This is a true thing: a friend of mine married a Russian girl he met while touristing over there, some little while after the fall of the Soviet Union. They’re still together, not that they haven’t had one or two rough patches like many another married couple. She’s a tough lady, as you might expect; she was raised by her grandmother, an ever tougher lady, as you could surmise by the fact that Babushka survived the siege of Leningrad. I’ve seen my friend’s wife go from sweetness to “stone bitch” in ten seconds flat, then back again twice as fast. In fact I saw her do that very thing the day before the wedding, which made me question my friend’s sanity even as I saluted his courage and devotion to the concept of True Love by opening another large bottle of Baltika 9. But I knew immediately his bride was a sweetheart, and in the nearly twenty years they’ve stayed married, I’ve come to see that she’s also loyal, thrifty, and hard-working. (She is not, however, a woman you should marry if you do not enjoy eating a wide variety of mysterious root-vegetable-based soups.) My point in mentioning her, though, is to blow up any of those “women from X country are Y” stereotypes you always hear whenever talk turns to online dating for purposes of marriage. Women are people, people; as individualistic as you or me. Every damn one of us is a special snowflake, and you never know what you’re gonna get, until you lick us to get at the flavor…

Most of these sites like RomanceCompass.com where you can find a bride online from a specific part of the world (in this case, Russia and Ukraine) talk up the specific cultural merits of the ladies who are part of their dating-for-marriage service, and that’s perfectly understandable. Cultural differences are a real thing. Partying with Russian girls is not at all like partying with American girls, I can tell you from personal experience; so there’s not one chance on this green earth that being married to a Russian woman is going to be like being married to an American woman, either. In general. On average. By the numbers. But you don’t marry women on average and by the numbers! What this means is, you can’t predict with any great nuance at all what your sweet Slavic princess is going to be like when you’ve been waking up beside her for thirty years. Because her identity as a person far outweighs her identity as a “Russian woman”. (Which is not to say I haven’t met one or two Russian women who would have slapped me upside the head with a sackful of greasy cabbage piroshki for saying so, and then served them to me with a smile on a china plate not half an hour later.)

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One helpful feature — not all that new to online dating services, but new to Romance Compass since I last wrote about them — is online video chat. This may matter less to the sort of “casual dating site” services in the US that have mostly now migrated to the hookup apps, but for serious long-distance dating-for-relationship-forming services, I think there’s now little excuse not to have (and use!) video chat. As a veteran of multiple happy and lengthy relationships that began at long distance, I am also a big believer in lots of travel. Yes, it’s expensive, but so is unwinding hasty decisions. That said, enjoy!

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