Why I Prefer (Much) Taller Men

tall-man-preferenceIn earlier articles I discussed the features I find attractive in men, as well as some features I don’t find as attractive. This post is dedicated to discussing my strongest (and perhaps most controversial) preference in men — height. A man’s height is one of the two most obvious and decisive factors in whether or not I will find him physically attractive.

So, don’t most women have a preference for taller men? Yes, for various reasons which many people have speculated on — from evolutionary influences to social influences to biological reproduction. However, according to many studies most women prefer men who are around 5 inches taller than them, and within the range of 5’9″/1.75 m – 6’2″/1.88 m. My preference is a bit more extreme — I am most attracted men who are on the upper end of that spectrum, and nearly a foot taller than myself.

I’ve long contemplated my preference for tall men, attempting to understand the roots of it. For as far back as I can remember I’ve had this overarching interest in noticeably tall men. There was no particular incident or outside occurrence that influenced the formation of this preference, it always just was; an innate preference. Since I’ve been asked in the past what drives my attraction to extremely tall men, I’ll add the few motivations that can be logically explained:

3. A large height difference increases contrast

As cliché as it sounds, in some ways, in a relationship I’m looking for an opposite, someone different from myself. A taller man provides a clear and large difference, especially for women like me who are also on the taller side.

2. Height adds to the impression of masculinity

Not to increase feelings of insecurity among shorter men, but I find that height can cause a man to appear more traditionally masculine. As men are naturally taller than women, perhaps instinctively taller men are viewed as more masculine.

1. Tall often mean slimmer and longer limbs

In addition to my preference for height, I also have a preference for slimmer men with long limbs. Height spreads out weight so a person appears slimmer, and the taller someone is the longer their limbs become.

While I can add a few reasons, most of my preference simply can’t be logically explained. And it is important to add that while I have a strong preference for tall men, it is a preference, it isn’t a requirement. I’m open to dating and have dated men who are shorter than my preference and even shorter than average, given that I’m attracted to them for other reasons.

What do you think of physical preferences? Do you have a height preference for those shorter or taller than you?

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(Mis)Diagnosing Personality

personality-disorder-misdiagnosisDoes our culture promote the labeling of regular variations in behavior and personality as abnormal and disordered?

It has been announced that the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-V, will contain some significant updates. The DSM, published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), is considered the standard for understanding and classifying mental disorders in the U.S. and around the world.

With recent changes, however, the manual and the 30,000+ psychiatrists who oversee its contents have come under heavy criticism. This is because the new edition to be published later in May contains criteria which would classify such common behavior as tantrums, overeating, and grief as personality disorders. For example, those who grieve over the loss of a loved one or a relationship for more than what is considered necessary would be seen as suffering from Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) and kids who are stubbornly broody and have outbursts would be displaying Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD).

Critics of the new manual include many psychiatrists, like the head of the National Institute of Mental Health who says the manual, “lacks scientific validity”. Other health professionals and the public alike have put pressure on the APA to revise its changes, believing that the current update would encourage the labeling of normal people as unwell and in need of serious psychiatric help, including medications.

Others, like myself believe that the APA’s updates are a part of a global culture of diagnosing undesirable personality traits as mental illness. Although the average person isn’t aware of how symptoms specifically manifest and how severe they can be, many personality disorders have become common parlance as a way of dismissing people who we don’t get along with or understand. Thus:

  • That odd person who is rather cold, blunt, and a loner has antisocial personality disorder.
  • The grating boss who is concerned with order and conformity has obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
  • The woman who is emotionally intense and expressive has borderline personality disorder.

The APA claims that their diagnoses are made to better understand people and ensure they receive the best treatment for their mental health. Despite this, it can’t be ignored that these conditions have been popularized and are now used not to understand but to stigmatize and exclude those whose behaviors don’t line up with the society’s –or a specific person’s– ideal and norm of personality. Instead of trying to understand and empathize with others we have learned to simply classify them as “crazy”.

So, is the publicizing of personality disorders and mental illness wrong? I don’t believe so. I agree that it is helpful and necessary to understand the various ways that personality can manifest, I believe it is also necessary to understand that these are not personality disorders but personalities, well within the realm of normal human behavior, response, and outlook.

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Techniques of the Manipulator: Gaslighting

gaslightingToday’s discussion on commonly used tactics and tools of the manipulative personality is gaslighting. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse and control where a person is made to doubt their memory and perception of reality. In order to achieve this aim gaslighters present another, untrue version of events or ideas to the person they are trying to gaslight, while continuously denying said person’s claims as false, if not delusional.

Out of all forms of emotional warfare, gaslighting is one of the most intriguing. It is subtle, cunning, and extremely malevolent, but can indicate insecurity on the part of the gaslighter — since they believe they can not counter the other person’s claims, they simply deny that they exist. Gaslighters can seem harmless, if not helpful and well-informed. Through apparent innocence, charm, and/or insistence, they can convince not only the other person, but those who are aware of or observing the situation. Gaslighters are always a generally manipulative personality –whether aware of it or not– and gaslighting is but one tool of many in their belt.

Gaslighting can take place in many ways, and in a variety of situations. A parent telling a child that what they saw they really did not, a husband insisting that the perfume his wife smells on him after work is really her own, a woman telling her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend that he never cared about her.

Gaslighting involves various angles, some popular ones being:

  • Repeated questioning and recreating of events (“Are you sure you were chosen to organize the project? Are you certain he said that?”)
  • Insisting on another version of reality (“I really don’t think that’s what happened when you talked. What really happened is he dumped and you got angry.”)
  • Claiming to be in the know (“You know, your ex-friend told me some things about what you did when you visited her house. She told me all about it.”)
  • Dropping hints and “secrets” (You think your husband goes on business meetings? Your husband goes to the local hotel. All of the neighbors are talking about it, didn’t you know?)

Gaslighters use these techniques in such a way that their assertions seem completely plausible and utterly true — they are pros at what they do. However, an individual’s mind is stronger. If a person knows and believes their own mind and can vividly recall events, they will be a great challenge to the gaslighter. When presented with the covert psychological control of gaslighting, remember that strength of mind wins out over manipulation and psychological bullying every time.

Have you ever experienced gaslighting? How did you respond?

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A Look Into the Mind of a Woman

daily-life-of-womanNote: This is a (mostly) satirical post

Adam, Eve. Regis, Kelly. Men, women. There are many similarities between the two, yet many differences. Members of both genders complain that the other is hard to understand or get along with. This could be a legitimate complaint and that’s why here I present a quick and fun guide for men to the opposite gender, women. These ideas are reflective of the thoughts, behavior, and attitudes of some women, not necessarily all.

-It’s not PMS. It’s you

Before you conclude that a woman who is irritable or cranky must be having premenstrual symptoms, check to see if you’re not the cause of her less-than-happy attitude.

-Your looks do count

You may have all the confidence and money, but never get the idea that your appearance doesn’t matter. Looks do count, to a greater or lesser extent, to all women. The theory that women are not visual is simply not true. Now go put on a nice suit!

-Men and women are still not equal

No, despite all the gains that have been made in gender equality, men still have advantages over women in many areas of life. Don’t act so surprised and quit complaining about affirmative action for women.

-Marriage isn’t just a formality

Wondering why women see marriage as the goal of relationships? It’s because marriage has real benefits, both tangible and intangible. marriage is symbolic of a true desire for commitment and devotion to another person. So that idea you had about living together in perfectly unwedded bliss? Time to find a better idea.

-Women dressing up is not about men

In case you thought that women were wearing those stiletto heels and perfect make-up just to impress you, think again. Women dress to impress themselves, and other women.

-Pick-up lines are more than annoying

Being approached day after day with the same cheesy, generic pick-up lines can be tiresome. An honest, but confident approach would be appreciated, but ultimately who a man is, determines whether a woman will reciprocate interest or not.

-A little caring goes a long way

It’s been said before, but showing you are genuinely interested in a woman and her life and interests can go a long way, whether you’re male or female. Everyone likes to feel appreciated.

-Every woman is unique

I know — this is a guide about how women think, right? Yes, but although women have some general characteristics in common, all women are different. Any attempts to put all women in one box will fail because each women comes with her own quirks, interests, and bothers. All just for you.

Now, those are my thoughts. Any women reading have anything they’d like to add to this list? This could become a never-ending guide for the other half of our species.

Gossip: Creating Insecurity

gossiping-harmfulGossip — one of the most popular and enduring pastimes, an activity that spans cultures and generations. Most of us have engaged in it at one point or another. Although most people would deny the title “gossiper” and when consciously aware of it, try to stay away from gossip, many of us regularly participate in discussing rumors about others.

Even though many willing take part in gossiping, most people have been the victims of negative gossip. What makes gossip so irresistible? Those who study social dynamics and psychology claim that gossip helps to create a sense of community and bonds between people, warns against danger, and teaches lessons about morality. However, they acknowledge that gossip can be a double-edged sword — undermining the benefits it is thought to created.

Creating Community

Superficially, gossiping about others can serve to bring people together through the sharing of information and common knowledge. As with any discussion, people may find points of similarity in their views and interests and forms bonds as a result.

On a deeper level, however, gossiping creates mistrust between people. If someone will gossip about one person, what makes others safe from having rumors spread about them as well? In addition, the person being gossiped about feels anything but included or part of the community.

Teaching Lessons

Negative rumors make clear what behavior and situations will not be tolerated among a group of people. Those whose actions cause them to be the topic of gossip learn quickly what is acceptable or expected of them.

A greater lesson that may be learned is that of secrecy. While some may change their ways to more fit the community they are a part of, others may not change but simply keep their thoughts and actions to themselves. This further undermines the community and bonds that gossiping is supposed to create, as people feel they must keep their lives to themselves or suffer the consequences.

In my view, the most obvious impact of rumors and gossiping is insecurity. Both on the part of those gossiping and those being gossiped about. The cons far outweigh the pros, so I don’t take part in it, when possible.

What do you think of gossip? Have you ever been the subject of a rumor and what do you think the effects were?

The Black Best Friend

black-best-friend-clueless

Clueless‘ Cher with her Black Best Friend Dionne

The Black Best Friend (BBF) is a figure common in Western literature and, particularly, film and television. The BBF is often a nondescript, unremarkable character who serves as a sidekick, accomplice, or colleague to the main characters who are the focus of the story.

The Black Best Friend’s purpose is thought to be to create diversity and inclusion, and be more reflective of the ethnic make-up of many Western societies. This is supported by the fact that the BBF doesn’t have to be black; the Asian Best Friend or the Hispanic Best Friend is also shown. Whatever their specific ethnic background, the BBF is always the only non-white character or one of few in a larger cast, and always plays a supporting role to white star of the piece.

Creating Contrast

While the apparent reason for the inclusion of the BBF in popular culture is to create diversity and inclusion, just by being present the BBF highlights the difference between themselves and the main characters. In a crowd of all-white characters, the BBF seems like the odd one out and is more noticeable as a result. The most glaring characteristic of Black Best Friends, however, are their lack of character development.

indian-best-friendBland or Typical

The BBF, being merely an accent to the main character, lacks any true personality. Often the character’s background and interests are simply excluded from the story, or given little attention. In these cases the character is made to be as similar to the main character as possible — other than their physical appearance, they are portrayed as “just like everyone else”.

Other times the character is a walking, talking stereotype of their racial or ethnic group. Thus the Black Best Friend is often bossy or uses improper English, the Hispanic Sidekick is sassy and has an accent, and the Asian Friend is good with math or electronics and socially awkward.

The Black Best Friend or Nothing?

From one view, the Black Best Friend and related figures highlight the lack of interest and thought of creators of popular culture in characters who don’t fit the majority population. On the other hand, at the very least, with the BBF there is some representation of non-white groups — it is a start. The alternative for the present seems to be to completely exclude minority groups from popular culture.

So is the Black Best Friend better than nothing at all? If the Black Best Friend ever evolves to become a whole, not-so-stereotypical character with their own thoughts and interests other than serving a secondary role to the main character, that could come to be the case.

Open Question: Should Women Pursue Men?

equal-courtshipSince publishing the response article Why the Man Has to Chase I’ve received several comments and emails from men and women alike explaining why, or why not, they agree with the premise of the post. For the most part, the men who have written in do not agree with the idea that while women can initiate contact, women are more successful in dating and relationships if they leave the pursuing and chasing to men.

In contrast, the vast majority of women who have given their responses agree with the article and have given their experiences with dating that support the theory behind it. In the females’ experience, for a variety of reasons, pursuing men they have found attractive has been mostly unsuccessful.

Now, I ask readers, considering all factors: your experiences, personal beliefs, and any others: do you think women should pursue men?

One part of my view is contained in the earlier post — no, women should not pursue men because men don’t want to be chased. Men, if they’re interested, will show this interest in some way, thus making chasing men unnecessary.

However, the idealist in me does believe that women should pursue men. After all, this makes securing the man she finds the most attractive, easier, instead of choosing from the men who show interest. In a world without gender bias and norms, women would and should approach men. Unfortunately, we do not live in that world.

What is your view? Should women pursue men or not?

Three Reasons to Love Non-American Films

noomi-rapace-girl-with-dragon-tattoo

Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Yes, American films are wonderful — some of the best movies are American in origin. I like them as much as my fellow citizens. However, there is something about a well-done foreign film, or better titled: a non-American film, that captures and holds my attention unlike most good American films. I find these non-Americans films unique and unforgettable in ways unlike their American counterparts.

In the past few years, many of the films I’ve watched have been directed, produced, and played by non-Americans. In this time, I’ve become more and more engrossed with foreign films and the mindset of those behind them. In my quest to understand why I’ve become a lover of all things foreign movie, I’ve discovered a few possible reasons why they are so remarkable to me, and why they could be to other Americans who haven’t paid as much attention to foreign films. Unfortunately, some non-American films are hard to find or poorly subtitled or dubbed, but if and when you do find a polished foreign film, you’ll be glad you did:

1. Surprising Plots

Watching so many domestic films, plots can become boring and begin to repeat themselves. This is because narratives are often strongly influenced by a person’s culture, experiences, and the world around them. By no fault of their own, American authors, screenwriters, and editors can end up arriving at stories that only differ from each other slightly. As diverse as Americans are, each American has the American experience and influence which informs the way they approach a film.

In contrast, foreign films can be surprising in their plots, even if the changes are subtle. Many times the change is drastic, if the culture and experiences of the scriptwriter differs greatly from that of an American. Sometimes the plot details values or lessons taught in a specific culture. Production elements and casting are unexpected, but add up to add a final touch to the film that make it its own.

2. Gritty Reality

Non-American films tend to showcase a life and culture that is more bold and less politically correct than American films. Things that American filmmakers would hesitate to include or water down are showcased with no apologies in foreign films. The taboo, abnormal, or simply harsh realities of life are presented, to much effect. In one popular foreign film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, rape, abuse, and alternative sexuality are exposed in ways that might be considered disturbing and ill-advised in an American film.

3. Culture

If a non-American film provides nothing else, it gives a look into the culture, thinking, and behavior of people outside of the United States. Foreign films give you a way to travel throughout the globe without physically leaving the country. Accents, clothing, behavior, food, even acting, illustrate the culture being presented in the film. Even for a well-traveled person, a film can touch on aspects of culture not known to outsiders. For this reason alone, it would be great for Americans to find a space in their movie collections for foreign films.

What do you (Americans and non-Americans) think of foreign films? Do you have any film suggestions or favorites?

On Catfishing

manti-teo-catfish

Catfished.

What is a catfish and why are so many concerned about catfishing?

A catfish, as described by Urban Dictionary is someone who pretends to be someone they are not online to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.” The term, and an MTV reality show centered around the phenomenon, are derived from a 2010 film of the same name.

However, while the term has existed for some time, it recently came into popularity when the case of college football player Manti Te’o‘s relationship hit the press. Manti Te’o apparently led a one-year long online relationship with a woman who claimed to be Lennay Kekua. After his girlfriend died of cancer, it was later discovered that she didn’t exist at all — she was merely an online persona created by a man who knew of Manti Te’o. The man in question later confessed to being in love with the football star.

Since then, there has been an explosion of interest: countless media outlets, social networks, and offline discussions have centered around catfishing and the illusions created by online relationships. Many have become more cautious about building online connections, worried that they too may be duped by someone hoping to forge a relationship or simply looking for a laugh. Relationships experts and writers have dedicated segments and articles to catfishing, how one can avoid being catfished on the Internet, and how to spot a catfish.

silhouette-computerAs always, catfishing highlights the need to be aware and vet all possible associates. If you’re seeking or have found a potential partner online, it is wise to take steps to make sure that you know who you’re dealing with and connect offline in a way that you can be sure that the way a person presents themselves is who they are in reality.

On the other hand, catfishing shows that many are still weary of online relationships. While many have been fooled and swindled offline, catfishing has been used as an example of why online relationships just don’t work. Yet catfishing is not exclusive to relations created in the online realm — anyone can be fooled by another person and stories of such existed much before the World Wide Web was created.

My thoughts on catfishing? Since I’ve previously written about the positives of online dating, it’s probably important to mentioned that is also good to keep your [virtual] feet on the ground. Things aren’t always what they seem. But don’t get too caught up in the hysteria and enjoy your online connections for what they are: another way to forge the bonds and mental stimulation most of us desire as human beings.

What is your perspective — any other thoughts on catfishing?

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Alee vs. The Moralizer

right-wrong-saint-devilThe Moralizer is that hard to avoid, ever-present personality which tries to instruct others on the “right” and “wrong” ways of being, doing, and thinking. The Moralizer considers their particular way of living to be the most virtuous, correct, and/or successful, and will often offer their advice, whether asked to or not.

Thoughts of the Moralizer might conjure up images of church leaders or political extremists, but not all Moralizers are so forward. Some prefer to command others through close relationships, where they use condescension, manipulation, and often attempt to instill a sense of shame in others to get them to change their ways. This is not always conscious on their part, but the Moralizer is one personality I find peculiarly difficult to tolerate, for a few reasons:

Right and Wrong are Relative

While there are a few things that are considered universally morally right or wrong, most of what we each view as right or wrong is informed by our biases, experiences and individual lifestyles. Thus no one person’s views could or should serve as the template by which all others should live by. In addition, what may be considered wrong in one context or situation may be considered right in another time or place.

Moralizing Can Be Imposing

Moralizing can often become a subtle form of imposing on the right and freedom of others to simply be, and in extreme forms can be downright bullying. With less outgoing Moralizers this tendency may not be so obvious, but victims of their moralizing may feel a strong sense of being intruded on. Some would say the Moralizer is more interested in converting others’ to their viewpoint than in trying to help them.

No One is Perfect

While Moralizers consider the thoughts and actions of others to be in serious need of adjustment, Moralizers rarely scrutinize their own lives and behavior in the same manner. Often their own way of living does not hold up to the high standards they set for others. Since the best way to live is merely an opinion, someone may view the Moralizer’s lifestyle as flawed and in need of change.

Have you ever encountered a Moralizer? What do you think of moralizing and a fixed idea of right and wrong, in general?
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