Although I’ve been to over 80 countries (and lived in 15), there’s no other country in the world where I’ve succeeded with as many women but also failed to build anything substantial with as many women. That’s the conclusion I came to after dating probably hundreds of women during my 5 years in Ukraine. It’s been a roller coaster ride, to say the least.
In this article, I want to open up and share my experiences dating Ukrainian women from the point of view of someone who was born in the country but mostly grew up abroad. This is going to be my objective assessment of Ukrainian dating culture from the perspective of someone who’s seeking casual as well as serious relationships.
Many men consider Ukrainian women as some of the most beautiful in the world, an impression not lost on the women themselves. Personally, I think such statements are absurd: beauty, after all, is subjective. There’s beauty all around us.
What about Brazilian women (guide)? What about Spanish women? What about Mexican women (guide)? What about Colombian women (guide)? They’re plenty of stunners in each of those countries (and many other countries).
Although I have seen some beautiful women during my travels, I must say that nowhere else in the world have I actually seen such a high number of women that can be easily called gorgeous or at least cute, or as I like to say, “easy on the eyes.”
This didn’t happen in Brazil, Spain, Mexico, and even Russia (although Russia does come close).
Important disclaimer: of course, I could be saying this because I’m not only a Ukrainian-born guy myself, but also because I believe I have a certain psychological weakness to Slavic women. Put a Slavic woman with shoulder-length blonde hair, and she will cast a spell on me that would be all but impossible to break out of—even if I know she’s trouble and pursuing her is against my best interests.
Here’s my litmus test if a foreign woman is beautiful: if you transport a cute or average Ukrainian woman into New York City or Los Angeles or Copenhagen or Miami, will she be noticed? Will she stand out? Will men approach her? Will men try to get to know her? Judging by the quality of women I saw in NYC on my last trip, an average Ukrainian woman is definitely a few points above in beauty than the average woman in NYC or another American city. She will definitely stand out.
But, here in Ukraine, she’s just another attractive woman in a sea of other attractive women. And, thus, is mostly ignored in her environment.
Foreigner vs. Local
The first thing you must realize is that I’m a local. I was born here, speak Russian fluently and understand the culture.
But I’m also not your typical local. I look different (some say Southern European), and I have a bit of an accent when speaking Russian.
Is being a local an advantage or a disadvantage?
Honestly, it’s hard to say because I’m experiencing the “local” side of things. I do not know what it’s like being a foreigner who either doesn’t speak any Russian or can carry a conversion in Russian.
I can tell you several things. First of all, as a local guy, you need to play by the existing rules. Ukrainian women, just like other Eastern European women aren’t exactly simple to connect with: they will endlessly test you in various ways (more on that in a bit), and you will need to respond accordingly or she’ll lose attraction for you quickly.
On the other hand, as a foreigner, you are automatically exempt from these rules to some extent. First, since most women don’t speak English fluently or even conversationally, you will make a woman self-conscious and throw her off balance when speaking in English, thus giving yourself an edge right from the start.
Even asking her to say a couple of words (especially if she’s 30+), and you will notice how shy she’ll suddenly get. She will be forced to communicate with you on your terms, work harder to understand your words as well as your mannerisms.
That’s because most Ukrainians don’t even have a conversational grasp of English. This can definitely play to your advantage because you’re throwing her off balance a bit.
There’s a fairly known fact that Eastern European women aren’t particularly fond of their own men. That they complain about how their men are lazy, sit on the couch and drink vodka all day. They complain about how their men take them for granted. I believe there’s definitely some truth to that. Nevertheless, I certainly wouldn’t underestimate local men; while they can be stoic and “cold,” they understand their women particularly well, more so than foreigners.
I think that as women get older (30+), they tend to view foreign men as more suitable for random flings and, thus, tend to prefer local guys for building more serious relationships. Of course, I don’t think a 30-year-old woman would necessarily reject a good-looking and successful foreign guy, but she understands that most foreigners that are in this country are here for sex and sex only (you can thank hordes of Turkish men for that) plus there’s the cultural incompatibility as well, especially if the woman doesn’t speak English.
Honestly, I believe that as a local, I have crucial advantages. Not once did I ever feel that it would’ve been much happier had I been a foreigner. In fact, it has been the exact opposite: most of the women I’ve met have been super friendly and enthusiastic about hanging out.
An aspect of EE culture that’s very different from Latin America, Southeast Asia or even the US is that there’s a certain element of stoicism and ”alphaness” present. Eastern Europe isn’t exactly a paradise on earth: there’s a lot of poverty, poor job security (companies can hire and fire people as they please), so you must be pretty tough and aggressive to survive and make ends meet (not to mention even prosper).
That’s very different from when I lived and worked in the Bay Area/Silicon Valley, easily making $150,000/year writing software code and being surrounded by similar guys (and gals) who were making the same or more.
As of this writing, the median income in Ukraine is something like $500/month. And that’s in Kiev, the capital. In the other big cities, it’s closer to something like $300/mo.
This means that the wealth must be built from scratch or via some high-level connections. So, if you see a guy driving an expensive car (Toyota Land Cruiser, BMW 7 Series, high-end Mercedes Benz, etc), chances are he’s not leasing it as you would in America, but actually bought it with cash, with money that he made via a serious business or some corrupt means.
As a result, there’s a bit of a cutthroat culture that pervades everything that’s going on. It touches upon everything: professional life, personal life, relationships, etc.
In America, everyone can potentially be well off, and women themselves can make more money than men, so there’s less of a need to hunt down that serious “alpha”—that successful guy who’s making a ton of money. Whereas here in Ukraine, where a the majority of the population makes enough to subsist, that’s a lot more important.
Another thing you must understand about Ukrainian culture is that, at its core, it’s very transactional. When I first arrived in Ukraine after living abroad for most of my adult life, I was confused about this, thinking that everyone is nice and friendly and open, and couldn’t really comprehend how it can be so transactional, but the more time I spent here, the more I realized how true it was.
It’s certainly not uncommon for friends to lend decent sums of money to each other and for your girlfriend (or some girl you’re seeing) to ask you to borrow $500 (or more) at some random point in your relationship.
This is mostly limited to places like Ukraine and Russia and doesn’t happen in the West or even the Baltic countries (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia). Although I have dated plenty of women who had decent jobs and made decent money, I’ve also dated women in Lithuania and Latvia who weren’t making that much money, but would never dream of borrowing $500+ from their boyfriend.
Ukrainian life is rife with corruption, so the general mindset is “Let’s steal this and enrich ourselves” or “Let’s screw this guy over so that we’re in a better position.” Believe me, as an Eastern European guy I understand this all too well. I can also guarantee you that other Ukrainians would agree with me as well. No wonder that few of the locals have anything ever great to say about their government.
This cultural element isn’t lost on women, so, like anywhere else, you have your share of conniving people trying to get their share at your expense.
At first, I figured this was the result of poverty and low-income conditions. But after countless conversations with both Ukrainian women and men, I realized that it has more to do with Ukraine specifically than the fact that Ukraine is a low-income country.
After all, Latin America and SE Asia have their poor regions as well, but people aren’t exactly eager to screw each other over for some short-term gain. At least it’s not something that’s as obvious and in-your-face as in Ukraine.
For the most part, Ukrainian women prefer their men to be tough. When I say tough, I don’t mean they all need to be ex-convicts, drug dealers, narco-traffickers, etc. (Although these examples would work, too.)
Tough also doesn’t mean being rich or wealthy. A Ukrainian woman would much more respect a tough guy who isn’t wealthy than a wealthy nice guy. She’d simply milk the nice guy for what it’s worth but will be always drawn to the tougher man.
Of course, this varies by the woman. Some women prefer real tough guys; others are OK when a guy is a little tough, but toughness needs to exist at some level or another. I can’t really see how an altruistic nice guy can ever survive in Ukraine.
One of the reasons that women love their men to be tough is because of the environment and trust. It’s much better for a man to say what he thinks even if that will upset others than to be around some guy who says all the nice things because he’s afraid of pissing anyone off. Eastern European men fit this bill perfectly: they tell you exactly how it is without sugarcoating the truth.
Saying what matters without seeking approval or validation is an undervalued trait, especially in today’s environment where people are constantly trying to please each other by saying all the nice things—even if they are not true—to avoid ruffling feathers.
Another reason that women are drawn to tough guys is that there’s a good chance her own father is just like this. After all, women are drawn to men who, at least, partially remind them of their fathers. The majority of EE fathers are tough and old school so it’s natural for the woman to view her father’s version of masculinity as a template of how her future boyfriend or husband should be.
That doesn’t mean you should automatically turn into a stoic and rough Eastern European who never laughs or smiles; it’s perfectly fine to be friendly and chatty, but you must always remember you’ll have to draw the line somewhere and have the ability to say “No” and decline a woman’s requests more than you were comfortable in the past.
This is completely different than the carefree and sun-filled life of Rio de Janeiro, where everyone is friendly and having fun and your ability to relax is more valued than your ability to be tough.
When a Ukrainian woman feels you’re weak and you’re valuing her more than you should because you’re willing to do everything that she requests (or more than she’s used to in the past), she’ll instinctively begin to test your boundaries to see where they end. I believe they do this on a subconscious level. Don’t be surprised when she promptly crosses those boundaries and manipulates you into doing more and more things for her, and you’re soon left wondering what happened.
Along with toughness, women respect dominance. They respect a man who makes all the decisions (or at least all the important ones). They respect a man who is decisive and not wishy-washy. They respect a man who knows what he wants out of life and isn’t afraid to go after it.
Nothing makes a woman lose respect for a man faster than someone who shows weakness (willingly or unwillingly) as well as someone who’s indecisive about what they want out of life.
In other words, don’t tell your Ukrainian girlfriend that you just lost your job and don’t know what to do with your life. She may feel sorry for you for a moment, but her attraction in you will take a rapid nosedive.
While on the surface, being dominant makes a lot of sense, you must realize that this is radically different from any kind of dominance you’re used to in the West. In the West, there’s a concept of 50/50 relationships where both partners make decisions and reaffirm decisions with the other, but in Ukraine, a man decides what to do and sticks to it, and the woman supports his endeavors.
For a moment, imagine a woman who’s incapable of making even the most trivial decisions, and her response to every “What do you want to do?” is “I don’t know.” That’s your typical Eastern European woman, and your responsibility as a man is to make sure your woman is never left wondering what’s going on.
The man pays. Period. The man pays for initial dates. The man pays for anything that he invites the woman to do.
If he invites her to coffee, he pays. If he invites her to dinner, he pays. If he invites her to take a trip together to another city or country, he pays.
In the case of an expensive overseas trip, the man pays for everything and the woman might throw in a little bit to help with the expenses (or she might not).
After the relationship develops and the couple begins living together, there could a 50/50 split on some things such as groceries or rent, but that depends on the girl and your agreement with her. She might scoff at the idea of her contributing any money (which can be seen as a relationship red flag).
The culture in Eastern Europe is a very materialistic by nature. So, the question of who pays for what is one of the thorniest issues. And, from my experience dating Eastern European women for many years, it’s usually the man that pays for everything unless some other arrangements have been made.
“Your beautiful wife is not really your wife”
I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received from men over the years who went to Ukraine, met a beautiful woman, started dating her, brought her over to America and then got burned when she left the guy for a richer/younger/sexier/stronger man. This happens all the time.
That’s because a lot of Western men are very gullible when it comes to Eastern European women. They think they can just fly in, meet a beautiful girl and then give her the world and she’ll become theirs forever and ever.
Yes, she’ll gladly take the world, but she won’t stop there, especially if there’s another man who’d gladly give her even more. (Remember: there’s always another man out there who’s better than you in some way, shape or form around there.)
In Russian, we have a famous saying that roughly translates to: “If your wife is very beautiful, then she doesn’t belong to you.” (Красивая жена – чужая жена)
What this essentially means is that if you’re seeing or dating a beautiful woman, there’s a good chance other men will be also trying to talk to her and seduce her. Moreover, since she knows that she’s beautiful, she’ll demand and test more of the men around her and won’t hesitate to jump ship to a stronger suitor if her current suitor becomes weak. Ukrainian women can sniff out weakness in men much better than any other women that I’ve encountered.
This is especially true in the context of Ukraine where there are lots of beautiful women, and, more importantly, these women know that they’re beautiful and they know they can get other men when they wanted and whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Thus, unless you’re some super duper Alpha guy who knows what he’s doing, you should know that your beautiful and sexy girlfriend might sooner or later become your beautiful and sexy ex-girlfriend.
If you’re a nice guy (or at least a guy with good intentions), you’re probably not going to last long.
While that’s more or less true around the world, I believe it’s especially true in Eastern Europe (Ukraine and Russia) because of the tough living conditions and the desire for women to be with the strongest men possible.
I remember dating a sexy woman a few years ago. She wanted to get married and then move to some Western country. Although I had feelings for her, I was torn, not knowing if her intentions were genuine or she was just using me. The entire time my gut was telling me that something was off.
I showed a couple of her pictures to my uncle, an old school guy who understands women well and he immediately looked at me in a way that confirmed my suspicions. This was definitely not a girl he’d trust, and I shouldn’t trust either, something that had crossed my mind before.
The age factor
Ukraine is one of those countries where it’s fairly common to have a relatively big age difference between a man and a woman in the relationship. It’s not unheard off for a 40-year-old man to date a 21-year-old woman. I have also heard of 48-year-old men dating 18-year-old women.
Generally speaking, if you’re in your 30s, you can date women starting as low as 21, all the way to late 30s (and above) if you wanted to.
I’ve known a guy who was around 45 but liked dating women as young as 18 or 19. I’ve known another guy who’s 48 and is currently living with a 25-year-old girl.
Having said that, this is definitely not applicable for everyone, so if you’re a 47-year-old man, you shouldn’t think you’re just going to fly in and build a serious relationship with a 21-year-old girl. She may be attracted to you for money or status, but on a primal level, she’d still be more attracted to a 20- something or 30-something guy.
All in all, I would consider something like a 10-year difference to be the absolute maximum that might exist without compromising the relationship and risking that your girl might jump ship to a younger man. There’s nothing weird about a 32-year-old guy dating a 22-year-old girl. Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with a 42-year-old guy dating a 32-year-old girl.
If the age difference becomes bigger than that, there’s a higher chance that your girl is merely waiting for the right opportunity to dump you for a younger man.
One thing I want to point out is that not every 45-year-old man is the same. Some men are in better shape or just genetically look younger, while other men might be out of shape, fat, or just look older. I have met 35-year-old men who looked 50. I’ve also met 45-year-old men who looked 30.
In terms of my own preferences, I’m in my late 30s, and I’ve dated women as young as 26, all the way up to 35 (actually, I even once dated a 36-year-old woman). My sweet spot seems to be women who’re 27-31 years old. I don’t have much interest in dating women younger than 25.
There’s a pattern where the older the woman gets, the more jaded she becomes, especially if she had never been in a serious relationship (or had her heart broken in one). After around the age of 33, women seem to lose that innocence and spark in their eyes that’s associated with younger women who don’t have as much baggage or breakups.
Dating and mating
All of these factors translate into a unique dating culture that’s unlike anything that I’ve experienced in America or Latin America.
While it’s been relatively easy to meet women and have casual relationships, building something stronger and longer-lasting has proved to be a far greater challenge than I ever anticipated.
I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of these issues have to do with me. As someone in his late 30s, I have my share of baggage and experience from previous relationships and so that makes it in some cases harder to connect with new women.
But it also has to do with the types of women that I’m choosing since it seems that a lot of them just aren’t suitable for long term relationships.
Indeed, most of my relationships have been fairly short-term. I blame that on the Internet and living in big cities: it’s very tempting to meet a new woman tomorrow than to try to fix a relationship that lost its luster and has gone stale.
However, lately, I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m looking for something more serious, even something possibly leading to marriage and kids. (I’m not categorically opposed to marriage and love kids.)
For the most part, I have been able to quickly and effectively determine what kind of woman I’m dating and whether trying to build a relationship with her would be an exercise in futility. But there have been a few women that weren’t exactly suitable for long-term relationships that slipped past the cracks and, as a result, those relationships were nothing but a nightmare that left both parties jaded and hateful.
It also forced me to understand women in profound new ways in order to understand why they behave the way they do.
In short, dating in Ukraine opened my eyes to women in ways that I never experienced before.
My approach to women is based on my many years of living in Latin America. It’s the smooth, cool and nice guy with an edge style. Not the “asshole game” that works on the streets of big American cities such as NYC or LA.
This style matches my personality and has worked incredibly well in Latin America where women (and people) tend to open up much quicker than in other parts of the world. It’s not uncommon to meet a woman in Colombia and talk about anything and everything on the first very date. It’s also not uncommon to meet a woman in Brazil and have her tell you that she loves you within an hour of meeting you.
This is not the case in Eastern Europe. While a typical EE (Eastern European) woman is friendly, flirtatious and very feminine, you need a bit of time before she opens up to you. Some women open up quicker than others, while others may not open up at all and there will always be this “wall” between the both of you.
I have experienced all sides of the spectrum: from women who open up quickly to women who seemingly don’t open up at all, and I can tell you that being with a woman who’s closed off to you emotionally isn’t the most exciting thing in the world.
Attraction and relationships
In my experience, it’s fairly easy to build attraction. Unlike in America, you don’t need to know a complex maze of witty one-liners, anecdotes, or come-backs. As long as you act cool and comfortable and not nervous like it’s your first time talking to a woman, you should be fine.
The one thing you have to watch out for is a series of tests thrown your way. They usually start out friendly and innocent, but if you’re not aware of them or if she feels that she’s talking to someone who’s not used to women of her caliber, she’ll lose interest quickly. Obviously, the prettier the woman, the higher the quantity of tests.
Then, once you’ve established some kind of rapport, and your relationship continues to develop, one of two things may happen. In the first scenario, she’ll genuinely start liking you and respecting you as a man. She’ll do that because you’ve demonstrated to her that you’re a real man who’s ready to protect and (financially) support her.
In the second scenario, she’ll realize that you’re not exactly the ideal man for her, but because she has no other options at the moment (maybe you’re a Westerner with plenty of disposable income who can show her a good time), she’ll spend time with you and sleep with you in exchange for dinners, gifts, trips, etc. Of course, throughout this time, she’ll continue to look around for better options and, once she finds one, she’ll switch teams.
Relationships move fast
In Ukraine, relationships move fast, much faster than in America or even Latin America. It’s not uncommon to meet a girl, date her for a month or two, and then move in together. After living for some time, perhaps several months to half a year to a year, marriage becomes the next logical step.
It’s not uncommon for couples to marry after just 4-5 months of seeing each other (sometimes even quicker).
This is obviously not the case in America where people can be dating for years or even living together for years without ever making it official.
The main reason relationships move quickly is because there’s less friction when it comes to meeting people and building something meaningful. People have a lot less insecurities than they do in the West; there are fewer doubts about the roles of men and women, about the notion who should be doing what in the relationship. Men conquer the world. Women conquer the household. Men make money. Women cook and raise children.
This easily understood devision of responsibilities goes a long way into reducing misunderstandings and making a relationship much more enjoyable and predictable for both parties.
Moreover, in America (and the West), relationships are something that are becoming (or have already become) something like an afterthought. People are busy, everyone has a hobby for every day of the week. It’s not uncommon for a woman in a city like New York to have pilates on Monday, yoga on Tuesday and some girl’s night out on Thursday.
But in Ukraine, it doesn’t work like that. People aren’t busy for the sake of being busy. Relationships still matter.
When you remove the bullshit that keeps people from being together, you realize that you don’t need to date someone for 10 years before taking the next steps and starting a family.
Characteristics of an ideal Ukrainian girlfriend/wife
If you’re looking for a serious relationship or even marriage, you must be absolutely ruthless in the types of women you pick to be in your life.
First of all, you must be absolutely certain that the woman you like (or love) actually loves you back. This can be tricky because women can be chameleons and say/do things that you expect them to do.
There are a couple of things to watch out for. First of all, if you feel that something is wrong, then you’re not feeling it—something is definitely wrong. Whether it’s her behavior, her actions, or something else, this is something you must investigate and find the reasons for your suspicions before you commit.
Second, as I noted above, you must be absolutely sure that the woman you’ve chosen views you as the only man in her life worth caring about (maybe just beside her father).
This is can be especially tough to do especially if you’re smitten by a particular woman and any kind of positive gesture or smile in your direction makes you automatically think that the love is mutual. You need a cool head to appraise the situation properly.
Another crucial factor to look out for is a woman who is genuinely interested in helping you with whatever you need. It needs to be something that’s important for you only—not for both of you. Ask her to do something for you that require some level of effort. If she scoffs and changes the subject, she is not the keeper. If she’s more than happy to always help, that’s a great sign of good things to come.
Moreover, during the first several months, a woman may act her best self and do everything you want her to do. There’s an aptly named term for this: demo version or demonstration version.
I’ve had relationships start out amazingly with the women doing everything that I wanted, buying little things for me, cooking for me, but after several months, they became less inclined to do these things for me. That’s because these women stopped pretending that they’re so nice and caring and reverted back to their selfish selves.
This means that the first few months aren’t, in any meaningful way, a genuine indicator of what the woman is really about. She can be friendly and nice for the initial few months, but then slowly morph into her real self. On the other hand, she can be friendly and nice and remain like this for the foreseeable future as well. You just never know.
So there you have it, a 5,000+ word primer on the dating culture in Ukraine.
While, at first glance, dating and building relationships may seem like a straightforward and simple process, there’s a lot of things that lurk beneath the surface that you must understand to be successful and eventually find your dream Ukrainian girlfriend or even wife.
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