BLOSSOMING ROMANCE: More Latvian women are seeking love across borders with eligible European gents.
RIGA - It’s a hard road finding the perfect man. You know how it goes: they’re either already married or gay. Or perhaps there’s a host of other reasons why ladies of the Baltic States are taking matters of the heart into their own hands and reaching out to interested overseas admirers?
Aurelia International Marriage Agency is a company that started in Latvia after a discussion amongst some girl friends about the difficulty they were having finding a suitable spouse. They began uniting likely lovers back in 1998, but during the past few years the agency has noticed that Baltic ladies are broadening their horizons when it comes to partner potential.
Agency director Alona Kuzmina said that between three to five years ago, interest in obtaining a foreign partner became higher and higher. “As soon as we entered the European Union and there was no need for a visa to visit many countries, ladies registered themselves on different Web sites and they had an interest in our agency as well.”
Not only has it affected the women, but it’s opened the doors of opportunity for men from other EU countries, too. “Men from abroad come to Latvia because the average [number] of single women here is much higher.”
From the three Baltic States, Latvia has the highest number of women looking for foreign partners. However, rumors abound about Latvian women – that they are “easy to get into bed,” or have been in the past. It could be argued this is a main reason many men travel to the country. “It is said about young ladies in night clubs. But not all of them, of course. The well-mannered and well-educated suffer because of these sayings.”
They suffer because there are many aspects about Baltic women which men-folk find appealing – and we’re talking about the genuine guys who aren’t just interested in a weekend romance, but a happily-ever-after ending. Kuzmina said: “The best qualities of Baltic women are the following: Number one, they still have the mentality of the Soviet period; it means they are family oriented and they know and they like to care about their man - to be a housewife is normal for them. And number two, at the same time, they are well-educated, they speak at least two foreign languages, and they live the modern life. They combine all these characteristics.”
On the flip side of the coin, common qualities Baltic beauties seem to be looking for in a foreign partner are not necessarily the stereotypical “tall, dark and handsome” bachelor. “Women look for inner qualities. [They seek] a man who can be a gentleman, on whom they can rely on, who will support them in any situation,” says Kuzmina.
She explained that ladies are looking for these particular traits in their “international interests” because there is no support from the males in their homeland. “Local men do not want to work or to help with housework. Women can rely only on themselves, and mostly they make all the decisions themselves, even if it is connected with some men’s work.”
She also said there is a noticeable age demographic seeking long-term relationships. “Starting from 30 it is more difficult to find a partner. There are a lot of ladies after 50 who want to meet a life partner, but it is almost impossible. Local men in their 50s are too old for their age physically and mentally, and usually they have problems with alcohol.”
Statistics show among under-30s in Latvia there is a considerable difference in the number of men-to-women ratio – in this age bracket men outnumber the women by more than 9,000. However, from 30-39, there are around 3,000 more women than men. These disparities are thought to be caused by several factors. The first is the high suicide rate among Latvian men. It is understood the pressure placed upon males to succeed financially when the country gained independence has generated intolerable stress levels, resulting in increased depression and alcoholism.
Heavy drinking has also meant mortality rates have increased; men are dying younger because of health-related issues, linked to liquor. As it stands, there is also a 10-year difference (according to EU statistics) between the average life expectancy of men and women in Latvia – 69 and 79, respectively. Additionally, a 2010 analysis of the population’s number by gender shows in the over-65 age group, the number of females exceeds the number of males by 35 percent. All these factors make finding a mate hard work for those females intent on finding lasting love.
Another factor Kuzmina mentioned was that: “After entering the EU, able-working men went abroad for better earnings and to get a better life; most of them stayed there for permanent living.” So the male shortage also stems from local guys moving to what they see as “greener pastures.”
A noticeable phenomenon is the number of Latvian ladies who have married a man from another country and gone to live abroad. Kuzmina said when it comes to choosing where a potential mate is located, the main thought or desire is for European countries. “The reason is that it is easy to get home and to visit relatives. But I can say that what ladies want usually changes after meeting the ‘right’ man. Love makes changes in priorities.”
Ieva Johnson, a native Latvian, met her now-husband in Mexico, when they were both on vacation scuba diving. He’s from Minnesota, USA. She said, however, the fact he was from a different country to her own wasn’t part of the initial attraction. “I didn’t care about that. I just liked how fun he was.”
Of course, she spent time socializing with and being courted by her homeland beaus prior to meeting her husband. “Yes, I’ve dated Latvian men before. It’s the same as anywhere - there are good guys and not so good guys. Some of them were very romantic and sweet, others self-centered and just players over all.”
But she thinks part of the reason why Baltic women tend to migrate to another country, if they do meet someone foreign, is a learned, or expected, behavior from the old times. “...even living in Latvia, women seem to move in with their men, and not the other way around. For me it was because of the opportunities. It is way easier to start a business and have it be successful in the USA than it is in Latvia. Latvia is great for many things, but business opportunities would not be one of them,” says Johnson.
She agrees there are ways Latvian lads let themselves down, though, when it comes to “keeping” a local lady for life. “Latvian men just need to appreciate their women more. I’ve been married now for almost five years and my husband still makes me breakfast in bed.”
She said in her own experience there are minimal difficulties which come with marrying someone from a different country to her own. “The only problem that I have is the distance. Sometimes I get homesick and I want to see all my friends and family.”