This is an analogy I use in one of my ebooks that I’m going to expand upon here.

The Co-Owned Shovel

Let’s say you have a next door neighbor, and both of you need a good, solid shovel for some outdoor projects. In order to save money, you both go in 50/50 for a really fantastic, $200 shovel. You each kick in $100. Now you both co-own the shovel 50/50. You both decide to keep it over at your neighbor’s house, and just schedule with each other when you need it.

The day you buy the nice new shovel, you both admire it in your neighbor’s garage. Damn, what a great shovel. You’re going to both get some serious work done with that baby. And you both saved $100! You pat each other on the back and congratulate each other on your mutual genius.

But soon, problems arise.

Sometimes both of you need it at the same time. You’re both buddies, so you don’t argue about it. However, it does mean that one of you gets it to complete his landscaping projects while the other has to compromise and be unable to use it when he wants it. Not a major problem, but it sort of nags at you in the back of your mind that this wouldn’t be a problem if you each had your own shovel.

Not a big deal, but soon things get worse.

One day you go out to your neighbor’s yard to use the shovel, and you see him using the shovel to smash rocks on his concrete retaining wall.

“Whoa!” you cry, “What the hell are you doing? That’s not what a shovel is for! You’re going to damage it!”

He responds, “Whatever, dude. It’s my shovel and I can do what I want with it.”

“It’s my shovel too!” you scream, “And I don’t want you damaging it!”

And now, you argue. You now both have drama.

It’s a tough situation, since you’re both in the right. You both co-own the shovel equally. Both of you have differing opinions about how the shovel should be used, and since no man can use his own property “wrongly,” neither of you has the moral high ground over the other. Since the ownership is exactly 50/50, one cannot force or command the other to do anything.

So you’re both stuck. You simply continue to argue and argue, getting more and more pissed off, until one of four things happen:

1. One of you finally throws his arms in the air, gives up, and acquiesces to the other. Therefore, one person gets what he wants, and the other now harbors resentment. This creates a permanent rift in your long-term friendship, which prior to getting the shovel was pretty much problem-free.

2. One of you uses shrewdness or strength of personality and verbally forces, corners, or tricks the other person into doing it their way. The other person grudgingly goes along with it, but still harbors resentment, and still feels defeated to some degree. Again, the friendship is damaged, at least a little.

3. One of you bribes the other person, promising some payment or service for going along with their way. But that’s stupid; why should you pay someone to use something that you already paid for and that already belongs to you?

4. Realizing it was a bad idea to co-own something with your friend in the first place, as he continues to scream at you, you hold up your hand and say, “You know what? I don’t want to argue with you. You’re my bro. I love ya man, and this shovel is damaging our friendship. So hang on. I’m going to solve this problem right now.” You proceed to tell him to give you $100. That way, the shovel will then be 100% his, and he can do whatever he wants with it. Then you and him won’t need to argue about it ever again. Seeing that you’re right, he agrees. He pays you $100, keeps the shovel, then you go to the hardware store and buy your own shovel. Problem solved, forever. No more arguing ever again, and your friendship remains solid and intact with zero resentment. More importantly, you’ve learned a valuable lesson about human behavior.

Now what would have happened if instead of co-owning the shovel you shared it instead?

The Shared Shovel

Let’s say you need a kickass shovel for some landscaping you’ll be doing. You purchase a beautiful, $200 shovel. It’s all yours, and you’re very proud of it.

One day your neighbor and good buddy comes over and sees it in your garage. He comments on what a fantastic shovel it is, and asks if he could borrow it sometime. Of course you say yes. He’s a good friend and you know he’s a trustworthy guy. As a matter of fact, you tell him he’s more than welcome to take it out of your garage whenever he needs it without asking you. As long as you aren’t in the middle of using it, and as long as he doesn’t damage it, he’s free to use it whenever he likes. You even tell him he can keep it over in his garage if that would be easier for him.

He feels happy about the trust you place in him. You feel happy about how generous you’re being and that you’re helping a good friend. You both get a little endorphin rush.

Do you have any problems? Nope.

Any time you need the shovel, you get it. It’s your shovel. If you need it and it’s over at your neighbor’s house, you go and get it, and he hands it over immediately, since he knows it’s not his shovel.

Will your buddy use your shovel to pound rocks and possibly damage it? Hell no. He’s a responsible guy. He knows it’s your shovel, not his shovel, so he takes good care of it. Even if one of his kids damages or loses the shovel, he immediately buys you a new $200 shovel without a second thought.

There’s never any argument over when to use it or how to use it. Because it’s YOURS, not BOTH OF YOURS. You’re sharing it, not co-owning it.

The only possible problem you may have is if your neighbor is an irresponsible dumbass and damages the shovel without compensating you for it. But who’s fault is that? Yours. You shouldn’t share your stuff with irresponsible people. I certainly don’t. But assuming you’re a decently smart person, you’re only going to share your stuff with responsible people and refuse to share your stuff with morons. Thus, you’ll probably never have a problem.

Sharing vs. Co-Owning In Relationships

This explains one of my core concepts for long-term, serious relationships. You should share everything with your special girl, but you should co-own nothing. Assuming she’s a responsible person, if you want to let her drive your car whenever she needs it, that’s wonderful. But if you co-sign on a loan for a car you each own 50/50, then you’re an idiot. You are virtually 100% guaranteed to argue about when that car is used and/or how that car is used. When you break up or get divorced, which you will eventually, you’re going to have all kinds of financial problems and possible legal disputes over who gets the car.

Sharing is wonderful. Co-owning, at least in your woman-life, is extremely dangerous and literally invites problems into your existence. Do you like problems? Do you like drama? No? Then always follow this advice:

Share everything. Co-own nothing.

What I just said about the car applies to a house. If you want to live with a woman, go for it. Buy a house and own 100% of it, and let her live in it with you. If you want to charge her rent or something, then go ahead. She’ll always know that it’s your house. When you break up or get divorced (and again, you will) she just moves out. No problem.

But I see these idiot guys all the time refuse to get married and think they’re being smart, but then turn right around and buy a house with a girlfriend 50/50. Oh, you sweet dumbass. Don’t you realize that’s almost as bad as getting married? When that relationship ends and one of you needs to move out, you’re going to have to fight about who gets the house, who says in the house, whether or not to sell the house, etc. If you sell the house, you have to wait months and months dealing with a woman who is probably mad at you while you sell the damn thing, and likely when you weren’t even planning on selling it.

This also applies to leases. If you rent an apartment, condo, flat, or whatever, and want to move in with a woman, great. You are on the lease and no one else, or she is on the lease, and no one else. When you break up, one of you just moves out. But if you BOTH go on the lease, oh Jesus, say hello to all kinds of problems when you break up, or when one of you needs to move out, or when one of you doesn’t pay the rent that month, or when one of you damages the apartment, or when one of your friends does so.

This crap happens all the time, and as I’ve said before on this blog, I’m simply amazed that otherwise intelligent people still do this…go in 50/50 on a car, house, lease, business, boat, or whatever with their spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, roommate, or whatever.

Truly, it’s dumb beyond belief.

This also applies to things like checking accounts. I could tell you all kinds of horror stories about people, men and women both, who do this with lovers or spouses. I could expand this concept even further into marriages, and discuss why I constantly tell men to keep their finances completely separate even if you get legally married (and hopefully get a prenup). But I think you get the point by now. Share your wealth all you want. Give her all the money you like. But don’t co-own your money (accounts, investments, debts, etc) with her. That’s insane. Unless you enjoy problems and/or drama (and I know some of you do!).

I could even further expand this concept into why communism and real socialism has never worked no matter how many times it’s tried, and why capitalism, even with all of its flaws (and remember I’m talking about capitalism, not corporatism which is what America has), has produced the greatest standard of living the middle class has ever seen. Human beings love to share, but we humans are really bad at co-owning stuff, even though we like to pretend we aren’t.

Unless you enjoy drama, co-ownership is not a path to happiness.

Share everything. Co-own nothing.

25 Comments on “Share Everything, Co-Own Nothing

  1. Your blog is great, Black Dragon, but your political proselytizing gets exhausting.

    One tiny paragraph quoting historical fact out of a three-page article “exhausts” you? Then you should definitely exercise more.

    @BlackDragon, why is it that you are so against commitment?

    Long-term relationships are wonderful and I’m all for them. What I’m not for is putting your finances at risk and raising the odds of drama in your relationship.

    And why do you assume every couple’s relationship will end?

    Not every couple, just 85%.

  2. @BlackDragon,

    First let me start by saying that I am a big fan of almost all the blogs you write. This blog is also a good one and I can really appreciate the message you wish to convey here. There are maybe just a few small tweaks, or perhaps a few words of caution I would add to this. Sharing is great. I agree that it is the best way, however, knowing human nature like I do, and having experienced certain things, even when sharing, you have to be careful. Yes, from a legal standpoint, when you share with someone, you own the object 100% but- sometimes those you share with will still temporarily lose perspective of things and become more possessive than they should with the shared item. It is not always aparent from the start that you are dealing with someone who will do this. Things may start out fine at first and still end with some drama and hurt feelings. But yes, sharing is far better than co-ownership. Just be aware that sharing is also not always stress free. Otherwise, great blog as always! To others who feel negatively about this particular text, it’s not about being negative or being a pessimist. It’s about being a realist.

  3. BD, this is a smart way to go. Too many times we assume that we “know” lovers and our friends and forget about human nature. We assume that they would never get defensive and always do right by us. Paradoxically, this is a great way to ruin a relationship and be miserable yourself.

    On a related note, ever read of any of Robert Greene’s stuff?

    @Eyran, you ask a very general question that does not have to do with the article and could be answered by reading the article and BD’s work. I’m all for more women posters, however you should at least see what the blog is about first.

  4. having experienced certain things, even when sharing, you have to be careful

    Correct. That’s why I said you shouldn’t share with irresponsible people or morons.

    Yes, from a legal standpoint, when you share with someone, you own the object 100% but- sometimes those you share with will still temporarily lose perspective of things and become more possessive than they should with the shared item. It is not always aparent from the start that you are dealing with someone who will do this.

    Absolutely correct, but even in those circumstances, you’re far, far, FAR better sharing than co-owning (as you noted).

    On a related note, ever read of any of Robert Greene’s stuff?

    Yep. I do enjoy his stuff but I don’t think much of it is as real-life applicable as some believe it to be.

  5. What if you want to live with your gf, but each of you on your own can only afford a small apartment that is not big enough for a couple and you need to pool financial resources to afford a place big enough for both of you? In this case how would you share?…it seems like 50/50 might be required.

  6. Funny, when I was reading through your whole shovel parable, I was thinking it was going to be a metaphor for why you “share” your women (i.e. OLTR), and this cuts down on drama, rather than dealing with the problems that come with disputing claims to ownership (i.e. your wife cheating, or another guy “buying you out” by taking her off your hands in serial monogamy). But it turns out it wasn’t a metaphor at all but a straightforward example about financial assets and property. 😉

  7. What if you want to live with your gf, but each of you on your own can only afford a small apartment that is not big enough for a couple and you need to pool financial resources to afford a place big enough for both of you? In this case how would you share?…it seems like 50/50 might be required.

    I mentioned that in the article. Put yourself on the lease, and keep her off, and she pays half the rent to you. Or, put her on the lease, keep yourself off, and you pay half the rent to her.

    If you are so poor that it’s not financially viable to even do that, then you shouldn’t be living with your GF and you should be more focused on increasing your income. Or you should move to a cheaper city.

    50/50 is never “required.” There are always other options if people put their emotions on pause for a few minutes and think outside the box.

    The only reason people do 50/50 is because it’s emotionally satisfying in the short-term.

  8. I was thinking it was going to be a metaphor for why you “share” your women (i.e. OLTR), and this cuts down on drama, rather than dealing with the problems that come with disputing claims to ownership (i.e. your wife cheating, or another guy “buying you out” by taking her off your hands in serial monogamy).

    It could indeed be applied to relationships, though the metaphor would need a few tweaks.

    But you’re exactly right. Once you stop giving a shit about what the woman (or women) in your life do when you’re not around, your woman-drama instantly drops by 90%.

  9. I’ve been married in a community property state for five years. There is no “alimony” but there is spousal support if they haven’t been working and you’ve been married 10 years. It’s limited in duration and amount. But any assets acquired during the marriage get split 50/50. I don’t know the success rates of prenups in my state but the point is moot for me at this point. I got married right after my income started shooting up but I hadn’t accumulated squat for assets at that point. Also in my state if you cohabitate for a number of years think it’s also like 5 you are considered common law married and the same rules apply.

  10. But any assets acquired during the marriage get split 50/50.

    Yes, but only if you don’t get an enforceable prenup.

    I don’t know the success rates of prenups in my state but the point is moot for me at this point. I got married right after my income started shooting up but I hadn’t accumulated squat for assets at that point.

    I hope other men are reading this and understanding what Sixtycanine is saying. He didn’t get a prenup because he used the excuse many of you use on me when you don’t get one: “I don’t need a prenup, I don’t have any money” or “I don’t need a prenup, I don’t make very much money” or “I don’t need a prenup, she makes more money than me.”

    Yeah, you don’t have any money NOW. You will in 5 years, or 10 years, or 20 years. Moreover, you will need that money much more when you’re older than you do now.

    If you get divorced and destroy your finances when you’re 27, that’s bad, but you can recover. But if this happens when you’re 40 or 50, you’re fucked. This is why an enforceable prenup (if you absolutely must get legally married) is so critical.

    Even if you “have no money” you still need a prenup if you want to get legally married.

    Also in my state if you cohabitate for a number of years think it’s also like 5 you are considered common law married and the same rules apply.

    Correct! That’s why I have said repeatedly that step one in this process is to sit down with an attorney before you marry or move in with anyone and get educated on the common law marriage laws in your city.

    All great points.

  11. It’s remarkable that guys still put their hearts (or dicks) above their heads when they want to marry someone. This is extremely serious gentlemen!!! It’s the start of the downfall for many, many folks.

    Wise words BD, do not give up on putting some sense on those knuckleheads.

  12. Such a great post. I’m in the middle of a divorce right now. Co-ownership sucked while we were together, and now the pain is off the charts! At this point, I just want it finished.

    Unfortunately, I know I would have ignored your prenup advice 12 years ago when I got married. Hopefully, your blog is helping some younger guys make better decisions.

    BD, your advice has been extremely helpful to me. I see other divorced guys go right back out and get remarried. So crazy! This blog has helped me create a new vision for my life and relationships. I’m dating and making mistakes, but I am going to great lengths to avoid the big mistakes like co-ownership and marriage w/o a prenup.

    Keep up the good work.

  13. An intriguing article would be about how to answer to women’s typical responses or accusations in this case, when you propose sharing rather than co-owning? When you get the common emotional arguments of “don’t you trust me enough to not divorce you”, “are you cheap”, etc. I’m curious to hear if you answer with guy logic such as “divorce is statistically probable” which girls assuredly hate. Meaning your posts are written in guy logic enough to convince ourselves, but a good bonus article could cover how to explain these things in female reasoning?

  14. An intriguing article would be about how to answer to women’s typical responses or accusations in this case, when you propose sharing rather than co-owning?

    My ebooks, specificly volumes 3 and 6, answer that question in specific, step-by-step detail.

    But a general summary article on that topic might not hurt. I’ll think about it. You’re correct; doing the usual guy-logic in explaining this to a woman isn’t going to work (unless she has prior poly experience).

    Wise words BD, do not give up on putting some sense on those knuckleheads.

    I won’t. Although everyone has to remember that less than 10% of men, including Alphas/players/PUAs, are receptive to this kind of information while NRE, oneitis, and/or monogamy are raging in their brains. It takes a very, very strong man to admit that you’re not Superman, and she’s not an angel.

  15. @Smirh: you bat away that stuff like you are talking to a bratty little sister. Options:

    Say nothing, smirk, shake your head looking at the ground, look right back at her and ask “what’s for dinner, babe?”

    Say, “Of course I don’t trust you! I don’t even let you drive my (truck, car, boat)!

    Another: “Cheap? That reminds me, can I borrow 10 bucks”

    Then chuckle and change the subject. She doesn’t want to hear any logic, she just needs her hamster sedated.

  16. “divorce is statistically probable”

    It’s actually worse than that – statistically, the woman is also more likely to be the one filing for divorce. 🙁

  17. I’ll throw some quick examples here so the “skeptical” guys can see what we mean. I have a spare room at my place that I sometimes rent to give a quick boost to my income.

    Last year it was rented to a friend of mine. He was recently divorced and had nowhere to go.

    This year it’s rented again, to another friend of mine. He is recently divorced and has nowhere to go.

    The later had a place that he paid up almost enterely. Her ex divorced his ass, moved in with some relatives and is refusing to leave. Because of that he was forced to move back with his mom. This lasted for two hole years untill I came to his rescue. Oh yeah, almost forgot: he has a 12 year old son, is battling for his custody and is well over 30.

    Finally, I have a third friend, early 40s, two daughters, that recently was inquiring me about my room because he is divorced, left his apartment and was forced to move back with his 70 something old mom.

    Do I need to say more?

  18. Really good stuff. Simple, straight forward. I came to this conclusion regarding coowned buisinesses myself.

  19. Great stuff. I really love the idea. Now on the other hand – when you are living with someone, and you have a kid (let’s say it’s an OLTR marriage), what about paying for all the kids expenses? Who’s paying? You or her? Or you sit down and do half and half? I came to think about it today and I was surprised that I can’t remember this topic ever mentioned. It’s probably coming down to more money than a house!

    Just for te protocol, I am a 25 year old guy and want to use your system down the road when I will want kids.

  20. when you are living with someone, and you have a kid (let’s say it’s an OLTR marriage), what about paying for all the kids expenses? Who’s paying? You or her? Or you sit down and do half and half?

    In terms of who pays, that’s something you discuss and come to an agreement on before anyone gets pregnant. If you can’t come to an agreement, you don’t have a baby with that person.

    In terms of who actually parents the child, one parent should be the primary caregiver. You don’t want both parents raising the kid “50/50,” since that is 100% guaranteed to result in some huge arguments. One parent should be the “kid boss” and the other parent should be “support.” I go into more detail about this in the Alpha Male 2.0 book.

  21. Thanks for the comment BD. I have read the book and I agree and understand the “who’s parenting” thing, but the expenses issue is still lingering in my mind. Let’s say you as a young but financially stable comes to a point where you want to have a kid with a young and financially stable woman. First kid for both of you. OLTR without marriage. (or marriage with a prenup) What exactly would you say regarding who’s paying? “I pay for school and you pay for food?” (: There are so many other expenses.

    It’s still too vague so I would appreciate if you can make things a bit more clear, this topic is very big for me and it probably will be for a lot of other men who consider using your system for parenting.

    Thank you.

Leave a Reply

To leave a comment, enter your comment below. PLEASE make sure to read the commenting rules before commenting, since failure to follow these rules means your comment may be deleted. Also please do not use the username “Anonymous” or “Anon” or any variation thereof (makes things too confusing).

Off-topic comments are allowed, but Caleb will ignore those.

Caleb responds to comments in person, but he only does so on the two most current blog articles.

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search.