Ok, so I have tried one trip to Belarus with an agency and found someone who wanted gifts, and meals, not marriage. Never again with them. Bait and switch as well-the very first one I corresponded with stopped as soon as the fee was paid.
Now I'm writing on AFA and get NO responses. NONE. Other than "I'm not in their league". I'm educated, sincere, a professor, know some Russian, a performing violinist, in shape, have proved I'm willing to travel and not just a letter writer. It's a bit puzzling.
Is it worth another 4200$ plus to try Ukraine with AFA? Or do I just forget it all and assume because I'm 5 foot 5 and somehow ugly to ALL these women NOTHING else counts?
Does anyone know any REAL way to do this? And don't say try in the USA, because under 250000$ salary per year you don't get one response.
I'd be more concerned, if I were you, if too many were responding to me (you)!
You mention you've proved you're willing to travel, are you writing to these ladies regarding your previous trip and/or experience? Whilst it's OK to mention country(s) you've visited they don't like to hear, in an intro letter, of meeting(s) with other lady(s).
I'd suggest that perhaps you're writing the wrong things in your intro letter to these ladies, this is not a critism but I recall in my early days, with no previous experiences of letter writing, I tweeked and tweeked with my intro letter until I became satisfied that I was receiving an appropriate proportion of responses.
Some people like the socials like AFA some consider it a meat market. If the cost seems a bit much for AFA try a local agency, some of the guys on here know a few. I know 2 in Sumy that I used when I was still looking. the meetings can be arranged by local agency's for 30-50 usd most agency's prefer you use there apartment and interpreter but not necessary, don't count them out since it can be cheaper then finding one on your own. on one of my trips I went and met a girl that didn't work out I had my interpreter pick a girl from the agency she worked for and I am happy to say we are like peas in a pod, we get along great and talk every day cant wait to get back and spend more time with her in 4 weeks.
Not trying to advertise here, but for some time during my search I met many honest, and wonderful ladies at Bride Ru. My average response rate was about 10% and at the end only about 1% was worth my while, which means I had to write many letters to find just one worthy lady who was also interested in me.
I ended marrying somebody I met the social networking route, but I am still friends with some of the wonderful ladies I met the way I explained above. Usually their reason to write me back was not my photo (obviously), but that they liked my sincere and polite letter (so they said when I asked why they wrote me back). Therefore, find a few female friends to help you write a quality letter and you may be more successful in your search.
Finally, I never spent on a trip anywhere for anybody I did not know well, reason I never used agencies. And the only time I went to AFA socials, I did it for the experience (I was curious to see these with my own eyes) and as a side trip at the time I had a scheduled meeting with a nice lady in the same country.
I hope that you can get something useful from my experience.
"Is it worth another 4200$ plus to try Ukraine with AFA?" -- NO
Some men report good experiences with agencies or socials, but these "package deals" are definitely not for me, and I doubt they are best for you. You can deploy that $4200+ more effectively.
"do I just forget it all and assume because I'm 5 foot 5 and somehow ugly to ALL these women NOTHING else counts?" -- NO
In the FSU, you can see lovely young women married to men who are either nothing to look at, or a lot worse than that! Some percentage of women (maybe the majority) will immediately reject your profile because of your height. That's fine, they are not for you, and you are not for them -- this avoids lots of wasted time.
Women Over There who search for husbands and have profiles on the "russian bride" websites receive MANY contacts from men who are ignorant slobs. A professor? Violinist? Can speak Russian? For some gals, especially those who are themselves cultured and well educated, your profile will shine like a searchlight. By the way, cultured and educated women seem much easier to find over there, than here in the USA. As a man who loves music deeply, I have been delighted to meet 3 women (all in Saint Petersburg) with conservatory educations, one of whom has made her career in the teaching of music. This wasn't due to my searching for this, and they didn't mention it on their profiles -- they are out there.
"Does anyone know any REAL way to do this?" -- YES
I'm not the answer man -- I didn't find anyone yet. For someone like me, who doesn't want to go the agency or social route...
Join elenasmodels (no, I don't work for them -- along with several other men on this forum, I have the impression they are as good as it gets out there). While technically an agency, I think of "e m" (and use it) as a dating website. Pay the expensive premium for unlimited letters (I preferred to do this, instead of worrying about using up a quota or paying by the contact). Make a good profile that communicates what is special about you -- your friends can give you good suggestions. Start writing letters! (By all means, also use other dating websites that are recommended by guys with good experiences of them -- but avoid pay-per-letter.)
Even the best websites have lots of women who are good-time-girls (like your Belarus meeting), adventure seekers, or simple scammers. Keep your wits about you.
With the money you have left after joining em and one or two other websites, you will have enough money left from the $4200 for two short trips to Russia and/or Ukraine, to make first meetings with two (or three or four) of the women you have been corresponding with.
For most men, this journey is going to take serious time, and include some mighty bumpy roads.