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Spend any time online dating, and you start to learn things about women. Things they hate: Shirtless bathroom selfies. Tasteless propositions. Dudes named Matt (?). Things they like: Dogs. Yoga. Pumpkin spice. More dogs. And things they love: Tall dudes.

I can still see her face staring back at me in her Tinder profile picture. We had already agreed to meet up the next day for drinks. And then out of the blue she asked me how tall I was. When I told her, she got all motherly all of a sudden: “Oh, honey, I’m sorry, I can’t go out with someone shorter than me.”

. . . Honey?

I’d almost prefer she would have just called me “Poor Baby” or “Little One” or something else more to the point. It wasn’t exactly news to me that women prefer taller men. But here’s a woman who obviously thought enough of everything else she had learned about me to agree to go out on a date—but it was my height, and my height alone, that eliminated me from her primary election.

Now I’m not here to tell anyone whom to love, be attracted to, or even go out on a first date with. But I am here to say that if you’ve decided once and for all that you’ll never date a man who isn’t six feet tall, you might just be missing out on the love of your life. No big deal.

I get it—looks certainly do matter in the equation of attraction. But based on my own struggle to look beyond a certain type, I’d like to suggest something radical: It might be time for women to rethink their priorities in the height department. Here are a few thoughts on my own struggle to move past the superficial things.

Priorities Are One Thing; Picky Is Another

I don’t know about you, but I can think of more than one date I would have pursued harder had I known then what I know now. If it wasn’t having to do with height, it was that I wasn’t sure she was quite feminine enough for me or fun enough or witty enough, or maybe she was a little too young, or she lives a little too far away, or—blah blah blah.

I know I have a habit of looking for a pretty face. I still seek out that someone I “click” with immediately. I look for the one in the room who fits all my preconceived notions of my ideal woman. And I still find myself coming up empty. It’s a hard habit to break.

Verily’s relationships editor, Monica, praised her mother’s wisdom when she told her not to judge a man too quickly. “My mother’s advice encouraged me to remain open to the men who were not my ‘type,’ even if it was just one date,” Monica explained. But keeping an open mind is harder done than said.

Every now and again I think back, fondly, on the woman I first really fell for. She wasn’t my perfect “type” at first glance, and to be honest I wasn’t into her immediately. But she had all the right qualities: warm, fun, bright, loyal, reliable (and on and on). Over time she became more and more attractive to me because of all those great qualities. Why did we never get together? Because by the time I came around to realizing how great she was, she was taken. Perhaps had I been quicker to get over my preconceived physical ideals, things would have been different.

If Men Shouldn’t Want Barbie, Women Shouldn’t Want Ken

Imagine if you asked a male acquaintance what he was looking for in a woman, and he responded by saying, “Well, someone who looks kinda like Barbie. You know, long legs, big boobs, tiny waist, big butt . . .” You would probably slap him. As well you should.

But how many women have you heard repeat their perfect-mate mantra of “tall, dark, and handsome”?

The fact is, we all have a picture of our ideal mate in our heads. And sure, it’s fun to fantasize about that. When I first heard Marie Miller’s song “6’2,” I got excited when she started describing her dream guy as having blonde hair and blue eyes, just like yours truly. And then I got super bummed when she went on to sing, “And six foot two is my favorite height.” Welp, too bad, so sad.

No one likes to be objectified based on their physicality when it comes to dating and finding love, for better or for worse. Sure, some things are within our control, and a little self-improvement never hurts. But there’s nothing a man can do to get any taller. Believe me, I’ve tried.

When we spend our free time daydreaming about what sort of features or physical attributes we find attractive, what are we accomplishing, exactly? It was Verily’s Maria Walley who got the conversation started when she talked about getting over her own height standards. (Thank you, Maria!) If we (rightly) see something amiss about a bro who only seems to chase after the Baywatch babes, then perhaps women can reconsider their obsession with tall men.

The Case for Changing Ways

In order to overcome my internal biases, I’ve gone out of my way to find and pursue women who have the qualities I know I need in a relationship, and I’ve tried to rely less upon those who catch my eye when they cross my path. If that sounds pragmatic, it is. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t romantic.

I rely on my trusted friends—the objective third parties—to help me. I make a point to ask people I know and respect if they know any women who share my values and are looking for a serious relationship like me.

But whether I meet someone through friends, with the latest greatest mobile dating app, or in some kismet way, I try to keep an open mind. I try to figure out who she is and what she’s about first. It’s amazing how easy it is to like someone when you just give them a chance.

Whomever I meet, I try to give her a chance to be who she is. And I can say this: I’m always glad when someone does the same for me. Does that mean we should all disregard any physical preference? Of course not. But like any preference when it comes to dating, we need to keep it in perspective. Like, what am I really looking for? What should impress me? What should I care less about, and what should I care more about?

I know that as I continue my search for the right lady, I realize maybe I shouldn’t be so picky about petty things. And maybe I should stop dreaming and start considering the person standing right in front of me.

Photo Credit: Manchik Photography