I’m about 5-foot-five, my lack of height really hurts my confidence with women. All I hear about is how women want guys who are 6-feet or taller. I think this hurts me on the apps and also when I’m out looking to meet women. I can’t approach because I just assume women are gonna laugh at me. Can you help?
—Terry, 39, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Let me dispel a big dating myth. You may think that short guys struggle with dating, but in truth, women like guys of all shapes and sizes. So, can short guys be attractive? Absolutely!
Dating is about connection and giving your best, truest self to another person. Do those things and you can have an abundance of romantic options and land a great girlfriend, whether you’re six-foot-four or four-foot-six.
Women don’t necessarily want tall guys. They want guys who aren’t shorter than them. The average American woman is five-foot-four, so if you hit that spot or above on the tape measure, you have lots of options.
And you can also attract girls who are taller than you. For a woman, it’s not really about a guy’s height. It’s about how a guy’s height makes her feel: namely feminine, smaller, safe. A shorter man can give her those same feelings by adding muscle at the gym, carrying himself with confidence, using his voice in a dominant way, or getting great at flirting. In fact, if you Google "short guys with tall girlfriends," you'll find several examples.
So what’s your move? Feature what you can’t fix. Let me elaborate.
In business, there’s a marketing concept that says, “What you can’t fix, you feature.” By highlighting a product’s weakness, you turn it into a strength.
In golf, a nine-holer isn’t a lesser course; it’s an “executive track.” A car isn’t too expensive; it’s a “luxury automobile.” If you’re shorter than average, you can joke about it, turning it into a signifier of confidence.
I once went out for the night and found myself wingmanning with a cool, five-foot-4 guy named Darren. He was phenomenal with women. Not only did he not care about his height; with several girls he met, he led with it. He told one woman, “When we get married, I can be on the wedding cake,” and she laughed so hard, she spit out her drink. To another: “I promise, I’ll never look down on you.”
So feature what you can’t fix. It tells people that you’re secure in who you are. And that kind of confidence is sexy to women of all heights.
I read online about how you have to be a bad boy “alpha male” to attract women. Well, I’m not that guy. I’m a chill, quiet, nice guy. Am I out of luck? Do women just not want me?
—Rodney, 40, London, England
What?! You’re a nice man? Gross. It’s pretty much over for you, Rodney. Looks like you’ll have to give up on trying to find a flesh-and-blood woman and settle for the inflatable kind instead. I kid!
One of the biggest myths in dating is that women like bad boys, and are turned off by nice guys. Wrong!
Nice guys are sexier than six-pack abs… as long as you’re authentically nice and real with women, as opposed to putting on a fake, supplicating mask.
Now, don’t get me wrong. From Russell Brand to Han Solo, many women love the bad boy (and his cousin, the cocky jerk.) The swagger. The bravado. The Millennium Falcon. It’s irresistible. Bad boys tend to get girls giggling, twirling their hair, and giving out their numbers. But the odds of women swooning over you—a nice guy who likes and respects women—are slim, right? Not so. The truth is, you can absolutely steal a little bad-boy mojo while still being the nice guy you are.
I know this from personal experience because I’m a nice guy who was raised by nice parents in a nice Ohio town. I used to volunteer at a residence for blind people. I say please and thank you. I (literally!) help old ladies walk across cross the street. To be clear, I’m not bragging. Just pointing out that you can totally be a nice guy and also be great with women.
Women are dying to date nice guys. Consider some data: In a Glamour magazine poll, single women chose “loyal and lovable” men as the category of single guys they most want to date, at 33 percent. You know who finished way down the list, second to last, at 6 percent? “Bad boys.” I tried playing the cocky bad boy with women, and I struggled mightily. Then one fateful evening I met a gorgeous, glossy-haired Maxim model who opened my eyes to what women are really looking for. She was complaining about all the narcissistic jerks she meets.
“I’m so sick of arrogant, selfish men,” she said. “I’d love to meet a nice guy, but they never approach me. They’re just too intimidated, I guess. It’s too bad because nice guys are sexier than six-pack abs—as long as they have a backbone.”
Did you catch that last part? It’s important. “As long as they have a backbone.” When nice guys strike out with women, it’s not because of the niceness. It’s because they don’t convey the strength and confidence that women respond to. They don’t show the value that women need to see.
You don’t need to wear some assholier-than-thou mask, and you don’t need to be an “alpha male.” You need to be a nice guy with steely self-confidence.
Don’t only take my male word on this. Here’s another expert to chime in. “By the time they reach their late twenties, women are done with bad boys,” Cherlyn Chong, a relationship coach for women, told me in a phone interview. “They put up with dick pics, arrogance, even emotional abuse, and they just want a nice, honest guy with some form of sexy going on. A guy who’s genuine dismantles women’s walls by being respectful while unapologetically real. That’s sexy as fuck.”
So don’t be some fake “bad boy.” Instead, be a (nice!) man with a plan.
Women love a leader. When it comes to dates, never say, “So what do YOU wanna do?” Have a plan. Lead. Take charge, but with respect and empathy for her.
Pick a place she’ll love for that first drink and have a second spot in mind to suggest for a nightcap. Know where you’re taking her, with decisiveness. (“Hey, let’s go to [cool place]. It’s awesome and you’re gonna love it.”)
Be a man—and a gentleman—with a plan, and you can date like a bad boy while being a good guy.
At least a dozen times a week I see a woman I’d love to approach—at the gym, the grocery store, coffee shops. I try to psych myself up to go and say hi, but it’s like my feet are stuck in cement! That little voice says, “Don’t approach her. It’s creepy!” I feel stuck and helpless.
—Jason, 28, Chicago
I’ve been there, Jason. Approaching anxiety was the biggest problem that I battled back in the day.
But you know what’s way creepier than approaching a woman? Wanting to approach but doing nothing… and just staring at her (while beating yourself up).
Here’s a story I tell in my book, “Dating Sucks But You Don’t.” When I started learning how to attract women, I was at a trendy hotel lounge in New York City one night. My wingman challenged me to approach a table where a cute brunette and her blond friend sat with a muscular guy.
At that point, I was still nervous about talking to women, let alone dealing with a potentially pissed-off boyfriend. And this guy was absolutely huge, like a bottle of Muscle Milk made flesh. But I summoned the courage, walked over, sat down in the empty chair, and offered a warm hello.
The brunette’s eyes widened and she leaned forward. “Oh my God! You came right up and talked to us. Do you know what you are?” (I thought, “Umm, a creep who’s about to get his butt kicked?) “You’re NORMAL!” she said.
She tilted her head toward a fellow sitting a couple tables away. “That guy over there has been staring at us all night, and it’s creeping us out!”
Oh, and the hulking fellow who I was worried about? He was super friendly. I traded numbers with the brunette, who I had nice chemistry with.
Most men don’t approach women, often from a fear of appearing creepy. And that comes from a good place. But there’s nothing creepy about approaching, as long as you do it with authenticity and with good intentions.
What DOES feel creepy to women is when a guy wants to approach, yet does nothing except stare, and hover, and… stare some more.
The fix? Follow the 3-Second Rule.
When you’re in a social environment and you see a woman you’d love to meet, approach her immediately. (But use social acuity. If she’s, say, paying for her groceries at the counter, or preparing to land that 747, let her finish before you break the ice.)
Begin walking toward her within about three seconds of spotting her. If you delay too much longer than that, the doubt will creep in and you’ll talk yourself out of it.
As I tell my clients when we go out and approach women together, in person: “The longer you wait, the heavier the weight.”
Three, two, one . . . go! You’ll feel amazing for taking action, and you just might find yourself flirting with a woman who’s thrilled to meet you.
Connell Barrett is a dating coach for men helping guys all over the world date the women of their dreams. He answers questions like can short guys be attractive, do nice guys finish first, and teaches how to approach women. Connell has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, and more. His book "Dating Sucks But You Don't" helps men gain the confidence they need to get the girl. He also hosts the Dating Transformation podcast on how to get a girlfriend.
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NYC Dating Coach Connell Barrett
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