When it comes to dating, research has concluded that for the most part, women aren’t as shallow as one might think. Various studies have determined that single straight men shouldn’t waste their time stressing over things like weight, hair or even dick size, because most women just don’t care about those things as much as men think they do.
But a new study in the March 2016 edition of the journal Personality and Individual Differences suggests that there is still one element of a man’s appearance that women do indeed care deeply about. Spoiler alert: It’s height.
The idea that taller men have an advantage in the hetero dating world is fairly well-established, as past research has already confirmed that many women are indeed height queens. The phenomenon has largely been attributed to the (somewhat vomit-inducing) evolutionary psychology arguments that link height to traits like masculinity, power and the ability to pass on tall-people genes to male children so that they too can reap the societal rewards of being tall.
But the goal of this new study by researcher Kitae Sohn of Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea was to determine if women who chose to “level up” and marry a tallboy were actually happier in the long-term. “Although it has been known that women prefer tall men in mating for evolutionary reasons, no study has investigated whether a taller husband makes his wife happier,” Sohn wrote.
It’s worth noting that Sohn’s research was limited to a single country — he analyzed the survey responses of 7,850 Indonesian women — so it might not exactly be representative of women’s views the world over. Yet Sohn found that women who chose to marry taller men did indeed report higher levels of overall happiness. In fact, he reported that “a greater height difference in a couple was positively related to the wife’s happiness,” which suggests that the taller the husband, the happier the wife.
The good-ish news for short guys? The tall husband happiness spell does not last forever. Sohn reported that the positive effects of having a taller partner “gradually weakened over time and entirely dissipated by 18 years of marital duration.” So if you’re shallow and petty enough to marry a dude based on his vertical leap alone, maybe start thinking about calling it quits about 17 years in.
The results of the study are troubling, to say the least: Given how much our society as a whole has started to redefine beauty standards and how little women care about other male physical traits, why do women care so damn much about men’s height?
In an effort to get beyond the results of this study and conduct an informal poll of our own, Mic asked our Tumblr audience to sound off on the subject. Good news for shorties: Many of the nearly 200 respondents indicated that, contrary to what any of the research out there might say, they DGAF about a man’s vertical measurements.
“I don’t see why I wouldn’t [date a guy who was shorter than me],” wrote one user. “It may not be likely because I’m 5'3” but fuck those social norms that imply men have to be the taller ones.“ Another wrote that "of all the things that matter in a partner, height seems pretty meaningless no matter what genders are involved. I genuinely don’t understand people that will only date taller partners.” And one very candid reader wrote: “I don’t care how tall he is as long as he has a big dick."
Let that be a lesson to you, men of various heights: You never really can count on the statistics of one study to tell you much of anything.