Surprising Facts About Mail Order Brides: From “The Doctor of Love”

The facts about mail order brides from a feminist professor who has intensively studied international dating for almost a decade.

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Feminist professors have hated the modern mail order bride movement since it began to develop with the rise of chaos in the former Soviet Union and the rise of the internet at the same time during the mid-1990s.  But none of those professors had actually studied international dating.  Dr. Julia Meszaros has.

For her dissertation she traveled to Ukraine, Colombia, and the Philippines talking to local women and the Western men who were there to meet them.  She went along on romance tours and got a behind the scenes look at matchmaking in Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

She has tracked the couples she researched for her dissertation for the last seven years and written a slew of academic articles.   Julia currently teaches sociology at Texas A&M University in Commerce, Texas.

International Love Scout has cooperated with Julia since 2016 by providing behind the scene insights about our operations and helping her with her research.  Now she has agreed to make a series of videos answering some of the basic questions that men have about mail order brides.

The Biased Leading the Uniformed

The story of the feminist academics attacks on modern international dating started almost as soon as the movement began.  They charged the movement was at best exploitative to women and at worse sexual slavery.

Much of this early distaste was literally semantics.  The earliest activists did not like the term “mail order brides.”  They ignored the long, honorable history of mail order brides and did not bother examining the end results of the relationships.

Instead, they pretended that men were simply purchasing women like tools advertised in the Montgomery Wards catalog.  They wrote articles with titles like:  Wives for Sale: The Modern International Mail-Order Bride Industry and Marriages of Convenience: International Marriage Brokers, Mail-Order Brides, and Domestic Servitude.

The problem is that virtually none of these academics actually bothered to interview the men and women involved with these relationships or talk to the people who ran the dating agencies. Essentially, their opinions were philosophical musings based on feminist theory.

Despite the fact that their conclusions were based on virtually no empirical research this corps of angry academics convinced the mainstream media of the truth of their charges.  Eventually they won over the general public to their position that international dating was inherently disreputable.

They caused a world of pain and humiliation for the couples who met through international dating agencies by encouraging mail order bride shaming.  This is particularly hard on the children of these couples who are often ridiculed by their peers and closely question about their family by coaches, teachers, and other adults.

However, the anti-mail order bride activists were on a mission that they saw as analogous to the abolition and civil rights movements. So, still never having bothered to do any more than the most cursory of research they convinced governments around the world to pass a variety of restrictive legislation, most notably International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005.

The Young Feminist Scholars

Julia Mezaros in Brazil

In part because of the media attention caused by the passage of IMBRA, in the mid-2000s there began to be a steady stream of research by young feminist scholars.  These scholars were mostly graduate students and generally they found that nearly everything the older “theoretical” professors believed was wrong.

They repeatedly showed that the women had, in academic speak, agency.  That means that the women were making a rational choice to become mail order brides based on the situations in their native lands.  They repeatedly showed that the women were not gold diggers.

The women simply wanted to live richer, fuller lives.  Seeking a foreign man for a mate opened up incredible opportunities for them to live richer, fuller lives.   And on average the marriages appeared to last at least as well as other marriages, but, as Julia mentioned in the video, the evidence is not clear exactly what the divorce rate is.

But of all of these young feminist scholars none of their research is as a grounded in reality or as compassionate about the situation of the men and women seeking this non-traditional method to find a mate.  This is what really attracted International Love Scout to Julia.  Her research has real world application and a generosity of spirit.

Julia’s Research

Julia Mezaros - Expert on Premier International Dating

Julia explained that she became interested in international dating, because she, “…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.”

And, unlike many academics, Julia did not focus on theory or get distracted by the fringes.

She went along on several romance tours with the largest and oldest international dating agency, A Foreign Affair.  AFA brings Western men and women from around the world face to face.  AFA’s romance tours are one of the most successful methods for Western men seeking to find a foreign mate and have been responsible for literally tens of thousands of marriages since 1995.

This gave Julia a chance to meet the men and women and observe the process.  One of the things that surprised her was that from her research she expected the men to be anti-social misfits. This is one of the most pervasive myths about international dating.

However, after spending literally months with hundreds of men in the Philippines, Colombia, and Ukraine she found just the opposite.  The men were older, but also generally well educated, successful, funny, and self-aware.

She also discovered that dating scams are rare among the men who go on romance tours, and, like other researchers, realized most of the women are not gold diggers.

Julia also was able to research behind the scenes with several matchmaking agencies including our exclusive VIP Matchmaker, Diolli. Matchmaking agencies are very different from companies that are primarily internet based or offer some services like romance tours.

They tend to be more expensive and give clients a higher level of personal service than any other type of dating agency. They offer coaching, advice, and deal with a lot of the logistical issues of involved in traveling halfway around the world and setting up a date in a city you have never visited.

So, Julia has an excellent understanding of international dating – and yes, as an academic, she also understands theory, research methods, and how those issues relate to society and influence policy.  But the main reason my English grandfather would have listened to her is that she did not start off as a fan of the mail order bride industry.

Julia started off slightly suspicious, particularly of the men and the profit motive, but she spent years researching the men and women who meet with the aid of international dating agencies.  Eventually she realized most of the major criticisms were either overblown, based on outdated research, or simply urban legends.

The fact that she dedicated ten years of her life to research and changed her opinion based on the evidence she discovered is the main reason you should give her opinion special weight.  Compare that to where you got your negative information about mail order brides.  Was it based on the latest academic research or was it simply negative media hype driven by well-meaning but uniformed special interests?

Think about all of that and then make up your own mind.

 

Dr. Julia Meszaros Video Transcription

Good afternoon. My name is Doctor Julia Meszaros. I’m an assistant professor at Lebanon Valley College. And I’m working with the website International Love scout.com, to bring you this YouTube informational video about the exciting world of global online International dating. Just a little bit of background about myself, and why I consider myself to be an expert on this topic in particular.

I actually am a real doctor. I did receive my PhD in 2014 from Florida International University. And as I mentioned before I’m currently an assistant professor at Lebanon Valley College here in Annville Pennsylvania. I have been studying the global dating industry, also known as The Mail Order Bride Industry since 2011. So the last seven years I’ve been following this industry both in person and online.

Attending numerous dating conferences and romance tours, promotional events done by various agencies. So I have a very broad scope of the industry in general. I spent years in the field following romance tours run by a foreign Affair, also known as AFA, their website is loveme.com. If you’re more interested to learn about their romance words. I followed a romance tour in Colombia, one in Ukraine and one in the Philippines during the year of 2012.

In addition, I’ve been attending holiday conferences, which are typically held in May in Eastern Europe. This past year it was in Ukraine and the year before was in Minsk Belarus. In addition to that, I’ve also gone to promotional open houses that AFA has done in numerous cities, including Fort Lauderdale and Baltimore. And I’ve also published three academic articles on the topic and a few blogs on Huffington Post, which you are free to check out if you search me on Huffington Post.

And for all of these reasons I consider myself to be an expert on International Dating. The collaboration with the website International Love Scout, is about challenging common perceptions that people had of this industry. And are two main perceptions that people have that we – meaning myself and international Love Scout would like to challenge. The first one is that women are simply poor and desperate gold diggers, dying to get out of their shithole countries.

And this is a common perception, that the only reason any women would be interested in dating foreign guys, is that their countries are so poor and terrible that this is one of the only ways that they could potentially leave. And so a lot of people point to the economic positions of women in various countries, and argue that because their position is lower that the industry is inherently exploitative, between wealthy men from the west.

And poorer women from places like Ukraine or Columbia in the Philippines. Also there are a lot of issues surrounding scams, the perception that women are getting involved in relationships with foreign guys through this industry, in order to either get a green card or get money sent to them – or be financially taken care of by a man. The other major misconception about this industry is that the men are either desperate and losers or abusive.

The idea that men are abusive largely comes from a few cases, where Mail Order Brides were murdered by their American husband. These cases created a lot of media attention, and in fact encourage the US Congress and President George W Bush to pass the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act, also known as IMBRA – as a part of the renewal of the violence against women act, or VAWA in 2005.

In reality most of these men are not desperate or abusive. They just happen to be older, most of the men are over 40 years old. And most of them are conservative in terms of their political identity. Most of them are divorced or have been previously married, mostly to American women or women in other Western countries before they join an agency.

And they are often looking for women who are more traditional in terms of their family values. And who are significantly younger, typically 10 to 15 years younger than themselves. And for whatever reason these men feel that they cannot find those type of women in their own local dating markets in the West. Alright, in terms of scams and how to get a green card right.

It’s actually a lot more complicated than I just marry someone automatically and I get a green card, I can divorce them and ha-ha-ha I’ve scammed you and now I have a green card. It’s actually a lot more complicated than that. It’s difficult to actually come across real statistics from the government about these marriages, about how often they work out and how often they become scams Etc.

Most Dating Agencies claim that these marriages between American men and foreign women, actually have an 80% success rate, that they only have a 20% divorce rate, which is a lot lower than the typical 50% divorce rate cited for American and American couples. However, this data has not been verified according to government statistics. This is all based on what agencies have gathered themselves.

My own research, I’ve seen three divorces out of a total of 12 couples. So around 75% success rate there so close to the 80% success rate, but that’s from my own observation. I will also say geographically most of the successful marriages begin in the Philippines with a woman from the Philippines. While I was on tour in the Philippines, twelve out of nineteen guys were engaged by the end of a weeklong tour. And out of those at least seven of those people actually did get married.

And out of that, all seven of them are still married today six years after that original tour in 2012. The most common form of scam in this industry is going to be online. And why do you say that because you haven’t met the person in reality right. And of course, it’s much easier to pretend to be someone else that you’re not online of course. Any legitimate dating or introduction agency will tell you never to send money to a person that you haven’t met in person.

And let me repeat that – never send money to a person that you have not met yet in real life. And any reputable agency will tell you that advice as well, you have to meet in person. I’ve talked to numerous gentleman, who talk about their relationships with Ukrainian or Russian or Colombian women, who that they actually have never met in person this is all taking place online.

For years’ men are spending Thousands of dollars sending women money, paying for translated letters and all in hopes of having this relationship. But what a lot of them are starting to realize is that it’s not really a relationship until you actually meet that individual in person. You can claim to have an online girlfriend, but for all you know that person could be working for someone else Etc.

My recommendation to any man interested in this industry is to go yourself in person and meet people, and never trust anything online entirely. Besides you can only tell so much about your attraction to a person based on a photo, you must establish that you have some sort of chemistry when you actually meet in person. Perhaps you have great conversations on the phone, but you might need and you might discover – well they smell kind of funny I don’t like their smell.

I don’t like their laugh their laughs are super-annoying; I can’t imagine living with that laugh for the rest of my life. So these are the kinds of things that you have to establish in person that you simply cannot establish online.

Some legitimate agencies that I can recommend to men interested in this industry. Definitely, Foreign Affair, they have allowed me access to all of their romance stores. They’ve been super open about what they do and their business model.

They are based in the United States, which means they are compliant with IMBRA regulations, which is a really important thing if you do actually meet someone through an agency, that doesn’t do all the things that IMBRA requires you will have a problem later on when you’re trying to bring that individual to the United States on a Visa. So highly recommend making sure that whatever agency you are using is IMBRA compliance.

I also observed a match maker named Natalie Cobol, and [unclear 10:24] Ukraine at matchmaking by Natalie. Also another legitimate service if you’re not interested in tours. The matchmaking group takes a more personalized approach to the dating industry. She not Natalie herself, looks through various profiles and chooses women based on what you’re interested in and what they’re interested in. She genuinely tries to make a match between people.

So depending if you’re looking to explore a new country and meet some new people, and you’re not quite sure about the industry I would recommend more of a romance tour. If you’re very serious about the industry and you know that you have your heart set on being married by the end of the year, perhaps a Matchmaker might get you where you need to go quicker.

There are numerous legitimate smaller agencies on the ground in Ukraine Columbia Philippines, but you do need to do your own research. You need to look at – what are people saying about these websites and what are people saying about these agencies. Have they been reported for fraudulent practices. This is all available online you can easily find reviews complaints Etc. about any company online.

Once again know your platform. Are you looking for someone to match you with someone, then Matchmaking use to be the appropriate way to go. If you’re looking for fun and an introduction to a new country, perhaps the romance tours might be a better platform for what you’re looking for. Finally, there are more high-end sites like dioli.com, where you cannot see actual profiles and you do have to go in person and use these matchmaking services.

So it depends on what you’re looking for the right route for you. And finally when you’re corresponding with someone you want to make sure that, that correspondence has a video component, so that you can make sure that you are actually chatting with the person that you think you’re chatting with. You always want to speak at least once or twice on the phone to hear their voice.

And these are just common sense things in order to avoid being scammed during the corresponding stage of international portrait. Alright some quick little ideas about International Marriage Broker Regulation outdoor IMBRA so that you’re aware as you prepare to go abroad. The US government as I pointed out pass this in 2005 as a larger part of the violence against women act.

And this is once again based on the narrative that the guys interested in this industry are inherently going to be abusive, and controlling that they’re looking for submissive women abroad. And as I pointed out high-profile murder cases brought this law into being. There was a young woman from Kyrgyzstan and a young woman from the Philippines who were both killed by their American husbands.

And because of this idea that these men are predators, who are looking for submissive foreign Brides that they can abuse over and over again, with certain restrictions against having a foreign wife or fiancé were introduced in IMBRA. So some of the restrictions that IMBRA requires meant to do is that you must meet a potential fiancé, a Visa candidate in person and it cannot just be an online meeting.

You actually have to meet in person before you can file for a K1 fiancé Visa to bring that individual here to US. Men are limited to two K1 fiancé Visa applications per their lifetime. And then must submit to background checks within the national sex offender registry, so that people can make sure that you are not married or you don’t have any sexual offenses on your record. In addition, this also is only applying to International Marriage Brokers.

What defines a company as an International Marriage Broker – according to this law, it means that the women are allowed to join the site for free and the men must pay. So that is the clear difference between something like a Foreign Affair and a match.com, at match.com both the men and the women pay and therefore it is not technically an international marriage broker, and therefore would not be covered under this act.

Alright so the marriage process, in terms of people’s concerns about scam marriages and fraudulent marriages for green cards. They occur very-very rarely, obviously fraudulent marriages do happen and is a part of the risk of any kind of marriage. However, they are relatively rare. It takes a while for someone to get their green card – it takes two years of marriage typically to get your green card.

And then it takes another few years of once having your green card to actually get citizenship. So in theory right, if someone if they really wanted to marry you just for a green card would have to put up with you for at least five years, which is a long time to be with someone that you absolutely have no feelings for or are disgusted by right.

So in real reality, it takes a long time and it’s an arduous process.

And you have to go through numerous interviews right – citizenship interviews are set up by our government to help people determine whether or not these are real relationships or not. And once again I cannot stress the importance of you must meet this person in person, it’s simply not enough to develop an online relationship with them and consider that is a serious relationship.

Are women in Industry gold diggers – the quick answer is of course no. And why, well there is a perception that in the west economy and economic decisions, and money and things like that should not be involved in our decision-making about love and intimacy. However, a famous sociologist named Vivian Salazar argue that the economy and intimacy are always together.

There are constant negotiations between people within various types of intimate relationships, that includes some sort of economic undertone. Not just in our marriages but in our friendships and in our family relationships. All relationships are a set of exchanges – and I think it’s really important for the Western Men to remember that, the Western notion that economic decisions don’t play a role in our romantic decisions.

And it is not realistic in a lot of other cultures and not the norm in other cultures. Alright, so we talk about really quickly the history of romance – and you will see quickly that marriage has typically been about property and alliances, not about love or sexual satisfaction or feelings. The idea of courtly love right and comes into being and the Renaissance period in Europe.

And basically at that time, love was thought to be something dangerous to marriage right. The marriage was meant to be this stable social institution for bearing children and for producing wealth. It had nothing to do with your individual self-satisfaction or your sexual satisfaction. Courtly love, love was considered to be so dangerous that it had to remain outside of the marriage.

But most people encourage people to engage in love relationships outside of their marital bonds. Finally, right in the early 80s and 1900, Western Notions of marrying for love and marrying for romance, marrying for individual and sexual satisfaction have increasingly become the norm. But I think it’s really important to remember that this is a relatively new and contemporary phenomenon to marry for love.

That many cultures still do not marry for love, and that this is a very Western modern contemporary way of looking at marriage and love. Just that so men will know economics will always play a role in any person’s decision to get married. Nobody wants to marry someone who is so poor that they can’t afford anything. Nobody wants that nobody wants to struggle if they have a choice.

So most women are not gold diggers however they just want some sort of basic financial stability. They want to know that they’re going to be able to live in a home and have food on the table, have warm clothes to where – they don’t need the Finer Things in life but they need the basic necessities of life. Within my own research all of the women that I interviewed talked a lot about stability.

The fact that there wasn’t a lot of stability in their local societies, and that they are really looking for someone who can provide that kind of financial stability. Finally, I just wanted to let everyone know that this is the first of a video series that I will be doing with International Love Scout. Look for number 2 shortly.