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'" says Tonya, who had been married before (and has a 12-year-old daughter).

The result is that, rather than being someone that defies all calculation, love is now big business worth an annual billion internationally and growing at 70 per cent a year – with high-tech venture capitalists, psychologists and software engineers reaping vast rewards.

Academics, meanwhile, are fascinated by the data being gathered — and largely kept secret — by the dating industry.

"After going hard in the Tinder paint off and on for two years I met my current boyfriend on it by a weird twist of fate.

I was at my cousin's bridal party and a woman I hardly knew kept asking me what was happening in my life.

Keep in mind this is an international relationship and not the boy who lives 30 minutes away and I can meet him anytime.

So how do I know if it’s worth it or if it’s all gonna be like a giant bomb exploding around me because what we have online or the phone just can’t be sustained “in real life.” I would like to know what to look for.Joining e Harmony, which matches couples based on a detailed personality questionnaire, says Anna, "was my backup in case I didn't meet anyone the 'regular' way." It took six months of being matched with other e Harmony members before she met Sam."His profile struck a chord—he was very spiritual, for one thing, which was important to me." Those other matches had interested her, but fizzled once they got past initial communication. Six months later, Anna and Sam were engaged; they got married in April 2010.Not so with Sam—whom she agreed to make a date with after six weeks of emails and hour-long phone calls. "I thought, 'Oh my gosh, this is a real man, not just an email! Lesson learned: Keep expectations low; it can take a while to find a match.Even with a system like e Harmony, whose detailed matching process saved her from "kissing a lot of frogs," you still have to feel that chemistry.Tonya, 34, was a classic online-dating skeptic, but when her parents pleaded with her to try—and offered to pay for six months on e Harmony.com, she relented—though she bargained it down to three months.