In Jane Dates, our undercover dater reports back from the front lines of the online dating world. All names and identifying details have been changed to protect the lecherous.

I am short. I have absolutely nothing against short people and do not judge personalities by height. Some of my best friends are short. I do, however, have a thing about dating taller men—in that I prefer to. Actually, make that, I want to. Funny thing is, this criterium never seemed important until I got on OKCupid. And then it became one of the tantamount things I look for in a profile. If there are any short men reading this, I apologize in advance because I’m going to offend you. Also, if I did want to speak to you en masse, I would post this message directly to OKCupid. Because that’s where you all are.

Don’t believe me? Check out the fascinating blog OKTrends (be prepared for time suckage), specifically this post from 2010 on the biggest lies people tell on their profiles:

“Almost universally guys like to add a couple inches. You can also see a more subtle vanity at work: starting at roughly 5' 8", the top of the dotted curve tilts even further rightward. This means that guys as they get closer to six feet round up a bit more than usual, stretching for that coveted psychological benchmark.”

Interestingly, while women on the site lie about their height almost as much, shorter women receive more messages. I’m sure there’s an evolutionary explanation for this, but I’m too lazy to Google it. So I’ll just posit: Why are there so many short men dating online? Or perhaps more to the point, why do they all want to date me?

The majority of my dates from OKCupid have been with short men, and 85% of the time they’ve smudged the facts regarding their height. My thought is, if you’re willing to lie about one thing, you’re comfortable with lying about something else. I’m sure it’s a hard world in which to be a short man. But it’s a harder world for women in general, so you’re not going to get much sympathy from me. Until your salary is determined by height, I don’t want to hear it. 

A few weeks ago, I had a message from a guy we’ll call Tiny Tim. He listed his height as 6’0”, but my now-trained eye could deduce immediately from his pictures that he was adding a good four inches. I wasn’t incredibly enthusiastic about the prospect of Tiny Tim, but you absolutely must take an attitude of “Why not?” when online dating, or you’re missing the point.

Tiny Tim and I spent the better part of a week having great text conversations. He texted me multiple times a day, was sweet and funny, and asked lots of questions about me and my interests.  After discussing a movie or live band as a first date, we finally agreed to simply meet for a drink. This would prove to be the best decision of the night.

Like that long-married woman in When Harry Met Sally who says, “Like you know about a good melon,” sometimes you just know. The minute I saw him, I knew it was going to be a bad date. It wasn’t a height issue at first, though that certainly didn’t help. And when I walked up to him and faced his hairline, I wasn’t exactly encouraged. It was just... an aura. A vibe around him.

If you’ve dated more than one person in your life, you know what I’m talking about. There’s something down in the marrow of our bones that tells us early on whether it’s right or not. Connections can be fleeting, to be sure, and sometimes your marrow  steers you down a path that doesn’t end prettily. But no amount of height or humor or intelligence in the world can make a connection out of nothing. Trust me, I’ve tried.

My attraction to poor Tiny Tim was less than electric. He was sweating profusely. He was kind of overweight, and the aforementioned short. He also had a faintly neanderthal-ish brow that didn’t serve him well. As we stood in line for a beer, a crazy homeless man ranted to the person in front of us, making everyone in line uncomfortable. It seemed to be a sign from the universe. This is not going to work! Leave now! But how does one extricate oneself from such a situation? I’m pretty blunt, but not even I can pull off, “I’m getting a bad aura off of you; I’m leaving.” As we exchanged awkward pleasantries my stomach sank. I realized I would have to spend the next hour pretending to be interested in this person.

This is where online dating is cringingly painful—when a date is so bad that you’re bemoaning the gas you wasted to drive there. I wanted to go hooooome. But I didn’t; I sallied forth. Once more into the breach or whatever. I am from Texas, and we are polite (mostly). I drank my beer and winced as he talked about the various houses he’s lived in with parents of friends, the dead-end job he’d held for over a year, the various guns he liked to shoot. Yes, I suppose I was a being a little snobby because Tiny Tim was from a different background and socioeconomic world, but the fact was we didn’t have a damn thing in common. And he’d clearly misrepresented more than his height. When he threw out a homophobic slur, the deal was sealed, or rather nulled. He offered to buy me a second beer and I said I had to get home. He was visibly disappointed and, to my chagrin, came right out with: “Why did you agree to meet me?” Trust me, hon, I’ve been asking myself that question repeatedly for an hour.

Shockingly, Tiny Tim continued to text me. I’d assumed the complete lack of spark was obvious, but Tim was clearly lonely and wanting a companion. After several days of sending terse responses many hours late, I finally came right out and said, “I’m sorry, there was no connection.”

I wince as I type it again. Tiny Tim was clearly a lost soul, looking for a career, a home, a love. It doesn’t get much lonelier than that. It’s difficult to be alone in this world, meeting strangers from the Internet and hoping for magic. So difficult, I suppose, that adding some lifts to your metaphorical shoes makes a certain kind of sense. 

Photograph by epiclectic