Don’t let your height hold you back. Use these simple strategies to impress every woman you meet
Coming up short in the dating world? Ladies prefer men who are a whopping 8 inches taller than they are, according to a recent Dutch study. With the average American female standing at 5’5”, that puts the bar at 6’1”.

Why does she prefer a Blake Griffin over a Tom Cruise? Blame evolution—not her, says Tracy Thomas, Ph.D., a San Francisco-based relationship therapist. Taller men would have made better protectors back in caveman days, so women evolved a taste for them, Thomas says. (Primal attraction works both ways: It’s Why You’re an Ass Man, too.)

But don’t fret: Not only are there some majorScientific Advantages of Being Short, but you also can get a leg up with these smart dating tips.

Add inches—in the right places—with your wardrobe.

The wrong clothing can make you look pint-sized, but the right rags can lengthen your look, says Brock McGoff of short-guy style blog The Modest Man.

The first rule: Get your pants hemmed and your sleeves shortened, McGoff says. Bunched fabric around your wrists and ankles will only draw attention to your smaller stature.

Next, avoid wearing anything that breaks up your frame visually. A streamlined look from top to bottom can help elongate your body, says McGoff. If your pants will stay put, lose the belt—or wear a slim one that’s the same color as your pants. Go for monochromatic color schemes like dark jeans and a dark shirt instead of dark jeans and a white shirt.

Don’t let your insecurity get the best of you.

Confidence is key to making a good first impression, says Beverly Hills-based psychiatrist Carole Lieberman, M.D. If you assume right off the bat that she won’t like you because of your height, she probably will be turned off—by your insecurity, Dr. Lieberman says.

To feel more confident, remember the qualities that make you a catch and draw her focus to them, advises Dr. Lieberman. Are you a graphic artist who designs his own T-shirts? Wear your creation. Caring family man? Tie on that friendship bracelet your niece made you. MVP of your softball league? Don your team cap.

Flirt without saying a word.

Too much eye contact can scare off women—it’s usually a menacing gesture, says Patti Wood, author of SNAP: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma. But shorter guys can get away with it because their height makes them less threatening, Wood says.

Holding her gaze for longer than 3 seconds—without towering over her—reads as pure attraction, Wood says. “She’ll think, ‘Wow, this guy is really into me,’” she says.

It can be intense to stare right into someone’s eyes, so you may want to practice in non-romantic situations like with waiters or cashiers, Wood suggests. But remember: The goal is to show your interest—not creep her out. Don’t pry your eyes open wide like an owl. Keep it natural.

You get an extra half-inch, but that’s it.

As tempting as it may be, don’t fudge your height in your online dating profile, says Julie Spira, author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online. Think about it: You wouldn’t want her to blatantly lie about her weight, would you?

It’s okay to ditch decimals and round up to the nearest inch, Spira says, but don’t fib more than that. Your ultimate mission is to meet your match in person, and you don’t want her looking for the 5’9” guy you claimed to be on your profile if you’re only 5’5”. She’ll notice. And your dishonesty will make you seem insecure, Spira says.

Speak her body language.

Men tend to stand side by side when getting to know each other. That’s because when a guy faces you head-on, it’s intimidating, Wood says. But women bond face to face because they don’t have to worry about seeming like a threat.

Here’s where your less imposing stature comes in handy: Wood says shorter guys can get away with addressing women head-on and not intimidate them like taller men would.

Next time you flirt, stand face to face. It’s a subtle change, but it’ll make her more comfortable opening up because that’s how she’s used to bonding, Wood says.