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Russian Mail-Order Brides (Part One) Posted by on Jul 29, 2014 in Culture, General reference article

It seems, unfairly so, that when I tell somebody that I came to America from Russia, they  often assume that I was a mail-order bride. Through the internet, mail-order bride websites have flourished in recent years. I do have  many friends who first met their current or ex-spouses on these websites. Some of these friends seem happily married and some have had very difficult times. As I was writing this, I tried to combine  knowledge gained from some of my friends, as well as some research on the subject.

"Leaving Home" by Alexander Saprykin on flickr.com

“Leaving Home” by Alexander Saprykin on flickr.com

First let’s examine why a Russian woman would want to find a husband in another country. According to World Bank, in 2012 almost 54 percent of the total Russian population were female. This means fewer men are available to choose from. Life can be very difficult for a woman in Russia; alcoholism permeates many families with the female often being the bond that holds the household together. It is very difficult for women to find well-paying jobs even though they are equally qualified – females typically earn much less money than their male counterparts performing the same duties. According to the United Nations, this gender wage gap is between 30 and 40 percent. If the woman is pregnant or has children, things become even more difficult. In a recent survey conducted by Superjob.ru only 5 percent of Russian women find life as a female in Russia to be gratifying. Another reason women leave is simply that sometimes you just don’t like where you’ve always lived and want to get out and see the world. I was determined to leave that part of the world and fortunately, I was able to come to America without finding a spouse online. Bottom line, life in Russia is pretty hard for a lot of people. A lot of men and women would really like to leave Russia but while women have the marriage card to play, men have to rely on education, talent, or relatives to get them out.

Not let’s try to examine why an American male, for example, would like to find a bride from Russia? Traditional values? Maybe. Beauty? Maybe. Excitement? Sure. Fed up with how feminism has changed American society? It’s possible. Feeling more secure in approaching a poor Russian foreigner as opposed to an all-American woman? Certainly true in many cases. From what I have seen, many men who try their luck with foreign women, seem to believe that it is easier to satisfy a woman from a poorer country than an American woman – most Russians live with far fewer amenities than Americans. It is almost if the men feel a sense of superiority toward these women for some reason or other, and this is why they have the courage to begin a relationship. Typically, you will see an average-looking guy with a beautiful Russian wife. She gets to leave behind a difficult life in Russia for a more promising one in America, and he gets  a woman that is usually out of his league – as far as looks are concerned. Both parties are definitely after something that for one reason or another is out of their reach in their homeland, both parties always have valid reasons for taking this path. The true question is: do you, as the future husband or wife, know these true reasons or are you being given some other phony, cover-up explanations? The other equally important question is: do you have enough patience and trust to go through with it? Answering yes to both of these questions is a great place to start. Tomorrow we will take a deeper look at what challenges you can expect to encounter. Until then, всего хорошего!

I welcome all your comments and questions! Спасибо!

P.S. Part Two to this article can be found here 🙂


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About the Author:Jenya

Born in Russia, I spent the first twenty years of my life in Orenburg, Russia and Mogilev, Belarus. For the last eleven years, I've lived in New Hampshire and Michigan, US. While I continue to absorb and adapt to American culture, I am always thrilled to share my Russian heritage with those who find it interesting. Travel, photography and art play a special part in my life. Twitter: @iamnx2u


  1. Mark:

    First off, I really enjoy your blog. I’m trying to learn Russian and I appreciate your incite.)

    Personally, I would love to date a Russian woman. I don’t know if I would spend thousands of dollars on those dating sites however. Plus, they seem sketchy. How can all of the women be models! AnastasiaDate for instance. Every woman is striking. Are all Russian women this way? If so, I’m moving! )))

    My take is, I don’t feel a sense of superiority, nor would I want a relationship based solely on looks. I feel a lot of women in the US are shallow, self serving and unappreciative of what they have.
    Russian women, that I’ve talked with, seem to be less focused on themselves and are more focused on family and others.

    When I see a old man and a beautiful Russian woman I can’t help feel sorry for her. She can’t be attracted to him but yet it’s a way out of a bad situation perhaps.

    Russian culture, history and the people are what attracts me to learn the language. Finding a beautiful Russian wife would just be icing on the cake. ))


  2. Jenya:

    Mark, thank you very much for your feedback!
    I would say Russia has its share of shallow women as well, and many of them do use international relationships as a “get rich quick” scheme. It is really hard to get to know someone when you are so far apart, so there is a great deal of risk involved.
    You wouldn’t necessarily spend thousands of dollars on the websites but you absolutely have to be prepared to spend thousands if you are serious about the relationship: flights to/from Russia and document processing fees (visas, green card, etc.) do add up quickly 🙂 .

  3. hugo ly:


  4. Lada:

    Hey, Jenya. What Russian vocabulary should we learn here? Let’s throw couple of practical words (in a part II perhaps). Please and thank you.

    • Jenya:

      @Lada Lada, I will add some words and phrases 🙂 . Thank you for reading!

  5. Blain:

    Hi Jenya!

    I am one of those American’s that have traveled to Russia and Ukraine starting in 1997,(by myself not in a group)to meet women for possible marriage, and have been successful. I am now married to a wonderful Russian speaking woman for 17 years! The first few years were difficult in many ways, since I did not know the language I decided to try and learn it, and I have been studying Russian ever since.

    Before going to Russia and Ukraine, I dated many women in the USA and was somewhat disappointed in several different ways, back in the mid 90’s. Just by chance I happened upon a website in 1997 about women in the East, and it intrigued me to travel and so I thought I would go meet some of them, after first sending letters (yes real letters) to many of them. I found much of what you said to be true, there is high divorce rates and many problems with alcohol and infidelity with the men of these Easter European countries. Of course many women are hoping for a better life, and many are looking just to leave the country for that purpose, and many are not looking to leave the country, but only want to travel short term or receive expensive gifts, but many also are looking for a long term relationship with a man they can trust that he will take care of them and make it reasonably easy to live together.

    I traveled back and forth to several different cities during that time, but finally found someone that truly liked me as much as I liked her.

    It was sometimes hard for me at first to find women that would be truthful about what they wanted and why. But after learning to ask the right questions, and just observe their behavior it became easier to see which ones were being honest and which were not. I tried to be honest about what I had to offer in a relationship, and of course many women did not want what I had to offer for various reasons. That’s just life. After a lot of searching, and learning that the pay as you go websites are mostly scams, I found a good woman, and we both fell in love with each other before our marriage and more so after our marriage. And I am happy that I went to all that effort and cost to find her. We have a happy life together now and I would never leave her.


    • Jenya:

      @Blain Blain, thank you very much for sharing your story! I am always happy to hear of happy accounts like yours. You are right, if you put in the time and effort, you may very well get what you deserve – a great companion, someone you can rely on and build a family with. Unfortunately, it does not happen for everybody but that does not mean one should give up 🙂

  6. Malone:

    I’ve been involved with Russian (and Ukrainian and Belarusian) women since 2010. That was the year I joined Facebook, and “liked” the Russian group. I became “friends” with several women from Russia, and one woman wanted to introduce me to her friend. So I began talking to her friend, and had a relationship with her for a little more than two years. I went to Russia and visited her. And I took her to Rome and Barcelona, too.

    When that relationship ended, I went on Russian dating sites and met several other women. Two of which I’ve had a serious relationship.

    Having said that, I must point out that there are no such things as “mail order brides”. Yes, there are dating sites (just as there are in the USA), and there are marriage agencies (just as there are in the USA).
    Among dating sites, there are free ones, and there are pay-sites. AnastasiaDate is a pay site, for instance.

    The free sites are just like free sites in the USA (okcupid, for instance). The pay sites might require a subscription in order to send/receive messages, or they might charge a fee for each message sent. They also might offer some assistance in matching you up with somebody (for a fee, of course).
    In addition to dating sites, there are marriage agencies. Usually, these are scams. Here’s how some of them work:

    They put advertisements in the paper for women to pose and earn money.
    They post the woman’s photo on their site to attract men.
    Men think they are talking to the woman in the photo, but they are actually talking to a person in the agency, and sometimes paying money to the agency so they can communicate with the woman, to whom they think they are talking.

    In some cases, the man will attempt to visit the woman, who is actually paid to go out with him once or twice. The man arrives, and the agency handles all the accommodations: transportation, lodging, a translator, etc… all of which are paid by the visiting man. If the man wants a second or third date, but the woman does not, then she either simply “disappears”, or has to go away to another city to visit a sick grandmother in the hospital.

    Sometimes the woman who posed for the photos is legitimately interested in finding a man. But the agency does all the work. As above, you pay to communicate with an employee of the agency. And when you decide to come visit the woman, the agency handles everything, for which you pay. And the woman is contacted and informed that a man is coming to meet her. She may, or may not like him.
    There are agencies, such as “A Foreign Affair”, that arrange “tours” to foreign countries, where a group of men from USA or wherever meet with a group of local women in a hotel conference room or ballroom. The men and women intermingle and see if a relationship develops between any of them. Again, the man pays for everything.

    I have only used free sites. And I believe I am pretty good at detecting scammers. Even on free sites, there are fake profiles (a beautiful woman’s photo and profile created by a Nigerian scammer) and “agency women”. Again, the profile is created by the agency, you are communicating with the agency, and the actual woman in the photo doesn’t even know you exist. You decide to meet her, then, you end up paying the agency and all the agency’s partners to go on a date with a woman who is either being paid to date you one time, or who is only informed by the agency that you will arrive to take her to dinner.

    If a woman’s profile photo on a free site was professionally made, then there’s a good chance there’s an agency behind the profile. If a woman responds to you and is absolutely thrilled you are interested in her, and writes you long messages about what she did, and never directly answers any of your questions, you’re probably dealing with a scammer.

    About the real women on the free sites: they aren’t necessarily any easier to meet than American women. I’m a fairly handsome 48 year old man who is educated, intelligent, well-traveled, well-dressed, etc., and I look for women 34 and up. Sometimes I get responses, but most of the time I do not. Don’t think that just because she’s from Russian/Ukraine/Belarus/etc., and you’re from USA/Canada/UK/etc., that she’s going to be interested in you. She gets a plethora of messages from men all over the world, and unless your message grabs her attention, and/or you look like Brad Pitt, don’t expect a reply. It’s the same with American dating sites. She may also weed you out right away, based on your age, height, weight, have children, marital status, religion, etc.

    Many of these women also don’t want an endless relationship of messages and Skype chats. Therefore, if you meet one online, and if you like each other, then you need to go see her in person as soon as possible. Especially considering that she’s probably having conversations with at least a dozen other guys via Skype/email. You’ve got to get to her before another man does! Because in person is where the real connection is made. The longer your long-distance relationship goes, the more its probability to fail increases. It has happened to me—twice. And the more you meet her in person, the stronger your relationship will grow, and she’ll stop talking to other guys. However, before you fly a great distance to meet her, you need to make sure she’s real. If she is on a dating site, and communicates with you via email, but says she doesn’t have Skype, RED FLAG: SCAMMER ALERT. Make sure you see her on Skype video before you spend any money going to meet her. Fortunately, this has never happened to me; every woman I’ve gone to meet in person was real.

    Be realistic. That bombshell, who is half your age probably isn’t going to be interested in you, especially if you’re fat and ugly. Even if she’s close to your age, she might not be interested in you for several reasons. Don’t expect it’s going to be easy to find somebody out of your league.

    Here is the bottom line:

    Avoid agencies.
    Be skeptical (if it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t true).
    Stand out of the crowd (it’s the best way to get her attention).
    Don’t try to impress her with your “accomplishments”, your “big house”, car, etc.
    Be ready, willing and able to fly to her city to meet her (or, another city where you can meet).
    No Skype, no meeting.
    Have realistic expectations.

    • Jenya:

      @Malone Malone, thank you so much for sharing your experience. You know what they say, sometimes you might have to stop looking to finally find that special someone, or perhaps, she lives next door 🙂 . By the way, there are also many single Russian ladies in the States that might be worth a shot!

  7. sara:

    I’m not a guy nor am I a Russian trying to get out of Russia so I don’t have a dog in this fight. However, my observation has been that dating site marriages generally fail because of all of the obstacles involved (cultural differences, she’s only looking for money, he’s only looking for sex/someone he can dominate, language barrier etc etc). However, I have known a number of very successful mixed culture marriages. The key seems to be options for both parties. People were not looking for an American/Russian spouse, they just happened to meet one. They had plenty of prospects(both dating and financial) in their home country, but decided to marry anyway. These matches seem to be more about love and companionship then money or power so that’s probably why they made it.

  8. Reid Cayne:

    Excellent post however , I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Appreciate it!

  9. Helen:

    Great blog post! If only I had a dime (or rouble..hehehehe) for every time a Westerner assumed I was:
    -A mail-order bride (I got to all the countries I’ve lived in by myself on my own merit)
    -From a poor family (my family was prominent and well-to-do)
    -So grateful to be in (US or whatever Western country I happened to live and I lived in a few)-(although I appreciate the countries I live in, there is no particular or special sense of being “grateful”-it’s a simple living arrangement)
    -Fresh “off the boat” and could be taken advantage of (And they’ve paid for this particular assumption dearly, as I am a qualified psychologist and can use assumptions like this to my advantage ;))
    -Grateful for a few dollars they will pay me (which is NOT an appropriate compensation for the services rendered in their country and they know it)-They found out very quickly I could be quite abrasive and some became acquainted with my lawyer
    -I must drink a lot and love vodka (I actually hardly ever drink and prefer Veuve Clicquot)

    I would be richer by at least $100K…LOL..

    Thank you for writing this. Of all the Russian woman/Western man couples I know, the divorce rate was 100% and the marriage was pretty miserable for the most part. This has to do with unrealistic expectations (on both sides) and incorrect assumptions.
    Contrary to popular belief, majority of Russian women are well-educated and very ambitious: they want to hold a job (as in REAL job, NOT cleaning your house, do your laundry and generally wait on you hand and foot) and they want to move up the ranks and be successful.
    True, they want a family, but if you leave them in the house to do the chores all day and don’t support/encourage their ambitions, your marriage is in for a major fail.
    Also, it is important to not overstate your wealth/amount of disposable income to Russian women in the dating stage. Despite what you might think, even though they may not be able to afford designer goods at their current situation, they are well aware of them and want them. They may still want to date/marry you even if you are not that wealthy, but if you deceive them, they will not stay.

    Personally, I am very independent and prefer my own company these days, although I’ve been married 4 times in the past.

    Stereotyping is never productive and can lead one down the wrong path 🙂

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