I am happy to publish the 1st part of my interview with Sergey Sokolov, a co-founder and manager of the UFMA agency (Ukrainian Fiancée Marriage Agency). Sergey tells us why he decided to launch the Ukrainian Fiancée Marriage Agency, why to choose a matchmaking agency instead of a big online dating site and how to overcome anti-scam challenges in the Ukrainian dating adventure. Let’s start.
Krystyna: Hi Sergey. Thank you very much for finding time to answer my questions. For those not familiar with the UFMA agency – how would you describe your company?
Sergey: Hello Krystyna, thank you too that you are doing this good deed – helping people find their direction in the ocean of the online dating. 🙂
The UFMA exists since 2006. We are a very small, private bureau of dating for serious relationships and marriage. I and my mother opened it together. She works here as a photographer and accountant and I used to work many years as one and only translator and now I am a manager and matchmaker.
Before I used to work for several years in a big agency. I won’t mention the name because it doesn’t exist any more, the owners had a conflict with each other and closed it.
When working there, I saw that it was a real dating conveyor and nobody was taking care of the clients at all. And I was so sorry about the people who are coming over thousands of miles from the USA or Australia and nobody meets them and helps them in a proper way. And at the end they turn around and go home having wasted lots of time, money and energy and with a sack full of bad experience and memories.
So back then I and my mother decided to open a little firm that would really help men and women. In fact we have so many beautiful and lonely women here, who are really looking for love. But some people started to speculate on this and make a lot of money and have wasted the reputation of this really hard and needed work.
Here at the UFMA we help from the very beginning of communication till the marriage or engagement. From the first letter till the visa paperwork. So a man doesn’t need to apply anywhere else or hire any visa attorneys. Only this saves him about $1000.
Krystyna: How many Ukrainian brides’ profiles are currently active on your website, and how many couples were formed through your marriage agency?
Sergey: We are a very small firm, therefore we mainly accept the ladies, who are referred by our acquaintances or friends. The most important for us is to be sure that a lady came here with the right intentions and that she knows what she wants. It’s important that she doesn’t waste our time and the time of men.
At the moment we have about 200 female profiles in Kharkov and about 40 in Kiev. Tanya, our Kiev manager lives there, she slowly but steadily finds good women in the capital. We often decline the applications if we doubt about women. So we don’t take many.
Concerning the marriages, we know for sure about 46 official marriages for this moment. Last month two new ladies have moved to the USA by Fiancee Visas.
Their love story was super fast, they fell in love from the first sight and in three months they were already married. Now they grow a beautiful son.
There’s much more engagements and serious relationships than marriages. Now I am preparing the new love story of Irina and Sigurd from Norway, I’m going to send it in the news to our clients. They got acquainted last year, then she flew over to him for a couple of months to Norway and now she’s moving to him.
Maybe the figures are not huge in comparison to the big agencies. But the success rate is super high. For the long time I was the one-man-orchestra here, working as the only translator and manager. And very often we were just closing the registrations both for men and women, so we could first help the ones who came earlier.
Now the registration is open again as this year and last year many men have found women and got married or engaged. So, welcome to the club! :))
Krystyna: Which key features and extra services does your marriage agency offer to Western singles?
Sergey: The most important is that a man finds the full and very personal service here.
I do the free matchmaking for him first; we can do the phone consultation, so I find out his needs. Then I introduce him to the profiles of the matching ladies and introduce them to his profile too. Sometimes it takes a lot of time to exchange all the information and choose the matches, but I do this absolutely free, so I can understand the client and help him better in the future. The other agencies often charge $300-500 for this kind of matchmaking work.
Also I send the client some free eBooks, which tell about the whole process of dating. Also my friend and client Thomas Chabot from the USA has written a book about his living in Ukraine, about the traditions and life here. This work can also be downloaded for free from our website.
We give out a lot of valuable content and services for free to show a man that we care about him and really want to help.
On our website there are all ways of communication with the ladies:
We arrange the personal tours in Kiev and Kharkov or just Introductions to ladies if a man travels on his own, outside the tour package from us.
I have lots of experience in arranging the meetings, so they are usually held in a very positive and romantic atmosphere. If a couple uses a translator, we have very experienced and skilled ones and they do their best to help the communication be successful. Our translator is like a good butler – all work is done, but you don’t see him :))
Of course we also do the visa help. I have helped with many Fiancée Visas to the USA, Great Britain and other countries, so I help a client avoid all the stress with the paperwork or hiring a visa lawyer for $1000-1500 who will do this same job.
So we totally support a couple from the introduction to the marriage and relocation of a woman. And we even help with questions outside the Ukraine.
For example, there was a situation when in the USA the kids of a man under the influence of his ex-wife did not accept the new wife of their dad and threatened him that they will not be coming to him if she’ll be there. It was a big drama because he’s very much attached to the kids.
The girl contacted me and we came up with a variant that she will live at a rented apartment till the children get used to her. After some time the situation got better and she moved back into his home. So there are different stories happening. This work is VERY personal and each couple, each person needs different approach.
Often we work not in a standard way. For example, a man has no possibility to come to Ukraine and we arrange meetings in other countries, for example, Turkey, Spain, and Dominican Republic. For everyone we try to find the way to his own happiness :))
Krystyna: Why should Western men choose the Ukrainian Fiancée Marriage Agency to find a Ukrainian wife and not for example big online dating sites such as Anastasia Date, Charmdate or Loveme (A Foreign Affair)?
Sergey: We work mostly not like a company or a business that provides services to customers. I can say that the UFMA agency is my life and about every client of ours I care and worry personally. As I said a bit above, this is such a personal work, that a big agency can’t be effective for each client.
I used to work in a big agency and I know. There a request of a man to meet a woman can hang in support desk for a few days while a man is “learning” the streets of a city and wasting his time. Let alone solving some extraordinary and urgent questions of clients.
I had lots of situations when I was not even making money here, but investing my own funds to help the guys. As people are coming from all around the world and far from all are rich or well off and very often they require help.
There was a story when a guy flew over from New Zealand, he was from some small village there and not used to big cities, and either at a railway station or in the street he got his wallet stolen with all his cash and cards. And the story was happening in January with -20C outside and the man didn’t have any possibility to pay for a hotel or rent an apartment.
And he was living at my flat for a few days while we were getting in touch with an embassy and they helped him with the return tickets. In other case the person could get into serious troubles and of course I couldn’t let this happen.
Or there was a case when a man got his eye injured and had a crazy pain there and he just couldn’t open his eyes. And I was rushing around Kharkov city around the doctors for a few days; we were sitting in the lines and everything. I was taking him around in my car and spending time on this, helping find the doctors, medicines and everything what’s needed.
Another guy came from California and he forgot to look at the weather forecast :)) It was also in winter and it was crazy cold, more than -30C back then in Kharkov. So I was bringing him my own warm clothes, as he didn’t even have warm socks. And he’s not a rich guy and it made no sense for him to buy everything for one trip.
Other guys urgently needed some rare medicines, for diabetics for example, I was also rushing around to find them.
I am not trying to say that something happens to everyone here :)) It’s a rare thing. But this work is like this – people are coming from all the corners of the world and everyone needs personal approach, personal help and lots of time is spent on this. And no huge company will be doing this, I know that. They are interested in maximizing their profits only. There a client is just another one from hundreds.
Testimonial of our client:
And for us each man is a personality. That’s why we are not growing into some huge business. Otherwise this just will not be working. Here it’s needed that people will open towards each other and trust each other, so we can create the couples better. I am a perfectionist and I like when people get lots of value from what we are doing.
Yes, we don’t have thousands of Russian and Ukrainian brides in the database. But who even knows them in the big agencies? They are just pictures and profiles there.
Yes, we don’t have thousands of Russian and Ukrainian brides in the database. But who even knows them in the big agencies? They are just pictures and profiles there.
And for us they are good acquaintances and friends, whom we help, about whom I can tell something and can create good couples qualitatively, because I know them all in person. Therefore the human approach and the friendly attitude with all members are our advantages.
Looking for a legit dating site? Check my reviews here:
Krystyna: Unfortunately, Ukraine is famous for its dating and marriage industry scam (translation scam, pay per letter scam, creating fake profiles on the sites, etc.). Many Western men believe there are no genuine marriage agencies and no honest Ukrainian brides anymore. What are your thoughts on Ukrainian dating scam?
Sergey: Yes, it’s true, the scam exists. Scam can be of different kinds:
There can be scam from men’s side too. There are sex tourists, not serious men, who pretend to be marriage minded, but just want sex with women and then leave them.
There are also men and women who don’t know what they want – I call them time wasters, this is also semi scam, because they are taking away another valuable recourse – the time.
If talking about us, on our website we have a detailed page about how we are protecting a client from scams: UFMA Scam Free Agency.
We accept all ladies only after the personal interviews in the offices, we check their documents. All photos are made in our studio in person; we don’t take any from the Internet. The pictures are unique and you won’t find them anywhere.
And we have the video testimonials of men who have been here and met with the ladies, which proves that they are real. Without the real results and value for the clients we wouldn’t exist for more than 10 years :))
Each company is unique. Each organization has its soul, its key principles. Our principles are openness and honesty, sorry if this sounds pathetically. But it’s easier to work and live this way, right? :))
I am a fast person myself, I like when things are done quickly, so I hate the time wasters. And those ladies who are not very much interested in the relationships – we delete them fast, as I don’t want men to waste their time on them. We care about the cleanness of the base all the time, as it’s a face of our bureau.
Krystyna: Have you overcome anti-scam challenges on the way? How do you ensure genuine brides’ profiles in your marriage agency database?
Sergey: Our profiles are all real because we accept ladies only from Kiev and Kharkov and they come to our offices, when I or our Kiev manager Tanya talks with them. Then we take photos of them in our studios. So they are all real, I have seen them all :)) Who wants to look or even touch maybe – you are welcome to us :))
Concerning scamming for money and gifts, I don’t like greatly, when men, even if they are rich, are starting to shower a woman with gifts here. There is no need to spoil them. As they say, a woman is a perfect consumer – no matter how much you give her – she will accept everything :))
I can even understand a woman in this situation, when she wants to take money or a gift that costs like her 3 months salary. But later this turns out bad.
Therefore if a man starts to give her the money or expensive gifts, even if he wants it himself, I try to cancel this, even argue with them sometimes. It’s better to give some small romantic gifts, some flowers or lessons of English. We have a good set of romantic gift ideas on our website.
And when a woman will be your wife, you can give her a red Ferrari or diamonds if you wish. But don’t spoil her from the beginning, this is my advice.
I had a story recently, when a man went out for the VERY FIRST meeting with a lady and he liked her a lot and he went and bought her a new iPhone. She didn’t ask for this because she never met any foreigners before and definitely couldn’t even think of this. He just showed his liking this way. At the second meeting he went and bought her a new McBookPro for $2000 and some super expensive things for a few thousand dollars. I didn’t know that because they were meeting alone, without a translator.
For the girl those were sky high moneys. She went and returned everything back to the shop and took the money. And the men later wrote me with a lot of complains that she scammed him for money and didn’t value the gifts etc. But she didn’t need such costly gifts, they are not for her at all when she not always has money at home to buy medicines for her child.
I am not talking about the professional daters and scammers here, Krystyna, as because of our work structure we just don’t have them in the base, as we do a very personal work with everyone.
I always tell men, you better bring some small souvenir from your country, give her some flowers, candies, something thoughtful. Once we had a story when a lady was in a hurry for the first date with a man and she broke a hill on her shoe and she came to our office very upset and almost crying.
And he took her by the hand and accompanied her to a closest shop around the corner and they bought her some new shoes, not expensive ones. But this was such a nice gesture, moreover, they just met first time. She was very much impressed. They got married eventually in a few months :))
So don’t load her with expensive presents. I ask everyone to delay the money things till the serious relationships.
Krystyna: It is said that Ukrainian women looking for a Western husband are basically looking only for a Green Card and money. Would you agree with this statement based on your dating and matchmaking experience?
Sergey: In any marriage it’s very important it there are two people with the common plans about the future and common outlook there. And this shows the level of the work of a matchmaker – to help such people meet, to connect them into a union. Here I can’t judge just from one side that Ukrainian women or Russian brides are materialistic and American men, for example, will carry women in their hands and do all she wants and behave like perfect husbands. There is such a saying: “they don’t go away from good”.
And if a woman feels good in a marriage, why would she get a Green Card and run away from a husband, with whom she has a harmonious relationship?
Of course there are women who do this for the passports, but I wouldn’t say that people massively want to invest years of their lives to get the passport of a country, which they don’t know about and where they’ve never been.
Yes, we also have a couple of divorces among our couples. There can’t be a 100% guarantee of a marriage. People are changing, life is changing. But the key values, the respect to each other, the common plans for the future, the kids – this all holds the marriage. You need to have this in your marriage and everything will be fine. As Russian brides also want to realize themselves as women, mothers and good wives near good men.
We had the marriages happening when a woman had more money or more stability in life than a man, for example a woman had own apartment, a car, a good job. And a man lost his job, had debts. But they still got married and now live fine. She also works and provides for the family. And I am sure she makes more than him as she is a doctor-neurologyst. Money is important, but they are not main, you can’t buy love for money, that’s for sure.
I have written an eBook some time ago, where I describe the key values and needs of a woman in a relationship and marriage. Who is interested, please contact me, I will send you this little book. I am married myself and find the common ground with my wife well, so I can say that I know what I am talking about not just from theory :))
Building relationships is a separate topic and once again, each relationship is unique and if there are some questions rising, our couples get back to us even after wedding and we help to overcome some cultural or language barriers. Relationships are like a job and you constantly need to think and work on their development. And your spouse too, of course.
Krystyna:How would you describe your male customers? How serious do they consider intercultural differences in Ukrainian dating and dating Ukrainian women? What is one of the most frequent mistakes Western men make in Ukrainian dating?
Sergey: Approximately 50% of our male clients are from the USA and another 50% are from the other countries. I’ve seen people from huge cities and small towns and villages, people from all parts of the world. And I can say that all of us, no matter where we are from, have same core needs – for respect, love and support.
Only the approaches to the search of this differ from person to person. Someone easily finds the common ground with people and finds it easy to communicate. Another one is more of an introvert and it’s hard for him to keep up the conversation and to relax.
We try to help all kinds of people and we do help them. I still often join them at the meetings myself, especially to the first ones, so people could feel themselves comfortable and start to communicate easily.
I have one more eBook that I can share. It describes well the Ukrainian mentality and the dating tips. You can download it from our website for free after you sign up. There I tell how to easier win a heart of a Ukrainian woman.
Yes, western men often believe in the myths about women here. They think that people are different here. But the world is so globalized already that people are very similar everywhere.
The big plus is that the Ukrainian and Russian women are really very beautiful, they take good care about themselves. Like you, Krystyna, for example :))
And you can really find here a woman who is 10-15-20 years younger. This is true. But some men, for example, having not very high life standards, are looking for a girl with a high status, good education, model looks and 20-30 years younger.
Like in any place in the world, this is not possible. There’s high competition for such ladies everywhere. Make your demands more realistic, look for the normal good looking ladies. They are better for the family and for the relationships. Don’t look for the models.
I also don’t recommend the age difference of more than 20 years. It will be a difference of generations; it will be harder to find the common ground. Below 20 years the age difference is acceptable, Ukrainian women are very mature for their age.
There’s also a category of men, who come here not mainly in a search of a bride, but like on a vacation, to take some rest, to hang out. And they start to drink, in the day time they come to our office to meet the ladies and at night they go to the clubs and bars. In Kharkov there are plenty of them and the prices for alcohol in comparison to Europe are funny.
Of course it’s not welcome to arrive at a meeting with a crumpled face and yesterdays’ fume. We even wrote in our Meetings Agreement that it’s not allowed to come drunk to the meetings, because people do relax well on vacations and this is not rare :))
I recommend men to behave themselves respectfully, like gentlemen, define their needs and then everything will work out pretty well.
Krystyna: The Ukrainian-Western dating and marriage industry has been in existence for over 20 years. The agency and dating companies have experienced a lot of changes and transformations, e.g. mobile dating, scam strategy development and improvement as well as strong competition.
Additionally, I would say that Ukrainian brides have also changed over the past 20 years. They are no typical “mail order brides” anymore but modern successful and confident women. What are your ideas on the future of this industry? Do you believe, there would be still a requirement for Ukrainian-Western dating in 5-10 years?
Sergey: I am in this industry for about 12 years now and I can say that yes, with the development of Facebook, social networks, messengers and such things the industry is changing, becoming more dynamic and fast. But again, which industry’s niche are we talking about?
If it’s dating, communication, socializing, common journeys – then yes, there must be speed, there must be emotions here.
If we are talking about the communication for serious relationships, then there is no need to be in a hurry here, you need to learn a person better, if you are going to spend you life with him. You need to build trust and trust requires time. We give good value, good result to our clients. Many men recommend us to their friends and they recommend to theirs.
The value of a business is shown in if it covers the needs of the clients. We do cover them and our experience and quality of work are only growing, therefore we are not afraid of competition. And we are not chasing the big money turnovers too. We just won’t handle them, we don’t have enough time and working hands for this :))
I think that the core needs of a human for love, care and a close person nearby will never change, no matter what new gadgets or services are invented.
From the point of view of the Ukrainian women and Russian brides, the situation is that many women here are looking for love abroad because there are not enough men in Ukraine, so our women will still be searching for the men abroad, this is inevitable.
And in many countries, like Australia, New Zealand and some European countries there’s a lack of women. So this process will continue always and those who want to find a pretty looking and caring woman for serious relationships and family will be coming to us.
And if you want to minimize the risks and receive an outstanding service and support, come to Ukrainian Fiancee Marriage Agency (UFMA) and I will help you from all my heart.
Krystyna: Which Ukrainian (intercultural) dating tips do you have for Western men?
Sergey: There are very many tips in my eBooks and the book of Thom, which you can download free from our website.
There are several universal advices that, depending on my experience, do work well:
If you need help, write to me, I will use my expertise to help you define the plan.
Krystyna: Anything else you’d like to share with the Ukrainian dating blog readers?
Sergey:To tell the truth, Krystyna, I have lots of information in stock after all the years at this job. I am planning to create a YouTube channel too and upload videos about Ukrainian dating. Because you can tell really much about this. By the way, we already have our corporate blog where we have tons of articles and stories.
So, if you want to find a woman from Russia or Ukraine, you have three ways in front:
So, write to me, come to the UFMA website. I will be glad to help you and share tons of useful info on all the steps of the way. And I will find you a woman of your dreams!
Krystyna: Thanks so much to Sergey for giving us such thoughtful and practical answers. I am sure information will be useful to everybody looking for a woman from Ukraine. Good luck! 🙂