Is He Cute, Or Just Very Tall?

A deep dive into dating as a vertically-gifted man and the women who love them.

by Zing Tsjeng
17 June 2019, 9:22am

Tom and the author. Photo by Ruby Lott-Lavigna

Let me get this out the way first: I am 5'5" and height-agnostic. I've dated both 6'4" men and men who claimed to be 5’7", which is shorthand for: "I'm actually 5'6" but let’s both agree to turn a blind eye." I have myself been a Tall Boy, at least in the context of dating women who were so petite that they willingly used the word "lil" to describe themselves.

My dating journey through this height spectrum has led me to an important conclusion: if you’re looking at a Tall Boy and thinking to yourself, 'Wow, he’s cute,' there's also every chance that he is just extremely tall.

This is not news to anyone who's read the Reductress article "Is He Cute or Is He Just Tall and White?" Yet every time someone truly tall – so tall you have to crane your neck back to look at them – enters the public eye, all good sense flies out the window. This is why Americans briefly went insane for Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic 2020 contender who happens to be 6'4". It's why people fancy Jason Segel – a man who is relatively nice in the face, I guess, but whose primary physical attribute is that he is, like O’Rourke, 6'4".

It's also why every woman on Love Island immediately lists "tall" as their most desired personality trait upon entering the villa. On last Monday's episode, newcomer Molly-Mae incurred the wrath of Yewande for saying that her date Danny was exactly her type: "It's because he's tall. He's so tall. Tall boys are just a thing for me."

Self-professed "tall whore" Catherine, 26, says she finds tall men irresistible. “I'm 5’10” so prefer to go for tall guys," she tells me over DMs. "I'm currently obsessed with a guy who is 6’5” and I KNOW is a drug addict, but he's so tall that I can't pull myself away. I can, with 100 percent certainty, tell you I would not be anywhere near as interested in him if it wasn't for his height."

Sarah, 31, is 5'4" and says she "can't feel an emotion" towards men under 6'3". "The appeal is [related to] Jimmy Stewart [6'3"] and Jarvis Cocker [6'2"] fantasies and the fact that meme culture has ruined my brain and driven me toward the 'long bois'," she explains. "My partner is 6'5" and I haven’t had to reach for anything in years."

Has a man's height ever blinded her to his less desirable traits – like a bad personality? "I don’t regret a thing, but in hindsight, a man wearing an exact costume replica of Frank from Donnie Darko is not someone I would have snogged in a library had he been the size of Peter Rabbit."

Both Sarah and Catherine’s love of Tall Boys is understandable. Multiple studies have shown that height is one of the most appealing physical attributes a heterosexual man can possess. (Comparatively fewer studies have been carried out on height preferences among gay men and lesbian women, though some research suggests that gay men who prefer to top are attracted to shorter men, and men who prefer to bottom are attracted to taller men.)

Joel Golby
Joel, 6'4": "If I were a normal height I think I'd probably be a moderator on an incel forum." Photo courtesy of subject

Some of the tall straight men I spoke to fully agreed that their height gifted them an unfair advantage in dating. Former VICE staffer Joel Golby (6’4”) told me: "I never realised that basically the only reason I'd ever had sex was because I was tall until I was about 28 – but yeah, that's the only reason I've ever had sex. If I were a normal height I think I'd probably be a moderator on an incel forum."

On Twitter I spoke to Chris, who is 6'4" and says he has noticed a distinct advantage to being tall on dating apps. "I had a couple of months on Tinder a few years ago where I met my partner,” he says. "After a couple of weeks, I added my height to my bio. The difference in the amount of matches I got was huge and immediate."

Most of the vertically-gifted men who slid into my DMs to profess that, yes, they had noticed that women had expressed a Thing for their height averaged out around 6’4”. (According to the Office of National Statistics, the average height of a man in the UK is 5’9”.) My DMs are not a scientific survey by any measure, but the men I spoke to who were 6’5” and above were far more likely to express frustration or dissatisfaction with their height.

Max, 28 – who was so tall when he was born that he had to be slid diagonally into his hospital cot – sometimes wishes he was a few inches shorter. "Missionary position sex with someone's face in your chest is not the end of the world – maybe [it is] for the other person – but a 45-degree bend at the waist to make out with someone ain’t great."

Peter, 25, agrees that being extremely tall means you struggle with everyday things that shorter men take for granted. "You are too tall to hear what women say to you in bars or clubs without leaning closer to them; you cannot hide your lack of rhythm on a dance floor because everybody can see you, and there is no way to have a flawless first kiss with anyone like in a romantic movie because their head is a foot below yours," he says.

The tallest man I spoke to, Tom, 29, is 6'9" – the same height as Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (AKA The Mountain in Game of Thrones) and describes himself as "Gigantor the Man-Boy". Conveniently, Tom works around the corner from VICE and agreed to meet me, because I, to be completely honest, did not quite believe anybody could be 6’9”, even after he sent me a photo where he was literally two heads higher than the tallest person in the picture.

"You certainly get more attention. You’re born with a walk-in conversation piece at least," he says. "There’s no getting away from the fact I fulfil a certain type if you’re after the 'big strong man' type."

Does he think his height has bestowed upon him an unfair amount of attractiveness, especially among tall-fanciers? "Being a walking conversation starter, girls will come up to you because they’ve got a thing they can talk about, rather than if you’re looking at generic white guy number three." But, he says, he feels like he has more in common with short men: "We're both freaks in a world of normal-sized people. I relate to the short man more than the 5'11" Mister Ergonomic that the world is built around."

Most of the women I spoke to were unrepentant about finding taller men attractive, even if they acknowledged that it had blinded them to otherwise unsuitable men and cut off their ability to fancy shorter men. Catherine says she wouldn’t change her dating preferences even if she could. "My friends berate me for being 'heightist', but it's something I'm attracted to," she explains. "Obviously, I see really hot guys who are shorter than me and I wish I could get over it, but I suppose it's your way of whittling down, otherwise I'd fancy everyone."

So what to do if you’re a heterosexual woman hellbent on scoring yourself a Tall One of your own? Sarah has some tips: "The secret is to make that long boy energy come to you. Rent a place with high ceilings and avoid ever commenting on their height to draw in someone who is arguably 'a lot' for a mammal. You don’t need apps to track them down when there are eight High & Mighty stores in the UK."

Or, you know, just DM me. I’ve got literally dozens of them in my inbox right now.

sex and relationships