Woe Is Me! “My Friends Judge My Boyfriend for Being Short. How Do I Ignore Their Mocking?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“My boyfriend is short, around 5’3” (I am 5’2.5”). We have been together for a long time and have loved each other immensely. However, as we are growing up, some of my friends have started commenting on his height and often talk about how they would never date such a short man. Before meeting him, one of my flatmates would always snicker about the short height of guys hitting on her and laugh at their audacity to even try given how short they were. I’ve always loved him, but now the time has come to decide if we want to be together in the future and get married. This concern has started to weigh over my head and I’m worried about how we will look at our wedding. Is this normal? Should I break up with him because I have these thoughts?”
— Towering concern
RN: Absolutely don’t leave him for his height, you’d be the same as the people judging him so harshly if you did! But having said that, I understand how difficult this feels and can empathize. However, if you love him and are happy with the relationship, shut out all the noise. We, unfortunately, live in a patriarchal society, which means that men, too, are ridiculed for not conforming to masculinist norms both physically and otherwise. It would be a pity to let go of a fulfilling relationship because of pressure and judgment from the outside; and given how you’re already dating and are thinking about marriage, it seems that you’re attracted to him regardless of what the others say. The right thing to do — by yourself and by him — would be to stand up for him and call your friends out on their comments. To the friends who say they wouldn’t date someone so short — tell them it’s good that they aren’t! And that you — or your boyfriend — wouldn’t date someone as shallow as them. I’ll leave you with this very cheesy aphorism I have just conjured out of the WhatsApp forward part of my brain: it isn’t about their height, but the depth of their heart. Do with that what you will.
DR: If you are going to judge him for his height for the rest of your lives, yes, you should do him a favor and free him from you. However, it seems to me that you’re simply beginning to absorb your friends’ toxic ideas, and reflect them outward. If that’s the case, the issue isn’t your boyfriend’s height; it’s your friends’ views and your refusal to either call them out on it or cut them off from your life.
Look, I can understand that validation from your friends is something you might consider important. And perhaps, as a result of social conditioning, your internalized sexism, too, might be a play here — leading you to agree with your friends rather than safeguarding what you have described as a loving relationship? But please look at your double standards here — you’re considering breaking up with someone for being too short when he’s 0.5 inches taller than you — because he’s a man, and you believe men are supposed to be taller than their female partners. Have you tried to ask yourself: what’s the logic there rather than enforcing gender-based stereotypes? What about partners who are gay men — are they supposed to be of the exact same height? What about lesbian partners — I’m interested to know how your friends’ “height theory” would play out there? And I’ve not even ventured outside cis relationships yet… Look, I can keep asking these questions, and you know your answer isn’t going to go beyond “that’s what society says.” So, if we’re going to go by what society wants, why not regress completely — stop reading feminist publications like this one, and ask your parents to find you a match instead? While you’re at it, you can also let your parents know that you’d rather marry the Eiffel Tower than — God forbid! — have someone tower over your partner.
I apologize for being harsh, but it’s honestly heartbreaking to see someone considering throwing away a fulfilling relationship over fears of being judged by friends who don’t seem to have great judgment, to begin with. My advice: find better friends, and tell the current lot you’re done with their shallowness and superficiality.
SM: You should absolutely not break up with him. Honestly, if your only worry/concern about marrying this person is his height, then you have nothing to worry about. Is it normal to have these concerns? Absolutely, and that makes it all the more important to overcome them. We’ve all grown up being fed so many biases about superficial aspects of a person, like height, weight, color — it’s an endless list, honestly. The only way to be happy and secure is to not let these biases affect you. On the contrary, you should question others who make such derogatory comments and open up their thinking too — to not judge a person based on appearances, because there’s so much more to them.
PB: Hey, support that short king, gurl! His legs may not be tremendous, but I’m sure his heart is. If you’re at the point where you’re thinking about marriage, and you say you are, then such petty thoughts should not rule your mind.
In all seriousness, if you’re wondering whether to break up with him because he isn’t tall, then yes, do it. Your relationship seems serious, but if a ridiculous thing like his height is making you doubt it — then it’s doomed to fail regardless. If he’s a good man, then the length of his being should not matter to his long-time partner.
Please do some important introspection on your love for him, and your disrespect towards him.