They may not be tall like others, and are sometimes overlooked in the dating game when it comes to making choices, but those who are lucky to get married to them may have found more loyal and loving partners, if the findings of a study are worth banking on.
It’s about short men being better husbands than the tall ones, according to a study. It is no longer news that many women prefer to date men that are taller than them, but scientists have proven that short men make better lovers.
The study was carried out by two sociologists from New York University, Dalton Conley and Abigail Weitzman. They used data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics – a University of Michigan project that has been collecting demographic data on 5,000 families for almost 50 years – to look at how a man’s height affects different areas of his relationship, such as the spouse’s attributes, marriage entry and stability and the division of household labour. They also measured the couples’ income, education and height difference between spouses.
The study, published in newrepublic.com, examined two sets of data in 1986 and 2009, and identified 3,033 heterosexual couples to participate in the study. The men who participated in the study as respondents were aged between 23 and 45 and all were either married or cohabiting with a woman.
The height of the men ranged from 4 feet 6 inches (4’6”) to 7 feet, and their height, in relation to their partners,’ ranged from nine inches shorter to two feet taller.
For easy identification, the researchers categorised the men into three groups. For the first set of data in 1986, ‘Short’ men were defined as 5 feet 6 inches or less and tall men defined as 6 feet 1 inch and above, while the set of data in 2009 defined short men as 5 feet 7 inches below and tall men as 6 feet 2 inches and above.
After the exercise, the researchers found that short men in relationships are better husbands than tall men because they were found to be more honest, caring and less likely to cheat or divorce, making them ideal partners. According to the comparison of the information given by the partners of the men who participated in the study, short men work harder, earn higher income and are less likely to divorce than tall men. They also do more house chores.
Even though short men were more likely to have a harder time getting married because they are viewed as less masculine, unless they are rich enough to attract the kind of women they desire, they work harder to make more money and exert their authority over their home.
The researchers said, “Our findings showed that short men are many times overcompensating for their lack of height by earning a higher income and being wonderful personalities, and many women who have been in a relationship with such men did confirm that short men are more inclined to be eager to please, as they seek to compete against their taller counterparts.
“We also found that short men were less likely to get divorced, more likely to share housework, and work hard to be the breadwinners at home. These men were somewhat less likely to get married, with an 18 per cent marriage rate lower than men of average height.
“We believe this is because short men may have a harder time getting married, since they are viewed as less masculine by the society, but when they do find a partner, the divorce rates are 32 per cent lower compared to the rate for tall men.”
The researchers hypothesise that because physical characteristics such as height, is related to masculinity, short men may use other aspects of the relationship, such as income, to demonstrate their manliness, and that they are also more likely to marry less educated and younger women for better influence.
Conley and Weitzman noted that tall men may be aware of the manliness status that is conferred by their tallness, which might make them less motivated to lend a hand at home.
As much as many women prefer tall men for a relationship, it is noteworthy that dating a taller man does not mean protecting the woman from falling objects or to physically fight the bad guys around town.
However, some women who spoke to our correspondent said they would prefer a man taller than them so that they could have tall children, coupled with the ‘protective’ symbol tall men exhibit. Nevertheless, such women who prefer tall men did admit that the best husbands are not the tallest or richest, but the ones who are sensitive to their emotional needs and help out with some house chores and in taking care of the children.
Weitzman said, “Short men make stable marriages because they are desperate to prevail. They live in a world of taller men and since they know the odds, the desperation to win through makes them good husbands.
“The way it is with short men is the same with countries with vast natural resources, such as oil and gold, tend to be less economically prosperous than countries that have none. This is because resources that are easily found are easily squandered. So, short men, who are aware of the prejudice against them by women tend to do more to justify their masculinity, which tall men enjoy by nature.”
She explained that there seems to be an almost universal agreement among men and women that they would prefer to be in a relationship where the man is taller, leaving short men with a smaller pool of women to date and marry from.
According to her, even short men are more likely to marry women who are closer to their height or taller.
Conley, on the other hand, said, “Our findings portray a pattern in which short men compensate for their status disadvantage by enacting other types of stereotypical masculinity to compensate for the masculinity ‘perception gap’ by displaying other admirable behaviours.
“It seems to mean that when a man is lacking in height, which is an attribute most humans value for its dominance and masculinity symbol, he needs to use another way to signify that he has the ability to do what people commonly associate with tallness.
“What I am certain is that shorter men probably more often than not put much more commitment, energy and effort into a relationship than the taller counterparts.
Commenting on the study, a psychologist, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye, said such a finding might not be totally correct because short men are known to be more aggressive and usually defend their positions forcefully because they have a natural misgiving that people may want to cheat them.
He said there may be need for such a study to be carried out in this kind of society but that since attraction is the central issue in marriage, they would have a better home if they and their partners find themselves attractive, and when the partner has learnt to understand them.
He said, “Even though short men are given to anxiety, anger and aggression more than tall men, if the woman has been made submissive, out of understanding, so as not to arouse the husband’s anger, they may have a happier and lasting marriage.
“It does not mean all of them are always aggressive, but the success of their marriage would depend on the understanding between individual spouses. So, the marriage will last longer and be happier if one party has learnt to understand the anger threshold of the other party and is ready to accommodate it.”