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I filled forms about my interests, my opinions and my personal goals – which was having a family – something I’d been too frightened to mention to my exes in the early days for fear of scaring them off.

“But the men I was introduced to were told what I wanted and shared those dreams. From the off we were on the same page and then it was only a matter of finding someone I also found physically attractive and that was Mark, the third man I met.” Wilkinson is far from alone.

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The result is that, rather than being someone that defies all calculation, love is now big business worth an annual $4 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.

“We’d love to get hold of more of it, but they’re not keen to share though we’re in discussion with a few of them,” says Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University and author of The Science of Love and Betrayal.

“They have a huge database and they also can follow couples’ stories through, which hasn’t been possible so far.” For most of history, using a third party to help you find love was the norm.

Moreover, couples who’d first met face-to-face reported slightly less satisfaction with their relationships than their online counterparts.

Professor John Cacioppo, who led the study, said the sheer number of available potential partners online could be among the reasons for the results.

But can something as nebulous as everlasting love really be found via a computer chip?

Yes, according to psychologists at Chicago University who last week reported that marriages that begin online – whether on an online dating site or via social networking sites like Facebook – stood a greater chance of success than those that began in the “real world”.

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