Navigating the tall dating scene

Claire Swinarski tells us how she found her way

I’m tall.

So are you, probably. The kind of tall where trips to the mall can end in a headache, you laugh when someone asks if you model, and dating becomes a whole different ballgame.

All tall girls have some memories of high school romances that make them cringe. Dancing at prom with a guy who barely comes up to your chin. Never getting a lead role in the musical because you just don’t “look right” with the 5’5” male lead. Watching all of your friends look sweet and small next to their boyfriends while you hunker down next to them, wishing you didn’t stand a head taller than everyone else in group photos. That cute girl getting hoisted onto a guy’s shoulders at the football game? Yeah—that’ll never be you, beanpole!

These days, I pride myself on being tall.

I used to be embarrassed about it, but as I got into my 20s I started standing up straighter and buying clothes that actually fit. But dating in college was just as tricky. I remember going to parties and meeting nice guys, but the second I realized they were shorter than me, I got a little more nervous and uncomfortable towards them. And the second they realized I was taller, they became a little more closed off. I was part of the problem. Say what you will about this being the 21st century and the end of stereotypes and all that jazz, but let’s call a spade a spade: it’s awkward when you’re the taller one in the relationship.

But why should it be? What does it say about us that we long to be small, dainty, and petite? That the men in our lives want to be the big strong protectors who tower two heads above us? Why can’t we just shake those old feelings aside and embrace Tom-Cruise-Katie-Holmes height differences? (Minus the nasty divorce part.)

After going on a few dates with men of all heights, I ended up marrying a great man who’s barely taller than me—about an inch and a half. That means when I wear my favorite wedges, I’m above him. He’s also a lot skinnier than I’ll ever be. But you know what? I don’t care. I spent too much of my life trying to look smaller, and I can’t believe the brainpower I wasted worrying about what other people thought of my height and concerning myself with the height of others. It’s time to take up some space.

This Valentine’s Day, reject the stereotype.

It starts with you. Go out with the short guy. Hey, the worst that can happen is he’ll ask you to reach the top shelf for him! And the best thing that can happen is you give a guy a chance and meet the man of your high-reaching dreams. To all of the tall women out there dating men who are shorter, more power to you—let’s leave these tired old stereotypes out back.