Human courtship behaviors have been evolving throughout the course of history. From arranged marriages to speed dating, different cultures have unique ways of attracting a mate. Heavily influenced by the technology boom of the late '90s, dating, like many aspects of our everyday lives, has gained a strong online presence. The business of love, where companies help singles find relationships, has grown into a thriving industry.

In Pictures: Millionaires By Marriage

Online dating is generating billions in yearly revenues, with a forecasted growth rate of 10%. An escalating variety of websites exist to help people find whatever they are looking for – some sites focus on helping people find their one true love, while others try to match people in a common area looking for a one night fling. Whatever you preference, there is a dating website to accommodate your needs.

Something For Everyone
For example, Ashley Madison is a popular service that matches married people looking to have discrete extramarital relations; the company slogan reads "Life is short, have an affair." On the other hand, Womenbehindbars seeks to match incarcerated women looking for loving relationships after their release. Like many other such websites, this one focuses on picking partners of a particular race. The information about the type of crime they committed is harder to obtain. (Learn more about relationship finances in Marriage Vs. Common Law: What It Means Financially.)

Essentially, there is a website specific to every preference: women seeking rich men, men seeking rich women, even singles who share a common interest in Star Trek. With ranging membership fees and features that vary from website to website, surfers should determine what sort of relationship they are looking for prior to exploring the fascinating world of online dating.

The Serious Dater
Scientific Match uses breakthrough DNA sequencing technology to match clients based on specific genetic traits. DNA analysis of specific immune markers, in addition to a personality test, determines which couples will have the best chemistry. Two thousand dollars buys you a life time membership and a DNA testing kit which is sent to your home – simply swipe the inside of your mouth with a cotton swab and send the sample to the lab. Scientific Match truly takes "relationship chemistry" to the next level.

The popular eHarmony is another internet dating company whose focus is on creating long-term meaningful relationships. Compatibility is determined by the eHarmony Compatibility Matching System algorithm where over 400 questions determine 29 psychological dimensions such as emotional health, values and skills. This test was devised by clinical psychologist Dr. Neil Clark Warren who defined the keystone traits of a successful marriage. Every day an average of 236 eHarmony members happily marry. So if you are serious about finding your soul mate, the $59.95 one month membership could be a great long-term investment.

The Casual Dater
Match.com currently serves over 20 million users, 51% of whom are female, in over 37 countries. For $16.99/month clients are given a guarantee that if they are not matched with a comparable partner in six months, the next six months will be free. Furthermore, features such as dating tips, a relationship profile advisor and five daily suggested matches are provided to clients. Unlike Scientific Match which mainly targets singles looking for marriage, Match.com is a fun alternative allowing members to have a large amount of dating exposure.

Although other service sites such as Plenty of Fish offer similar features for free, Match.com's large client base makes them very appealing.

Internet giants such as Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) see the long-term growth potentials of online dating in our digital world. Yahoo! Personals currently serves over 10.5 million members looking to find love. In addition to the basic dating features, members have access to an assortment of dating articles, dating tips, online dating coaches, dating advice and even ice-breaker messages. After all, starting an online conversation can often be as difficult as saying "Hi" to that cute girl or boy at the bar. Yahoo! Personals offers a seven day free trial for those who are still uncertain about entering the online dating scene.

Social networking sites such as Facebook are also commonly used to find potential partners who share similar interests/acquaintances. Facebook provides a free alternative to stay in touch with childhood friends and maybe even rekindle any romantic sparks you once had with your junior high flame.

The Future of Dating
Internet dating was once thought of as a sorry alternative to finding a relationship, used only by those who could not do so through "regular" means. However, this business has exploded in recent years in all segments of society and offers many advantages to those who are busy with school and careers, or are just tired of the bar scene and want to try something new. Curious or doubtful singles can browse most major dating sites to read about the many heart-warming success stories.

For more on the financial implications of relationships, read 6 Famous Prenup Screw-Ups.

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    Bespoke Post Review: Is It Worth It?

    Find out if Bespoke Post, the fast-growing, e-commerce subscription service for men's lifestyle and grooming products, is worth all of the hype in this review.
  2. Stock Analysis

    3 Predictions for Amazon in 2016 (AMZN)

    Learn the top three predictions for Amazon in 2016 as the company comes off an exceptional year in terms of revenue and expands into new markets.
  3. Stock Analysis

    5 Reasons Alibaba's Earnings Disappointed in 2015 (BABA)

    Look at the reasons why Alibaba's earnings disappointed in 2015, including weak economic growth, the soft renminbi and allegations of counterfeit products.
  4. Investing

    Seven Sustainable Retail Dividends

    Seven retailers which pat sustainable dividends when examining both the companies' payout ratios and free cash flows.
  5. Budgeting

    Craft Coffee Review: Is It Worth It?

    Learn more about one of the first and most flexible specialty-grade coffee subscription services on the market, a perfect fit for any coffee lover.
  6. Stock Analysis

    Etsy: How It's Fared Since Its 2015 IPO (ETSY)

    Discover why Etsy had one of the worst IPOs of 2015, and how you would have fared as an investor had you invested in Etsy shortly after the IPO.
  7. Retirement

    Harry's Review: Is It Worth It?

    Find out if Harry's, the fast-growing, online purveyor of low-cost razor blades and shaving kits, is worth all of the hype in this review.
  8. Budgeting

    Manpacks Review: Is It Worth It?

    Find out if Manpacks, the fast-growing e-commerce subscription service for men's grooming products and underwear, is worth all the hype in this review.
  9. Investing

    Amazon Financing Now in the U.K.: Is America Next?

    Amazon has unveiled a great credit product in the U.K. Will America be the next country to have access to this financing option?
  10. Stock Analysis

    A Look Into Alibaba's Main Competitor: JD.com (BABA, JD)

    Read about China's two largest e-commerce companies, and learn about some operational developments that are slowly bringing the firms into closer competition.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Does QVC charge sales tax?

    QVC, an American TV network, is registered with states to collect sales or use tax on taxable items. QVC is also required ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Does Walmart take international credit cards?

    Foreign visitors to Walmart locations in the United States can use their credit cards issued by banks outside of the U.S. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Is QVC publicly traded? (QVCA, QVCB)

    QVC, Inc., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Interactive Corporation. It is attributed to the QVC Group tracking stock, ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How can I invest in electronic retailing (e-tailing)? (AMZN, W)

    Electronic retail is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. Every year, more people are choosing to purchase ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What countries represent the largest portion of the global retail sector?

    The United States and China are the world's largest and second-largest retail markets, respectively, by total retail sales. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How has electronic retailing (e-tailing) changed the consumer discretionary goods ...

    Electronic retailing has changed the consumer discretionary goods sector by increasing price transparency and product information. ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Super Bowl Indicator

    An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) foretells a decline in ...
  2. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
  3. Discouraged Worker

    A person who is eligible for employment and is able to work, but is currently unemployed and has not attempted to find employment ...
  4. Ponzimonium

    After Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme was revealed, many new (smaller-scale) Ponzi schemers became exposed. Ponzimonium ...
  5. Quarterly Earnings Report

    A quarterly filing made by public companies to report their performance. Included in earnings reports are items such as net ...
Trading Center