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Natalie Mordovtseva was a polarizing 90 Day Fiance star long before she left Mike and moved to Florida.

Some accused her of having used Mike, never really loved him. Mike’s mom agrees.

Others say that Natalie is the victim of manipulation and gaslighting and are glad that she got out.

Is Natalie a scammer or a misunderstood hero?

Natalie Mordovtseva flashback to returning the ring in Ukraine

From the moment that Natalie angrily tossed Mike Youngquist’s engagement ring back into his luggage, fans have been on edge.

Who does that?

That moment was a sign of things to come, and it happened back in Ukraine — long before they were married.

Natalie Mordovtseva - why this color? (flowers)

When Natalie arrived in the United States to see Mike, she had the strangest reaction to the flowers.

They hugged, they kissed, they were overjoyed to see each other.

But also the purple flowers that Mike had for her were apparently the wrong color.

Natalie Mordovtseva - I didn't like the flowers

Natalie’s odd reactions to Mike’s gestures continued after they arrived at his house, which she likened to a "horror movie."

The next day, he made them a breakfast of french toast, not including any meat (Natalie does not eat meat except for seafood).

But Natalie threw hers away, declaring that it was unhealthy, and instead chopped raw carrots … for breakfast.

Natalie Mordovtseva - it's not healthy

Natalie’s food is her choice and her obviously disordered eating (likely orthorexia) is her business.

But the dismissal of Mike and his feelings rubbed viewers the wrong way.

It was also a sign of a coming trend: Natalie policing Mike’s eating and also his drinking.

Natalie Mordovtseva - yesterday you have wine, today you have beer

It is unfortunately not too rare for one partner to try to modify their loved one’s dietary habits.

Our society teaches too many people that this is somehow doing them a favor when it’s actually controlling behavior.

But Natalie took it further, accusing Mike of trying to ply her with alcohol when he ordered a root bear float. Which, you know, has no alcohol.

Natalie Mordovtseva - you need to lose some more weight

Natalie continued this pattern by body-shaming Mike, insisting that he needed to lose weight.

She also pressured Mike to give up on meat (except for seafood, which she does not consider meat).

Couples sometimes must compromise on shared meals, but this seemed extreme.

Natalie Mordovtseva - you forgot you promised me not to eat meat

For couples to have a healthy compromise, both sides must contribute and then agree upon how to meet in the middle.

In the case of Mike and Natalie, Mike agreeing to what Natalie wanted for dinner didn’t matter if he asked to prepare it a different way.

Upon asking to stir-fry vegetables and shrimp, Natalie turned a simple discussing into a cruel jab at Mike’s body.

Natalie Mordovtseva - okay, you will never lose weight

"And I’m pushing him not to eat, exercise," Natalie explained to the camera.

At the time, she sounded as if she felt unappreciated for these efforts.

Controlling behavior is not doing someone a favor. Nor is it helping one’s relationship.

Natalie Mordovtseva - and I'm pushing him not to eat, exercise

Then, of course, there were the personal attacks.

Natalie would belittle Mike’s intelligence, accusing him of being uncultured and stupid.

This is just not a way for any human being to behave, let alone someone’s spouse.

Natalie Mordovtseva - my IQ was I think 110

There was more, however.

Natalie accused Mike of having cheated with a friend of his — the night before that friend’s wedding.

The theory never made any sense and was debunked by everyone. It would also come back to bite Natalie later.

Natalie Mordovtseva - you cheat and you lie!

With all of that said, we would never ignore Mike’s contributions to the couple’s problems.

In addition to the obvious communication issues, he was reluctant to discuss problems that needed to be resolved.

Mike is an emotionally guarded person in many ways, but he did not seem willing to put in the real work to fix their relationship.

Photo via TLC

Natalie herself asked for them to go see "a psychology." Mike was totally dismissive.

Whether he saw it as a waste of time or felt that counseling threatened his masculinity, he wasn’t willing to take that step with Natalie.

Eventually, possibly just for the sake of the cameras, Mike and Natalie attended one relationship counseling session … to no avail.

Mike Youngquist once again faces interrogation over Sara

In fact, Mike’s dismissive attitude defined a lot of his responses to Natalie.

That is not how a fiancee should be treated, but Mike would roll his eyes as if anything that she cared about was ridiculous.

Sometimes, sure, it was — but he could at least be respectful enough to listen to the woman he loves.

Mike Youngquist Speaks to the Camera in the Woods
Photo via Instagram

For ages, Mike dragged his heels about even tentatively making wedding plans.

It took pressure from his mother, Trish, to actually set a wedding date with Natalie.

Even after the date was set, Mike did not want to discuss it, clamming up and changing the subject when Natalie tried to make plans.

Natalie Mordovtseva - Michael said that he doesn't love me

Even at the counselor, Mike couldn’t quite come out and say that he loves Natalie.

Some would call it turnabout after Natalie’s past refusals to saying that she loves him, but should relationships work like that?

Besides, if Mike didn’t know how he felt about Natalie, why begin the K-1 visa process?

Natalie Mordovtseva - then you shouldn't have bring me here!

Two hours before their wedding date, Mike’s cold feet turned to ice.

After speaking with his mother, he told Natalie that the wedding was off.

Natalie was devastated. At the end of her K-1 visa, she would have to return to Ukraine during pandemic lockdown.

Natalie Mordovtseva - I got rejected two hours before the wedding

Astonishingly, after Natalie tearfully packed her things, circumstances led her back to Mike’s, where they talked it out.

Mike tried to get an attorney to endorse his idea, to keep Natalie past her K-1 visa without marrying her amidst the pandemic.

Thankfully, the attorney advised them of how dangerous that would be.

Natalie Mordovtseva to immigration attorney - no, you don't understand

Despite months of delays and dismissals, Mike was finally forced to make an actual decision.

They held a new wedding two days after the original date, on the literal last day of Natalie’s K-1 visa.

They cut it awfully close, using those titular 90 days to their fullest extent in the worst way imaginable.

Natalie Mordovtseva and Mike Youngquist actually getting married

Mike and Natalie were married … but that was not the end of their troubles. Just a relationship milestone.

Months later, they went to see Mike’s mother, Trish, for Natalie’s first Thanksgiving.

The trip was deeply weird, full of hostility, negging, creepy piggy banks, and allegedly, an insult.

Trish offers Natalie Mordovtseva a scarf

According to Natalie, Trish called her a "hooker" at one point during the visit.

Trish has consistently denied this, and Natalie’s previous wild accusations towards Mike did not leave fans with a lot of confidence in her.

But Natalie’s insistence, and Mike’s refusal to entertain his wife’s claim, led to numerous fights, both on and off camera.

Natalie Mordovtseva - I came to America not to be called hooker

During an otherwise normal filming of confessional videos in January of this 2021, Mike had a meltdown and revealed their real status.

Weeks earlier, in December, Natalie had left the house and moved in with her eccentric friend, Juliana, giving her the presents that Mike had given her.

They had had another fight, and Natalie had decided that it would be one of their last.

Mike Youngquist challenges Natalie Mordovtseva to discuss christmas

None of us are quite sure what to make of Natalie and Juliana.

Natalie had a room at her friend’s house.

After a few weeks, during which she only saw Mike a few times, it was time to make it more official.

Juliana brings food to Natalie Mordovtseva

Natalie returned to Sequim to pack her bags and leave Mike’s house.

She did not forewarn Mike that she was doing this, but production was there to capture it all.

It was a weird, awkward moment, with Natalie having more to say to her pet rat than to Mike.

Natalie Mordovtseva arrives in Sequim to pick up her things

Natalie had decided that it was over, and Mike’s emotional pain was palpable.

However, as defined him throughout much of their relationship, he was only comfortable expressing very little of this.

Instead, Mike said "whatever" like a teenager on the verge of tears. Natalie packed her things and left.

Natalie Mordovtseva pets her rat

The Tell All specials are filmed many weeks before they air, and numerous months after the regular season finishes filming.

Shaun Robinson of course asked, as she has at previous Tell Alls, what Mike and Natalie’s status was.

They were still over, yet somehow not officially divorced yet — though Mike has vowed to change that.

Shaun Robinson asks the status of Mike Youngquist and Natalie Mordovtseva

Mike’s seeming inability to consider his wife’s feelings and happiness were a major issue that Natalie cited.

However, that wasn’t all.

It turns out that one thing that killed their marriage was simply Mike’s commute.

Natalie Mordovtseva - he doesn't care

Mike drives two hours to Seattle every morning and two hours back.

As a manager during the pandemic, he had to take on a larger workload.

He would come home and be simply too tired to engage with his wife. It was like they were roommates who barely saw each other.

Natalie Mordovtseva - he's tired. he just wants rest

This, Natalie explained, was a major reason why she had begged him to move.

The land in Sequim was family land that Mike had wanted to keep in the family, but it was an obstacle in their life.

Mike could have added hours of free time to his day if he had gone with Natalie’s pleas.

Natalie Mordovtseva - please, let's move to Seattle, please

Being isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic was a common thing, even for couples.

In Natalie’s case, she had also scarcely arrived in the United States. She got married during lockdown.

Being trapped in a remote, rural area with only her husband, cat, and rat during a global pandemic … she went a little nuts.

Natalie Mordovtseva - I couldn't do anything and I went crazy

Natalie stunned viewers when she revealed that she had not merely moved to Juliana’s, but then moved to Florida.

A move to Seattle, one could understand. Some couples separate and then reconcile.

But a move to Florida … you can’t get further from Washington and be in the continental United States.

Natalie Mordovtseva - I have my rights to move even to the moon

Mike vowed to remove Natalie from his bank card and to file for divorce.

Some of his castmates were stunned that he had not done either before this, given the many months of separation.

Backstage, Natalie was visibly and vocally devastated at the thought that all of this might be over.

Natalie Mordovtseva - if he files for divorce

Some viewers who apparently forgot their entire tumultuous relationship history and all of the times that Natalie nearly ended it accused her of being a scammer.

Even Angela Deem, one of the franchise’s most toxic villains, confronted Natalie, and she was not alone.

Natalie noted that if she were just scamming Mike … she obviously would have waited for her documentation.

Natalie Mordovtseva - I would wait until I get papers

Natalie is not a scammer. She did love Mike. But it was a disastrous relationship.

And it’s certainly true that Mike and Trish did not treat Natalie as loving family members would.

We don’t know that we’d call any of it "gaslighting" (because words mean things), but it’s not okay to treat someone like that.

Natalie Mordovtseva: Maybe They Shouldn't Send Naked Pictures To You

Does this mean that Natalie is a misunderstood franchise hero?

No. As we laid out above, Natalie had more than her share of villainy and contributed to the relationship’s demise.

She and Mike were partners in their relationship. They took turns being the villain until the love was gone.