Do's and Dont's
Do’s and Don’ts in your Pursuit of Miss Right
By: William Livingston

If you are reading this article, this means that you are serious about finding a foreign mate. If you are just starting to look, or even if you are engaged, please take these words to heart. This first section is not legal advice for you. It is advice that people usually ask in the beginning of this process or have mentioned that they wished that someone had told them about before they became seriously involved with the wrong special someone.

As one man to another--make sure that you really know what you are doing. Really look at the person you are interested in and look at the long-term investment in love and emotions that you are making. And don’t forget the long-term legal ramifications of what you are doing. There are both federal and state laws involved in the foreign marriage process and, in a worse case, subsequent divorce.

You can go overseas with pre-conceived notions of what you want and what you think. However, leave yourself the flexibility to adapt to reality as you experience it.

Think with your mind instead of--well, you know what I mean. You don’t have all that much time to make a decision as it is- so don’t make the decision lightly. Use your common sense in deciding on how things really are. And, if you feel that you have to go back a second time or even a third time to make sure, then do it. Don’t make the last day of your tour some kind of deadline.

Having found a foreign bride myself, and having gone through the fiancée visa process , and having traveling abroad in both Europe and Asia several times a year on consular business, I can tell you that there are certainly hundreds of thousands of attractive and intelligent women seeking marriage to foreigners outside of their culture. In addition, I have spoken to hundreds of men seeking foreign mates. The men come in all shapes, sizes, and ages and are searching for many different reasons. Some men want a woman just like their father married, a woman who stayed at home and was mistress of the house and mother of the children while the husband brought home the income needed to support the family. Others have had a bad marriage and want to start over fresh with a woman from another land. Still others are adventurous and are seeking an exotic mate. And sometimes--it just happens. You meet a foreign woman on business, sparks fly, and suddenly you need to know how to bring this woman home as your bride.

Remember, the women that you are meeting are searching, too. They have their own reasons for looking abroad, which are equally as valid as the men‘s. Some women want to have a better life in a foreign country; others have friends who have already found an ideal mate and are living in the United States or elsewhere. Some women are just seeking a non-alcoholic man who will treat them well and love them faithfully, putting the family unit first ahead of their own selfishness.

Whatever your reasons are for searching abroad, remember that the woman that you seek is a person, too. You need to get to know her as a person and to respect her as a person. This woman will be your life companion and perhaps the mother of your children. You have to treat her as your life partner and give her at least the same deference that you would give to a business partner even though she will be much more to you.

If you can't accomplish this simple matter of respecting your life mate, then you will be much better off saving your time, money, and emotions and go get yourself a dog or a cat to share your life with. I would say fish, but dogs are much better conversationalists.

Are you ready for the adventure? Then here are some tips…

I have seen some men head overseas with their checklists and comparison studies. It almost seems like they are at an automobile or boat expo engaged in purchasing a car or motor home. Kick the tires, take a little test drive, check the options, and then make the purchase. While this may work well for buying a car, it is not quite on point for winning and keeping the heart of a woman and having a lasting marriage. The late comedian, Sam Kinnison, pondered- “If love is forever, then why am I starting over every five years?”

When you buy your car or boat, you can treat it any way that you wish, neglect it, store it for months, and then just trade it in on a newer model a few years later. You can't do that with a wife--or maybe you can, but I just can't see the marriage lasting very long.

I have heard it said that marriage in America is similar to leasing a car, except the payments keep going on for years after you have stopped driving it. That may well be true. However, the car bears you no animosity for mistreatment or neglect, human beings do. And your car doesn't give you little cars that look up to you and call you "Daddy."

So I am telling you is to treat the lady as you expect to be treated. Get to know her and respect her wants and needs as well as your own. Marriage is supposed to be much more serious than buying a car or boat and is much more expensive financially and emotionally to finish. There is no trade-in allowance on your next “purchase.”

And, although we Americans seem to be “legends in our own minds,” there are now a lot of other men out there from other countries on the same quest that you are on. The world is not only a smaller place for us over in the United States; it is a smaller place for the rest of the world as well. There is growing competition coming from other countries such as France, Italy, England, and Scandinavia. And they have an advantage over you in that they are much closer to the target countries than we are. They can get there-wherever there is--quicker and easier than we can.

These countries are in many cases more geographically desirable to many Russian and Ukrainian women as the woman does not have to move so far away from her home, family and culture. And, if they are gaining a better reputation for being more honest or being better husbands than we do at some point in time, or having a more palatable foreign policy for that matter, guess who will walk away with the lady of their dreams as the international husband of choice?

There are a few misconceptions that need to be cleared up as they seem to be common problems in foreign relationships but are often ignored until it is too late.

While the Russian and Ukrainian women seem to prefer older men, the real question is HOW much older? Ten years can be very common and so is fifteen years. Twenty years is about the real limit where you can expect to have a decent lasting relationship. When you get up to a twenty-five or thirty year age difference, there are serious questions as to compatibility, sexuality, children, and a host of other issues. I arbitrarily set my limit at twenty years my junior and am married to a woman sixteen years younger. Women that I dated with more than a twenty year age difference showed a clear difference in the ability to relate to me or to have any common interests. Personally, I felt a little uncomfortable meeting the parents of prospective fiancées who were wearing diapers at the same time that I was.

Lack of communication is the number one cause of failure in relationships. If you can’t talk to each other, then how do you know you are truly compatible? When you are together 24/7 with no translator, then how can you interact if you can’t understand each other? The answer is that you just can’t do it. Unless you are prepared to invest in some English lessons for your fiancée, you are better served in concentrating on women with at least some English speaking ability.

Most countries do not have the same view toward equality that we do in the United States. In the former Soviet block, they do discriminate on the basis of creed color or national origin. People of diverse ethnicity are not preferred husbands in Russia, the advertising babble of the marriage agencies aside. This is not the same as in Colombia and other South American countries that are extremely diverse on ethnicity, due to their origins of culture being based in a mix of Conquistadores, Indians, and imported slaves.

In 99% of the relationships in Eastern Europe, the simple matter of holding arms or holding hands usually comes quickly-- many times on the first date. A kiss on the cheek can be frequently seen. In addition, a photograph taken together will frequently show the true feelings of the parties. If your so-called fiancée is not affectionate at all, then maybe she is not as in love as you are. Look at your pictures with her. If she is never smiling or looks like she is trying to stay away from some refuse or excrement when she is being held by you, you have problems.

Finally, sexual issues are usually explored early in a relationship and are normal when a couple is engage to be married because engagement usually brings a couple to sleep together based on the new status that the couple has given to each other. Virginity in some countries like the Philippines may be prized, but what is a divorced woman or a woman with children waiting for? In some of the greatest disasters that I have seen in the international marriage industry, the woman is singing some song and dance about saving sex for a wedding night. This is not normal in Russia. There may be a few exceptions such as members of ultra-religious sects or women who have had bad experiences but generally--and certainly in the dozen or so Russian and Ukrainian relationships that I have had--the woman is just as eager to take your measure in the bedroom as you are to take hers. It is her future as well.

Watch out for the scammers!!! They are out there--growing in their numbers and increasingly large in their negative effect on the foreign bride industry. I am addressing this issue in detail because a large percentage of my communications seem to be with men who are either about to be ripped off or who have just reduced their net worth.

Scammers come in two categories-those that you have not met in person and those that you have met in person.

Long Distance Scammers
Here’s how the long distance scammers usually work. You, the catch, place an ad on American Singles,, or some of the other web singles agencies that have open access to members. You suddenly get an introduction letter from a woman in Russia or Ukraine saying that she read your profile, liked your picture, and wants to correspond. Accompanying the letter are pictures of Angelique Jolie (my personal favorite), Heidi Klum, or someone of similar attributes and appearance. WOW!!! You are totally in awe. You definitely write back to her and begin to pour your soul out to this woman. The fish is now nibbling at the bait.

Over the course of a month or two or three, you correspond and allow your emotions to go into overdrive. The letters are pretty straightforward at first. You read about her low-paying job, her pride, her village, the internet café where she writes her letters to you, the lack of telephones in her tiny village on the edge of nowhere. You write back to her telling her of your life, your dreams, and your goals. If you read her letters closely, you find that she never answers your questions directly, only in generalities and never in a response to you. (Why should she? These are all pre-scripted letters.) The letters move on to talk about destiny and fate and how she treasures the communications, that she doesn’t know what is coming over her. Sooner or later will come her talking of the L word and her growing fantasies and nightly dreams about you (usually sexual) and how you two will have to meet soon. (The fish is really chewing on that bait now). Sometimes, you may actually get to speak to her on the telephone but in most cases, telephones do not seem to have been invented yet in her village. They are lucky to have flush toilets, I guess. (Telephones and cell phones are all over Russia these days and last time I checked, I needed a telephone line to check the internet.)

And now comes time to set the hook! Coincidently, her friend is working in a tour company and can get her a visa to come to America to be with you. She doesn’t know how to do this as she is not versed but her friend is. For the sum of $360.00 or some other fee, she can get her international passport and a US visa--some claim a fiancée visa to get married; others claim a tourist visa.

If you say that you want to meet her in Russia or Ukraine or wherever, she will tell you how dangerous it is with mafia, criminals and terrorists making her town seem like Fallujah.

She gives you the Western Union information to send her the money. If you don’t, she stops communicating. If you do, the small time scammers stop there. The big timers continue on with even more sexual fantasy talk and how she, in the Russian equivalent, is going to rock your world as soon as she gets off the plane in your home town. The “woman” then gives you flight information for a flight from her hometown to you and a ticket price. In addition, she will need about $1000.00 in “travel money.” Yes-- Western Union will be fine, thank you.

I know of several men who have done all of this crap. Men who have been waiting at the airport with friends and family members for hours for their true love to arrive on the promised flight and NEVER--not one time-- has the woman ever walked off that airplane to meet her destiny.

Sometimes, when the woman doesn’t arrive, she calls in tears saying that she is in custody, that the customs service of her country has arrested her and seized her money (your money) and that, unless you immediately wire her $1000.00, she will be kept in custody and never get to meet you. Yes-- Western Union will be fine, thank you.

If this is your relationship, you do not need my help. You should seek psychiatric help if you actually send her the money. Go meet her in her country. It costs about the same.

In-Country Scammers
The second category of scammer is the one that you meet on one of those romance tours or bride searches to Russia or Ukraine. Perhaps you meet this girl at a party or at an agency. Usually she starts having you spend money on her right away. Expensive restaurants, purses and perfume are just the beginning. Suddenly everybody in her family has lost their home or needs surgery or a vacation in the Bahamas and Make A Wish Foundation isn’t answering their calls. So you are their last hope. At this point it would be wise to terminate the relationship and notify the agency. Some agencies, like Majestic, immediately remove the woman from their lists. In any event, DON’T give money for those sick aunts, grandmothers and nieces.
Supporting a girlfriend with a small monthly stipend or paying for English lessons is one thing; sending large sums of money for questionable expenses is another. KEEP IN MIND that the Russian medical system is very inexpensive and the doctors are competent even though they are only paid about $75.00 per month. A woman that constantly needs money for sick relatives, sick pets, or for home repairs is probably scamming you. How would she make it without you being in the picture? Answer--she would have to work for it.And why does she need her house repaired or a new stove or refrigerator if she is going to be living with you in the United States?

Are you going to be the show-off rich American fool who buys the lady a new flat or pays $1,000.00 for an operation that only costs $100.00? Or paying $3000 for unnecessary documents? Believe me--you are only buying yourself contempt, and requests for even more money to be sent on even more outlandish requests. New Italian designer outfits for job searches, health club memberships, transportation for Grandma, breast implants so she can look more beautiful for you…--so who is squeezing those boobs now, Champ, or is that “chump?”

She is not a scammer, if…
Keep in mind that all requests for money are not from women trying to hit you up for a few dollars. A woman who asks you for roundtrip cab fare because she came out to see you at your invitation is not scamming you. It is your nickel. A woman who is invited by you to go to dinner in ANY country is expecting for you to pay for transportation and to go out to a nice restaurant. For all you big spenders out there, McDonalds doesn’t cut it for a first date, or any date for that matter. Can you find someone in the US to go to McDonalds with you on a date? If yes, you better marry her right now and quit fooling around on a quixotic hunt. You have to pay to play. For a woman to insist on a decent restaurant for a date is certainly not someone who is gold-digging you.

Example- a man invited a woman to dinner in St. Petersburg He went to a low-budget fast-food restaurant and was shocked when the woman terminated their date at the restaurant door. She told him straight out that she was expecting to go out to a restaurant at least at the level that a Russian date would take her to. Not the most expensive place in town but at least the same level. And since most Russian men do not have the purchasing power that we do, that is not asking for very much. She got her first impression of a future life with this man from his initial date plans and elected not to continue wasting either of their time. A cheapskate is a cheapskate no matter what country he is from.
You need to remember that human nature is the same in every country and those cultural differences do not explain away everything that may come up in a new relationship. Cultural differences do not excuse questions of human nature. Those issues are the same in any country. If something dosen’t feel right to you, it probably isn't right to begin with. And the girl sees things the same way. If something does not seem right about the prospective husband, then the girl will probably move on to someone who seems right.

If the girl that you are interested in has to keep explaining things away or has too many problems to deal with, then maybe you should find someone with much less baggage. You can find partners with excessive baggage or personal problems here in the United States--you do not have to go abroad to find the exact same thing that you really should try to avoid.

If a woman has already been to the US or somewhere else as a fiancée a couple of times or so, then you should look at her much more critically than a woman who has never been over here. The story that the five other guys before you were not any good but you are somehow different and that this time she is really, REALLY in love does not really hold much water when you look at the situation. You have only her word that she decided to go back home and not that the all the men found her lacking in some serious aspect in the relationships.

A girl that will not take you to her home or to meet her family is a definite question mark. Why can’t you go visit her in her home? And she won’t cook dinner for you? She doesn’t want you to meet the future step-children? Perhaps Sergey the hidden boyfriend lives there and shares her bed when she is not at the hotel with you. No home visits are definite warning signs.

And how about her Mom and Dad? Have you been able to meet them? It is one thing if the parents live two thousand miles away. But what if they live only an hour away? Or twenty minutes? Family units are close in most other countries and they want to see the new prospective American member of the family. Some parents feel that they must give their consent to the union even if their child is well past the age of majority. For example, my former Russian fiancée had her mother travel fourteen hours by train to meet me.


A girl with family members, such as parents or siblings, already living in the US may be motivated by reasons other than love. I point my finger at the Philippines as a prime example, although not the only one. It seems that every family in Manila is tracking the preference categories for immigration of relatives to the US and knows to the exact day when the family will be able to emigrate to the promised land--where the floors are not made of dirt and the government hands out free money.

Many of these “simple” people know a hell of a lot more about US immigration law than I do. And they sure do hate to leave anyone behind. Since there are already so many aliens from that country over in the United States and since they have petitioned for every eligible family member, the waiting period for the Philippines is from twelve to twenty-two years in some of the family preference categories. That means that some of the nieces and nephews will reach the magic age of twenty-one years and will be unable to emigrate with their parents and will have to wait another eight years or longer after the rest of the family emigrates. So-- another way must be found to bring them to America and the easiest way is to marry a US citizen. Trust me--in about twenty years, the Philippines will be completely depopulated as they all emigrate to the United States on their family petitions.

Marriage to a US citizen gives immediate status to emigrate so a US citizen husband is like hitting the lottery. Preferably a US citizen with some money who can file additional affidavits of support for the rest of her family when their old visa petition finally comes up down the road. This is something to think about when determining true love.

A girl or guy that seems to spend more time wanting to discuss your finances than your life and family may not really be interested in you as a person. Russian women who act like loan officers or IRS auditors are definitely looking for something other than love.

Many foreign women join a marriage agency because they are motivated to marry a foreigner. They have already made up their minds as to which road they intend to travel. And when you arrive on a marriage tour, you are expected to be equally motivated. But then--you also need to be cautious. Two opposite views all at the same time. Hopefully, there will not be too many misunderstandings between these two motivated groups.

Although women in Thailand will sometimes wait for years for their chosen mate, many Russian women have told me of the unwritten "Rule of 180."

Basically the Rule of 180 works like this--you, the man, have six months (180 days) after the first contact via mail, telephone, etc. to have made plans to come meet your chosen woman. If you haven't done so, the woman will feel free to move on towards cultivating another man who will come to meet them.
This rather arbitrary rule embodies the motivation on the part of the Russian women to marry and not waste time in an endless series of "pen pals"(which is what probably 90% of the men that begin foreign relationships end up doing-talking the talk but not walking the walk).

In addition, another aspect of the Rule of 180 is that, after the meeting and continued mutual attraction, the man has six months (180 days) to propose marriage or the woman feels free to attempt to find another mate. Again, this rule goes to the motivation of the parties and the lack of desire on the part of the woman to be a pen pal or part-time girlfriend or mistress for years and finally ending up with nothing but gray hair and stale memories.

If you are searching abroad, you need to take this limited amount of time into account and just hope that you have made the right choice.

With a divorce rate of over 50% in the United States, marriage is almost like throwing darts so you really can't do any worse searching overseas.

Thus, it really comes down to a matter of trust--and a little bit of luck. I know many American men (and some American women, as well) that are very happy with their choice in a foreign mate. I also know of several men and women that are unhappy and they knew that their relationship did not feel right from the beginning but they decided to go forward anyway. This road has only one end and that is in the Divorce Court.

Some of the reasons given by the unhappy folks for going forward with the marriage are ridiculous- " I had too much of a financial investment in this woman to not marry her." If this were a stock market transaction instead of a woman, would he have hesitated in dumping her?

"I needed to rescue this woman from poverty and give her a good life." Oh PLEASE- save your money and go join the Salvation Army, there are plenty of people needing rescuing locally. I really don't have much patience with the "white knights" going forth on their crusade to "rescue" these women from their home countries. I note that these "white knights" only want to rescue the most beautiful of these damsels in distress without looking at the actual need to be "rescued."

In addition, who are we to decide that the women need our rescuing? Many countries may have a tougher lifestyle that we do but their citizenry is not even close to the United Nations sending them relief packages. Legends in our own naïve little minds.

“If I didn’t marry her right then and there, she would not have waited for me and she would have found somebody else to marry." (Have we graduated from high school yet? If she can't wait for a while, then it doesn’t look like real love then, does it? And, if she can't wait for you in her foreign country, what makes you think she is going to stay around very long when she gets over to the United States if she doesn’t really love you?) You know--one of my former Russian girlfriends tried to pull that line on me. And yes-she did find someone else. It took her almost two years and several rejections from me of her amended offers for marriage for her to do it.

“She agreed with me that children were not important to her and that she would abide with my wishes not to have any children in our marriage. Then after she got here she dumped me for another guy who wanted children.” Biology takes over- a fertile woman with no children is not going to agree to a sterile relationship. This is the basic human urge to reproduce.
Sooner or later, natural urges will come into play. Come on, get a clue!! She is going to have that baby somehow. She will agree with you at first, hoping to persuade you later that you should have a child with her. If she does not have that baby with you, then she will have one with her next husband after she fails to talk you into it. You need to set yourself up for success, not for failure.

So, for you fifty-something guys out there seeking to marry a college kid without children, rest assured, there is a baby in the future. Maybe not in your future, but definitely in hers. So-- you would be better off spending your time looking for a thirty-something lady, preferably with a child, and set yourself up for a successful, lasting relationship.

Watch out for women that seem to have excessive problems. You should not have to carry the load for her. Problems showing up in her home country in the early going will definitely mean problems with you in the United States. There are many, many women available that do not have problems for you to shoulder the load and incur the expense that solving those problems will entail. You are seeking a woman to spend the rest of your life with; it is a lot easier to do that when she does not arrive as damaged goods. Besides--why travel to find damaged goods? They are all over your town and all you have to do is go to your local bar to start looking. You don’t even have to pay for airfare--or even cab fare for that matter.

Make lying a terminal offence in the relationship. Can you really trust someone who has lied to you? Why should you? This is a tremendous breach of trust. If she is lying over issues in the early going of the relationship, how can you trust her over the long haul? I have seen too many guys who give a second chance to a total liar end up on the really short end of the stick just a few months later when she started to lie about other more important things. Leopards do not change their spots and snakes do not change their bite just because you came along.
And one other thing- your girlfriend is not entitled to due process and a jury trial if you catch her misrepresenting herself or otherwise being less than truthful. She doesn’t get to tell you--If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit. If it doesn’t seem right, MOVE ON.

DON’T send money for the girl to use Russian tour agencies with connections at the embassy to get that magic tourist visa. The only thing magic about it will be how quickly your money magically disappears along with the girl of your dreams.

I know of a couple men who actually paid for fiancées to go to graduate school. Keep in mind that most European educations are low or no-cost. But the men paid for the girl to live comfortably without working while studying. I mean REALLY comfortably since a dollar goes a long way overseas. They decided to continue the relationships for just a couple more years while their darling finished her degree at her home.
When the graduation day came, guess who did not get invited to the graduation? The invitation must have been lost in the international mails somewhere but the regular boyfriend from her hometown definitely got invited. The “Dear John” letters that were sent out a few weeks later definitely were received by our heroes.

One gentleman told me that he had received free ski lessons when he vacationed with his girlfriend the semester before her graduation. Coincidently, it turned out that the ski instructor was her live-in boyfriend who would move out every time a day or two before the sugar daddy arrived. Looking on the bright side-at least he got something back for all of his money spent in a two-year relationship.

Some financial support is OK but just remember that the woman got along just fine before you came along. If you come across as the meal ticket, then that is what you will be. Don’t try to impress her with your material things and spend money on her like a drunken sailor. You would not do it here in the United States so why do it on a short visit to another country? You will foster unreasonable expectations that may haunt you later.

The last thing in this article that I want to address is the search for the perfect “10”. Many of the guys on these tours are only looking to date what you would call “arm candy.” Only the most beautiful need apply. Now, we all know that looks and attraction are important but so is personality, sense of humor, intelligence, and emotional balance. I would also add English ability. There was a movie called “10” a few years ago. The actress was hot!!!! But she was also brain dead. So a 10 in looks could be a 2 or 3 in the other categories and average out to a 4 overall. So you want to marry a 4? Besides, arm candy is arm candy in any country. You think nobody ever noticed her looks all these years until you came along?

A girl who is a 7 in looks but a 10 in the other categories rates out as a 9+. Come NFL draft day, who gets picked first- a receiver who runs like the wind but can’t catch a cold or the slower guy that can catch anything within ten yards of him each and every time? The draft day criteria is best all-around athlete by position.

So if you are going overseas looking for a likely candidate and you find a 7 that speaks perfect English, can run the 40 in under 4.1 seconds and has good hands, draft her.

You have the opportunity to make yourself very, very happy or very, very sad. The ultimate result of your experience is going to be up to you.

I’ll close this article with a resource that should help you in your pursuit of Miss Right. Try this scoring system that I set up over the years of watching couples develop overseas. I am not a psychologist but this is as good a system as any if you need to narrow your field of search. I have seen systems as complex as an individual using psychiatric consultants who preparing a series of letters sent to over two hundred women with the replies analyzed and rated to narrow the field to five candidates to meet in person, to one as simple and moronic as walking up to a table of women at a cocktail party with a translator and asking for a volunteer to get married and get a green card. The man with the psychiatric system ended up with his number one choice anyway, so who is to say what works. Good luck!!!!

(NOT in order of importance)

How well does she fit in to your personal idea of beauty?
(Some factors are height, weight, age, sexual compatibility, etc.)

English Ability-
Can she communicate well enough to understand you?

Communication –
Does she have the desire to talk to you regardless of her English level?

This includes life experience. Is she well-rounded and informed?

Sense of Humor-
Can you two joke together and laugh together?

Are your goals for children compatible?

Common interests-
What common things do you already enjoy?

Common Goals-
What are your mutual dreams of a future?

Emotional Balance-
Is she overly emotional or easily angered or depressed?

Personal Compatibility-
How well do you two just “hang out” together?

Other Categories that you may want to add-
Smoking, Drinking

Integrity- I recommend a zero rating in all categories if no integrity. I am referring to a lack of integrity of any kind after you have met.

About the Author:

William Livingston is an immigration attorney available for consultation at: Livingston & Associates.
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