One of the first bits of advice given to me by long term expats living in Ukraine, and they really stressed this, was to avoid interacting with Ukrainian men at all costs. At the time I really took offense to this idea and thought to myself they must simply be jaded by bad interactions. However, after all my time living in Ukraine, making local Ukrainian male friends, escaping the war in Ukraine, volunteering in Lviv, and hosting a Ukrainian refugee in my own apartment in Hungary, I can say without any doubt they were right all along.
I will explain why. In many of my other articles I explain how most Ukrainian women are first and foremost thinking about money. How much money can she extract from a foreigner, in both the short term and the long term. I believe this to be a common trait among many poorer societies, but it is especially bad in Ukraine. I have come to find out that even some of the Ukrainian guys are willing to play the same manipulative game. Even if I give these guys the entire benefit of the doubt, that they individually had no intent from the start to try to use friendship as a guise to get money or other monetary benefits, the problem remains. The Ukrainian culture both between the locals and especially against foreigners is to secure the bag and get that bread.
Now, I have to say, I still know some amazing Ukrainian guys who do not fall into this catergory and if they are reading this, they know who they are. But for the others, some of the details I will share are going to hit home. I also have to note that the war is clearly mentally getting to the locals and making life miserable overall, so some of this could be a stress response, and some of it a survival response. Sadly it just became all too common that once I wasn’t in Ukraine buying food, drinks, and partying most days, the guys dropped out of communication as friends, and only would message with vague pretexts to then ask for money.
I don’t mind at all grabbing the check when I invite locals out to get to know them and their life stories. The college aged students I met (hey guys!) were awesome and fun. My first 3 guys I ever met in Ukraine are also all great people and I wish I got to see them more. My next door neighbor was a legend. But over time eventually, for too many of the Ukrainian guys I met, the asks for money started and no matter what I did they would be back in a week to ask for more.
I raised over $5,000 with my GoGetFunding fundraiser when many of us expats were trapped in Ukraine. Luckily it was enough to get us out of there, but of course not enough for plane tickets back to the USA. It was not a fundraiser for local Ukrainians, but we did agree to use some of what remained to give to locals we knew who were in need. I’m sure it helped some people, but for others, the money we gave them opened the door to the perpetual ask for more.
The worst example was when a guy who I had known for most of my time in Ukraine asked me for money to go on a date. I had already given money to him atleast twice, if not three times, with a total value of over $80. By then the fundraising money was gone, so this was purely a gift coming out of my own pocket. I couldn’t believe that was the reason he was asking me for money, but I did appreciate his honestly. I said no to his request.
It took about two weeks for him to yet again ask for money. I have to give him credit, he’s a smart guy, so he really put on a good show of wanting to have a conversation and only use the conversation as an indirect ask for money. We talked for a while and it became clear to him I wouldn’t be giving him anymore money. I honestly think he’s probably ashamed at what he was doing but because of the war he was willing to sacrifice our friendship for a few dollars. By the end he turned extremely sour at me and politely informed me this would be our last conversation and blocked me. According to his standards I wasn’t a friend. Almost a year I knew him and hung out often. Maybe I should ask for a refund then?
One interesting thing we talked about was cultural differences. What is a friend? What are the expectations? Someone once told me that if you look at everything I do for people in totality then the best job title for me would be “professional friend”. His expectations of what a friend is, according to him, included helping him with his finances, no questions asked, no loans, just give him money. If I take this as representative of Ukraine in general it paints a terrible and sad, but surprisingly accurate picture of Ukrainians in general.
He’s not the only one. I have gotten messages on all the various platforms for requests for money from people I met in Ukraine, and interestingly it was only men who asked! Of course, they are stuck there as the women can leave, but the absolute balls on these guys has been impressive. I know I’m not the only one they asked either. I highly respect everyone who didn’t ask me for a dime or flat our refused to accept money from me when I tried to give it.
Going forward this is going to be a big problem if you decide to visit Ukraine. But this is only a new development in the list of reasons you should avoid interacting with Ukrainian men. It’s just not going to be worth it long term to even attempt to befriend any local Ukrainian guys. Always remember Rule #1 of Ukraine: “Do not talk to Ukrainian men”. Sadly this just adds yet another reason they should be avoided at all costs.