Monthly Archives: October 2014

A review of “90 Day Fiance”

90 Day Fiance is a new reality series on TLC that follows and documents the life of several couples during their engagement.  What makes this series unique is that the engaged couples consist of an American engaged to a foreigner.  The series derives its namesake from  visa regulations in the US mandating that an immigrant to the US on a fiance visa (aka K1 Visa) must marry within 90 days or he or she must leave the US.

The series just started its second season so I’m a little behind in discussing it.  All I have to say is that it’s about friggin’ time!  There’s been some documentaries done before about the foreign bride phenomenon but such documentaries tended to be poorly done, heavily slanted hack-jobs that tended to depict the American men as losers who couldn’t score a wife in his own country and the women as green card opportunists. It was degrading to say the least.

There was a documentary done by National Geographic some time ago that was pretty fair in its content, but it was only a one episode deal.  90 Day Fiance is probably the first series of its kind an fills a gaping void in a genre that is long overdue.

The first season of the series followed four couples:

Russ (age 27) and Paola (age 26)

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Russ met Paola in Colombia.  I found them to be a very cute looking couple and found Paola’s adjustment to life in rural Oklahoma to be amusing, but she took it in stride and handled potentially awkward situations with grace.  This amazed me considering how attractive she is (I would rate her an 8 on a scale of 1-10).  The important thing is she tries. American women with her looks wouldn’t be as graceful or accommodating.

At the age of 27, Russ is still living with his parents and has his bedroom decorated with mementos from his childhood which is cramping their style.  In all fairness, Russ’ job takes him away from home quite frequently so he may have seen little point in buying or renting his own place to only have it stay empty.  But Paola helps him see the light and they find their own place.  I sense a lot of good chemistry with this couple.

Alan (age 29) and Kirlyam (age 21)

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Alan met Kirylam in Brazil while he was doing missionary work for the Mormons, which leads me to believe that Kirylam is a convert.  Their religious views don’t permit sex before marriage but since Kirylam came from a rural area in Brazil that seemed quite conservative, the abstinence pledge didn’t put a huge strain on the relationship.  Alan and Kirylam is the couple that seems to illustrate how important it is to make sure you and your partner share the same values.

The possibility of Kirlyam becoming a model seems to open her eyes to new possibilities in the US but can make things rocky due to the Mormons’ adherence to the virtue of modesty.  One has to know what is truly important and hope that your partner feels the same way.

Mike (age 31) and Aziza (age 21)

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Mike is the stereotypical nice guy that you often think about in America.  He made contact with Aziza from Russia when he joined a website that allowed you to learn and practice foreign languages with native speakers while they learn and practice English from Americans and other English speakers.

I think that watching Mike and Aziza’s relationship in the series would be the most informative for American bride seekers.  One reason is that most of us can relate to Mike. He’s a nice guy that seems to have had difficulty with women in his native country and sought his romantic future overseas.  In his case he used learning a foreign language as an alibi for seeking a wife, but a bride seeker can simply say that he’s on vacation.  I highly recommend this tactic because it takes some of the pressure off of you and you won’t be to emotionally invested in success to make a bad decision by picking the wrong woman.  Also, your friends and colleagues won’t understand.  Despite Mike believing he has found a sure thing in Aziza, he still endures skepticism from his family and coworkers.  It’s as if they disapprove of a nice guy breaking rank and trying to find happiness.

Of all the foreign fiances featured in the series, it seems like Aziza had the hardest time fitting in and adapting to her new surroundings and serves as a powerful reminder that your foreign bride’s adjustments to her new country may be difficult and people may not understand.  One key scene showed Aziza and Mike at a barbecue at his family’s home.  She obviously wasn’t used to the type of food we eat in America on such occasions and became introverted causing some offense to her hosts and perhaps she didn’t know enough English to explain herself.  I thought Mike could have been more supportive in this case and it illustrates the adjustments that the couple would need to make.

It was remarkable that some principles of game that are taught by the pick-up artist community can still work, even on foreign girls.  Aziza is an introverted girl and it is apparent in the series that they haven’t had sex yet despite them sleeping together.  Aziza doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal, but Mike really wants it to happen.  It wasn’t until Aziza observed Mike socializing with some other girls during a night out that she was eager to sexually close the deal later that night.  In game parlance, Mike was demonstrating high value (DHV).  Mike’s social standing had improved in Aziza’s eyes and she became concerned that she might not be the only girl that has his attention.  Mike became more attractive to her as a result and she became in the mood for sex.  Mike seemed to have been clueless about this, but in case he wasn’t, this was well-played.

 Louis (age 33) and Aya (age 30)

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Like many men who seek foreign brides, Louis is divorced with children.  He met Aya in the Philippines who has never been married before and childless.  Throw in an overbearing ex-wife and the series writes itself.

This relationship seems to be the most likely to fail.  The fact that Louis has children from a previous marriage means that he will still be in contact with his ex-wife, but unfortunately the ex doesn’t know where the line is drawn because Louis hasn’t been clear about boundaries in regards to his new relationship.  Louis’ ex strikes me as bossy and meddling.  Plus it seems like she’s been hit with the ugly stick a little too hard.  I would rank her at about a 3 on a scale of 1-10.  It’s not clear who filed for divorce, but if it was Louis, then it was the smartest thing he’s ever done in his life.  Aya is definitely a step up in terms of attitude and looks.

Louis just needs to stick up for his new wife.  His ex has been sticking her nose into everything while claiming it’s all for the children’s sake which is BS, and Aya doesn’t look like she’ll tolerate it for too long.  Louis looks like he can’t keep his own life in order and he somehow has to negotiate all this drama?  This makes me very concerned about their future.  I really hope that foreign bride seekers with children watch Louis and Aya and take notes.

 Final Thoughts

In general, this is a great series.  It can be very informative for men looking overseas for a wife as well as inform and educate other viewers that international relationships and marriages are simply another lifestyle choice and not something to be scorned.  So these are huge pluses.

I also couldn’t help but notice how young these four couples are. And they seem to be very comparable in terms of attractiveness.  There aren’t any ugly guys trying to put a ring on a supermodel. Traditionally, men looking for foreign brides are typically forty years old, at least, and usually divorced.  If they find their wives, they are often 10-20 years younger than them which is well beyond a 3-5 year difference in age that we typically see with domestic relationships.  It’s probably due to the economics of this endeavor.  It costs more than you think and men usually need to be at least 40 to have the financial resources to attempt to find a foreign bride.  With so much money being invested, he typically aims for someone a little more beautiful than he can get back home in the US, which means she will probably be much younger than him since beauty and youth correlate.

But these four couples suggest that times are changing and that young guys are getting in on the action.  Louis may have been married before, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this was Mike, Russ, and Alan’s first real relationship.  If I were an American woman, this would make me very concerned about my prospects.  American men might be hopping overseas as soon as they come of age and not even give the American woman a chance.  Food for thought!

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A Review of Mordinson Marriage Agency

After a couple of years of being out of the foreign bride search, I finally went back abroad.  This time I went to the Mordinson Marriage Agency in Kharkov, Ukraine.

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To provide you with a little bit of history, I started looking for a foreign bride several years ago.  I used websites online that specialized in international dating.  Generally, this approach is well suited for the write many, visit one (WMVO) approach that I initially adopted.  I wasn’t quite the seasoned traveler so it seemed to be too overwhelming to date more than one girl at once overseas.  I made several trips and ended up becoming engaged to a Russian woman (RW) for some time, but the engagement fell apart.

It seemed that a new approach to foreign dating was required and I decided to give the agencies a shot.  Marriage Agencies or Introduction Agencies are services that assemble a database of ladies for you to write to.  The agency provides translation services, apartment rentals and function as de facto tour guides when you visit their city.  Most men are reluctant to use them because a lot of agencies turned out to be lucrative scams, and even if the agency was honest, men would lose a degree of freedom during their correspondence and meeting since personal information and the correspondence tends to be strictly controlled.

What is Mordinson Marriage Agency?

Mordinson has been in the marriage and introduction business since 1999.  Longevity is a good sign in this industry.  They also are a registered business in Ukraine and have contact information on their website (another good sign).  They also enjoy a good reputation among other bride seekers on the internet and that’s what matters the most; how clients rate the agency and would they recommend it.  So you should definitely do your research about any agency that you may be interested in using and get people’s opinions about it.

The agency is being run and managed by Michael Mordinson.  He was more than willing to answer any questions I might have had.  He personally meets the ladies in his office and interviews them before accepting them in his agency.  The ladies are notified that Mordinson is an international agency which means that the male clients are men that live in other countries, so the ladies are aware that they may need to move abroad if they get married at this agency.

Some of Mordinson’s services

Mordinson has a good reputation among foreign bride seekers on the internet but many believe that he’s too expensive for some reason.  Mordinson has an introduction package that covers a 10-day visit for $2,650 which many think is a little pricey.

In my opinion, you have to think about value.  The introduction package includes apartment rental, unlimited translations and dates, transportation to and from the airport and a cellphone that Michael provides you during your stay that you can use to call him at any time if you need anything or if you get lost.  The apartment is pretty spacious but lacks a kitchen.  But fortunately Kharkov is a pretty inexpensive city.  Meals were typically only a few dollars and I wasn’t spending more than $30 each day.  You will still need to cover your own airfare.  For an American, that price can be significant.

I think what sells the service is that there is no limit to how many ladies you can write to and date.  So to get good value, you would have to adopt the write many, visit many (WMVM) strategy.  I think the price also keeps many looky-loos and keyboard romeos from swamping the ladies with attention so the ladies won’t get too jaded and think that you’re a serious man. Also, when your in town, Michael will show you around and give you advice on how to impress the ladies and what they expect, so you might as well listen to him.  You’re paying for his advice too.  Michael seems to be a humble and energetic person and is good company to be with.

The best thing I could say about Mordinson was how fast the translations were completed.  Even fairly lengthy letters were translated within a day and there were often times where I would receive a lady’s reply withing 24 hours after I sent her a letter.  But your mileage may vary.  But it seems the main factor that affects the reply time is the lady herself.  The agency isn’t sitting on the letters and milking the subscription service. So if you ended up subscribing to the monthly translation service ($175) and write to several ladies, you will get your money’s worth!

I’ve always been puzzled about some bride-seekers attitudes about price.  Even if you’re thrifty in this bride search, it will cost more than you think.  But in order for an agency to stay in business, it has to make a profit so that the owner and employees can make a living.  Many men will agree to this sentiment (of course).  But they still complain about outrageous pricing and agencies ripping them off.  To be sure, there will be some sketchy agencies that do this, which is why research is important, but I think Mordinson has a good price structure for now.

The ladies of Mordinson

The agency is exclusive to the area, so they don’t have a large database of ladies which might be bad if you like a lot to choose from, but on the positive side of things, the agency interviews each girl personally and determines if she really wants to be married and is willing to marry a foreigner.  The ladies also don’t seem to be listed anywhere else that I can tell.  I’ve been to other websites looking for women from Kharkov, Ukraine and don’t recognize any Mordinson ladies.

Mordinson seems to have started out in professional photography and it shows.  The photos of the ladies are fantastic.  Some men have expressed skepticism about whether or not studio glamour shots end up being a misrepresentation of the ladies, but I’ve found that I’ve still been able to recognize the ladies in person.  You are just seeing the best of themselves in the photos and they are still quite beautiful when you meet them in person.  I think Mordinson knows what everybody else knows, that men judge women with their eyes and the agency that takes the best photos of their ladies will have the advantage in this market.

It’s not just appearance.  As near as I can tell, the women seem genuine.  The first meeting is usually at a cafe so it’s not an expensive date.  Even during second or third meetings, the ladies aren’t trying to take you to expensive places or shopping sprees.  They are very nice to be around.

What can you expect?

In my case, I took advantage of the unlimited correspondence and wrote to every lady that interested me.  I would say that I received about a 30% positive response.  This is much better than a typical man would get from dating in the US unless he was a pickup artist or an alpha male (celebrity, business man, professional athlete, etc).  I’m more of an average Joe so this seemed to be a good response for me.  Your mileage may vary.

Ultimately, I met about 6 ladies.  This seems to be an ideal amount but you can meet more of them.  There were others I was interested in meeting, but they cancelled.  This happens sometimes–you click with a girl and make plans to visit her, but on the 11th hour she gets sick or gets married or moves to that village with no name where all the grandmothers in Russia and Ukraine live that has no cell phone reception. In fairness, this is a risk when dating internationally, but this seems happen more when dealing with agencies and my trip was no exception.

You’ll spend the first few days of your trip meeting the ladies and use the rest of the trip build a relationship with who you like.  Of the six that I met, about three of them weren’t interested in another meeting with me.  One of them seemed like she really liked me but I couldn’t return her affections.  There ended up being one that seems to like me as much as I like her and I hope we can keep the relationship moving forward.

Basically, it seems if you have realistic expectations, things may turn out well for you, but nothing can be guaranteed since you’ll never know how the girls may feel about you because it’s only letters at first.  It might be worth doing a video conference with the ladies that reply to your introduction letter to see if there is any chemistry before you visit them.  I didn’t use this service, but it might improve your success rate.

Safety

I was in Kharkov during the end of September 2014 and everything seemed peaceful and quiet at this time.  The Russian-instigated rebellion that has been covered in the news has been confined to the southeast of the country while Kharkov is further north.  The American government has opposed Russian activity in the country and the Ukrainians like this so Americans seem to be well received.  Most people I talk to are in favor of a unified Ukraine.

The apartment and the Mordinson office are located about a 10-15 minute walk from the main square (Freedom Square) and is in a gated courtyard that requires a key to enter and it seems to be manned with a watchman.  You will also need a key code to get into the building and a separate key to enter the apartment so the apartment seems pretty safe with these three secure entry points.  I also recall hearing children playing in the playgrounds nearby so I thinK this is a pretty safe area.

It was odd that on the same day I left, a popular demonstration had pulled down the Lenin statue on Freedom Square.  I had walked past this statue several times during my visit and probably took the last pictures of this statue while it was still standing.  It’s a reminder that anything can happen when you travel abroad, but there’s obviously so much anti-Russian sentiment that there won’t be much meddling in this area of Ukraine for the foreseeable future.

Anti-Russian demonstrators pull down the Lenin statue on the same day that I left; September 28, 2014

Anti-Russian demonstrators pull down the Lenin statue on the same day that I left; September 28, 2014

I highly recommend the Mordinson Marriage Agency in Kharkov and stress for you to do your research and follow the news carefully when planning your trip to this region.

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Taylor Swift Syndrome

Taylor Swift: She’s beautiful, successful and completely opposed to dating, marriage and having children–At least for right now.

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In an interview for In Style magazine, Swift describes some of her ambitions and goals in life and they don’t include marriage or children.  The reasons why not sound errily familiar to why many American women won’t date and tie the knot, forcing a lot of ordinary men to seek love and marriage overseas.

Choice quotes from the interview:

  • “I’m too young to get married. Not agewise, but I know myself, so why try to meet someone right now when I know I’m too young to do something serious?”
  • ” [My] group of friends,” [which includes Lena Dunham, Lorde, Selena Gomez and Jaime King] are the most important thing to me right now.  They are so fun and know me and like me for who I actually am”
  • “The last couple of years have been about defining life on my own terms. Being on my own, prioritizing my girlfriends, my family and my music above everything else and trying things I never thought I’d try. It’s a really liberating and freeing time.”
  • “It would take an astonishing human for me to even consider getting back into a relationship. It would take something really, really, really, really different—a kind of a one-in-a-million person for me to face all that. I don’t have any kid of idea who I’d want to be with, because I don’t have any pieces missing from my life right now. I’m not looking for anything to complete. I think that’s a nice place to be.”

In other words, Swift’s career and her friends come first and not finding a husband to create a family with.  You go girl!  as some of the feminists would say.

Swift also has some unrealistic expectations.  According to her, it would take “an astonishing” human to get her to commit to any man.  Swift has socialized and dating some of the most eligible bachelors on Hollywood’s A-list and can’t find one to fit the bill?  I’m thinking the men aren’t Swift’s problem.  It’s her.

Swift and the American women that seek to emulate her will think that she’s only 24 years old and still has plenty of time to find Mr. Right.  She/we just want to get our careers established!

Except that at 24 years old, girls don’t have a lot of time.  In about five years time, Swift’s biological clock is going to start ticking–loudly!   And if her girlfriends like Selena Gomez and Jaime King start pairing off and settling down with men of their own, that ticking will become deafening!  This is a bad time to be in for a woman that’s still single because she will be approaching an age to where she will become less and less visible to men as the next generation of hot talented girls begin to make a name for themselves.  In the literature of pick-up artists, this stage of life for women is crudely described as hitting the wall.  She might as well think about buying a cat when she gets to this stage.

Taylor Swift is in a profession that is very image conscious so she is likely devoting a lot of time and resources to look good and take care of herself so that her appearance and desirability can be extended past her 30’s and into her 40’s and may perhaps snag the affections of a producer or executive of some sort.  And all the women in the country will applaud Swift for living happily ever after while sticking to her principles.

But most American women don’t have this luxury.  On average, they start to hit the wall at around age 30.  And just because they won’t date and commit to a man, doesn’t mean they won’t stop having sex.  A significant portion of these women will have children out of wedlock which will decrease their chances of snagging a husband even further.

Even if a select few of these women survive this gauntlet that nature brings upon her and emerges with her beauty in tact, she may still regret it.  Consider what Vivica Fox said in a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, much to Oprah’s surprise.

“Do you ever miss being a mother?” Oprah asks Fox in the above video.

“Of course,” she says. “That’s the biggest regret of my life, that I didn’t have a child.”

“I’ll never forget seeing Halle on the red carpet at the Essence [Black Women in Hollywood] Luncheon. She just had [her daughter] Nahla, and I said, ‘Wow she so beautiful.’ She said, ‘Vivica, if I knew then what I know now, I would’ve had five of them,'” Fox recalls. “She said, ‘The joy I see in her eyes is just like no other high that I’ve ever experienced.'”

It just doesn’t suck to be a women in this environment, but also a man who desires commitment and marriage. Because even if men have an advantage of being able to date younger women when they are older, those younger women will be influenced by the next generation of Taylor Swift, whoever she might be.

It’s all shaping up to be a lose-lose situation for everyone involved and it’s all because of who we choose as our role models.  Kirsten Dunst was openly mocked for her views on relationships while I hardly hear a peep about Taylor Swift’s opinions.  That’s enough for a man to try and seek greener pastures overseas.

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