“Freelationships” — The New Dating Trend That Has 20-somethings Ditching The Dinners — And The Commitment

On the surface, Karen and Alex are like any young couple who are “seeing each other.” They share a love of cycling, hip-hop collective Black-Eyed Peas and the comedic web vlogs of Youtube star PewDiePie. But there’s one thing they DON’T like: expensive dinners. So they’ve agreed to enter into a “freelationship”: a relationship where they both pledge not to include money in their dating life. Everything they do together has to be cost-free.

Like other young people, they’ve been burnt by expensive school loans and rising rents in desirable urban neighborhoods and want to be able to enjoy the pleasures of coupledom on a budget. And they’re not the only ones. Sandra, a self-professed “shopaholic” and Leon, an aspiring barista, have enough on their financial plates supporting themselves, let alone buying each other expensive gifts. So they’ve also agreed to enter into a freelationship — with the additional stipulation that they will save money on expensive talk/text plans by refraining from contacting each other electronically. Any date they go on will be set up via bulletin board posts at Beeeeen, a coffeehouse in Brooklyn’s trendy Bushwick neighborhood.

Of course, even a cost-free date arranged via the inexpensive method of bulletin board post, telephone pole flyer or street chalk message still has the cost in time that could be spent in a more financially productive manner — that’s why Carla and Brandon have agreed to spend their dates “on their grind” — she filling out applications for a second round of graduate school and he editing his comedic web series “Carbla And Trandon,” which is about a twentysomething couple negotiating the amusing awkwardness of modern freelationships. And to save money on travel, they also have their dates from the comfort of their respective homes, she in Tampa, Fl. and he in Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK.

And that brings us to Kyra and Borbel. Not only are they avoiding travel and communication costs, they are saving “mental resources” by agreeing not to waste precious brain power by thinking of each other or learning each other’s names… and yet they are still going strong two years into what they describe as a rewarding freelationship, one that Kyra says has persevered despite her marriage to childhood sweetheart Dr. Dan Muscleman and Borbel being presumed dead several months after announcing his plan to live as a stowaway in the cargo hold of a commercial fishing trawler in the South China Sea.

Borbel is believed to have been mistaken for “by-catch” or “trash-fish” and tossed back into the water along with 2 metric tons of undesirable juvenile trout.

Oh, and Karen and Alex — they’ve finally agreed to stop seeing other people and enter into an exclusive freelationship… on one condition: she has to change her Facebook relationship status to “In A Relationship With Alex” from its current setting, “Relationship Status: Missing My Sweet Sweet Borbel.”

Tony Zaret is a relationship guru and author of “Finding The Fake Fish: What We Can Learn About Modern Love From The Makers Of Desktop Aquariums.”