SWIPE right if you like it, and left if you don't. The pressure and commercialisation of Valentine's day in the digital age is leading record numbers of people to turn to panic online dating, according to relationship experts who claim its time for us to take a step back from the web.

Last Valentine's Day popular dating app Tinder, which "matches" couples when they swipe right on each other's pictures, reported its biggest day ever in terms of user activity, and is offering users a "super like" each day in the week leading to 14 February.

Meanwhile sites like OkCupid, tagged as the "google" of dating, are also reporting Valentine's related growth. "We typically see at least a 15 per cent increase in sign-ups heading into Valentine’s Day — one of our biggest weeks of the year," said Jimena Almendares of OkCupid.

In almost two decades online dating has gone from a secretive and slightly seedy affair with plenty of stigma attached, to a booming business worth an estimated £2bn globally and £165 million in the UK alone.

According to the UK’s Online Dating Association (ODA), online dating accounts for more than a quarter of all new relationships and it is predicted that number will continue to grow, with research by EHarmony suggesting half of all couples will meet online within 20 years.

It's not just dates that can be found online. Padded cards plastered with hand written rhymes are increasingly replaced by e-cards, with a new Zombie range of anti-Valentines released by Hallmark this year.

If you also like to say it with roses, Kirill Chliaifchtein, founder of Swift Gift, has found a way to avoid "creeping your Valentine out" by texting for their address. With his gift app you select something for your beloved and a notification is sent to their mobile. Your loved one can then put in their own address for delivery or choose to pick the gift up while doing the shopping.

Chliaifchtein, who is expecting an increase of 30 per cent in sign ups to the app in the run up to Valentine's day, insists it is a new way of tapping into age old romance. "It's a very romantic and chivalrous way of approaching someone," he said.

For 37-year-old Anna, a TV producer from Glasgow, who has used online dating and apps including Match.com. EHarmony on and off for the last four years due to a diminishing pool of available men, the increasing digitalisation of our love lives has its ups and downs.

"On Match anyone can contact you so I've had all sorts of messages, including nude pictures," she said. "But you can block people right away. One of the advantages is that you can see straight away if people want kids or not. At the age I am I don't really want to hang around."

But when 5ft8 Anna was matched with a toothless man of 5ft1 she decided to try other options. And though she's made a couple of good friends, there's no chemistry with most of the men she meets. "Now I've got a bit fed-up and I'm taking a break from all of them for a while," she said. "Valentine's Day is a rubbish time to go out, even if you're a couple, so I think I'll be staying at home this year."

Life coach Sue MacGillivray has often seen the disheartening feelings that too many online dates can raise, and says Valentine's Day can pile on the pressure.

"Every year Valentine's becomes ever more commercial," she said. "In the past couple of weeks it's come up as an issue for many of my clients - both men and women - and it's often those who are in their late twenties or early thirties who are most affected. These are people who have great jobs, high salaries and are successful but realise they have lost those important dating years."

MacGillivray says she often recommends online dating, but only for people feeling confident and socially resilient. "You have got to be in love with yourself first," she said. "Otherwise it can be a catastrophe. I always tell people to think of it as an adventure rather than as an avenue to meeting 'the One'."

Dating should also be conducted offline, claims MacGillivray, who encourages her clients to widen their horizons.

Anne Chilton, head of counselling at charity Relationships Scotland, agrees. She said: "A real problem is when people are conducting the majority of their relationships online. The focus really can change and it lacks the intimacy. When we have relationships with real people in the room they are risky; you have to trust them with parts of yourself and open up.

"It can set the parameters differently too. You would often say something to someone online that you would not say to someone in front of you. Flirty texting, for example, can get out of control and you are setting expectations for something that you are not going to deliver on.

"When we are in the room we are picking up on all sorts of cues, about how someone says something, their intonation and so on. When we are texting or messaging we take the words at face-value and that can give you high expectations that may lead to disappointment."

And though she says lots of "great stuff" can come from online dating, she also claims dating apps can lead to people being divorced from the reality of dating. "Relationships take time, they take effort. We need to take risks and be empathetic. When we are swiping left or right on Tinder we do not need to do that."

But for Claire Fuller, a 30-year-old charity worker from Glasgow, online dating ended well. She signed-up to various dating apps including Tinder and found the experience "hilarious", sending her friends funny profile pics. "I remember one I saw where the main photo on the profile was of the guy crying. In another a guy was posing with his seven kids," she said.

After a few unsuccessful dates, she signed up to OKCupid and before long, met Sergey Kofman, 27. Just over a year later the couple plan to move in together.

"Our first date was on a cold and wet Saturday night," she added. "My first impression was that he was tall and good looking and that he had possibly the best accent in the world.

"After we had our first kiss in the bar that night, Sergey asked if I wanted to go on a walk with him. I was suspicious of his true intentions - this was a guy I met online after all - however he walked me up to the tower at Glasgow University to look out over the city. It was very romantic, which is not something I was expecting from an internet date."

She would fully recommend giving it a go. "There's no other way we would have met," she said. "Our paths would never have crossed."