Why I Love
"Love Me - The Documentary"
1. Love Me is, in fact, a documentary. It’s not a commercial for AFA. The producer approached us with the idea of doing a film on the broad range of topics that international dating and marriage, romance tours and the women who are commonly mislabeled as “mail-order-brides.” Questions John Narducci explored in his film include:
- Who are the men and women who use romance tours as a vehicle to meet a life-partner?
- Why are they here? What circumstances, cultural influences and other motivations bring them to www.loveme.com?
- How correct are the common perceptions about mail-order-brides and the men who pursue them?
- How reliable are the international marriage agencies (called marriage-brokers) like A Foreign Affair, Elena’s models and similar companies?
- What are the potential rewards, challenges and pitfalls in the international marriage process?
- How do the participants’ families feel about their involvement in romance tours?
- This is online dating, which may be inherently susceptible to scams. What are some of those scams? What do they look like? How do men fall for these scams? Are some men predisposed to scams and if so, why?
- What are some of the challenges Romance Tour leaders, like John Adams and Bob Wray, face and how do they handle those challenges? How do they manage group dynamics while giving individuals with unique hang-ups the right amount of attention?
- How to women, couples and family members adjust to life in America after the fiancée visa?
This is not just a typical newscast that pigeonholes all participants as depraved men meets desperate women. It’s not a quirky reality show with cheesy music that makes romance tours look like a three ring circus for bumbling idiots. It’s a very objective and very accurate look at the romance tour experience.
2. Of all the media coverage John and Tanya Adams have participated in over the years, Narducci was definitely the most respectful of their relationship. The film shows moments of playfulness between them in the AFA studio, and highlights their genuine support for each other. Tanya corrects Matt Lauer silly assertion that “These relationships are designed to give the guy the upper hand.” “Actually,” Tanya quips, “I have the upper hand.” The film nearly ends as she cries when merely asked ‘What is love?’”
3. A lot of websites offer a pen pal membership to write foreign women. Very few actually offer a professionally guided travel program designed to help singles meet. The reason so few companies do romance tours? They’re not easy to do. In fact, they’re incredibly hard. Taking 25 – 50 men abroad, half of whom have never left the continental US before, and many who have not dated successfully in months – if not years, then introducing them to hundreds of beautiful women – and keeping everyone happy and productive – is a tough job. It’s a labor of love, but a tough job. The moment that best exemplifies that is where John is imploring Bobby to come inside the social and met ladies and Bobby flat out refuses to do it, choosing to wait for one girl to show up.
4. Furthermore, in the filmed participants Bobby, Travis, Ron and Michael we see guys who are stumbling and need help. Bobby’s expectations may be unrealistic, Travis is probably getting scammed, Michael seems to be more in love than his fiancée is, and Ron can just never get comfortable and answers his stress with more stress. Robert and Eric are more relaxed, comfortable in their own skin, they each have a great love story unfold and go on to get married. ALL of these are very typical experiences on any romance tour. We’ve done tours for 20 years. We expect guys to have varied experiences.
5. Although AFA does romance tours to 8 different countries, this documentary focuses entirely on Ukraine. What’s interesting about Ukraine is this is where the whole internet-based international marriage business began 20 years ago. What the women of Ukraine understand fully is that 97% of guys who write to them will never get on the plane to meet them. That has both a positive and negative effect on the women. The positive is that they recognize how hard it is to meet these men and will come to social and be one of 150 other ladies who attend that evening. The negative, is that our competitors have clearly decided it’s easier to scam the 97% of guys who do not get on the plane than to try to make money from the 3% that do. So in Ukraine, more than any other country we have to be always on the lookout for scams, despite the majority of very sincere and nice ladies. Once in awhile, a client encounters a scam. Sometimes AFA gets scammed. And sometimes the situation is not so clear. You see how John handles this first-hand.
6. Was Bobby scammed? He spent months writing one girl, (a much younger and very beautiful and popular girl) obviously fell in love before they had even met and literally expected the girl would accept his marriage proposal an hour into their first face to face meeting. He wouldn’t meet or date any others and waited until he got to the gir’ls city – the third city on the tour – to meet her. You saw how nervous he was at the Kherson social. When they met, clearly they were unmatched, and Bobby came unglued. The film asks the question – was Bobby the victim of a scam, the victim of his own unrealistic expectations – or both? The answer seems open for interpretation by the viewer. (NOTE: Bobby would go on to repeat this experience on yet another Ukraine tour before finally meeting his fiancée in the Philippines on a 3rd complimentary AFA romance tour.)
7. Travis had a good experience while on tour but was concerned as his girl asked him for financial support often before they were engaged. On his next trip back to spend more time with Victoria, he encountered a “loan-shark” scam. This cast an ominous cloud over his whole experience and you see him struggle emotionally with whether to move forward or not. (NOTE: Despite advice from AFA to the contrary, Travis did move forward, and Victoria is currently in the States on a Fiancée Visa.) At the end of the day, scams happen and situations come up. How a business addresses those situations does, as John Adams points out, define the company.
8. Michael was obviously in love with Svitlana before she was ready to reciprocate. Unfortunately, while she admitted liking him a great deal personally, she was not attracted to him and strung him along while considering her options. What was that cryptic message? A disgruntled fired employee trying to compromise Elena’s Models? A suitor competing for her heart? An angel trying to prevent disaster? Some would call this a scam; some would equate that to two good people just not being in the same place in the relationship at the same time. But poor Michael.
9. Ron could have easily been successful had he been more relaxed and listened to the advice of his tour leader. “I can’t meet age appropriate women! Ukrainian women are not friendly! I had 5 dates – they were all over in 5 minutes!” His reaction to stress was to create more stress. But what you really see going on with Ron is the disintegration of a poorly formed paradigm.
10. And yet as John and Tanya flirt with each other, and Eric and Inna and Robert and Vitalina go on and get married – we see the true potential for everyday people whose lives can be redefined if just given a chance to meet one another. Eric and Inna have a new son. He may have had to finally put on some sleeves, but the rewards are obvious.
I especially like Eric’s mom:
“Our families are not that different. They’re doing the same things we do. People are more alike than they are diverse.”
“It’s a big challenge, and it will take very much work. But so is every other relationship. People should be able to decide what to do with their lives. It’s their business. I wouldn’t intrude on that one way or another.”
Finally, we have learned that since filming, Vitalina’s father passed away.