Mail order brides are something you hear about but rarely take seriously. Its a sleazy and sad yet comedic idea to find love over the internet and bring a foreigner who barely speaks the local tongue overseas in order to marry them. Tragically, western men are making this a new cultural phenomenon. With the growing popularity of social media sites overseas, meeting a bride from Eastern Europe (Russia and Ukraine) has become much easier. American men are now using VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook, to find woman from Ukraine and woo them into becoming their wives. I am sure some of the love is real, but it seems to me that the american men are just providing a means of escape for the woman and an opportunity to make it in the States.
Adrian Chen wrote an interesting article Ukrainin’ Men: How American Men Are Using the Russian Facebook to Find Brides and this phenomenon. And, although it was written a little under a year ago, I have no doubt it does not still hold some truth. In a way, Americans are using VKontakte like a dating website. They create profiles, can browse women’s profiles, and can talk to them, thus planting the seed for a potential relationship. I have always been skeptical of online dating, and especially mail order brides. I just cannot believe that meeting someone on social media and bringing them to the US to marry can in any way foster love or have motivations other than sex and money.
Men apparently debate on message boards which sites have the best potential brides. With booming social media that is free, men no longer have to pay agencies to find them a beautiful eastern European woman. Oddly enough, men think the matchmaking agencies are corrupt and the women on the sites only want to make money. How is finding them on a social media site any different? Motivations do not become transparent when you make a profile on the internet. With social media sites, looking for a bride is like shopping for something online. Men can browse profiles to their hearts content and when they find something they like, they can reach out and try and form a connection.
VKontakte has approximately 110 million users, making it the top social media site in Eastern Europe easily. One would expect that there would be a higher success rate than 10% of getting a friend request accepted. This is most likely due to that population of creepy gross American men who slink around the web looking for beautiful women and trying to talk to them. They have tainted the reputation of American men on social media sites. And why are American men choosing European woman over American? Chen believes it is because they are more family oriented. I think it has to do with a fear of strong willed women in America. With women becoming more and more successful, they rely less and less on their significant others. Divorced men probably also flock for VKontakte because it is a low risk, high reward potential. WIth a language barrier, hundreds of miles between you, and talking via chat, there is hardly room for embarrassment or harsh rejection. The worse that could happen is the girl will not accept the friend request.
There are a few success stories of men who were able to find love from mail-order-bride services. Chen writes another article called New York’s Most Famous Mail-Order Bride May Conquer All Media. The article profiles Lera Loeb. When she was 21 she married Steve Loeb, a music producer in New York who was 44 at the time. They have been married for 6 years happily and Lera has become a very successful Ukrainian in the States, no doubt because of her husbands connections and money.
So men, if you are fed up with American dating sites, go Vkontakte. Social media sites are becoming a more popular way to meet a significant other. Will the ease of communicating over social media breed a generation of shyer people who dread face to face flirting?