There are two main options for men looking for a serious relationship abroad: datings sites and introduction/romance agencies. In this lesson we'll look at both and give you some recommendations on which ones you should use.
Dating sites vs Agencies (What's the difference?)
What are international dating sites?
International dating sites work just like domestic ones (think eHarmony, Match, etc.), the only difference is that your 1,000's of miles apart instead of 20 or 30. Once you contact a lady from the site it's up to you and her to continue communication and or arrange a meeting (usually the meeting takes place in the woman's country).
Dating site service stops once your communication with a women leaves their site.
A Friendly Reminder: Don't Use PPL Sites!!
After having read through our scam school articles you should know by now to stay away from dating sites that do not allow direct contact with a woman on their site. Any site that charges you to send messages, emails, or have video chats is bad news. The danger of PPL scams is real, I don't care how nice the site looks or how pretty the profile pictures are. DO NOT pay per letter!!
What are Introduction Agencies?
Introduction agencies (aka romance or marriage agencies) are typically brick and mortar companies that facilitate introductions ( usually dates) between men and women. On the international scene these agencies typically advertise in their country to attract local women.
The women sign up for free with the agency, provide person info like personal interests and lifestyle, and are added to the agency database, which may or may not be public.
Men contact the agency, provide personal info much like the women, and pay for the opportunity to contact the women in the agency's database (usually through a agent). Typically men are shown the photos or videos of women from the database.
Then the agency contacts the women on behalf of the male suitor. The women look at the man's photo and information and decide if they would like to make contact with him or meet him personally.
The agency is essentially a middle man between its clients. Once a man and a woman meet in real life, it's typically up to them where to take things. An agency's primary job is to facilitate the couple's introduction to one another.
Additional agency services
Depending on the company an introduction agency can offer a range of other services in addition to the typical introduction. Most agencies provide in country logistics such as airport pick-up/drop off, city transport, a hotel room or apartment, in country cell phone, etc. Agencies often provide personal translators assigned to the male client for the duration of his dates.
Agencies will also differ on how hands on their match making services are. Some may only work you up until the introduction with a woman. While others my work closely with you until the end of your trip. Typically the more hands on the service, the more costly it is.
Which is better dating site or agency?
Which option is better for you will be determined by your specific needs and personal preferences. Both dating sites and agencies have their own pros and cons
Pros & Cons of Dating Sites
Pros & Cons of Agencies
Dating sites: low price = limited services
Dating sites are much cheaper than agencies, but if you want to meet the women you contact, it falls completely on your shoulders to make it happen and arrange the meeting.
Agencies: premium services = premium price
Agencies are way more expensive than dating sites (think $1,000's of dollars), but they usually arrange everything for you so that all you have to do is fly into their city. Their cost typically also includes things like lodging and transportation.
Dating sites: More independence = less security
If you use dating sites it's up to you (and the woman) how, when, and where you meet. This can be a blessing or a curse. If you have a penchant for adventure, like to do things on your own, or have travelled to her country before then a dating site is probably for you.
You will have to arrange your own lodging, transport, etc. But if you're comfortable with that you can look for and meet women in potentially any city you find on a dating site.
Agencies: More security = less freedom
Most agencies operate in one city. This means that their women are most likely from that city, and if you use their services all your dates with also take place in that city. Some agencies also follow a somewhat strict introduction procedure that you will have to abide by. For example you may have to hold your first meetings at the company office before you can meet the woman somewhere else.
The benefit is that once you step off the plane, you shouldn't have to worry about anything other than showing up to your dates.
Agencies are gatekeepers, datings sites aren't
A good agency will interview and vet both its male and female clients. Typically they do basic background checks, verify legal info, and inquire as to whether or not the man or women is serious about finding a relationship with a foreigner.
Dating sites don't provide this level of filtering. They can try block your typical online romance scammer or fake profile, but beyond that there is no way for them to confirm the intentions of their members.
What makes a good dating site?
A monthly subscription over PPL for dating sites
A good dating site will charge a monthly subscription fee to use the site and reach out to ladies. It will not charge you extra to send messages or get contact info.
Judge by the profiles
Are most profiles active and recent, or does the site look like a desert? Also checkout the profiles to see if they are reasonable and realistic. If there are a slew of young 20 something supermodels in provocative poses dying to meet grandpas, then yeah something is probably amiss.
This doesn't mean a woman can't have professional photos every now and then. Use common sense and your best judgement. If there are a large amount of profiles that seems suspicious stay away from the site.
Anti scam measures
Does the site have systems in place to prevent scamming and quickly weed out scammy profiles when they pop up? This isn't always easy to tell whether a site takes an active stance against scams until you sign up with a free account and start browsing.
Even PPL sites are starting to put anti-scam policies on their sites now. That being said, there are some sites that have a good track record against scammers.
Does the site have real customer service? Is there a telephone number for contact on the site? If you have doubts about a site's validity call their customer service number. Odds are that the serious and reputable sites will have actual customer service.
Recommend Dating sites
While this list isn't exhaustive (we're still working on reviewing more sites), it should give you a great starting point in helping you choose a site (or two) to use for your search.
China Love Match
China Love Cupid
Asia Love Match
Eastern European Sites
Latin American Sites
Latin American Cupid
What makes a good agency?
They vet both men and women
Many an agency has been guilty of doing little to no vetting for their male and female clients. They accept any man who foots the bill, and any woman off the street (especially if she's attractive and they can post her on their site).
Because there's no standard in who these agencies accept, their tours and events are rife with creeps and scammers.
A good agency thoroughly maintains an honest and sincere clientele. Should a man or woman client do something suspicious the company has the option of removing them from their database (in the case of a woman), or refunding and ceasing their service (in the case of a man).
They don't use PPL systems
Some agencies allow contact between their clients before a man travels overseas. Others don't. If an agency does allow contact with its female clients before a man travels, you have to watch to make sure they're not running a PPL type system.
In the case of agencies, you will often be charged a translation fee for your letters to and from a woman. However we recommend that you only contact women with a good grasp of English (assuming you don't speak their native language).
If an agency gets upset that you want to bypass their translation service that should be a red flag. A good agency will be more concerned with your trip to the country and your introduction to their women clients, as that should be their principal service.
Dream Connections (Ukraine, Thailand, and Colombia)
In my opinion Dream Connections is on the forefront of reputable introduction agencies. The format of their services is unique. Though they do offer premium individual trips, their flagship service is a group tour of 20 guys and typically around 100 ladies.
The trips consist of two separate speed dating events between the men and ladies, after which men are free to contact and go out with interested women for the rest of the week.
They also feature a unique system where each man has a personal translator/personal assistant for the trip. The dating starts off with a series of short speed dating sessions after which men are free to contact interested ladies and go on dates apart from the group.
The company was started by the American/Ukrainian couple Mark and Ana Davis, who themselves met on a romance (of a different company obviously). After seeing the sketchiness and lack of care in the romance tour industry they decided to start their own company and break mold of dishonest and lackluster tour agencies.
Dream connections currently offers tours in Ukraine, Thailand, and Colombia.
Their approach is very hands on, as they will work very closely with you help you find a suitable partner. Their company is truly a matchmaking agency not just an introduction agency.
They agency has been in business for close to 10 years, and has a high reputation in the matchmaking industry.