You’ve seen it. Maybe you are it. The tallest men, it seems, pair up with the smallest women. And, you might say, the smallest women seem to prefer the tallest men. Why?

Well, the researchers here didn’t actually decipher that peculiarity of the human mating system. They merely verified some of the patterns you observe on a daily basis.

Many Westerners will tell you that their ideal mate is tall, whether male of female. There’s good reason for that: Good childhood nutrition maximizes the growth potential of the leg bones. So tallness is one indication of a high quality childhood, an indication which might also translate into good adult health. And everybody prefers a healthy mate.

But do we actually hook up with our ideals?

Kinda, yes.

In a massive study of mated people in the UK, the patterns reflect informal observations:

Men don’t tend to marry women taller than themselves; women don’t tend to marry men shorter than themselves.

Tall women marry men close to their own height.

Short men, ditto.

But it’s the short women/tall men pairing that was notable. These classes both preferred, apparently, a big difference between themselves and their mates. I’m soooo curious as to why, and this paper cannot reveal that.

Whatever the cause, the effect of these patterns was smallish. Apparently a lot more goes into our mate choice than height.

But would you have guessed, given your sophisticated brain, your preference for a mate with wit and style, and your iron-clad insistence on a partner who shares your politics, your religion, and your taste for Vietnamese food, that height counts at all?

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