101 advice on Russian women: What Russian ladies are looking for? What age difference is acceptable? Why she will be interested in YOU ? Russian female names, wedding protocol, how dating agencies operate, life stories AND MORE!

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So you are looking for a Russian wife?

Whatever the reasons for this obviously unconventional decision, you'd better learn a bit before you start. 

You should clearly understand all stages you have to go through to marry a Russian woman, and create your own strategy to ensure success. 

Think ahead and be guided by the old truth: to find the right partner you must be the right partner yourself.

These articles briefly describe some practical rules that will simplify and improve your personal adventure.

The advice below is based on personal experiences of quite a few couples who met this way, and now are successfully married. Try to choose the ways that are acceptable for you - do not think of the techniques described as hard-and-fast, but rather as a guide.


Forget all the stories that dating agencies are spreading about marrying a Russian girl. Yes, you can find a woman 30 years younger, and even can marry her, but your marriage will rarely last for more than 2 years - the necessary time for receiving a Green Card.

The majority of Russian women seeking western men are NOT desperate to find foreign husbands or immigrate from Russia. Those women are usually well educated, attractive and smart. They are not after the Green Card or passports as you might think. They seek compatible partners.

Normally, women from Russia are looking for healthy, financially secure, attractive guys. Very few of them (if any!) are dreaming to get married to homeless, ugly men with bad character and health problems who struggle with everyday survival. Personally, I've never in my life met such an example but I assume that crazy individuals may exist.

If 10-15 years ago any foreigner could easily find in Russia a beautiful young intelligent lady 30 years younger than him, who was eager to become his wife, those times have passed forever.

If you have read some "happily ever after" stories that took place more than 5 years ago, those rules are no longer working: the world is changing fast, and today's Russia is nothing like you have seen in the movies of the times of the Cold War. Remember, Perestroika in Russia started in 1985, that was 20 years ago!

You may agree with this fact, or disagree, or fight against of it, but it won't change the reality: your foreign passport alone does not ensure your success with Russian ladies.

What is the most important for Russian ladies?

Many websites will tell you the same thing that I am going to say now: SECURITY and LOVE.

Those two things are the most important. I have read thousands of women's forms with requirements to a potential partner, and almost all of them say: "I want my future husband to love and understand me."

The most popular requirement you will see in women's questionnaires is "financially secure". In short, it means, you must have at least a stable job and be able to provide for a family of 3.

You don't have to have a six-figure annual income. Having a stable job is good enough; but the better your financial situation, the easier you will make contacts with nice Russian ladies, and the less hassle you will get from the USCIS (former INS) in bringing your fiancée into the country.

IN NO WAY DOES THIS MEAN THAT RUSSIAN WOMEN ARE AFTER YOUR MONEY. Definitely not! However, women have suffered so much in Russia with everyday surviving, they want to make sure it never happens to them and their families again. A Russian wife will stick with you through any turn of fortune, whether you go bankrupt or hit a jackpot. But to consider you a viable option, she must be confident that you are not an unemployed hobo.

Your good financial standing may impress women at first, but then the other factors will count: you must develop a relationship that works, and this involves mostly emotional factors. I know a case where a woman refused a guy with a 500K income in favor of an ordinary teacher, because she liked him more personally. From the sidelines it may seem stupid, but I would probably do the same if I were her.

Your wealth or handsome appearance may possibly even have a negative effect. I know cases where a woman did not try to pursue an acquaintance to a rich, good-looking guy who was highly interested in her just because she didn't consider herself good enough. He seemed too good to be true to her, and this made her feel insecure.

Love for Russian women includes commitment. Since long distance relationships don't make much sense without possibility of being together in the future, the women need assurance you are ready to offer this commitment. If you are not looking for a marriage partner, Russian ladies won't take you seriously. They are not looking for pen pals.

Women in Russia grow wise at young age, and having relationship with foreign men of their own age is like having affair with a teenager.


What age difference is acceptable for Russian ladies?

5-15 years difference is perfectly normal. I personally know a few couples who married under these conditions. The age difference between spouses I know is 9, 10, 12, 13 and 18 years.  They are all women who have not been married previously, and did not have children. The age difference between my husband and I is 12.5 years.

Many of my clients said they were surprised at receiving letters from attractive professional women (doctors, economists, accountants) 10-15 years younger than themselves. In the USA., this age gap is beyond reality. In your search for a Russian wife, it is not. I think one of the reasons is that women in Russia grow wise at a younger age, and having a relationship with a foreign man of their own age is like having affair with a teenager. Difficulties in life make people thoughtful, the same way that age does. The age difference also adds to their feeling of security.

On the other hand, you must not have unrealistic expectations. If you are in your late 50's or 60's, you must not expect to find a 20-year old single girl. Many wonderful, attractive ladies in their late 30s or 40s will be eager to make your acquaintance; half of marriage agencies' female clients belong to this age group, and you won't have problems with attracting their attention. This is realistic.

In special cases if you are very good looking, or very intelligent/rich/famous, you can make it with an age difference of 20 years or more. But it will be an exception, not the rule.

If your aim is a lifetime commitment, be sure to take age issues into consideration. Dating agencies love to tell stories about Russian ladies preferring much older husbands, and that it won't affect your marriage; but that's exactly what these tales are - stories.

I believe you are big enough to face reality and resist the temptation to pursue myths. Be lead by common sense, and don't let yourself be fooled by young entrepreneurs from the matrimonial industry.

Virtually all women will not have a problem with age difference up to 10 years, and many find acceptable age difference up to 15 years, a few will be OK with age difference up to 20 years. But anything beyond this will put you on a very thin ice, and you are likely to encounter problems in your search.

I must also say that acceptable age difference for Russian women is plummeting with every year. The more foreign men seek partners in Russia, the better choice women have, the higher their requirements become.

Young girls tend to be less worried about difference in age than older women: a girl of 20 years old is normally interested in men up to 45, whilst a woman of 40 years old will usually limit her search to men under 55. Thus, if you are 48, a girl of 27 years old may consider you a suitable candidate and a girl of 35 may decide you are too old for her.

The thing is, women in Russia want to have family and children real bad, and this is the main reason pushing them to seek husbands elsewhere, since in Russia there is officially only 88 males for 100 females (see Statistics). According to Russian cultural paradigm, a woman should be married with children; being single is a shame. Any woman who is unmarried at the age of 22 is considered as "old maid"

Women 22-33 want to start family as soon as possible. The pick of the society's pressure on the woman to get married is at the age of 27; after that her family and friends start thinking she will never get married and give up on her; she herself also starts getting used to the idea she will never have her own family. Once women become content with the idea of never getting married, their requirements to a prospective partner soar. Just getting married to avoid the shame of being single is already not enough for them.


A good idea is to let women contact you directly. In this case you receive information "from the first hands", unedited, unrestricted.


Make the right choice

First of all, you must understand that each Russian woman has her own character and what is perfect for one won't work for another.

You should decide for yourself what you are looking for in a woman, which personal qualities are a must and what you will never accept. What kind of person would you like to meet - a partygoer, a sportswoman, a career maker, a housewife? Must she be an introvert or an extrovert? Try to imagine her behavior in different situations. Think about the person you will feel comfortable with. You must have her image in your mind.

When you look through catalogues, pay special attention to women's professions. The profession she chose may say a lot about her. People with the same occupation usually have many things in common. Also look at her choice of education - this is what she chose herself. Keep in mind that her current job may simply be a result of circumstances. 

(For example, medical doctors are paid in Russia by the government, their salaries are very low, and paid with delays; therefore it is not unusual for a qualified medical doctor to work in sales where salaries are higher and paid on time. Foreigners are usually amazed by highly educated women working in positions that seem to be too low for their education; in Russia, it is quite a usual thing.)

Decide from the beginning about the age, educational level and location of your future mate.

Be wary if your age difference is more than 20 years, or the woman's interests are completely different from yours. Don't fool yourself, even if it works out, you may (actually, 99% of the time you will) face problems in the future. I believe that most problems with Russian-foreign marriages originate with the man's internal desire to believe the myths - they don't face the realities. At the very least, you must have something in common that will cement your marriage. In particular, it is NOT true that Russian women prefer much older husbands (See Myth 6 for details).

Younger girls usually don't have serious intentions of finding a husband abroad - for them, it's mostly a game. She may fall in love with a Russian guy the day before you come to visit her. Women starting from about 25 years of age are more serious, especially if they have a child. 

Russian-based agencies vs. foreign-based

As a rule, the less you pay for the contact with women, the higher the chance that the database is out of date or inaccurate. Infamous scams usually originate from large personals where for a small fee one can contact any member of the site and where anyone is invited to place a free ad. Free personals and low-cost services are full of scammers.

The best option is specialized Russian dating agencies and they must be foreign-based. There are a few quality Russian-based agencies but for each of them there are hundreds operations that will take your money and give nothing in return. With an agency based in a first-world country, you have much better chance of receiving the service that was promised.

It is easy to find western-based agencies on the Internet; just put something like "Russian brides", "Russian women" or "Russian girls" in the search box and you will get millions related web pages in the results. Look through the sites on the first pages of the search results; they will be the once that are successful, and if the agency is successful, they are professional and your chances of a personal success are higher, too.

The longer the agency works in the business, the better. Currently dating industry attracts many flight-by-night operators that start dating sites hoping to get rich quick. When it does not happen, they drop out of business leaving their customers with nothing.

Look also for anti-scam associations, signs of Better Business Bureau, or Trust-E seal. Check the authentity of the seal: does it really belong to this company (for example, some companies display BBB seal of their credit card provider)? In anti-scam associations, check if the agency is listed with the anti-scam site; many scam agencies post anti-scam icons on their sites to mislead their possible victims; they have never been accepted in the anti-scam programs.

If you are surfing Internet and often see references to a particular dating site, this will be the sign that the site is trustworthy. If you were directed to the site through an ad you placed or responded to in online personals, this will be the indication that the site is doubtful: respectable dating sites avoid such practice.

Once you have located a dating site you fancy, paste its name into a search engine (use quotation marks around the official name of the site) and see what comes up. If you find references to the agency on hundreds other sites, you will know it is not a flight-by-night operation.

You can find sites of local Russian marriage agencies on the Web, too. Many of them will let you contact women for free, with no payment at all or buying only addresses of the women who positively responded to your first letter. However, some of them may require payment for correspondence at a later stage.

The advantage of Russian-based agencies is that they are close to their clients, and know all of them personally. At the same time, it's difficult to check if the agency is trustworthy and not one of the "scam" agencies duplicating themselves every week with a new address. Even having the phone number and postal address of the agency as featured on their contact page cannot insure you against scammers. Using an unknown Russian-based agency is always a gamble.

In some cases dealing with real Russian-based agencies may be a heartbreaking experience. Often Russian-based agencies ask girls to respond to all letters just to get money from men, even if a lady doesn't like the guy.

I was a member of one of them, and the agency asked me to invite a guy I did not like but who liked me very much to come to Russia. They said, "You will be doing him a favor, we will find him a wife anyway once he is here." I refused to help in such an arrangement, but I am not sure the guy did not receive an invitation from "me". At the same time the agency was very strict in featuring women's data - you had to provide identification and verify your address and phone number before they accepted you.

Agencies may use a letter that a woman wrote to one of her correspondents and send this respond to all her applicants without her knowledge. This type of letters is known as a 'scam' letter. All the same, the girls are real, and truly want to find husbands.

When you write to a lady from one of the Russian-based agencies, ask her for a phone number and street address in the very first letter, and do it somewhere in the middle of your message, so the agency will not be able to cut this phrase out. You may also mention that you would love to receive her hand-written letter with photos. If she disregards this message, and you don't receive anything for more than 6 weeks, it may be an agency scam or she is not really interested in you.

The majority of agencies are genuinely assisting men in their search, and they do their best to prevent such cases. They require you to report scammers or any other attempt of receiving money, and delete data of those girls from their database.  

Anyway, there are MUCH MORE sincere genuine Russian women than scammers. Just do not believe girls who fall in love with you within a few letters.

The advantage of Western-based agencies is that they are able to accumulate numerous applications from women, and offer you a good choice. At the same time, however, they may fail to check the submitted data, and their databases grow too large to be handled properly, with many women posted who are already unavailable. It is not always the agency's fault; women often neglect to inform them when they already met somebody. When you use Western based agencies, the best chance you will have with ladies who were active on the site not longer than 1 month ago (if the site provides a facility to search by last activity) or ladies whose profiles were published not later than 3 months ago (if the site only provides search by the date of publication).

The thing is, after a lady has been featured by an Internet agency, she may well receive 10-15 letters a day. Your chance to attract her attention after many months, when she has already exchanged quite a few letters with men, are less than if she has just started her search.  

Some more precautions: According a Russian photographer, there are companies in the West that run scam agencies, and make professional shootings in Russia. Models are invited to pose, with 3-5 sets of pictures and videos of each girl done. They use professional make-up and changes of clothing, so pictures look different.

PLEASE UNDERSTAND ME CORRECTLY. I am not trying to persuade you to use western agencies instead of local ones, or vise versa, or against the use of agencies in general. Both serve their purpose, and without agencies men and women would struggle to find each other. You simply must be aware of the facts and the techniques that dishonest people use playing on your genuine desire to find a soul mate. Better to take precautions than end up heartbroken.

(Click here for the list of reliable dating services introducing Russian women seeking partners.)

The best advice is: when you deal with agencies, do not fall for pretty pictures. Very often women with poor quality photos are more beautiful in real life. Look deep inside. Don't judge a book by it's cover!

A good idea is to let women contact you directly, especially if you are a bit shy or afraid of rejection. In this case you receive information "first hand" - unedited, unrestricted, and - what's most important - from women who are already interested in you.

Place your personal ad - this will let you to test the waters. Many agencies will accept your personal info for distribution to their clients for free, the others will ask a modest fee.  

You must be aware of the free listings REAL costs though: often you will be required to pay for the letters that arrive in response to your ad; and the costs may be MUCH higher than if you initially paid for the listing. Most services offering free listings charge $8-12 for sending or receiving each letter, which means you will have to pay a small fortune for this "free" service at the end of the day. Actually, the only reason for anything free is to get some money from you later. Thus, sending and receiving only 10 letters back and forth would already set you back $160. How many letters you think is enough to make sure you met the right woman for YOU? Count the forthcoming costs BEFORE using "free" listings. Check if the site is going to charge you for each letter sent and received, or if you can pay a once-off fee for the contact.

If you are serious about finding a Russian wife, spend more time when choosing. Make sure you have a broad choice. (If you are not serious, don't start at all.) It's the least costly stage, and a wrong choice may plunge you into huge expenses. Imagine yourself coming back from Russia after you found out that the woman you met is a completely different person than she was in her letters. Use all possible ways of searching: agencies, personal ads, gentlemen's catalogues. Some will work for you better than the others but you never know until you try which is the best for YOU. Some services offer combined packages. 

If you are just thinking about seeking a Russian bride, think twice. It's a time, money and energy consuming venture.


Since email is so easy to send, there are many men that send emails to dozens girls at once and women grow tired of receiving exciting letters that stop after a couple of email exchanges. If you want to impress a woman, send her a "real" letter.


Your correspondence

Those days most Russian women have access to the Internet and email although they may not own a computer. Usually women use Internet cafes to access their email; they are in abundance in Eastern Europe.

Since email is so easy to send, there are many men that send emails to dozens girls at once and women grow tired of receiving exciting letters that stop after a couple of email exchanges.

If you want to impress a woman, send her a "real" letter.

A letter send by airmail will take about 2-3 weeks to reach its destination in Russia. But it's still worth it - you can be confident she won't get 100's of letters in her mailbox, even though she may get dozens of emails a day in her email Inbox.

You can use a courier service for sending letters; it will take 4-6 days to reach a destination in Russia. In this case, you've got a chance to include something extra in the envelope for the same price - a card, a booklet about your city, a flower from your garden. Russian girls experience a permanent lack of romance, so feel free to express yourself!

Ask a lady to respond promptly. It is not unusual for Russian women to answer letters in 2 weeks or even a month's time. One of the reasons is that it takes time and effort to write a letter in a foreign language. For me it sometimes took the whole Sunday to write a 2-page letter (7-8 hours). Ask her to not delay with her answers.


One can write 1 letter and fall in love with the perfect mate, another guy can send 50, and all his correspondence will inconceivably stop after 2-3 letters. The result completely depends on you...


The secrets of getting responses

The trick is not only to get responses, but to get enough responses to give you plenty of choices.

How many letters must you write to find Your Only One? There is no definite answer. One man can write 1 letter and fall in love with the perfect mate, another guy can send 50, and all his correspondence will inconceivably stop after 2-3 letters. The result completely depends on you and the efforts you put in.

Getting a 10-20% response is normal, i.e. one positive response out of 10 means you are doing alright; 3 positive responses out of 10 mean you are doing fantastic! 

If you are young and good-looking, you will get more responses than if you are old and ugly, it's just natural. Don't choose women who are too young, and you will ensure that you'll get some responses.

Tell the lady that you want to hear from her anyway, even if she is not interested. If you ask for a response, you have a better chance of getting it. (Actually, it is applicable to any aspect of relations with Russian women - if you want something, ask. If you ask nicely, you'll get it. Seriously!)

Another thing that works wonders: translation. Russians have no need to use foreign languages in their everyday life, and even if a woman can speak English, she struggles with reading letters.

I studied English for 6 years at school, 3 years at University and 1.5 years at different language courses; successfully passed TOEFL, and on job interviews with foreign companies they always marked my knowledge as A-level. Even so, I have to admit that I didn't read all the letters that I used to receive -- because of the problems with English!

How can I explain it correctly.… In which language would you like your wife to say, "I love you"? In your native language, or, for example, Turkish - even if you know what the words mean?

When you get 10-15 emails a day, you just look through photos, and then decide which ones are worth reading. If your message is in Russian, it will be read 100%. You can express yourself and be assured that all your phrases will be understood correctly. I would suggest you translate at least your first introduction letter. You need to translate it only once, and then you can use it to introduce yourself to all the women.

A good idea is to offer women to respond in Russian, and use a translation service for translating their letters. In this way she will be able to concentrate on the content of your correspondence, and will be able to express herself better. There are many inexpensive services that offer Russian translation, for example, Elena's Models.

Make sure your translator makes an adequate translation. Literal translation makes a brilliant English letter sound stupid and hardly understandable. The better your English, the worse it will sound. Software translation is horrible: to get the feeling, translate your letter to Russian, and then BACK to English - you'll see what it looks like.

It is a good idea to send a copy of your first email. Russian email services are not 100% reliable; messages often get lost or deleted by anti-spam software. Always make it not later than a week after the first one, and slightly change the message (add a different photo, a brief note describing your life in the past few days, etc.). It is boring to receive exactly the same letter again. Do not forget to mention that it is a copy and you re-send it because you did not hear from her.

Some men do get a 100% response; again, it depends highly on you. 


There is no second chance to make the first impression, so make sure your first letter includes your full bio, photo, and it's fun to read.


Your First Letter

The first letter is the most important and you must ensure that it will be special. There is no second chance to make a first impression. 

Start the letter with "Hello" or "Hi". Addressing with the word "Dear" has an intimate nuance in Russian so you'd better keep it for the time when you know each other well. Introduce yourself and tell her where you found her address.

The worst beginning for your letter is "I was taken by your beautiful picture", or "I find you very beautiful and I am hoping that your inner beauty is as strong as your outer." 

First thing, women want to be appreciated for their personal qualities, not appearance. Second, in Russia the word "beautiful" means something different than in the western world, it is very discriminative. Here every good looking woman is called "beautiful". In Russia you are beautiful only if you are a beauty queen or a photo model. If you are not - you are only attractive.

When a woman receives a letter with a "You are so beautiful" phrase, she thinks you are not writing to her as a person, you just liked the picture of her that shows her in the way she does not look every day (especially when she is up in the morning), and that you actually are mistaken about her appearance because otherwise you would not call her "beautiful" - she knows she is just "attractive". You mean to make her feel better, but in reality you make her feel worse about herself - you are looking for somebody who is beautiful, and she thinks she is not.

You can say "I liked your photo" but even this can turn the woman off. They don't want to feel like items on display. They want to be appreciated as human beings, for what they are and not for what they look like. (I wonder how would you feel if somebody said to you "You car looks very nice; I hope you are as nice a person as what your car looks like"... Got the feeling?)

Your letter must be interesting to read. Good humor is the best way to make reading fun but don't be a clown. Never make jokes about the girl's appearance, her English, etc. Better to laugh at yourself than to laugh at her.

The necessary details to mention: your age, weight, height; marital status, children, education, occupation, religion, smoking, drinking (very important!), personality, interests, hobbies and the things you love, as well as the place where you live. Don't make it a list; the letter must be alive and express your heart and soul rather than to be "correct". It must be rather a story than a questionnaire.

The minimum length of the letter is 1-2 pages. You are not going to get many responses if your letter consists of only 3-5 sentences.   


Be yourself, but show the best of yourself!


Your personality is precious

The most important principle in seeking a partner via the Internet: BE YOURSELF!!!

This is applicable to any search for a relationship, but in the case of Russian women you must follow this rule as if it was inscribed on stone tablets handed down from Heaven.

Do not try to be somebody different than you are. Be intriguing and sophisticated; be your best - but YOUR best. False is what a girl can feel, and Russian women have very good intuition. Any person is interesting in and of himself, and it's not necessary to add qualities you don't have.

When you are yourself, you have a better chance of finding your real soul mate. Honesty pays back - you won't have to act or apologize for the untruth you told when you meet each other in person. 

If you love parties and big groups, you can say: "I am a very open person and have lots of fun spending time with friends". If you feel better at home and have only a few friends, say: "I love to relax at home watching TV or reading an interesting book. I don't have many friends but the ones I have are really good ones." If you can borrow money from a guy after a 20-minute acquaintance, you can say: "I feel great even in the company of 20 strangers and I easily find friends everywhere". If you never ask anybody in an unknown office building where the toilet is, even while having a diarrhea attack, you can say: "I always try to manage problems myself and I don't burden people who are close to me".

Stay honest to avoid attracting the wrong women, but give your qualities in a positive way. Be yourself, but show the best of yourself!


Sending a nice picture of you with the first letter is a must. You, at least, should like it.


Sending photos

Sending a nice picture of you with the first letter is a must. You, at least, should like it. Your face must be big enough to see the expression of your eyes. Pictures of you at home or doing something are the most desirable. Natural poses and surroundings can say more about you than a professional picture from a studio. A letter without a photo looks impersonal and has 70% less chance of being responded to.

Even if you have a super body, don't send a photo in a swim suit. (You can send such a picture later, but it must be a photo, for example, from a beach or gym, not a studio.) You can leave your shirt unbuttoned or put on a tight T-shirt if you want to emphasize your body sculpture. And never - NEVER! - send a cut photo. Some men still contrive to send a half-cut photo with somebody's hand on their shoulder!

When choosing a photo for your personal as, get a professional one, a portrait. Smile nicely, and try to look friendly. It is simple, but some people do forget the simplest rules.

When sending a photo with your email message, send it in JPEG format and make the size of the files as small as possible (it must not exceed 20-30Kb). There are different graphic optimization software products available, use the one that you know well. Don't make the actual size of the photos too small - use lower resolution.

Never send photos in .bmp format - they take years to download. Some Russian service providers require people to pay for the size of messages received.


Don't be too materialistic, don't be too idealistic, don't be a jerk, and don't follow patterns.


The things you should avoid

  • Do not try to impress the women with the things you have. If you are well established in life, talk about that, but don't make it your main point. I once received a letter from an American guy who wrote: "I have a car, a TV, a musical system and a videotape recorder". What did he think, that women in Russia live in earth-houses? At the same time, when a man sends photos of his house, his car and his swimming pool taken from all possible angles with the first letter, you feel he's going to make you his next purchase. Nobody likes to be for sale! You can send a lady this type of photo if your correspondence blossoms, but I think she should be interested in you as a person first.
  • Try to avoid idioms or slang phraseology until you make sure that the woman is perfect in English. At the same time, your sentences must not be super simple like, "My eyes are blue. My hair is brown." There must be a person behind the phrases and what kind of person would you imagine is behind these ones?
  • Using a girl's name a few times throughout your letter makes it more personal, but check carefully that you have changed it in all the places you used it before printing. Once I received a letter which started "Hello, Elena!" and ended with "Sleep with angels, Irina!" Guess - did I answer? (Tip: there is an option Find and Replace in your Word processor under the Edit task bar.)
  • Do not try to persuade a woman that the other guys who write to her are going to waste her time. I used to receive a couple of letters like this, and it's simply disgusting. I feel suspicious towards people who try to paint their competitors black.
  • Things you must never write about in the first letter: your divorce and how you felt about it, problems/successes with women you usually have, any other problems in current life, your bad/good experience of communication with Russian women seeking husbands by mail or personally, being taken by Internet dating scammers, chronic problems with health (exception: if you have serious handicaps or artificial body parts, or in a wheelchair, you should tell about it from the beginning or she will feel cheated), your anxiousness about losing your hair, detailed content of your work responsibilities, and ANY sexual questions. Some of these topics can be discussed later, but not in the very first letters.

Some agencies give examples of "good letters". Don't follow patterns, otherwise your letter will be the same as a dozen others. If you still want to use patterns, at least change expressions and order.


The majority of women do not have computers at home or work, and get access to email only at their dating agency, postal services or Internet cafes. For a Russian lady simply going through the process of receiving your letter is a time, money and energy consuming venture...


Using email

Using email for corresponding with Russian women is very specific. Many men complain that they don't receive responses to messages sent.

When you send a letter to a woman, think of the kind of letter you would like to receive. Sometimes women receive letters consisted of 1 or 2 lines, telling something like "Hi, my name is John, I am from USA, I saw your ad on the Internet and would like to correspond with you. Cheers."

Would you bother to answer a letter like this? Probably. But Russian ladies are in a completely different situation. 

The majority of women do not have computers at home or work, and get access to email only at their Internet cafes or dating agencies. Usually a woman will be informed by the service that they received a letter for her, and asked to come and collect it. 

If for you it will take a couple of minutes to respond an email, for her it will take 30-60 minutes only to reach the place, not to mention the time for reading and translating your message. If a lady does not have everyday access to email, she may check her mailbox only once a week or occasionally. 

Using email facilities is not cheap in Russia. Women have to pay a standard fee for each message received + sometimes extra for the size (kilobytes) OR printing. If she receives a letter at the Internet cafe or has her own computer, she pays for the connection time.

If she must spend her time and money to just receive a stupid message like the one mentioned above, it can hardly make her happy. She has to pay for sending responses at services, too.

Respect ladies' requirements to a partner. If she wants to meet a man 25-40 years old, and you are 52, rather write to another woman. 

You should already have some basic info about a lady from her personal page in catalogue. Let her know a little about you. Why must she bother and write back to you? Give her a reason. 

If you want to increase your chances of receiving a positive response, write a detailed letter, translate it to Russian, and attach a nice picture of yours. 

You don't need to send 4-5 photos with the first letter. Large messages download longer. We often receive complaints from women that they receive too large photos from men, which can bring their weak computers to stand still. Such message can download for half an hour, and if the connection breaks in the middle, she has to start all over again. Please optimize your photos and do not send to many with one message, rather send a new picture as attachment to another message. As we said, she pays for the connection time, and sending a couple of large pictures can put your lady on a diet for a week. Downloading large attachments can cost a fortune if a person uses 14,4K modem or less. Choose the best photo, make size of the file reasonably small (kilobytes not pixels) and send in JPEG format. 

Your photo should be about 300-400 pixels in height and not more than 20-30 Kb in size. You don't need the highest quality - if your face is big enough, it's enough; 40-60% quality will work OK. 

A picture should feature only you, not your whole family or a party with friends. Do NOT send photos with another woman even if she is just a friend. 

Your first letter must include the following information:

Your full name
Age, height, weight
Marital status
Interests and hobbies 
One nice photo not more than 20-30Kb in size
Your email address

Your letters may go through anonymous email servers. If a lady receives your letter only in a printed version (for example, at her dating agency) and your email address is not included, she won't be able to respond. 

Do not make your first letter a never-ending story. One, maximum two pages is enough. Check your spelling and grammar before sending, better still, compose letters in a word processor, then copy and paste in the body of your messages.

Many agencies play on men’s desire to cover ladies expenses for email. The best way to avoid it is to send her a letter by regular mail and include your email address there, and ask her to contact you directly, without the agency. If she is interested in you, she will. This will cost you only a couple of dollars - compared to the hundreds dollars you may have to pay to the agency for email correspondence. 

Women are becoming smarter and they don't like when agencies try to squeeze money from their correspondence with men. Give her a chance to contact you directly and you will know, if this woman is really after you or was it just an agency after your money.

When you are confident about the lady, you can send money for covering her expenses directly to her via Western Union (you must never do it if she asks about it in her first or second letter, rather forget about this girl!)

Actually, any woman can find money for sending and receiving emails if she wants to - and if she does not correspond with a few dozens of other men.


When you have made up your mind tell your lady about it as soon as possible. Don't correspond with dozens of ladies for months.


Make your romance blossom

Remember that every girl would like to be special. She will appreciate the efforts you spend to win her heart. Sending a letter or a postcard every day or week can work wonders! Behave as if you are already good friends, and don't be shy to show your interest in her. Women like insistent men.

Even if you received a negative response from a girl but are really interested in her, ask her to let you stay her friend and keep in touch. Chances are, she'll change her mind or her current romance won't work out.

Photos are a good means to make your acquaintance personal but use it in the right way - it must be something special and, of course, recent. Don't send photos with every letter if all the difference between them is the color of your shirt.

If you plan to visit the woman's country, tell her about it in the very beginning to assure her that you are not writing because of boredom or for entertainment.

After a couple of letters you can phone your girl. You may phone even right after you sent your first letter, just to tell her that you did, and inform her, that she is going to receive a detailed letter from you one of these days. Make sure she will remember your name. Speak slowly and choose simple words because it's more difficult to understand somebody by phone than face to face.

Phone your lady from time to time, and listen attentively to her voice. Is she enthusiastic? Does she sound as if she was waiting for your call or it's just politeness? Is she interested in your life or just shortly answers your questions? Even if a lady does not have a home phone number, ask her to arrange your conversation through friends, with a definite date and time when she will expect your call. If she does not speak English, use conference call services, but you must try to talk to her otherwise your relationship feels unreal to her.

Sending flowers or gifts can have a decisive impact to your relations. It shows your genuine interest and care about her. Don't forget to send greetings with her birthday, Christmas and New Year, Valentine's day and the Women's Day (see Russian holidays for details) or just because you want to lighten her day! Even if you can't afford to send a gift, post a nice card with greetings written by hand. A good delivery service is Russian service, which handles deliveries all over the countries of the former Soviet Union.

However, do not try to impress a lady only by sending her gifts. Yes, it is very nice to receive flowers from your pen friend, but nothing can replace lack of personal communication. Don't hope that only because you sent her flowers she will prefer you to another guy. For example, I used to receive flowers from men I did not know, even before I received a letter or a call from them. At first, I felt obliged to respond positively, even if I did not like the guy. We corresponded for a while, and eventually I had to tell the truth anyway.

Let's see what happened. A man spent some time and efforts, and I also spent mine - eventually for nothing. If I did not receive those gifts, I would say him straight away that I didn't feel we were right for each other.

On the other hand, my future husband never sent my any gift except postcards, and I was a bit offended by his neglecting. But our personal communication was so good that it did not seriously affect my feelings. As in many other aspects of our lives, content is the king.

A lady may appreciate your sending her $50 to pay for her English lessons more than sending a $150 bunch of roses. However, she is likely to refuse if you offer her financial help. All regarding money matters are very personal. Better avoid offering money to ladies - and never even think that you will be able to buy her affection!

When you have made up your mind tell your lady about it as soon as possible. Don't correspond with dozens of ladies for months, try to make your choice quickly, usually 2-3 letters is enough to find out if a lady is what you are looking for (or at least say for sure that she is not). Don't waste your time and hers.

Women may have some more correspondents and also will have to make a decision. Ask a lady if she feels you are right for each other. Whenever in doubt, don't hesitate to ask directly. Be honest with yourself. Be persistent but gentle.

Remember: a lady may make her choice in favor of the first insistent candidate who finds enough courage to visit her - even if she likes you more than him. He confirmed his interest - he visited her. Your words are just words for her.


You can visit your lady at her place, invite her to visit you or even arrange your meeting in a third country 


Meeting each other

There are 3 ways to meet each other.

1. You visit her

It's undoubtedly the best option - and the most convenient, especially if you can afford to travel and your girl lives in a big city (preferably not far away from Moscow). In small towns you will definitely have language problems (very seldom serving staff speaks English), and a trip to the destination won't be very comfortable.

You will be able to meet the girl's family and friends; it is the wonderful opportunity to see a woman in her everyday environment, she will be natural in her relation to other people in her life – and this experience is invaluable.

(Read also: Russian visas and list of Russian Embassies)

2. You meet in Moscow, St. Petersburg or Kiev (or even in a third country)

This variant may be the most convenient for both of you. You can book two rooms in the same hotel and have lots of fun sightseeing together.

But this way is more expensive and none of you can see more than the other one in person. No one is completely relaxed and in a familiar situation.

3. You invite her to visit you (not applicable for the USA, Canada and Australia)

She can buy a tour (in this case she won't have problems with visa) or try to get the visa herself (using your official invitation if necessary). It's an exciting experience for a girl especially if she has never been abroad. It's also a perfect chance to impress her (the standards of life are really different). And, after all, it's a place where she is going to live!

Russian travel agency can organize an individual tour for her if there is not a standard one. You are supposed to pay the expenses but usually it's cheaper than for you to go to Russia. 

(It's extremely difficult for a single woman to receive a visitor's visa to some countries like USA or Canada, almost impossible. So if you reside in one of those countries, make your mind from the beginning that you will have to go to the other end of the world.)

You can consider any of the ways, but it also must suit your lady. The tour organized for you by a travel agent usually will be cheaper than any marriage agency's tours, but marriage agencies know Russian realities better and will be able to help you with translation services, choosing a good quality hotel in a particular Russian city, or organizing an individual tour specially for you.

If you decide to invite a girl to your place, it will be wise not to send her travel expenses directly to her. Buy the ticket yourself at your travel agent so only you will be able to receive a refund, and she will be able to pick it up at her local office. If she needs money to come to Moscow, tell her that you will refund her when you meet. If she is really interested in you, she'll find money for the ticket - the price for a one-way train ticket will not exceed $50.

Plan your meeting ahead of time. If she doesn't have a passport for traveling abroad ("foreign passport"), it can take up to 2-3 months to get it. You can ask if she has the passport in the beginning of your acquaintance, it will show your serious intentions.

When you decide that you are good for each other or get engaged, you will face the problem how to bring your fiancee into your country. The right way depends on the country.

This question is particularly real if you live in the USA. (Click here for detailed procedure on USA fiancee visas)

Usually the best way to get into the country is receiving a fiancee visa for your lady. It requires your meeting in person before application. Any other way will be more complicated or even impossible. Marrying in Russia may solve the problem, and since August 2001 bringing your wife into USA is not any more difficult than bringing your fiancee (visa K-3). But fiancee visa is still a better way because in many countries arriving on *spouse* visa results in many restrictions in status while arriving on *fiancee* visa does not.

There are many attorneys who will assist you though you of course can do it yourself. If your relationship is genuine and you don’t use tricks, you will eventually get it - but an immigration attorney will secure you do not make mistakes and your fiancee will be with you as fast as possible. Delays in the fiancee visa process often result in breaking the engagement, and a simple mistake in a form can cause a delay for another 3-12 months. According to USA immigration lawyers Larry Holmes and Allan Lolly, from 100% of fiancee visa applications, about 40% are not resulting in issuance of the visa, and most common reason is withdrawing of the application by a foreign fiancee or USA fiance because of the delays. Imagine if YOUR application is delayed or refused! I believe it is worth the attorney's fee to secure your fiancee visa application goes smoothly.

In any case, first read some of Do-It-Yourself Fiancee Visas Kits (preferably BEFORE you go to visit your girlfriend - there are some forms she will need to sign that are necessary for the visa application, and it will speed up the process considerably if you don't have to send them to her afterwards; usually they provide the full set of necessary documents/forms with the Kit). 

Good luck!


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Why Russian Women? - If you decided to find yourself a Russian wife, you would be inundated with questions of the type "Why Russian Women?" from everybody you cared to share your idea with. Surprisingly, every Russian woman you are writing to will ask the same question: "Why do you want to find a wife in Russia?" After a while, you might start questioning your own sanity in doing the thing which everybody, including your dates in this Internet rendezvous, consider strange enough to request explanations...

Russian wedding protocol - do you know how different it is?

Russian names - find out about different spellings and variations; and you can even see how her name looks in Russian!

Russian women glossary - unexpected meanings of words and phrases in women's profiles.

Russian women FAQ - all you want to know about Russian women but never asked.

Russian Women Magazine - a magazine for the modern Russian women that find themselves in an ever changing world and for interested men. Love stories, New Home, Amazing Women, Dating, Forum and more.

Independent view on Russian Women - one of not-so-many sources that has nothing to do with the dating industry: an overview on the subject from RussianFoods.com.

Russian dating agencies - how do they make their money??

My Russian Wife - life stories.

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