Whenever I watch or read or hear something about mail order brides, I think the situation is creepy. It’s for middle-aged (and above) men who don’t want to put the effort into working on a relationship and would prefer to pay for the appearance of happiness.
Watching Love Me made me question my preconceived notions.
There was still creepiness, of course.
The 6-or-so men followed in this documentary were still men, after all, who had decided it was easier or preferable to pay thousands of dollars (each incoming or outgoing message on the featured site costs $10) for the chance at a life with a foreign woman than put in a little work in their home country. And I did question whether they really thought it was their last option, particularly for the guy whose female bartender confirmed there were hardly any women in his small town. It seems obvious that traveling 50-100 miles outside of your little hometown to attend an activity or go to a bar in a neighboring city would be far more cost effective and less hassle than spending thousands of dollars on a “romance tour” to the Ukraine.
But hey, maybe he really did think that was his best bet.
To the guy who noted that he was overweight before he sat down to film some B-roll of him playing a virtual reality game, maybe it really did seem easier to meet someone who doesn’t speak English than take a chance at being turned down yet again by American women who understand what he’s saying.
Because the film showed men who got scammed through the system–one who got married before the woman admitted she wanted nothing to do with him, one who got visited by a collections officer while visiting the woman’s apartment in the Ukraine and then concluded things “might” not be right, and one who found out the woman he’d thought he was communicating with for months had no knowledge of him–I was more apt to sympathize with these poor guys.
I still think in general the concept is sleazy, and that many, many women from disadvantaged countries are taken advantage of through the system just like some men are, but I also think some of these people really do believe it’s their shot at love. These people so badly want to be with someone that they may truly trick themselves into seeing a mail order bride as a viable means to their happily-ever-after. How much do humans crave intimacy and companionship that they would spend $10,000 (what one man has so far spent) to get a chance at lasting relationship happiness?
How different is it, really, than paying for a dating site subscription? Well, fairly, I’m sure, since the creepy, preying-on-foreign-women concept won’t go away no matter how loudly the eventual wedding bells ring. But at its heart, is it like most dating avenues in the internet age: taken advantage of by lots, but for the few who are genuine, just another way to meet someone?
I’m not sure, but by the end, the documentary did have me rooting for the 2 couples who did get married. I may be just as gullible as everyone in the movie, but I really want these couples to make it.