find that women now chased after him, in spite of his height, now he is in his early 30’s. He warns of the dangers of the “Reformed Heightest Woman” who are desperate after wasting their life chasing the Alfa male and now want a stable Beta with a steady pay-check.
    Here is anther on how women who found the Mr. Average (Beta Males) were worth nothing in their 20’s and now that these women are in their 30’s can’t buy a date, even from the Beta Males
    Why women lose in the dating game
    During their 20s, women compete for the most highly desirable men, the Mr Bigs. Many will readily share a bed with the sporty, attractive, confident men, while ordinary men miss out. As Whiskey puts it at ”Joe Average Beta Male is about as desirable to women as a cold bowl of oatmeal.”
    ”I can’t believe how many men my age are only interested in younger women,” wails Gail, a 34-year-old advertising executive as she describes her first search through men’s profiles on the RSVP internet dating site. She is shocked to find many mid-30s men have set up their profiles to refuse mail from women their own age.
    Talking to many women like her, it’s intriguing how many look back on past relationships where they let good men get away because they weren’t ready. American journalist Kate Bolick wrote recently in The Atlantic about breaking off her three-year relationship with a man she described as ”intelligent, good-looking, loyal and kind”. She acknowledged ”there was no good reason to end things”, yet, at the time, she was convinced something was missing in the relationship. That was 11 years ago. She’s is now 39 and facing grim choices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.