Remember: Be constructive. Have empathy. Even when you want to yell at the letter writer. Even when you want to yell at each other. I know it can be difficult, but the point is to help.
(And today is a tough one to deal with.)
I am a divorced man in my early 30s. I met my wife when I was a young working professional right out of college. She was right out of high school at the time. We fell hard and fast for each other, but over time it was evident we had little in common, plus her family and friends didn't really like me. In total I was with my ex-wife for over 8 years.
Today I find it increasingly difficult to meet anyone, let alone date, find someone attractive, someone who wants the same things and not play games. Instead, I've been doing a ton of research on finding a wife from a 3rd world country. Old school matchmaking as they call it.
I understand it is not love. These foreign brides come from almost nothing, most are just trying to help pay off family debt. Sometimes these girls are simply forced into it ... as in human trafficking.
There are many cases where 3rd world brides are abused, murdered, and subject to deplorable conditions in their adopted homes. Many run away just to end up as prostitutes because of the language/cultural barrier.
I'm a big believer in helping the less fortunate. My intentions are to find a suitable wife, not to take advantage of someone in a desperate situation. Most relationships are based on love, but love alone can't sustain it. We often act out of blind love, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. Instead, I'm looking for a relationship based on mutual respect and appreciation first.
I believe there are merits to this "arrangement." It is a different type of marriage/relationship but one that could last even longer. There are so many divorces today. Clearly the love was right at THAT moment (whenever it was), but wrong at THIS moment. I need a relationship that can sustain itself with or without love. I'm not a frog, have a successful career, only 30, tall, no physical handicaps. I'm perfectly capable of finding my match here. But nowadays nothing is for certain.
There are many types of "arrangements" today: one-night stands, hook ups, booty calls, friends with benefits, open relationships, etc. This one is just more old school, using matchmakers.
What do you think about going on a marriage tour?
– Third World Bride, Boston
A: Nope. Sorry.
You want to do your part to stop human trafficking and help the less fortunate? Volunteer for an organization. Donate money. Take on the cause.
You can't compare this kind of bride shopping to a matchmaker service. If you want a real "marriage tour," hire a local matchmaker, someone who will set you up with a peer who's looking for a similar life.
And speaking of the word peer ….
You had an unsuccessful marriage with someone you met when she was right out of high school. Yes, you were almost just as young at the time, but you were a working professional and she was just a kid. And now you're looking for someone who's helpless and dependent. An employee. What does that say about you?
Many relationships do end, but there are just as many successful unions out there, and countless women who are looking for an honest, stable partnership. There are no guarantees in life -- even arranged marriages can fail -- but it's worth searching for someone who does actually love you. Love isn't everything, but ... it's almost everything.
My advice is to make more friends. You need to be around peers who can give you a reality check. Make sure that some of those pals are female. And please, go find a therapist and talk about your concerns.
No marriage tours. No Googling mail-order brides. You're in your early 30s. There's no rush here. Concentrate on friendship and working on yourself. If you eventually want to hire a real matchmaker (and your therapist thinks you're ready), go for it. Just pick a service that matches you with someone who has the means to walk away if it's just not right.
Readers? What should he do? Thoughts about his plan? What's going on here? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.