In the 90s Russia became popular not only as a new "unexplored" travel destination, but also as a place to find a "perfect" wife (and more rarely – a husband). "Russian brides" is one of the most popular search term on Google related to Russia... Men who travel to Russia are often interested in Russian women (and many of them – we estimate 30% – come specifically for that reason) and Russian women – in general – are not against marrying an interesting foreign man. There is demand, there is supply, and so there is a "Russian bride" marketplace.
There are many reasons for the whole "Russian bride" industry to exist, but let's look straight into the core. What would make one purposefully decide that they want to find a partner abroad? (We're not talking about accidents here...) Probably a desire to change something. Changing location can be very beneficial and meeting somebody from a different culture can be a unique learning experience. For some other people it's more about practical concerns. Yet, for some others, it's based on some exotic attraction, fetish, and desire for control. In any case, it's important to realize the motivations of all the parties involved as it makes things much easier.
This desire and curiosity that express themselves from both sides can be quite a good thing in itself: there are many examples of people who found each other and lived happily after... However, a huge demand from the both sides gave a rise to the new "Russian brides" industry that is gaining popularity, and a lot of individuals found many dishonest ways of making money out of bringing people together. So, if you want to find a partner abroad, you should be really aware: you're venturing on a path full of generalizations and preconceptions, making yourself very susceptible to lies and scams.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this page tends to be more about Russian women for foreign men, than about Russian men (after all, this section is called "Women in Russia"), however, it might be interesting for western women as well and all the categories below can apply to the Russian men brides as well.
Who are the Russian Brides?
It should be pointed out that here we talk not about all Russian women, but only about the women, who deliberately engage into looking for a foreign husband (either through the internet or newspaper ads or by attending parties etc.).
Generally, the women who decide to find a foreign husband can be very different and can have completely different motivations. Some women are sincerely looking for a partner to create a family together, some women just want to have fun, others want to make money. So, the following classification might be helpful:
• "Family-Oriented" Woman. She is looking for a sincere relationship and wants to create a real stable family with a husband who will love her, understand her, and care about her. Usually, she's about 25 to 50 years old. She would like to have a safe enviroment for her family and - partially - this makes her look for the future husband abroad, because it is considered that a foreigner can have a much more stable situation (socially and financially), than a Russian. Perhaps, she had already had a husband, but the first marriage didn't work out very well...
She does not necessarily want to leave their home country, usually, the main criteria is well-being of the future family, for which the place is not so important.
• "Russian Lover". She's not family oriented, but she's open and she wants to have nice time and to find an interesting man to spend time with. It doesn't matter if he's a foreigner or not, the main thing is that he's pretty, charming, and interesting to talk with. A man might have a lot of nice time with such a woman, and perhaps, it would be an ideal introduction for an interesting relationship, that could maybe grow into something more serious in the future... The only problem is that this kind of women do not usually look for a husband deliberately. There's more chance to meet them accidentally or at a party – in fact, probably they don't even care where you come from...
• "Russian Blonde". This is a special kind of woman. When she was a young (17-20) pretty woman, she met a handsome "new Russian" with a lot of money, and fell in love with him and with the ambiance of success around him. She got used to indulge all her needs and to get what she wanted. However, their "new Russian" man was letting himself too much: having so much money, power, and charisma, he was getting with many other women. At one moment, the "blonde" had enough of being just "one of many", and broke the relationship with her rich friend. However, such a "beautiful girl" shouldn't be alone, so she's settled to find a worthy substitute to her old friend, who will worship only her, and will let her indulge into her old habits.
She will most likely not want to leave Russia, because it is very important for her to be able to show the new husband to her girlfriends and to be seen.
• "Russophobiac". She despises Russia and Russians, so her main goal is to emigrate. Usually, her first and main condition is to be able to live abroad, and deep inside she doesn't care about the relationship. If necessary, she will be a slave to her future husband, only to be able to leave Russia.
• "Money Maker". This is a dangerous type. Her main goal is to make money, so a long-term relationship is not on her agenda. The most important is to get a regular allowance from the future husband. Usually, this kind of people come from poor families and are not able to do anything by themselves. However, some of them are just "players": they get pleasure in sucking out the money, and then dissappearing. There were a lot of cases, when a woman like this would engage into writing over the internet with a foreign man, and then at one moment ask some money to buy a plane ticket to be able to meet. So, a naive "husband" would send his "future wife" a check for $1000 US and never hear about her again...
Where to Find a Russian Bride?
• Traditional Marriage Agencies. There are a lot of marriage agencies in the world that offer introduction services. In most cases, these agencies have a database of women who want to find a foreign husband and a database of men who want to find a wife from another country. The marriage agencies make money by selling entries from these databases to men and women, who want to find a partner. However, usually, it is men paying to have their data submitted to the database, or to have access to some data from the "women" database.
Pro: a possibility of making a sample from this database based on such criteria as age, occupation, interests -- it makes it easier to find the person that fits specifications exactly and perfectly well, like a product in a supermarket.
Contra: This approach seems quite general and time-consuming. Even if the database is quite comprehensive, it will never give a complete representation of a person. Also, the woman doesn't choose the man at all. Also, there's a high possibility that the woman was already contacted by many men, which lessens your chances. Also, the women who submit their profiles to marriage agencies are marriage-oriented by default, so there's a risk of getting into a "Money Maker" or a "Russophobic"...
• Social Networks and Apps. Tindr can work out, as well as OKCupid and local Russian social network VK. Those are all used in Russia extensively for dating purposes, so maybe this is the most direct and efficient way to find somebody, especially that you're a foreigner and can ask a lot of stupid questions like "can you show me around?" or "do you know where I could stay for a few days?" etc.
• Internet Marriage Agencies. Generally, they employ the same concept as traditional ones, except that they use internet. It allows easier access to their databases, online search on various criterias, and makes the services more versatile and less expensive. It's better to find the agency, which operates its own database -- many marriage agencies just buy databases of other marriage agencies and these databases become outdated and old...
What services do they offer: (a) Submitting your data to marriage agencies (about $50 US per month); (b) Listing your ad in a special catalogue, which is then distributed among interested women (about $150 US); (c) Ads in Russian newspapers and magazines (the price depends); (d) Selling e-mail, postal addresses and phone numbers of women from the database (about $10 US for one address); (e) E-mail forwarding. Many ladies don't have an e-mail access, so you submit your e-mail, it is printed out and forwarded to the lady you're writing to. (usually it costs $5 US for a letter).
Things to be aware about:
(a) There's much scam on the internet related to "marriage business", be aware about it, choose only reputable agencies or the ones, that were recommended to you by a person who had his own positive experience at a specific agency.
(b) E-mail forwarding is a big business: most of the ladies don't have internet access, so the agencies make money out of it: every letter costs $5. Ask the lady you're writing with if the e-mail is her personal, and if it is not, ask for a post address or phone number.
(c) Sometimes, it's not even real women writing the letters, but agents (there were cases like this in Russia). So one should always be aware of it. The best way to check is to ask for a post address (no P.O. boxes) and a home phone number and check personally.
(d) Never send money. If you need to meet, better buy a plane ticket for yourself and come to Russia.
What agencies to use: There's a myriad of different agencies and it's hard to recommend something, but the most popular internet marriage agencies that have Russian women's profiles in their databases are:
(please, note, we do not recommend these agencies, just give information about them)
- Foreign Affair-- one of the biggest introduction agencies, it is based in Arizona, USA. Has databases of emails ($9 US for an address, $95 US for more than 20), offers a 3-month ad placement in a catalogue, magazines, newspapers ($145 US), has open access to profiles. Accepts credit cards.
- Elena's Models -- a quote from their site: "specializes in introducing Russian and Eastern European women of models quality who seek contacts with western men with the purpose of future marriage". Based in South Africa. Has online profiles, sells e-mail addresses ($9 US per one), does ad listing in special publications, e-mail forwarding, submitting data to marriage agencies.
- A Pretty Woman -- a US based small dating agency, features profiles on Russian women only.
- Bride.Ru -- a Russian based introduction agency. Features online profiles, sells e-mails and phone numbers of Russian marriage-minded women for $20 US for about 1800 addresses.
• Internet Dating Sites These kind of sites are not marriage agencies. They are free both for men and women who want to find a partner. Usually, a person submits his / her profile and a photograph to a searchable database. Once the profile is in the database, everybody can have access to it. A good thing about this service is that it's free and opened to everybody, however, it is not targeted specially to marriage-minded people. To be able to present yourself to Russian women, it's better to use Russian dating sites. Most of them are in Russian language, however, if you have a Russian-speaking friend, it's very much worth to try to place an ad in Russian there or surf through the existing ads. Among the most popular Russian dating sites are:
- Omen.Ru - A popular Russian entertainment portal, dating section.
- Dating.Ru - Another Russian dating portal
- Aslanova.Ru - Personal ads posted by Russian girls from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, and other Russian cities. Careful: there are some erotics links inside. The site is fully in Russian, but you can click through to get to e-mails.
• Placing Your Own Ad. Doing things yourself, you bypass all kinds of intermediaries. The best thing to do is to put a personal ad in a newspaper or a magazine which is published in Russia. You might do it in English, but to increase your chances, you can try to find a Russian friend, who'll translate your ad for you. The only problem with that is that your ad will be most probably targeted to people from Moscow and St. Petersburg only. It'll be hard to put a personal ad in a newspaper or a magazine issued in a provincial Russian town. In that case, the best is to find special publications for marriage-minded women and to place an ad there, or use the services of introduction agencies.
Anyway, here's a list of some Russian publications, which might be interesting for placing an ad in:
- The Moscow Times (http://www.themoscowtimes.com) -- a daily English-language newspaper published in Moscow. Very popular among expats and middle-class educated Moscovitans. There's a classified section, where you can put a personal for about $10-$20 US.
- The St. Petersburg Times (http://www.sptimes.ru) -- a daily English-language newspaper, a twin of the Moscow Times, published in St. Petersburg.
- The Russian Journal (http://www.russianjournal.ru) -- a daily and weekly English-language newspaper.
- Afisha Magazine (http://www.afisha.ru) -- a very popular Moscow listings publication in Russian language, features culture, arts, what's on listings, cinema and more. A kind of TimeOut Magazine for Moscow. Features "Personals" section in classified. Popular among young people, people, who want to be "in fashion", Moscow intelligentsia.
If you want to know how to marry in Russia, read the complete guide to marriage in Russia based on personal experience (from the very beginning to the very end!) at Practicalities / Travelers Advice / Marriage section.
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