I've been hearing my girlfriends discuss their wins and losses with a variety of online-dating phone apps, so I'm breaking down the newest means of tech-based courtship.
VKontakte, the most popular Russian-language social network.
*** Stephen Ewald, a 40-year-old accountant from Michigan, met his fiancée — a 24-year-old Ukrainian named Alina Chumakova — on VKontakte in 2009.
She said she gets up to three messages a day from men, "90% from Muslim countries" like Egypt, Turkey and Jordan.
In contrast, Ukrainian men hardly ever message her—"it's not in [their] nature."But the messages she receives, she said, are invariably dull.
Typically they go through international matchmaking agencies, which charge for access to thousands of women looking for foreign husbands.
The "romance tours," where schlubby middle-aged American divorcees pay thousands of dollars to meet these leggy blondes in Ukraine or Russia, are But some men have grown wary of the industry that promises them lifelong happiness with a woman from the economically-depressed country of their choice.
And not only are they cheaper, the men believe cruising social networks where "normal" foreign women hang out is a more authentic experience than a matchmaking agency's website.
The mail-order bride industry is fascinating and troubling because it extends the cold logic of capitalist globalization to the very personal institution of marriage.
So is it really any surprise that guys considering "buying" a bride through an agency are turning to social networks, where everyone's selling themselves all the time?
"We all have a natural desire to want to get as a close as possible to the real thing, to meeting some pretty girl on the corner" said William Lee, the proprietor of the website Russian Women and a professional coach for men looking for Eastern European wives.
But the moment he got his first message from Chumakova, asking why he'd friended her, he knew his search was over."I just had a feeling," Ewald said.
"As corny as that sounds, of all the girls I friend requested and messaged, even after the first online conversation something stood out about her." When he met her in person in Ukraine just a few weeks later, they were "inseparable."Last Monday, he flew to Ukraine to bring Chumakova back to the U. They just passed an interview at the American Embassy for Chumakova to get her fiancée visa and are waiting for it to arrive in the mail.
"Standard compliments, inviting to visit them," Galugan said.