Past Help: Hookup Apps and Maybe-Dates

Need advice? Ask Clio, Muse of History. Send questions for Clio care of Rebecca Harrington at .

Dear Clio?

How do you politely ask someone’s height over a hookup app?


A Woman of Curiosity

When Ava Gardner met Mickey Rooney, she was five-foot-six and he was five-foot-two. He approached her on a studio backlot while wearing a bowl of fruit on his head. As she put it, “He wasn’t what I’d call a handsome may-an, and his shortness surprised me, but there was definitely something appealing about him. He had thick, red-blond wavy hair, crinkly Irish green eyes, and a grin that was … well, it definitely wasn’t innocent, honey, I can tell you that!” They married soon after they met. And this was a woman everyone termed “the World’s Most Beautiful Animal!” (A nice compliment or a weird compliment? You decide!)

However, Rooney was such “catnip to the ladies” that he cheated on the world’s most beautiful animal all the time. Sometimes he would feel bad about it and buy her jewels. But that kind of sucked, so she divorced him.

And, see, this is the problem I have with the Internet. It’s impossible to tell whether you will have electric chemistry with someone who isn’t your pre-determined type unless you physically meet them. By its very mechanism, Internet dating mean picking people you’re attracted to from a verbal profile; thus, the Internet can stop you from meeting a tiny man who is a sexual dynamo.

So if height is the most important thing ever for you (you yourself have gigantism and are at least six-foot-seven; the man who killed your parents was five-foot-two; or similar), I think the only thing you can possibly do is eyeball it from the photos. You definitely cannot ask. The shoulders are always the biggest tell.

Dear Clio,

A man recently e-mailed me asking to get a drink. But I do not know if he is networking me or romancing me. Help!



This reminds me of another ambiguous meeting. In 1907, Jung and Freud were merely colleagues. Jung wrote a paper and cited Freud. Freud was happy.  After they met for the first time, however, they talked for thirteen hours and forged a close bond. Freud wrote Jung gushing and paternal-seeming letters saying that Jung was his “successor and crown prince.” But the two eventually fell out, mostly because Jung had become more interested in the occult than in libido theory, but also because everyone was having affairs and then lying about them. One time, Freud was in Switzerland and didn’t visit Jung, and Jung got so offended he started calling it “the Kreuzlingen gesture.” Basically what I am saying is that it got pretty emotional after a while. But who would have thought that when they were just meeting professionally for the first time? No one.

This is the same for you. It is impossible to know how a professional or a personal relationship will unfold, and often if you are confused about which kind of relationship it is, things could go either way. Go and see what happens! If, however, the man refers to you as a “crown prince” in a letter but you figured out he has a girlfriend, run the other way.

Past Help: Hookup Apps and Maybe-Dates