From The Desk Of
Natasha Spivack

Founder and President


How do I know that I am not simply a ticket out of Russia for a woman?

Good question! In fact, this is the number one question that I am asked by prospective clients. They ask this question because it is reality that this type of thing happens. The odds are, if you attempt this process alone, this will happen to you!

Therefore, it would be very silly for me to attempt to deny that there are some women, in Russia, who want to get out of their country at any cost. Yes, these women will certainly say or do anything to get away and start a new life elsewhere. Foreign men, more specifically American men, are viewed as the ticket to the promise land. That is a part of Russian life we attempt to keep away from our clients and our agency.

However, I do want to point out that the desire for a better life at any price is not a condition unique to overseas countries, like Russia. You must admit that even America has its moments as well. You may recall the hype about the television show, "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?" I believe this example can stand without any further comment needed.

Nobody at any agency can give you a 100%, iron-clad guarantee that you will not become a free ride out of Russia. Anyone who is willing to guarantee that won't happen to you is simply telling you what you want to hear! The truth of the matter is, "girls will be girls."

She's Not My 'Type'
However, if you know the type of women which are out there, you will be better equipped to understand them and their motivation. Clearly, in some basic areas, women in Russian and Ukraine are not all that different from women in other places in the world. Yes, in some ways, Russian women are the same as their American counterparts. You cannot fairly state that "Russian women are...", naming some desirable aspect; and be 100% accurate all the time. As I indicate throughout the Encounters International Handbook, Russian women are human beings with human emotions.

Some Internet-based discussion groups seem to enjoy putting Russian women into a specific category based on their limited experience with or exposure to them. I have read many e-mail messages which attempt to categorize Russian women into only what they know (or claim to know). Unfortunately, nobody spells out the categories in one place. Until now, there has been no consolidated listing, much less explanation, of the different groups of Russian women.

My years of experience in dealing with Russian women, as well as being a Russian woman myself, has shown me that you will find 'we' generally fall into one of the following four groups:

1) Desperate
2) Opportunists
3) Closed Minded
4) Open Minded

In the following paragraphs, I will discuss each group. It is important to note that while the groups are very well defined, the boundaries between them are not. In other words, there can be some gray area between the groups.

Desperate Women--"I'll do anything to get out of my country."
Desperate women comprise a very large group of women in Russia and Ukraine. The desperate women are totally numb inside. They have no expectations about the man they will meet or the life they will have with him. Usually, they live with elderly parents who have little or no pension income. They are typically unemployed. In some cases, their situation is so bad that there is not enough money on hand to take a bus if they had a job or other money for food! Their sincere hope is that someone will just get them to a 'better place.' They just want to get out of the current situation and away from the country in the process.

Maximum exposure to the rest of the world is viewed as the fastest way out. Therefore, you will see these women on every web site and in every catalog she can reach. Likewise, she will attend every social she can learn about.

Foreign men are in a very good position to take advantage of these women. It is the 'White Knight' syndrome. He rides in and saves her from despair! I have heard these women called, "women who don't say no." The first guy to visit her is considered the winner. In other words, they have absolutely no feelings toward the man who asks them to marry. The man can be obnoxious, abusive, condescending, controlling, or simply looking for a 'trophy wife' (possible all of the above!). Desperate women do not care as long as he asks for her hand in marriage. They will usually settle for younger, less established men. The covert bait used to catch the man is simply not saying no to any request!

After the couple arrives in America is when the desperate women begin to 'thaw out.' This is the time when a man will discover the real woman he has brought to this country and married. A desperate woman may be a good woman or a bad woman. I have seen, first hand, either case. But, only when the numbness, a defensive or survival-oriented posture to 'endure' the process, is gone can he figure out just who he married.

Unfortunately, that is too late for a discovery of such magnitude. This is the point where a man will complain that he was taken advantage of by an insensitive, self-centered, Russian woman. Quite the opposite is true; he took advantage of a desperate woman who did not say no. The problem extends from him having no real knowledge of the numb woman he met, until it was far too late!

Opportunists Women--"I'm going to leave my country, but only for the best offer from a wealthy foreign man."
This is also a large percentage of women who seek a foreign husband. In many ways, they are simply prostitutes; willing to sell themselves to the highest bidder, while getting a better life in the process. The highest bidder is really the wealthy American man which represents the best possible situation and life for her. Unfortunately, you don't get to pick them, they select you based on their opinion of your worth to them.

Maximum exposure is also needed to be successful. However, these women are more interested in the best deal and not necessarily the fastest escape. Their concern is with perceived quality (net worth) versus simple speed of engagement. Socials are the preferred method of meeting men. Because they can see them live and size up their prey for themselves!

Like desperate women, they do not have any concern for the man's looks or age. Opportunists prefer to meet and select an older, established, and presumably wealthy man. Unlike the desperate women, they do have expectations; very high expectations.

Their overt method of baiting and capturing males is extremely good looks and a professional smile. Since their profession is male entrapment (for their own benefit), they are very good at it. They use highly coached and trained smiles and glances with the eyes as bait. These costly courses in attractive female behavior are not available to the average woman. Clothing is always top of the line and very sexy. In some cases, even physical augmentation is used to enhance their image and appearance. Image is everything!

As long as a man is financially able to sustain her selfish lifestyle requirements, there will be hollow expressions of love and appreciation. Quite honestly, for some men that is enough! However, as soon as he falters or a better offer comes along, opportunists women are gone. Like I mentioned at the beginning, these women are in many areas just prostitutes. Clearly, the line between the opportunists and outright prostitutes is very thin, if existent at all!

Closed Minded Women--"I am not interested in leaving my country or marrying a foreign man."
Some single women are very much opposed to getting involved with, let alone, marrying a foreign man. Their minds are closed to the idea of joining an agency for the purpose of finding a foreign husband. They will only consider men from their own country. They are the true patriots of 'Mother Russia.'

You will see these beautiful women walking down the street in Moscow and Kiev. Some men believe that just because she is in Russia or Ukraine, she is willing to consider him as a suitor. The conventional 'wisdom' is that all a man needs to do is approach 'any' woman on the streets and she will be instantly willing to consider his forwardness as welcome. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Further, these women will not be attending socials, or knowingly featured in catalogs or on web sites.

They are neither desperate nor opportunists. They believe that the right man for them will be found in-country. There is no need to look or live elsewhere to find happiness. This is perhaps the largest group of women in Russia and Ukraine. Just like most men in America have never considered looking to Russia for a wife, most Russian and Ukrainian women have not considered finding their husband in America.

Open Minded Women--"I am willing to marry the right man even if he is foreign."
These women are willing to try (usually once) to find the right man in another country. These women are skeptical and very cautious. The desire to find a foreign husband is not a life goal or top priority. To them, the process is important but not the end of the world. Therefore, they will usually take longer to think before replying to men.

The open minded women will not compromise their ethics, morals, or values just for the sake of marriage or a better life. They will definitely tell a man no when asked to marry him if they believe he is not the right person. Again, she won't compromise herself just to marry the wrong man. Since, they are neither desperate nor opportunists, they have no sense of urgency or hidden agendas. As such, for her, the process is about people and emotions, men and women interacting.

Learning The Hard Way
The unfortunate reality is that men who seek a wife from an overseas country (not just from Russia or Ukraine), will likely find themselves exposed to women from some, if not all, of these groups. In some cases, it may be exposure to several women from one group. The issue becomes, how quickly can you identify them before any damage is done? If you attempt this process alone, you will become self-educated by learning from your own costly mistakes. It's like attending the 'school of hard knocks.' This is far too important to learn as you go while receiving on the job training!

So how does a man protect himself from the women in the first to groups and find a women from the last one? As you continue to read this Encounters International Handbook Section, you will see how we initially screen the women who seek membership. Further, you will see that even if a woman is allowed to join (not all women are accepted), our ongoing screening identifies desperate and opportunists before our male clients are subjected to the risk. When you have the level of experience my agency staff has, it is pretty easy to spot the pretenders--whether they are desperate, opportunists, or anything in between!

Hey, Maybe She's Already Here, Could Happen
I hope that explaining the real world issues has not scared you off from the idea of looking outside the United States for a wife. I find it best to tell the facts up front so you can make an informed decision. Just to let you know, Encounters International has many nice, attractive, marriage-minded women who already reside inside the USA and Canada. They are in the country legally and have the visa required to remain here. Therefore, the issue of encountering desperate or opportunist women from Russia or Ukraine is resolved and is no longer a concern.

Some of our male clients prefer dating women here before going to Russia. Still other clients find their perfect mate here and never need to travel overseas. As a client of Encounters International it is not always necessary to venture outside the borders of the USA or Canada to find the woman of your dreams!

Weeding The Garden
Now, I'll explain some of the steps and procedures we take at Encounters International to help ensure our clients, who meet a woman overseas, are protected to the maximum extent possible. The first step that helps weed out these women is the initial, face-to-face screening. You may find this hard to believe, but some women will actually explain their motives, intentions, and agendas to us directly. I believe this happens because screening is nonexistent at other agencies. Other women will provide very subtle, yet clear, signs of what they have in mind for their future husbands. As you know, some agencies don't care what her covert or overt agenda may be.

We have been conducting these screening interviews since 1993. Since we are Russian women ourselves, we know the hidden meanings within the answers. My staff and I can 'read between the lines' and make an assessment about these situations.

Believe me, I have seen the desperate and opportunist women at our agency doorsteps before. In a few rare cases, once turned away, she will attempt to join Encounters International again a few years later. Because of our seemless continuity over the past seven years, we knew her than and we know her now. She may still be in the hunt, but she can hunt elsewhere!

In either case, direct statement or indirect action, we thank them and send them on their way--presumably to another agency or address seller who does little or no screening. Patient women of questionable character can easily outlast current ownership at most agencies and re-enlist to find new victims.

Responsibility Is A Two-Way Street
Also, during the initial interview and screening process, we learn exactly what a woman is looking for and what her expectations are. Of equal importance, during this interview process, the office manager explains to the women their responsibilities as a member of Encounters International. Here are some examples.

First, we require prompt replies to letters from our male clients. The guideline is no longer than 7 days response time. Anything else is unacceptable and may be grounds for her dismissal. She should have a reply to our agency office within 7 days of receipt of an e-mail letter from our male client.

Also, all letters the women receive from our male clients must get a response. This is actually just common courtesy. Some women practically faint when this is mentioned. They recall the huge stack of unanswered letters, back home in the shoe box, that they received as a result of some agency selling her address. If a woman answers all letters from our male clients with a negative response, indicating that nobody is acceptable to her, she will be reevaluated as a member and may be dismissed.

Romance Goes High-Tech
All correspondence at Encounters International is conducted by e-mail. Letters from our male clients are sent to Moscow and Kiev by e-mail: either by clients directly or from Bethesda (for clients without a PC). The online database facilitates easy transmission of e-mail while browsing or searching. Within each profile is an option to send her e-mail immediately.

Generally, letters are handwritten from the women to you. We scan these letters overseas and e-mail them as image attachments. Incoming e-mail (from Moscow or Kiev) is sent directly to our clients. Messages for our local clients may be printed or faxed as requested.

It is important to note that Encounters International does not forward your letters by postal mail overseas as some agencies do. A very small number of women have a fax or e-mail available at their work. In those cases, we may forward letters electronically, if she has requested this. Letters are always sent by the most efficient electronic means!

All women are encouraged to come into the agency offices to pick up letters from our male clients and drop off their replies. As mentioned above, responses are usually sent the same day she brings it into the office. Most of the women do not have access to electronic communications systems and are glad to come by the agency office.

Because our Moscow office is near two central Metro (subway) stations and is open Saturday and Sunday, many women just stop in to visit or see the new male clients in our photo albums. These social visits to the office are a perfect time to continue the on-going screening process. I'll discuss the on going screening in more detail in an up coming paragraph.

Perhaps She'll Start Something
Another very unique aspect of Encounters International is that we invite the women to initiate correspondence with our male clients. For some very traditional Russian women, this is an entirely new experience. Some women are very comfortable with initiating a letter to a male client. Other women have a very hard time with this aspect. Therefore, this is not mandatory.

Whether a woman decided to initiate correspondence or not, she will view the albums with our office manager and discuss who she is interested in. After this discussion, the information is sent to me. I can tell a lot about a woman by the male clients she selects. This allows me to steer men who meet her expectations in her direction. Conversely, I can let men who do not match her expectations, yet have an interest in her, know that she would not be an appropriate match due to key differences.

Only The Serious Need Apply
In a few cases, once the women learn about the amount of work required by joining Encounters International, they will decide to go elsewhere. Instead, they enjoy the free ride at the socials, or just want to write letters as a hobby, or just talk on the telephone. This is another way we are able to weed out women who are not seriously marriage-minded or really interested in making the investment of their time to conduct meaningful correspondence with our male clients. If it is too much work or effort for a woman to participate in the aspects of our program, then we logically conclude that she is not serious. She is then not accepted into our agency because we only accept seriously marriage-minded women who are willing to put forth the required effort our clients deserve.

Encounters International does not charge women living overseas to join our agency. Therefore, we have the right to accept or not to accept any woman who applies. Removal from the agency and database is at our discretion. Even if a woman is accepted to Encounters International, we may remove her at any time for bad behavior or a bad attitude. I'll discuss that a little more in a minute. This is very much unlike USA 'dating services.' Once you pay a fee at a dating service you are accepted for the duration.

Written Words vs. Real World
The second line of defense is the on-going screening. Encounters International clients are welcome to ask us for interpretations of the letters they receive. I have seen what the written words mean as a real world outcome. My staff and I have seen many, many scenarios, both good and bad, based on the letters you receive. Our vast experience allows us to interpret the meaning and alert you to any possible problems or conflicts. Any situation you can imagine between a Russian woman and a foreign man, I assure you we have already seen it. Because someone here has been through it!

Bad behavior will result in a woman being placed on the 'watch list' or simply dismissed altogether. As part of the on-going screening, we may see a pattern of behavior that is not consistent with the Encounters International standards. There are very typical patterns which the desperate and opportunist women use in correspondence. One example would be if a woman asked a man to send her money. This is absolutely an unacceptable and taboo incident.

Attitude Adjustments
I want to clarify the attitude problem aspect. We have seen good women become spoiled by all the attention they receive from our male clients. The attention of men goes straight to their head. She may be of the opinion that she has done something great and expects a higher level of attention.

If a woman makes negative comments about our male clients or other women in the program, based on a conceded self-worth, she will go onto the 'watch list.' We will keep an eye on her to ensure she is not a burden on the program. Likewise, if she attempts to match with a male client based on his age and perceived worth (looking at your age and job and trying to conclude an income level or lifestyle), as opposed to a real multi-dimensional match, she will very likely be dismissed.

I believe that it's possible for anyone to make a mistake, once. Therefore, the first time a rule of conduct is violated, I will place the woman on our 'watch list.' If the incident is repeated more than once, I believe that it is a trend. Any woman demonstrating a trend of bad behavior or a bad attitude will be dismissed from Encounters International. At this point, a woman typically begins to attend the socials or will end up at some agency with no screening process in place.

If you think about it, not screening the women is a form of the US military's "Don't ask. Don't tell" policy. In that, an agency is not going to ask her what she is up to and they don't want her to tell them either!

She's Back
On a related topic, I am sometimes asked why a woman who was engaged, left Russia (or Ukraine), and later returned home was not dismissed, but returned to the program. I base this decision on the actual circumstances that occurred in the individual case. Universally, there are some engagements that just do not work out after the woman arrives here. This is not an outcome that is unique to Encounters International. When dealing with human emotions, unfortunately, things do not always go as planned or desired.

For a Russian woman, there is a lot of stress and pressure associated with leaving behind her family, friends, culture, and country. I can relate to this because I have been through this myself! This difficult separation may have been a contributing factor to her desire to return home or suffer from a little dose of homesickness. In other cases, during the K1 fiancée visa period, the parties mutually agree that things are not working out and she voluntarily returns home with no ill will from or toward either party.

In contrast, a woman may return home shortly after arrival here without any real attempt to give the relationship a chance. She may believe it is easier to go back rather than work on the relationship issues. If she leaves in bad faith and/or exhibits unacceptable behavior while here, she will not be re-admitted to the Encounters International program.

I get to the bottom of the issues and make a determination whether to allow her back into the Encounters International agency or not. If she is not allowed back into the agency, it is because I have determined (as a result of our investigation) that I do not want to expose other male clients to the same risk. This saves my clients the possibility of lot of heartache, aggravation, worry, and expense.

Rolling The Dice
Let me stress that there is certainly a risk with becoming romantically and emotionally involved with a person from another country. The reality of the situation is that the risk goes in both directions! Risk for you. Risk for her. Likewise, there is a risk (even if smaller) with becoming romantically and emotionally involved with someone from across the street! When you add the fact that she will be from another continent, with another cultural background, the risk is greater.

Again, I want to stress, if you strike out on this journey alone, the odds are stacked very much against you. You are alone with no advocate or assistant--in either country. There is nobody who has blazed a trail for you and no one to watch your backside. When you join Encounters International, we can help adjust the odds to your favor. How?

No Man Is An Island
From the time you become a member of Encounters International, you have access to the value-added feature of a network of men and woman who have likely experienced everything you will go through. I am not going to send you a three-page booklet entitled, "How to Write to Russian Women" and wish you good luck. Luck has little to do with success; you need experience. Therefore, I make the Encounters International family of clients available to you.

Yes, I know the family of clients name sounds like 'warm and fuzzy' marketing propaganda. But, all you need to do is attend a Saturday Club event to see exactly what I mean. You can connect and network with everyone from fellow new clients; to experienced married couples, to men and women everywhere in between. Doors, minds, hearts, and ears open up to an otherwise closed world of experience and friendship.

Reaching Out
If you are not in the local area during a Saturday Club event, I will provide telephone and e-mail contact information for anyone you wish to contact. You can learn a tremendous amount of information by establishing a rapport with my former and other current clients!

Many agencies keep you completely isolated and insulated from everyone else. The intent is to keep you from comparing notes. That is very sad. As a client of Encounters International, you have the opportunity to become good friends with other men who are or were in just the same place you are today. Chances are, if you are going through something (good or bad), there is another client currently going through the same thing and several clients who have already survived it.

Some of my clients do request complete privacy due to personal concerns. I always respect that for the men and women who request that. But, the vast majority of the Encounters International family of clients is always willing and volunteer to communicate and help.

Customer or Family, You Decide
Any agency can provide you with a list of great reference contacts upon request. Beyond that, you're very much alone! After the business deal is completed and the terms of the contract are met, whether that is successfully or unsuccessfully, the agency is no longer involved with either of you. In these agencies, which is the majority, you are simply a customer and not family. Sure, you can be treated nicely and respectfully. However, that polite treatment does not make you more than a customer--a source of revenue--at any time.

At Encounters International, I maintain active, on-going contact with my clients. I open my home every year to host a large family reunion--the annual Open House event here in Bethesda. The monthly Saturday Club events are miniature reunions also! I guess that's one of the reasons, I have an endless list of volunteer references. I have to rotate them because many of them receive a lot of calls. I don't feel right taking all their time.

A Sympethic Russian Ear & Shoulder
Here is another important consideration for you. When your fiancée arrives here, she will probably need a sympathetic ear to listen to her problems or a strong shoulder to lean on during the first few weeks. This is likely her first exposure to the seemingly harsh world known as America and at some point a new marriage. She has filled in may blanks in her mind. But, now that she is here, things may be quite different and very confusing. The Encounters International women who are already here are always available to talk to her or meet with her.

This is a very important support system which can make the difference in a quick and comfortable adjustment to a new life and one that is slow and painful. Very often, the contacts she makes here is the difference between her desire to stay or return. She must be connected with the women who can listen to and support her during the initial stages of her arrival and new life. It is very difficult for me to express how important the networking with other Russian women will be to the short-term happiness and long-term success of your relationship!

Summing It All Up
In summary, the end result in becoming an Encounters International client is an unbelievable new life with the woman of your dreams!

I have prepared a comprehensive comparison between Encounters International of other types of agencies in the next Handbook section.

Natasha Spivack, Professional Matchmaker

Sorting Through The Type and Hype

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Bethesda, MD 20814 USA
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