Why does a woman dating a shorter man make people so uncomfortable?

Yahoo Lifestyle
Joe Jonas and fiancée Sophie Turner don’t let their height difference bother them. (Photo: Raymond Hall/GC Images)
Joe Jonas and fiancée Sophie Turner don’t let their height difference bother them. (Photo: Raymond Hall/GC Images)

Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas have been together for almost a year and a half and the couple have been engaged for about three months, which seems like enough time for Turner to get used to feeling like she’s in a “fishbowl,” as she once told Glamour. It is not enough time for some onlookers to get over a simple fact about this couple: At a reported 5’9,” the Game of Thrones star is taller than her 5’7″ DNCE fiancé.

The paparazzi caught the two walking out in unseasonably warm weather in New York City over the weekend, with Turner wearing a pair of boots with tall chunky heels as Jonas strolled along in his Converse. Gossip site Just Jared posted a photo of them to Instagram, and immediately the comments section became host to a load of criticisms over their height difference.

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“She is sooooo much taller than him,” noticed @aurmichkell.

“And why does she wear such high heels?” wondered @csre27. “I mean, there’s nothing wrong with being taller than your partner, but it just seems uncomfortable to accentuate it like that.”

“So … Joe is the little spoon,” wrote @amandachristy12. And @geronimogl was meaner, joking, “Caption should say, Sophie’s fiancee and her little bitch!”

When they first started dating, a couple of tabloids made a big deal about their height difference, but they’re hardly the first celebs to demonstrate that sometimes taller women like men who are ever-so-slightly shorter than them. See also: Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban (or Tom Cruise), Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden, Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik. Jonas has dated other statuesque women, such as Taylor Swift and Hadid. Why do people get so fixated on this kind of pairing? Does it have any bearing on the internal workings of their relationship?

A lot of that depends on the couple’s past, New York-based relationship therapist Jean Fitzpatrick tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

“Because we think of man-as-taller as ‘normal,’ sometimes this height difference sparks anxiety, usually at first,” Fitzpatrick says. “A very tall woman may have felt like a giant growing up and dating, and may sometimes wish for a guy who feels like her match in height. A shorter man may have been the smallest guy on the team and so dating a taller woman may be an uncomfortable reminder of shame he hasn’t worked through yet. The biggest height difference any of us experiences in life is the one we have with our parents growing up. When we were small and they were tall, we felt taken care of and loved, or deprived and judged, or both.”

But none of that baggage is insurmountable, Fitzpatrick notes, particularly if both parties are willing to talk about it.

There’s one way in which Turner and Jonas are already getting past one shorter-man stereotype: “Tallness in men is associated with career success, which isn’t an issue for couples who are already successful,” Fitzpatrick says. “And with today’s partnership marriages, I find couples less interested in height and more in sharing career, household, and parenting equitably.”

Fitzpatrick says there are much more important questions they’ll have to face together than physical differences.

“Once a couple have been together awhile, it’s the quality of the relationship that matters: Do they listen to and understand each other? Do they express care for each other in everyday ways? Do they trust each other?” she says.

Regardless of height, “Jophie” look pretty happy together, as they begin to plan their wedding, which will feature Maisie Williams as a bridesmaid and some kind of speech (or more) from Nick Jonas. Then we’re betting Turner’s choice of footwear will have everything to do with her dancing plans, not her groom’s height.

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