The Art of Kissing a Shorter Man

I’m fantasizing about a man.

In one dream I’m sitting on a park bench and he calls my name. I rush to my feet to greet him and he runs toward me, wrapping his strong arms around my waist, tiptoeing to plant a kiss on my flushed cheek.

In another fantasy we’re out walking and eating, stuffing ourselves at a street market. Filled with joy and satay, I pull him to me; he tilts his head up and smiles, and I bend down and quickly peck those greasy lips that taste like peanut sauce.

You may have noticed two “strange” things about my fantasies:

1) They’re lame.

2) The man in my dreams is shorter than me. It’s not a minute difference of a centimeter or two, but more than a few inches that make the tiptoeing and tilting and bending necessary for us to achieve the perfect kiss in an upright position.

***

I never thought I would be interested in a shorter man.  Growing up feeling awkwardly tall, I always assumed my future partner would save me from my self-consciousness by dwarfing me; with this man, I would finally feel like a petite and feminine Asian girl. It was only natural, I thought, to have a taller figure by my side, the strong, masculine partner who stands protectively, or reassuringly, over me.

the art of kissing

Hugh Morris, author of The Art of Kissing (published 1936) would approve of this affinity for the taller man. To him, the idea of a shorter man as a romantic partner is simply ludicrous, at least when it comes to arguably the most important manifestation of affection – kissing. He writes:

It is […] necessary that the man be taller than the woman. […] The physical reason, with which we are more concerned, is that if he is taller than his woman, he is better able to kiss her. He must be able to sweep her into his strong arms, and tower over her, and look down into her eyes, and cup her chin in his fingers and then, bend over her face and plant his eager, virile lips on her moist, slightly parted, inviting ones. All of this he must do with the vigor of an assertive male. And, all of these are impossible when the woman is the taller of the two. For when the situation is reversed, the kiss becomes only a ludicrous banality. The physical mastery is gone, the male prerogative is gone, everything is gone but the fact that two lips are touching two other lips. Nothing can be more disappointing.

Photo taken by Allison Vorstenbosch

Morris might be writing from 1936, but this idea that a taller man equals strength, vigor, assertiveness and overall manliness remains prevalent today. I don’t have facts and figures, but just look around you, at your friends and family – even though we come in all shapes, sizes and ethnicities, the overwhelming majority of heterosexual couples, old, young and interracial included, are of the taller man/shorter woman variety. Whether women are conscious of it or not, height is a valuable asset in a partner, a quality we take note of in the initial assessment of a future mate – having height scores the man bonus points, while lacking it means he has to work even harder if he has any hope of winning our hearts.

***

I’m constantly reminded of how important height is in China, with every person who tells me that my height is an asset I must not waste – it’s too late for me to model or play basketball or swim professionally, they say, but I should find a tall husband to reproduce with and ensure our tall genes live on.

Wandering around the marriage market at People’s Park, I realize how an individual’s height is an important criteria in matchmaking and marriage, clearly written on posters along with their age and salary. “Too short le,” I heard two young women saying as they perused the poster of an otherwise promising man born in 1980, earning RMB 15,000 per month, standing at only 165 centimeters tall.

Most Chinese women I talk to, including my college friends, teachers, personal groomers and a middle-age cashier at All Days, indeed shudder at the thought of dating a shorter man. “He’d feel like a little brother,” said a teacher who is 170 centimeters tall. “Also, it’s very awkward to the eye.”

Leslie T. Chang also touches on why Chinese prioritize height in her book Factory Girls:

Physical stature was a marker for quality—a promise that a man was healthy, stable, blessed. Although many women insisted on a man who was at least five feet seven inches, a handful would go as low as five feet five. No one wanted to date a man who was only five feet three inches tall.

My Chinese friends may think I’m nuts to date shorter, but they’re glad it means more tall men for them.

***

The man of my fantasies, who is my boyfriend in real life, has no issues with his height. His confidence and easy acceptance of our height difference makes our relationship work. After all, who wants to be with a shorter man if he is awkward and self-conscious around you? If he complains that you make him feel less of a man, and orders you not to wear heels? And on the flip side, who wants to be with a shorter man if he does worship your height, parading you around like you’re a trophy that validates him?

If you meet a short man with a bad case of Napoleon’s Complex, run away. Otherwise, you may be pleasantly surprised, like my friend and fellow intercultural relationship blogger Jocelyn Eikenburg, who was once as set on height as the rest of us. As she writes on her blog, “I’d never given my dream man a race or ethnicity, but somehow I’d always promised myself he’d be as tall, if not taller, than me.” And then she met a shorter man.

“I was shocked by just how much taller I was than John — I had no idea until I asked him for lunch,” Jocelyn recently told me via email. “It did make me feel a little uncomfortable at first. And even though I was a little attracted to him initially, part of me didn’t know if I could deal with the height difference.” But she kept spending time with him, listening to his stories, and realizing how much he loved her despite her own imperfections. “I stopped noticing the height of his stature, and instead embraced the height of his character,” she says in her own blog post about Loving a Shorter Chinese Man. In 2004, she married him.

I recently met Jocelyn’s John, a handsome man who cares little about the three inches of separation between them; he smiled good-naturedly when she ribbed him about wearing heels. This sense of humor is crucial to avoid drowning in antagonism. “Taller women/shorter men are one of those few areas where it’s still socially acceptable to ridicule us in the media,” says Jocelyn, who points to, among other examples, an episode of Sex and the City where a shorter man is described as a “horny smurf.” “It’s too bad, because if that wasn’t the case, maybe more of us would be more open-minded about it.”

***

So let’s say you’ve overcome all hesitations and are now with a wonderful guy who’s shorter than you. Let’s turn back to The Art of Kissing and discuss a practical question: just how do you engage in a satisfying lip-to-lip experience with a shorter man?

An easy answer is to kiss in a horizontal position. I like the push-and-pounce maneuver, which is exactly what it sounds like: you are gently pushed onto a soft surface, and pinned by the weight of your man while he presses his lips to yours; it is thrilling to know he is stronger and heavier than appearances suggest. Using the push-and-pounce method, the shorter man is every bit the “assertive male” The Art of Kissing says he must be.

Jocelyn would probably shake her head at me. Her first response to that paragraph in The Art of Kissing is: “This is as out of date as ‘close your eyes and think of England.’ Why should the man’s height/physical superiority somehow make a difference in how good the kiss is? …[I]t’s as if kissing is sort of a ‘man’s job,’ like we’re supposed to be some ‘Stepford Wife,’ having to wait around for him to kiss us. Seriously?”

Instead, Jocelyn advocates the standing kiss. Her advice: “If you’re woman enough to be comfortable in yourself and be inches taller than your man, embrace that difference by kissing in the way everyone would NEVER expect you to love kissing — standing face to face. Sometimes I have to angle my head down a bit, but I think it’s actually super-sexy. That’s because my man always holds me tightly around my waist — and, well, sometimes loves to let his hands go a little ‘South of the border’ (which might even be easier for a guy who is shorter than you to do).”

In this day and age when women can make their own money, fend for themselves, and have children with the help of sperm banks and turkey basters, is it necessary to limit your dating pool with a measurement requirement? Also, what other tips could you contribute to a revised, less outdated version of The Art of Kissing?

When she’s not kissing her shorter man, the author of this post blogs at Shanghai Shiok!

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  • Milessio

    Care to join me on the sofa? – where height doesn’t matter.

    • DanO

      haha, touche my friend touche

  • M.N

    Song of the Article
    Nicole Scherzinger feat. 50 Cent – Right There

  • Zzzzzzzzzzzz…………….another snoozer

  • Audrey Viviana

    LOL … your article is cute to boot … I’m from Singapore and stand 5 inches above my boyfriend … the stares we get when we stand face to face (his chin up of course) and kiss, is markedly hilarious … i never knew it was possible for anyone to gape like that …

  • dim mak

    No offense, but this may be one too many articles on your tall girl/short man thing… sure you’re okay with it?

    • The articles were written together. The first was focused on the growing up process and accepting my height, this was specifically about taller women/shorter men.

      • dim mak

        Alrighty, rock on

  • donscarletti

    Get your dude some riding heels, they are like pour homme pumps. Reputedly they were invented by Luis XIV so he could rain down torrents of hot steamy passion upon many mistresses from above. Le Roi-Soleil you see, like the sun, always is felt from above and never below.

  • Pingback: Ask the Yangxifu: What Western Women Think of Shorter Men | Speaking of China()

  • Pingback: The Art of Kissing a Shorter Man: A conversation with Jocelyn Eikenburg » Shanghai Shiok!()

  • Puk

    Love all your articles! Greetings from Denmark!

  • Frank Johnson

    This blog made me think of my early 20’s,
    as I was rejected by the foxes who chased after the Alfa males and showed no
    more interest in me than glancing at a blade of grass next to the highway
    traveling at 75 MPH. And this made me
    think about my own personal experiences with tall women, a slightly different
    story from this blog, but same result due to being a Beta male. One 6’
    tall girl, in a gym, talked to me with such a look of disinterested she
    couldn’t have looked or acted more uninterested if she had wanted to. I approached another, who I estimated being 5
    foot 9 or 10 inches. She got angry with
    me for even asking her out and stuck her finger in my face informing me she
    didn’t date shorter men. On line, I met a girl 5’11”, and we worked out together
    once in my apartment complex gym, after that she did not return my two phone
    calls, there could be others, too, I just don’t remember them all. Now,
    you may say the rejections were because of my looks, that could be true, but as
    I approached girls closer to my height, my success rate went way up.

    This blog also made me think about the
    rejections by tall girls, and it angered me, but not at the time the
    rejection. Only years later, when I actually tallied them up, did I get
    angry. I was rejected not because I was fat, bald, ugly, deformed or had
    a rotten personality. No. The reason I was rejected by all of these
    women was my height. Not a one even
    bothered to put forth the effort to get to know me much less date me.

    I did date three women who were
    significantly taller than me, two at 5’11” and one at 5’10”. (I am 5’8”)
    And all three happened to be 32 years of age, which is more than a
    coincidence and a tie in with this blog.
    No doubt all three wanted a tall Alfa male, and lost, so a safe stable
    Beta male was the next best thing in their 30’s, for I certainly didn’t grow
    any taller and I doubt I got better looking.
    These women were past their prime and worried. I was
    in my late 30’s, at this time of my life, after being married for 10
    years. It was also at this time, I
    could easily date younger women, and I did.
    When I was 38, my first girlfriend was 27, the next was 27 and the next
    was 24 who became my second wife. I
    never dated with any intent of marrying a woman my age. Younger women had no issue with me dating
    them, and I certainly had no issue dating them.
    I remember going to singles events and seeing very pretty women, who
    were my age, who I know 15 years earlier would not have given me the time of
    day. And even now, they may have looked
    better than myself, but now it was me who had no interest in approaching them. I did not want to take time and money away
    from pursuing younger women. Why go old,
    when I could go young? I was amazed how
    the dating game changed in my favor. And
    I used it to my advantage, just as women had done years earlier.

    I am now married and have 4 sons. I
    have 3 degrees, and I have co-authored 2 US patents. I could have
    provided a good life to any girl. I wanted a taller girl because of the
    physical turn on and to for fill one of my desires, yet not one single tall
    girl (in her 20’s) gave me a chance. I was turned down consistently and without
    a second thought. (Maybe due to the Alfa male fascination) So, if you find yourself in your late 20’s or
    early 30’s with no prospect of a husband or children in the immediate future,
    you have no one to blame but yourself. There were men like me, who wanted
    a leggy female, but they, like me, were never accorded the opportunity. (This
    also applies to average height women, too)
    And the reality is that the vast majority of tall women will not even
    consider a shorter man (and Beta males) until it is too late. You would
    think it would be obvious that if you included shorter males (and Beta males) in
    your suitor selection, your odds would increase of finding a mate. There
    are a lot more short and medium height males than there are taller ones.
    So my advice would be to accept the advances of all men and get to know
    them. I, who would have relished the opportunity of having curvy broad
    hips and a tapered waist to hold all night and to make love to into the early
    hours of the morning, was never, not once, even given a chance to start a
    relationship. Throw away the yardstick, for you may find someone like me,
    who would love to share his life and love with a tall girl.

    By the way, another tie in with this
    article and be found at this web site.

    http://shortguycentral.com/P-57/beware-of-the-reformed-heightist-woman

    This writer tell about his rejections in his 20’s by
    women only to find that women now chased after him, in spite of his height, now
    he is in his early 30’s. He warns of the
    dangers of the “Reformed Heightest Woman” who are desperate after wasting their
    life chasing the Alfa male and now want a stable Beta with a steady pay-check.

    Here is anther on how women who
    found the Mr. Average (Beta Males) were worth nothing in their 20’s and now
    that these women are in their 30’s can’t buy a date, even from the Beta Males

    Why women lose in the dating game

    http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/why-women-lose-the-dating-game-20120421-1xdn0.html

    During their 20s, women compete for the most highly desirable men, the
    Mr Bigs. Many will readily share a bed with the sporty, attractive, confident
    men, while ordinary men miss out. As Whiskey puts it at
    whiskeysplace.wordpress.com: ”Joe Average Beta Male is about as desirable to
    women as a cold bowl of oatmeal.”

    ”I
    can’t believe how many men my age are only interested in younger women,” wails
    Gail, a 34-year-old advertising executive as she describes her first search
    through men’s profiles on the RSVP internet dating site. She is shocked to find
    many mid-30s men have set up their profiles to refuse mail from women their own
    age.

    Talking
    to many women like her, it’s intriguing how many look back on past
    relationships where they let good men get away because they weren’t ready.
    American journalist Kate Bolick wrote recently in The Atlantic about breaking off her three-year
    relationship with a man she described as ”intelligent, good-looking, loyal and
    kind”. She acknowledged ”there was no good reason to end things”, yet, at
    the time, she was convinced something was missing in the relationship. That was
    11 years ago. She’s is now 39 and facing grim choices.

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