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For this feature, we interviewed more than a dozen dating websites, representing more than five million members (although it should be noted that most people using a dating website will set up a profile with more than one company).It’s also interesting to note that the split of male to female members on most of the sites is around the mark, and the number of older daters (those from 50 years of age and up) has become a real growth market.As dating sites and apps like Tinder and eharmony continue to grow in popularity, many of the companies behind them are finding it difficult to compete in the saturated market and to attract investors. Like bunnies, dating apps have shown a knack for proliferation. With a young, increasingly busy and mobile audience, the allure of the dating app business can be intoxicating. But with hundreds, if not thousands, out there, it's tough to get a critical mass of users. " That's what dating industry veteran Sam Yagan -- he founded Ok Cupid in 2003 -- said is most important. (The site is largely free but users can pay to upgrade their services.) In 2011, But for the aforementioned apps -- along with Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, Happn, Tinder and countless others -- profitability is a long ways off.And that's key to attracting investors and eventually turning a profit. Many haven't even introduced a plan to monetize their services.

There’s a crossover between safety and mobile here too; some apps allow you to see how close potential dates are to you – Grindr, the app used by the gay community is probably the best known – but research suggests women in particular feel uncomfortable about broadcasting their location.

The founders declined Mark Cuban's million offer to buy the firm when they appeared on Shark Tank in January.

They think the app can eventually generate around 0 million a year, like Meanwhile, venture capitalists are leery of giving any one dating startup too much funding.

And sugar daddies or sugar babies tend to be in the dating pool for long periods of time,” he added.

Charlotte Cory, founder of ffifty.com, set up her site after leaving her husband at the age of 49 and realising that no one should be on their own in mid-life.

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One firm that has successfully monetized its dating app is SNAP Interactive's AYI (Are You Interested), targeted at singles 45 and older.