The advantages in choosing a bride you will love forever.

A Yahoo search for a “bridal agency Ukraine” yields over 82,000 results. For a country, which has been locked away to the rest of the world for years and has gained independence a little over ten years ago, such results seem overwhelming. Why has this business flourished in the FSU countries within the last few years? Are women of these countries on a prowl for a rich husband? Are they raking around for an unforgettable short-term romance? Or are they seeking something more profound like true love and someone to make them happy?

Lucky for me, when questions began swarming in my head, a good girlfriend of mine, who has lived in Italy for a number of years, was in town to visit her family. So, instead of digging through piles of statistics and wracking my brain in search of the answers, I turned to the source with first-hand experience.

Before I move on, let me make myself clear: by no means does this article include motives and wants of every woman, who submits her profile to a bridal agency. And I will be the first to encourage foreigners: do exercise caution once you choose the path of a bridal agency search. In the past, some ladies from the FSU countries have provided more than enough negative publicity, but don’t let that discourage you and miss out on a chance to gift someone the pleasure of communication and a possibility to find love. With that in mind, I proceed…

When I began questioning the motives of women who take a chance on bridal agencies, my first discovery was quite disturbing. One of the top reasons why FSU women prefer foreigners is that men at their home country… aren’t good enough.

“Many people talk about how awful it is (for FSU women) to live abroad and tell you horror stories. Why not admit that the reason is in men at home, who, in my opinion, don’t know what a family is?” – was a comment from Natasha, in response to the article in one of the leading Russian papers, which condemned marriages to foreigners. “Unfortunately, ‘Russian’ men have got a long way to go to keep up with men from abroad.”

Some bridal agencies will give you the same information. An American journalist, who took a “find-the-bride” trip to Ukraine as a part of his investigation for a story, says in his on-line journal that the instructor on the tour explained to him: Ukrainian and Russian men “drink, philander, alternately beat and neglect women.” Obviously, not every FSU man treats women this way. Nevertheless, a general conception that most Russian/Ukrainian women share of men in their home countries comes down to a few common words: irresponsible, hard-hearted, too demanding and not willing to provide for their children, let alone their mother. Given that FSU women are admired throughout history for their strong family ties and devotion, it is not surprising that many of them come to bridal agencies expecting to find someone trustworthy, reliable and willing to create and nourish the family.

Another observation Natasha made after a three-year long marriage to a foreigner: “Actually, when I married him, I didn’t want to live in Italy… But Italians are very family oriented and put more emphasis on family values. That meant a lot to me. Foreigners in general seem to be more serious about family and children, unlike men at home.”

In line with lack of quality of FSU men, there is also lack of quantity. Statistics show that during 2002 the ratio men-women was 46 % to 54%, and hasn’t changed much since. Given that a large part of these 46% are people who can’t be counted on for love, care and support, it leaves the ladies of Russia and Ukraine very little to choose from. Obviously, when something you need is not in sight, you look to broader horizons.

“All the good ones have been snatched away long ago, your chances to find someone in this country after you turn 25 are next to nill,” Natasha mused over a cup а coffee (she married her Italian sweetheart at the age of 29). “It seems the guys (in Ukraine) disappear when they turn 30.”

On top of all said, the appreciation of their own feminity sets FSU women apart from American or European ladies. Most foreigners note that FSU women look different from the latter two, and I don’t just mean their outward beauty, which has been mentioned and admired by many. These ladies like to look pretty, it is not unusual for them to wear a dress and pumps on a regular basis, they care about their body and like to be attractive. Bottom line, they want to be feminine, not feminist.

FSU women cherish being a “weak gender”, which for them means taking care of their family in the first place, as well as being cared for and appreciated. Promises of that seem to be given in abundance by Americans and Europeans, many of whom share an opinion that it has been too long since Western women have shown any aspiration to cherish the softer side of the “weaker gender”. In comparison with a constant rush of women at home to make careers and get equal with men, the feminine side of the FSU ladies is at definite advantage to men from abroad. Even some FSU men will admit that “their” women are attractive to the foreigners exactly because they “remain women, not some emancipated feminists, like in the West.”

Natasha gets a bit nostalgic remembering her first few times to visit Italy: “I went to Italy to feel like a queen, to get my share of attention, which I had been lacking from our men. I think there is so much beauty (in Russia), that our men are simply used to it, it is mundane to them, they forget about simple compliments… Italians value beauty.”

After all this, what can I say to men in search of their destiny? It all comes down to what you are looking for. No doubt, there will be some money-hungry vamps, eager to trap you. If you want an exotic one night stand, you can find that in Ukraine, Russia or anywhere in the world for that matter. But if you are looking for a woman who will respect you, relish her family and be as smart as she is pretty, the chances of you finding that in Ukraine or Russia are greater than at any other place. <