Aug. 18, 2011— -- It's a digital age twist on an old story: Traveling thousands of miles to meet a woman you met online to see if true love ensues.
Many might scoff at that idea. But what if you are a middle-aged man, lonely and feeling unlucky in love, and you hear of a place brimming with beautiful women competing for your attention, a place where other hopeless romantics look to lock hearts with an older American gentleman and throw away the key?
Watch the full story on "Nightline" tonight at 11:35 p.m. ET
According to A Foreign Affair, the Internet's largest international matchmaking service, this dating wonderland exists in the Ukraine. Its website, LoveMe.com, offers tens of thousands of profiles of purportedly single women.
In addition to height, weight, religion and language skills, most of them post the desire for a mature, loving and attentive man. Past results show that some of them may find him and live happily ever after. Some of them may be much less lucky, enduring harm worse than from a broken heart.
"I like being married. … Dating is fine, but you get to a certain age and you get old. I would much rather travel with my life partner," Bob Wray, 66, said in an interview with "Nightline" anchor Bill Weir.
Wray's marriage ended six years ago. He raised his two children on his own, and now that they're out of the house, he's ready for another partner. He loves living in Harrisburg, Pa., but says the dating pool is shallow -- and wide.
"I used Match. I used eHarmony. What I discovered is -- and this is going to sound crazy -- but it is the distance," Wray said, explaining that if he liked a woman from Pittsburgh, meeting for lunch would require a 250-mile drive.
So he decided he'd take a 5,000-plus-mile flight instead. After using A Foreign Affair to strike up online dialogs with a few dozen women, Bob will pay the company around $4,000 to fly to Odessa, Ukraine, and meet them and other potential brides.
His bags are packed, his Russian phrases memorized. And he's accompanied by his belief that love trumps age and culture.
"One of the things about Odessa … is that age doesn't seem to matter too much to them. They are more interested in what kind of person are you. They want a stable life partner. And, gee whiz, it is a quid pro quo. … I have something to offer. They have something to offer," Wray said.
In Phoenix, Cary Dolego, 58, is preparing for the same romance tour. A twice-divorced father of grown children, he hopes to find the romantic ideals he believes no longer exist in America.
"The ladies in the Ukraine are known for being … marriage-minded. They just seem to cherish relationships. … So they're not as apt to leave it," Dolego said.
As he makes final preparations for his love quest, he watches A Foreign Affair's promotional video, clapping during a wedding scene. And he imagines the possibilities with the potential partners he's found online.
"I think you'll agree, Svetlana is an absolutely gorgeous female. She's close to 6 feet tall and 140 pounds. … And Julia actually is, as you can see in these pictures, a very, very attractive female. And Julia is a very romantic young lady. Very romantic, likes to write poetry, just like I do," he said.