When it comes to choosing a partner, people have varying items on their checklist. Some choose to go with the flow, while others are quite particular, going to the extent of having another list containing all their turn-offs. The most commonly claimed turn-on was a sense of humour. However, what is really obvious is that, generally speaking, when it comes to height, the man in the relationship tends to be taller. And the verdict is out, at least as far as science is concerned: couples with a greater height difference are more likely to be happy and the relationship is likely to last longer (1).
A study regarding this matter was conducted with 7850 subjects, and the results are what you might expect. The correlation between height and happiness dwindled over time, with no correlation at all after 18 years of marriage. Despite the dissipation, it is clear that the 18 years have already had an impact on the psychology of a female (2). Scientists are also of the opinion that women who choose taller men are likely to be more fertile.
Researcher Kitae Sohn, from Konkuk University, says that choosing taller men makes sense for evolutionary reasons. However, until this study, the wife being happier because of a choice for a taller mate wasn’t known.
Dr. Sohn posits that this correlation could just be something intrinsic – women liking taller men but not knowing why. He puts forth the analogy of our craving for fatty or salty foods. Our cravings might have made sense in the past when our ancestors didn’t get these nutrients sufficiently from their diet. However, in this day and age, with processed food being ubiquitous, there is no explanation for our yearnings for the same. Somewhat like women desiring taller men.
Another argument is that taller men tend to be better in evolutionary terms, for their genes are likely to be passed on to many generations without dying out. The desire to procreate is stronger, which is why they are likely to have a greater appetite between the sheets – an understandable justification for the attraction! Unfortunately, such was the case in the past. This explanation is (again) moot in this age of modern medicine and science. All men have more or less the same chances these days in evolutionary terms.
The correlation (between height and marital satisfaction) dying out after a long marriage also makes sense. Dr. Sohn hypothesizes a possible explanation of why this correlation weakens over time. It could simply be the woman being adjusted to the height difference, just as she becomes accustomed to the attractiveness of the partner in general and his sense of humour. However, it is important to note that it takes 18 whole years for this to happen – it’s not an overnight transition!
So, what does this mean for short men? Are there no couples with minimal height differences? It’s important to note that with studies, one can easily confuse correlation with causation. That is to say, taller men don’t make their wives happier, their wives just happen to be happier. The nature of a relationship cannot be boiled down to just one attribute. There are plenty of happily married couples with minimal height differences. Heck, there are couples like Peter Dinklage and Erica Schmidt, where the wife is the taller one. Science is certainly not definitive when it comes to romance.
Additionally, there are several factors that go into making a happy marriage. Reminding each other that you value one another is essential. Emotional dissatisfaction is a major cause of infidelity. So, make sure you take time out to tell each other how important you are to the other. Ultimately, couples that are honest and open to each other tend to be happier. Tell the truth to your partner even if it’s a cause of discomfort.
Make sure the relationship doesn’t become stagnant. As Woody Allen in Annie Hall says, “A relationship is like a shark – it has to constantly move forward or it dies.” Hence, try to ensure that you have regular date nights, or at least you’re spending time alone with each other. This can be difficult if you have children, but try to work it out so that you and your partner can be with each other. This also means that you can’t let yourself go once you’re married – you’ve got to take care of your appearance and emotional well-being!
Another key component of a happy marriage is time spent apart. Try and make sure you have other non-romantic relationships. Take trips with your friends. Exchange gossip and anecdotes, knowing that your partner will be there when you get back. Although the oft-quoted notion “Absence makes the heart go fonder” isn’t really accurate, a little distance can do a world of good (3).
Don’t worry if your partner is around the same height as you, you are just as likely to have a good relationship. And short men – do not fear. It takes a lot more to be happy with your significant other than being able to reach the upper shelf.