There are certainly exceptions. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, for starters. Picture: Reuters

Washington - When Tinder announced last week that the popular dating app was developing a "height verification tool," my first reaction was: Hallelujah! Finally people would stop lying about their height.

"Say goodbye to height fishing," the news release said, coining a term for the height deception that's common on dating apps.

By Monday, it became clear Tinder's announcement was just an April Fools' joke. Still, there's a grain of truth in it. Do daters really deserve a medal for telling the truth? Is the bar really this low? In short: Yes.

Yes, in most heterosexual couples, the man is taller than the woman - but that's partly because, on average, men are taller than women. And there are certainly exceptions. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, for starters. Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas. Pharrell and Helen Lasichanh. You probably know a couple in your own life to add to this list.

Height is associated with masculinity, attractiveness, higher status - and with one's ability to provide for and protect their family. Daters might not be consciously thinking about this as they're swiping left and right. 

An informal 2014 survey of students at the University of North Texas asked single, heterosexual students to explain why they preferred dating someone above or below a certain height. It found that they "were not always able to articulate a clear reason they possess their given height preference, but they somehow understood what was expected of them from the larger society."

Dating apps encourage singles to make quick judgments based on scant information in a profile - information that can be wrong or out-of-date. The real verification happens in person, where people can be physically small with large personalities or tall and exceedingly dull.

As my Tinder date and I walked through the Lisbon streets, we talked about the pros and cons of being single while most of your friends are in relationships and the many ways we've seen good things end. 

By the time we said goodbye, I was surprised by how much fun we'd had. He wanted to see me again, but I wasn't sure. There was another distance I was thinking about - one not measured in feet but thousands of miles.

The Washington Post