Kyiv Post









Lunch with unmatched matchmaker Brett Ousley


1 August 2003, 11:44


Natalia Kravchuk
Brett Ousley, owner of the Kyiv
Connections marriage agency, considers
the reasons why Americans and
Englishmen are his best clients while
lunching at the Jam Cafe in the Globus
III shopping center.

Some people are secretive about their inner selves, and prefer to spend their lives alone; others choose to share the joys and hardships of life with a significant other. Brett Ousley, apparently, belongs to the latter class...

Ousley, the proud American owner of the Kyiv Connections marriage agency, believes in true love and seeks to help other people find it.

As a good location in which to discuss affairs of the heart, Ousley insists on the Jam Cafe, located downtown in the Globus III shopping center. Overseeing as he does a booming business, Ousley can’t afford to leave his busy nearby office for too long; but he does admit to sneaking away to enjoy the Jam’s salads, not least because they keep him from putting on weight. The trim Ousley, 38, is not even remotely at risk of becoming overweight, but he knows how much appearance matters in his line of work.

The Jam, on the second floor of the complex overlooking Maidan Nezalezhnosti, lives up to its early-won reputation for good food on the day Ousley sits down to talk. He orders a Turkish salad (Hr 20) and a cup of cappuccino (Hr 8) and looks content. The cappuccino ranks among the best in the city, but so do their savory salad (Hr 21), a mixture of pickled cucumbers and mushrooms, and profiterole custard pastry (Hr 13).

An Atlanta native who has lived in Kyiv for 19 months, Ousley has gotten to know the dating business inside and out. Not long ago, in fact, he was a marriage agency customer himself. He first applied to a Philippine marriage agency in 1989, and by 1992 turned his attention to Russia. Getting involved with agencies changed his life drastically: while he didn’t find a wife, he did discover a new career in match-making.

“I’ve visited over 100 marriage agencies. They’re all thieves,” Ousley said. “That’s why I’ve started my own. I really like to get the nicest women in the world with the nicest men in the world.”

Ousley spent the 1990s in Russia, involved in marriage agency ventures there. Kyiv Connections launched in October, 2002, and has paired off four couples since then. Given that it can take more than six months to obtain a marriage visa, Ousley reasons, that’s a pretty good record.

When asked why there’s such a demand in the West for foreign wives, Ousley joked that it’s beyond understanding. He did say that the majority of his male clients come from the United States or England, the two countries that supply more prospective husbands for foreign wives than any others in the world. As far as the U.S. goes, he says the absurdity of that country’s gender politics compels men to look elsewhere for a spouse.

“Things have become unbelievable in the U.S.,” he says, citing such phenomena as sexual harassment laws. “You no longer have to be directly harassed: you can hear someone else being harassed, and if you’ve heard someone else being harassed, you’ve been harassed. It’s just gotten so ridiculous.”

Ousley, who holds a psychology degree from the University of Georgia, seems almost up in arms about the sensitivities and neuroses that govern interactions between the sexes in the States. He believes the tense, self-conscious situation isolates American men from American women, whose feminism and independence often border on detestation of men. In his opinion, Slavic women, who haven’t rebelled against traditional gender roles, can make much better companions.

“[Ukrainian women] don’t hate men. They act like ladies, they use cosmetics, they wear high heels, they wear dresses. They don’t wear baggy clothes, they don’t look gaudy. They don’t hate men.”

Though Eastern European women might make good wives, the economic situation in the former Soviet Union has done little to strengthen such institutions as the family. Ousley says most Ukrainian men fail to provide for their families, thus putting the burden on the shoulders of women. As a consequence, Ukrainian women now seek better fates elsewhere.

“What is a man?” Ousley asked pointedly. “A man, since ancient times, has gone out and provided for his family. He hunts, he brings home the meat; the wife cooks it up. A couple of million years later, a man in America gets up at 6:30 in the morning, fights traffic, works all day and brings home the bacon.”

What is a man here? “He’s the guy who can’t get up in the morning and bring home the bacon. He can’t do it because the economic situation here is horrible. He’s frustrated. She’s frustrated. The whole system breaks down.”

The challenge for any agency, needless to say, is to find a perfect match for each of its clients, but typically time is limited. Ousley’s clients can usually spare only a mere 7 to 10 days for a spouse-hunting visit to a foreign country, though he has witnessed cases where seven days was enough time to allow a couple to fall in love and decide to marry. He confesses, however, that it’s rare.

“To get married to the right person is extremely difficult,” he said. “Love is magic; an ether in the air.” He continued: “You can meet the most beautiful, perfect girl and odds are huge that you’re not going to like her. Love is really strange. The way they smell, the way they walk, the way they eat, the way they say your name, the way they touch you. It’s something you can’t write down on paper. It’s just out in the air.”

Ironically, Ousley is currently unmarried, a divorcee. Having access to a database of 800 carefully selected Ukrainian women is of no use to him, he says. He considers it a conflict of interest to go out with a girl from his own agency.

“The simple things in life are not fun to be alone with. It’s better to share them,” Ousley added. “I’ve seen the whole world, but I’ve seen it alone. It’s much nicer to say, ‘Wow! It’s so cool, isn’t it?’ and look at the person who’s with you.”




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