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When choosing between Western and local Russian dating agency, think twice; it will have a major impact on your relationship with a Russian Lady.

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I am not going to use your service.

I married about 6 months ago and am now in the process of bringing her to Canada. I was surfing the web and I accidentally hit your page. I started to read and I just could not stop. I was amazed and impressed with the universal truths and information that you where passing out. I only write to commend you on your excellent web site and on the very good information and advice you are giving out. Much of what I read here is confirmed and verified by my own experience.

I have an acquaintance who is interested in finding a wife who has "traditional values." I will refer him to your site. He may use your service. He WILL learn a lot.

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Very useful your articles! Especially about agencies. In Germany we know better the life situation of our Eastern friends than perhaps in more distant countries. I want to start my search because I appreciate the warm emotional potentiality which distinguishes Russian people from our relatively cold western world.

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Hello Elena,
Thank you for your great writing. I had a very enjoyable and informative time reading your comments on Russian women, weddings, and life. I appreciate your positive and realistic attitude which has helped me dispel some of my fears from other articles. Congratulations on your success, and I'm hoping my budding relationship will prosper also.

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Hello Elena,
I must tell you that I've immensely enjoyed reading your website and wish very much to support it (and you) somehow by use. However, I have already found my Russian
lady whom I intend to marry. Apparently, after reading your site, I may have done many things wrong. But I am unsure. Luckily, my fiancee was able to cover them. If you are interested some time, my story is a little different, almost more western. Unlike the 'myth' of the American man, I do not desire a woman to take care of my home. I'm quite capable of that on my own. I am, however, looking for an equal 'partner'. As you wrote of the women who must grow wise at a young age, I've done the same and have found women of my age group to be lacking in such things. I am sorry that I digress. When she comes to the states, she will have many things against her. We are both aware of this. As her husband, it will be my job to help change this. I will teach her how to drive well and buy her a car. Together we will work on her English and I will also learn Russian. This is important because she needs to be able to talk to me about her emotions. I take my responsibility as a husband seriously and that means helping her to grow. 

James (USA)


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Russian dating agencies: How do they work?


Western based and local Russian agencies have completely different ways of doing business, and knowing the patterns will help you to understand what's going on in your particular case.


Western
based agencies

Western agencies usually start by placing ads in local Russian newspapers that promise to help women in search of a partner abroad. Women send letters and photos to the address. Usually a lady will send applications to 5-15 agencies that placed ads in the same newspaper.

When an agency has enough profiles to start from, they launch a website, and offer the women's information to men. The method of work will be whether selling addresses or membership, or combining both options. Western agencies also offer gift delivery, translation and email forwarding services. The average price per address is $10, translation - $8-15 per page, and email forwarding - $4-8 per page.

A new agency features all the ladies, then after a while starts to sort the arriving applications, choosing only the most "sellable" faces. The older the agency, the stricter they sort their mail.

The addresses of women are very seldom verified, and the women are almost never contacted on a regular basis. All protestations that women featured are still available and don't correspond with anybody should not mislead you: even if a particular lady was not contacted by anybody through this agency, women never send their data to only one agency, and she is likely to get dozens letters through another service. Also, some agencies buy or rent addresses from local dating agencies and profits from sales.

When the agency has a database of over a thousand ladies, after some period, it will start offering romantic tours to Russia/Ukraine. At this stage the agency can afford to have an office in Russia. The agency invites all female clients to participate in "socials" though usually only ladies from the same city attend the events; most of women cannot afford to travel. The agency places advertisements in local media announcing the forthcoming gathering to ensure enough attendants. Women receive vouchers from the agency's office a few days before, and their data is recorded and identification checked. Agencies actually encourage women to "dig deeper", and once they attended a social, they be invited again and again.

If the agency is successful, word of mouth advertising starts bringing more clients. Also, agencies receive a number of applications via websites. The more successful the agency is, the more letters its girls receive. The more letters the girls receive, the more eager they are in recommending the agency to their friends. The more eager they are in recommending the agency to their friends, the more new profiles the agency receives. The more profiles the agency has, the more men join it. The more men join it, the more letters the girls receive. Bingo.

On the downside of joining bigger agencies is the high competition between male clients in winning hearts of female members. A lady featured by a well established agency can receive up to 50 letters A WEEK, especially if she has an email address. The agency usually indicates if a woman has access to email, and women who have such an advantage do not stay single for long.

But addresses and corresponding services are not where agencies make real money. They provide permanent cash flow but seldom are the main source of income. The serious money is made on tours. Either it's a group romantic tour with socials, or an individual tour, the agency has a fair piece of it.

Gift delivery, translation and email forwarding services offered by a Western based agency are more expensive, and less flexible than the ones provided by a local agency. Most of the agencies have a representative in one of Russian cities who prints and mails forwarded letters, and if the addressee is not from the same city, delivery time can take up to 10 days even locally. The best in this case is if the representative is based in Moscow; letters from Moscow arrive considerably fast (3-7 days) nation wide.

The strong point of Western agencies is their large databases, but it turns out to be their weakness as well: the larger the database is, the more difficult it is to manage and keep it up to date. That's why applying to women who have been in the database of a large agency for a long time is like trying to buy a car with the help of private ads from last year's newspaper.

In the case of Western based agencies, the best way of ensuring your contact with available women is membership that allows you access to the database of new profiles, even better if it's granted to members only. Thus you will be able to contact ladies who have just started their search, and are not yet involved in correspondence or relationship, so they are more likely to be attentive to your letters/emails/phone calls.


Local Russian marriage agencies

In Russian there is no such a word as "dating", so local agencies call themselves "marriage" or "introduction" agencies.

Local agencies cannot offer you huge databases to browse but they do know their clients personally. Some agencies will let you contact women free of charge.

Local agencies also place ads in the same newspapers, only in Russian. As they are situated closer, speak in plain Russian, and are physically available for satisfying women's curiosity, they have very limited but constnat flow of new applicants.

Competition on the marriage market is rather tough, and active searchers move from one agency to another trying to find one that will really help. The others stick to one agency, make friends with agencies' personnel and their visit is a way of socializing. The majority disappears after registration and a couple of hopeful visits with no results, as women hope that applying to an agency will guarantee her finding a husband in no time. They try to contact men from the catalogues offered by the agency, but rarely receive a positive answer, because they don't know what to write. If later the agency phones asking them to fetch their letters, they may come, or may not, or come in a month time - depending if their way will be somewhere close by during the agency's office hours. If the agency doesn't phone, they will never come themselves.

Most of the ladies do not really believe in possibility of finding a husband in such a way, and for the most of them it's true - they won't. The majority of local agencies' clients are women in their middle 30th and 40th, and this age group is not the most popular on the scene of international dating.

The agency sends/rents/sells women's data to western agencies (in a case if it's not on the market for a long time), or introduce them on their own website with their own .com domain name (if they have good experience in matchmaking business). The agencies that are in between will have a website with one of the free hosting providers like Xoom or Hypermart. Local agencies usually feature all their clients, since they don't have thousands.

Ladies usually pay a fee to agencies, which can be anything from $2 to $50, with the average amount of $10. Women also pay for sending/receiving emails and translation services. When choosing between sending a letter to overseas' pen friend or buying a piece of meat for supper Russian females usually prefer the latter option. Their fees usually cannot be relied on to cover the agencies expenses for office rental, equipment, Internet connection and personnel. So the main source of income for local agencies has to be, again, foreign men. Some agencies offer free listing for women under 30.

Sending a letter will cost you $1-2, translation - $2-5 per page, and gift delivery may be 2-3 times cheaper than if you use a western service.

Local agencies make money mostly on men's correspondence to their virtual girlfriends, and gift delivery. They also offer individual tours for men but rarely have real visitors. When a reseller asked one of the agencies that offered a tour with accommodation/full time interpreter/unlimited meeting with girls for $1700 for 10 days (airfare excluded) how much money will be enough for them, they agreed to receive only $500 if they would have a permanent flow of visitors.

A good local agency may be your best friend, a bad one or your worst enemy. It pretty much depends on the personality of its owner but you never know.

Local agencies depend on their clients' correspondence with men, and some agencies try to encourage ladies to write letters despite of her genuine disinterest in a particular candidate. If a lady received a letter, she is asked to respond, they say that "the first impression is not always correct" and "men specially send their worst photos to check your reaction". In more prominent cases the agency can use a woman's data to attract clients and respond to letters without her knowledge.

Even if a couple is really attracted to each other, the agency has total control over their correspondence. Many experienced agencies do not allow any money matter discussions between men and women, such questions should be discussed only with the owner. The agency will try to convince a lady that she needs its help, and without it won't get the right guy. The lady in her letters will ask her boyfriend to trust the agency, and do what they require. If he tries to do something in a different way, he starts receiving letters saying how she, his beloved one, was hurt by his negligence. If he does not trust her, they should stop any relationship. He made her cry. She could not sleep the whole night. He broke her heart...

So the man has to follow the path. I have heard about cases when men were asked to pay 2-3 thousand dollars for preparing "marriage papers" BEFORE they actually meet their virtual fiancées.

The less experienced is the agency, the more freedom its clients have. Nevertheless, restricting clients' freedom gives its results, and experienced agencies reach happy endings more often. They provide "better" translation that makes an ordinary woman's letter sound full of passion, they are very strict to the girls in answering letters in time, and they know what to do to make a man fall in love. On the other hand, they can advise a woman against a particular candidate, and after long correspondence you can finish in vain when decide to visit your distant friend. Also, I have heard about cases when men sent money and gifts, and women never received them.

To avoid heartbreak when dealing with local agencies, ask about woman's real address and phone number in THE VERY FIRST LETTER. If she does not have a phone, ask her to arrange phone contact through friends or relatives. If her English is not good enough, you can use option of conference calls offered by some agencies. You need a way of direct contact in case if you face problems with the agency. Give your postal address, and ask a lady to write you a "real" letter. Try to teach your lady to use email on her own, and encourage her studying English. But if she struggles a lot, you will be in better off using an agency so long.

Contact the agency's owner if s/he has not contacted you yet, and discuss conditions of their service. Never hesitate to ask a question if necessary.

The strong point of local agencies is their personal acquaintance with their clients, and if you use local agencies in the correct manner, they can be of great help. They have real women, know them well, and their women are available.


The bottom line

In my opinion, two people should communicate without a mediator when it's about an important subject such as a relationship

Using agencies for bringing men and women together in the beginning of your search is fine, but on a later stage you must try to make your contacts direct. Encourage your lady to use email on her own, and improve her knowledge of English.

Another trick is to use a third party service - for example, an independent provider of email forwarding or gift delivery to ensure that your letters and gifts will be delivered. Also, when it's about getting legal help for your romance, always opt for a western service.


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