I realized the juxtaposition of modern technology, old stereotypes, and the mix of cultures and age cohorts was creating a new variation of human mating rituals that deserved serious examination.
Of course, the portrayal of the industry throughout the media influenced my early thoughts in the sense that I assumed most men were older or socially awkward, but I went into my research with a largely open mind. I found that most men were older, but very few were socially awkward.
With the spread of technology, to me it is not surprising that people are starting to expand their romantic options. Yet it is interesting that international dating and marriage remain a largely gendered phenomenon and linked to certain geographies.
I approached the industry through an open house held by the agency that I would end up following, A Foreign Affair. The owner, John Adams, was extremely open with me, allowing me to follow romance tours in whatever location I wanted to see. I chose to attend a tour in the most popular country within its respective region, which included Colombia, Ukraine and the Philippines.
Ukraine is by far the most popular tour country, and in my own dissertation research I explore the ways in which race influences people’s understandings of who is desirable. I also discuss emotional labor, globalization of intimacy, the commodification of intimacy, and ideas surrounding masculinity and femininity.
Partnering With International Love Scout
When Charlie Morton, the CEO of International Love Scout, approached me about working with them to disseminate the academic research about international dating I was intrigued. I knew they reached a large audience of men considering pursuing an international romance and they regularly wrote about the academic research on the topic. For me, it simply made sense as a way to get help disseminate the research to the most interested end users where it might make a positive real-world impact.
The three older articles included in this section represent some of Charlie’s earlier efforts to cover scholarly research in the field and provide a short history of the international dating industry in the United States. They offer a good starting point for someone just beginning to research this topic.
To begin this academic corner on International Love Scout, I would like to begin with more journalistic research on the industry. I think journalistic research on the topic is more accessible to a general audience and provides a good introduction into larger topics that academic research explores.
For the first month, I am putting links to my own journalistic work on the industry, which aims to challenge people’s common misperceptions about the international dating industry. In the upcoming months, I will be posting links to various forms of research (journalistic, visual, and academic) in order to provide a broad swath of the information available to those who are interested in learning more.
- In my article, ‘Mail Order Brides’ and ‘Scams’, I examine one of the most common misconceptions about the industry: that it is rife with scams and rip-offs.
- Debunking Myths Surrounding International Marriages looks at information provided by RapidVisa, the largest American visa assistance company.
- 90-Day Fiancé and the Shaming of ‘Mail Order Brides’ looks at the sad phenomena of couples being ridiculed simply because of the fact they met on international dating sites.
Dr. Julia Meszaros teaches sociology at Texas A&M University in Commerce, Texas. She wrote her dissertation on romance tours that she took with A Foreign Affair.