Keep the Money? Share the Money? Stupid Money.
April 15, 2008 6:07 PM   Subscribe

I have a bit of a dilemma. I dated this guy last year, and he introduced me to a friend in order to get him hired at my company. Flash forward to now, and he's finally been hired, and a referral bonus is coming my way. More deets inside, natch.

So I dated this guy, let's call him Fred, for about two months. It was a hardcore rebound relationship, and it was definitely the looniest I've ever been in a romantic situation. We got hot and heavy very quickly, and it burned out as quickly as it started.

While we were in the throes of total infatuation, Fred introduced me, virtually, to a friend of his, let's call him Barney, whom I referred to be hired at my company. I told Fred at the time that I would split the bonus with him if Barney got hired.

When Fred and I stopped dating, it was a little rocky. For context, he messed with my head a bit, slowing things down because his ex girlfriend came back into the picture, but leading me on, essentially "keeping me warm" in case things didn't work out with her - which was a little crazy-making for me, but I survived. I tried to be cool, but sort of flipped out at the end and told him to leave me alone and never call me again. Fred and I have since been in contact and are friendly, but I haven't much of a desire to maintain a real friendship with him. I am somewhat embarrassed by my actions at the time, I had ended a majorly significant relationship just a month before meeting Fred and was having trouble adjusting, and as a result got a little more invested in a fantasy than the reality. I kind of don't want to deal with or see Fred (who has a new girlfriend now, and I am very glad for him). I get the sense he thinks I am still loopy over him, and I am very much not.

I've since kept in touch with Barney very sporadically, as he'd drop me a note when he'd become available and I'd push him along to our HR group. I've never met him or really talked to him much beyond the particulars of getting him a job here. Now, all of these months later, Barney's finally been hired, and I'm going to get a pretty nice referral bonus from it in 90 days.

And now, FINALLY, to my question. Is it wrong to just keep the bonus? Honestly, the biggest reason I don't want to give him any of the money (aside from the fact that I could just use the money, and I've been the one to push this along), is because I really just don't want to deal with him thinking "oh man, this girl is still so INTO ME!" when I just want to do the right thing.

What would y'all do? One moment I feel like a complete crazy person for even thinking of splitting the money with him, and the next, I feel like a total selfish jerk for even entertaining NOT splitting the money with him.

It is possible that Barney will call Fred and say "DUDE! I finally got a job from that girl you were dating lo so many months ago!"

Barney does not know I'll get a bonus but of course Fred does, because I had to open my big fat mouth and offer to split it with him.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (69 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Just keep the money. If he realizes you never split the promised bonus with him, it might help him to figure out that you really aren't that into him. Plus, you get paid. Win win. Unless he's really petty or really broke, he's not gonna call you out on it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:18 PM on April 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Don't mention it to Fred. He'd have to be pretty to bold to ask for it and if you put him in the position of asking, you can politely refuse him by saying things are/were different now/then.
posted by Frank Grimes at 6:18 PM on April 15, 2008

because I had to open my big fat mouth and offer to split it with him.

Honor your commitment. It's the right thing to do. If you're worried about Fred's perception of your "into him"-ness, include a note. And do it because you said you would, not because you're worried you might get caught. You'll be out $x00, but you'll feel better in the long run. Good luck.
posted by ZakDaddy at 6:20 PM on April 15, 2008

Send him a note in the mail with the money.

"I am not into you. Here is the money I said I would split, spend it on eharmony or or something."

Problem solved.
posted by andryeevna at 6:26 PM on April 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

To simplify:

1) You offered to split the bonus with Fred, if Barney was hired
2) Barney was hired
3) Therefore, you should do as you promised, and offer Fred half the bonus

If you don't want Fred to think you're still "loopy over him", can't you communicate that to him separately? It's a separate issue and has nothing to do with this particular deal.

It's entirely possible that Fred will decline the money and wish you luck -- I certainly would, in his situation -- but it's up to you to give him the opportunity. I agree that he probably won't chase you down, but it's more classy to live up to your responsibilities rather than ignore them when they become inconvenient.
posted by xil at 6:26 PM on April 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

because I really just don't want to deal with him thinking "oh man, this girl is still so INTO ME!" when I just want to do the right thing.

I confused, how exactly do you have to deal with Fred? Send him money via Paypal or mail a check, and nevermind what he thinks. Or are these reasons to justify keeping all the money?

From the sounds of it, you have your moral code and know what you should do, according to that code, but you don't want to do it, which is ok. Just admit it and keep it. If Fred calls you on it, just tell'em that it was a tax for having to put up with his crap.

Keep in mind, though, that Fred might get pissy and tell Barney and Barney might say something to coworkers and that could reflect on you badly, you know how office politics can be. So in that case, take the money and donate it charity, that way you're keeping half, like you said and you still don't have to deal with Fred.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:27 PM on April 15, 2008

Pay him the money. Include what the money's for in the memo line of the check. Don't include a return address.
posted by Happydaz at 6:30 PM on April 15, 2008

Eh - if the relationship no longer exists, I don't think the commitment (of offering to split it with him) does either. I assume Fred introduced Barney to you in order to do Barney a favour and get him a job, rather than in order to get his share of your bonus money. Your offer to split it with him was in the context of being in a relationship with him. It's your company, your bonus, and you don't want to maintain a friendship with Fred - keep the money.
posted by miss cee at 6:30 PM on April 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

Meh, keep it unless your guilt is going to keep you up at night. To summarize: He acted like a cad, you overreacted a bit, and now he thinks of you as that girl who was sooo into him. If you're feeling guilty, why don't you donate his portion to some worthy organization like Planned Parenthood or The Nature Conservancy or the Siberian Tiger Fund?
posted by arnicae at 6:34 PM on April 15, 2008

Type up a really officious business letter explaining the payment. Choose every word to be as cold and impersonal as possible. Send it to him in the mail with an enclosed check. He's unlikely to interpret this as "she's so into me."
posted by jejune at 6:40 PM on April 15, 2008

Eh - if the relationship no longer exists, I don't think the commitment (of offering to split it with him) does either.

Agreed. Keep the money.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:44 PM on April 15, 2008 [4 favorites]

The reason you asked the question is that you know you should give him the money. I agree.
posted by mpls2 at 6:54 PM on April 15, 2008

i think if fred was really interested in the bonus, he would have contacted you about it as soon as barney told him about the new job. to be quite honest, he probably doesn't eve nremember.

keep the money. people make a lot of promises in the heat of a fling. if fred reminds you about it, say, "oh, wow, i completely forgot" and send him a check.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:00 PM on April 15, 2008 [3 favorites]

Eh - if the relationship no longer exists, I don't think the commitment (of offering to split it with him) does either.

Agreed, agreed, a million times. Keep it. Don't worry about it.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:09 PM on April 15, 2008

You weren't making a business deal with Fred, you were making a boyfriend/girlfriend deal. If you had said you'd take him for a romantic weekend in a cozy cabin if Barney got the job, you wouldn't be contemplating doing that now. It really doesn't matter if the deal involved money or blowjobs or cooking dinner; the terms you made it under are different than they were.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:10 PM on April 15, 2008 [4 favorites]

KEEP THE MONEY. I think it's a given that an agreement like this is contingent on two people still being a couple when the event occurs.

It's not like you broke up with him to get out of paying him the money.

when the realationship is dissolved, so are all these little promises and agreements.
posted by Mr_Chips at 7:13 PM on April 15, 2008

It sounds like your question really boils down to, "I feel morally obligated to split this money, but I am not sure how to give Fred his share without him making assumptions about my feelings. How do I both fulfill my obligations and cut off further drama/masculine ego-stroking?"

Send this in the mail with the check included:

"Dear Fred,

You may already know that Barney has been hired at [workplace], and due to my position as the official referring employee, I have just received my bonus from Human Resources. As per our agreement X months ago, here is your check for half of the money. Please enjoy.


Or something of that ilk.

It's not SO very cold that it'll prevent him from ever speaking to you again. You said the two of you were friendly if distant, and given that you have a mutual acquaintance/co-worker now and no pressing need to speak to each other, I wouldn't unnecessarily burn bridges. On the other hand, it is most definitely not a letter that a "girl that's SO into him" would send to dear Freddie, so it should disabuse him of that notion. Basically, you're aiming for business casual or social ultra-formal.
posted by bettafish at 7:14 PM on April 15, 2008

Nthing the "keep it" side, unless there was some bargaining that went on, then it's a different story.

For example... if he told you Barney was looking for a job, and you persuaded him to let you refer him to your Company, then I think you should pay him the money.

If, on the other hand, he asked you to recommend Barney, you agreed, and then added "And, hey, we can split the bonus!" then keep it.

In the first case, you offered him half of the bonus so you'd get the other half. In the latter case it was an after thought that was more polite than it was practical, and it was absolutely rooted in a sense of dating obligation.
posted by toomuchpete at 7:23 PM on April 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Give him the money. Depending on where you live, this might be considered a promise to pay.
posted by acoutu at 7:25 PM on April 15, 2008

If your conscience gets the better of you and you decide to split the money with him but don't want to send the wrong signals, you could send him the check along with a letter typed on office stationary which sounds like it's from Human Resources instead of from you. It should say something to the effect of "Several months ago you were listed as one of the two referrers on Barney's application to our company. We have since hired Barney and are sending you half of the referrer's bonus. Thank you."
posted by iconomy at 7:26 PM on April 15, 2008

What's he going to do if he finds out you didn't split the money with you? Be mad? Break up with....oh....never mind.

keep it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:29 PM on April 15, 2008

errr...I meant split the money with him
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:30 PM on April 15, 2008

Keep the money. But don't spend it yet. See if you hear from Fred in a month, if not it's yours to keep.
posted by crossoverman at 7:32 PM on April 15, 2008

I propose a slight modification to a previous answer:

"Dear Fred:
I'm not that into you. Also, your friend Barney got hired, which means I should be getting that referral bonus pretty soon. I'll send you a cheque for your half once it comes through. What's your mailing address again?"

Then wait for the response that may or may not come. Decent chance he'll just say "forget about it" or not respond at all, then you're in the clear; you offered, he declined, so you can keep the money guilt-free.
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:39 PM on April 15, 2008

What oneirodynia said.
Also: I propose a slight modification to a previous answer:

"Dear Fred:
I'm not that into you. Also, your friend Barney got hired, which means I should be getting that referral bonus pretty soon. I'm going to spend it on a weekend in Montreal. See ya!"
posted by Floydd at 7:50 PM on April 15, 2008 [3 favorites]

Send him the money. Not even close. As others have said, you know you should. You wouldn't be asking otherwise.
posted by Perplexity at 7:52 PM on April 15, 2008

Whoops! Maybe you forgot about the agreement. If Fred asks for his half, you can say, "Whoops! I had forgotten about that. Here you go." If he doesn't ask, whoops, you get to keep the whole thing.
posted by kitty teeth at 7:57 PM on April 15, 2008

You can't stop him from having delusions that you are still into him. You're probably the third person he's suspected of nursing a crush (imaginary head trips tend to work that way). It's pointless to try to change his delusion, so you might as well just forget about it.

Simply be loyal to your own sense of right and wrong. That is an achievable goal. You don't want to deal with him anymore, and you don't have to, so why should your decision be based on what it will make him think? It's yourself you have to deal with every day.
posted by salvia at 7:57 PM on April 15, 2008

Take the money, don't advertise it. If he asks for it, be prepared to give it to him.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:04 PM on April 15, 2008

There's no way I'd expect an ex to pay me half of the referral bonus after we'd split up, particularly after an awkward and unfriendly break-up. You weren't in business with him, you were dating him. I don't think there's any reason for you to feel bound by a casual agreement made under the assumption that you'd still be dating when the money came in. If you feel like giving him the money, that's your call, but I don't see any ethical reason not to keep it under these new circumstances.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:08 PM on April 15, 2008 [3 favorites]

Split the bonus, like you said you would. But send it in the mail so you don't have to talk to him.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:11 PM on April 15, 2008

Give him 1/3. You will get taxed on that. If you give him 50%, then you will be taxed on the 100%, leaving you with about 25%.
posted by lpctstr; at 8:16 PM on April 15, 2008

Keep the money - your agreement with him was based on your relationship with him. That relationship no longer exists, and you don't really want to it to. So why bother? And ignore everyone who says that you should say "I'm not that into you" in a note (because saying that to him means that you are still overthinking you+him and he will interpret it as you still being into him)
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 8:16 PM on April 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Not sending him the money keeps him in your life. He is your partner in this agreement, and he will find out that Barney got the job, and that leaves this weird connection open between the two of you. I think keeping it indicates that you are still into him - that you have unfinished business - literally.

Sending it to him is the door closing, and the right thing to do. Figure out the balance after tax, send him half, with a brief note indicating what the money is for and thanking him for introducing you to Barney.
posted by kristin at 8:50 PM on April 15, 2008

If your conscience gets the better of you and you decide to split the money with him but don't want to send the wrong signals, you could send him the check along with a letter typed on office stationary which sounds like it's from Human Resources instead of from you.

I'd strongly advise *against* this. Representing yourself as the company while conducting business that is essentially personal is most likely contrary to your business's code of ethics.
posted by Morrigan at 9:15 PM on April 15, 2008

Essentially, I think andryeevna and jejune are exactly right. You have an ethical obligation to send the money, but you don't have an obligation to deal with the bullshit. I'd send a totally formal letter with a check for his share, making it clear that you're just treating it as a business transaction. For example:

Dear Mr. [ex]:

Enclosed, per our agreement of [date], is a [share] of the referral fee for [person].


your full name...
posted by paultopia at 9:42 PM on April 15, 2008

You gave your word. Please honor it.

The tax implications are worth considering, though -- if you were to give him 1/2 after taxes, I think that would be OK. Not perfect, but OK.
posted by amtho at 9:56 PM on April 15, 2008

Either choice could haunt you. There is no clear consensus in this thread because the situation is ambiguous morally. There is some good advice if you decide to share. How much weight do you put on your declaration to share with Fred? Was it a promise? That you can use the money will make you less clear. Residual feelings about your break up can make you less clear. Which path feels more settled to you?
posted by pointilist at 10:14 PM on April 15, 2008

If someone I was in a relationship with offered to split some future income with me, I wouldn't expect to get it if the relationship ended, any more than I would expect a trip to France with them if they said they would spend it on a trip to France for the two of us. I'm sure there are many other things you said during your relationship that don't apply any more. I have trouble imagining that Fred still would expect you to give him this money -- and surely if he does, he'll find a way to remind you about it.
posted by yohko at 10:47 PM on April 15, 2008

Honestly, if I were you -- and I'm an honest person, to a fault -- I would put aside Fred's half (AFTER taxes, please!) and sit on it, along with a letter as outlined by paultopia. Let Fred be the one who has to approach you, knowing how he treated you, and outright ask you for the cash; this will obviously take a certain amount of balls on his part. You can then say "of course; I set it aside for you, but wasn't sure how to get in touch with you, and then forgot about it." and give it to him, letter and all. This way you're taking the high road -- you have put aside the money to honor your agreement, and you fully intend to pay him if he asks you to honor it -- but you also get to keep the money if it turns out you're over-thinking it and he has no intention of collecting.

Also, consider asking Barney about this. He doesn't know about the bonus, but you did him a favor, and so there's no reason for him not to know about it -- heck, the HR department has probably already told him, as a new employee, that he is eligible for the same bonus -- so you can simply say "Hey, wanted to welcome you to the company, congratulations on making it through the gauntlet. Did you tell Fred yet?" and see what he says. If he says "Ah, we don't really hang out any more" or "Nah, we had a falling out" you can sit on it for a year, and if he says "I just did" or "I'm going to tell him this weekend" you can ask him to let Fred know that his share of the after-tax bonus is waiting for him.
posted by davejay at 10:58 PM on April 15, 2008

I think the classy thing to do is send him the money. At the very least, it shows that you are a person who keeps their word.
posted by tomble at 11:03 PM on April 15, 2008

I'm on the Keep It side.

It sounds like you made an offer to split the bonus money when Barney initially applied. Barney was not hired, so there was no bonus money to split. Flash forward to now, many months later, you've helped Barney reapply and the agreement is no longer relevant.

90 days from now, if Barney is still around, you get a check. If Fred asks for money then, you are totally right to tell him to suck an egg. If you feel that your agreement somehow applied to splitting earnings from a future situation with Barney that was unforeseeable at the time of the original agreement, then don't give him more than half of the after tax amount.

Beyond that, the agreement you had was based on your relationship, which Fred abandoned. When he left the relationship, he also abandoned any possibility of future benefit from that relationship. If you had promised him some romantic or sexual favor if Barney got hired, you wouldn't feel that you had to head over to his apartment to pay up.
posted by paperzach at 11:05 PM on April 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

It is the decisions we make when confronted with these sort of morally grey areas that define who we are.

That said, keep it.
posted by oxford blue at 11:09 PM on April 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

If I were Fred in this situation, and I received a check from you out of the blue, I would think you were a bit strange for honoring that kind of off-hand promise.
posted by Sar at 11:59 PM on April 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

This isn't morally gray. You made a promise. You should do what you said you would do.

How you feel about Fred doesn't change your responsibility to be honest. Doing anything other than giving Fred his money is extending your relationship with Fred. If you sit on the money until Fred asks for it, you're making the money a part of your relationship. If you keep all the money and spend it, then whatever you buy with it will be a permanent piece of Fred in your life.
posted by rdr at 12:12 AM on April 16, 2008

If you keep all the money and spend it, then whatever you buy with it will be a permanent piece of Fred in your life.

If you spend it on water bills that means all the water in your tap will have molecules of Fred, which are considered a toxic substance under EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act jurisdiction.

Seriously...consider if he had said he was going to France and would take you. You break up...does he still have to take you to France? No.

I remember my boyfriend had ordered some computer parts and said he would give me an extra. We broke up...of course he didn't give me the part. As far as I'm concerned, breaking up nullifies agreements like that.

Spend it on something like taxes or parking's not bad if Fred is part of these things since you don't like them anyway.
posted by melissam at 12:41 AM on April 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

This thread is hilarious, because it's surely just a transcript of the mental squabbling that led you to post this question in the first place.

All right, so, I have decided that you and I are identical twins because I just emerged from a freakishly similar mindfuck of a non-relationship. Thus, my advice to you reflects the tone of my own recent self-navigation.

Only you know the details of how things went down with Fred - how much of a douche he was to you, and the context in which the agreement was made (and I see no mention of the word "promise" in your question.). You're clearly a very kind, ethical, good-hearted person, or you wouldn't be agonizing so much about this (and, I mean, you're *my* identical twin.). But given the dynamic you described, I suspect Fred used these very qualities as leverage to manipulate you into getting what he wanted and basically drive you insane. So you're left consoling yourself with the knowledge that you're the bigger person, but your self-esteem is in shambles and you feel like shit. Meanwhile, yeah, he's the asshole, but he gets to feel like an elephant-dicked rockstar because this chick was like soooo into him.

But the problem was not that you were kind, ethical, and good-hearted, but that your self-assessment relied on his opinion of you. And it still does, and that's the complicating factor. You still care that he knows you're an ethical person who keeps her word. But you also care to make it damn clear that you don't still care. You're driving yourself loopy figuring out the best way to prove to him that you're not still loopy! Aaagh!

So, here are some suggestions, both of them essentially rooted in being *honest with yourself.* First, try and figure out exactly where you stand, irrespective of whatever's going on in Fred's head. Was the agreement you made, in the context it was made, and the subsequent fallout, worth keeping according to your own system of ethics? And the ethical weight of keeping this agreement less important to you than the possibility that Fred might think you're still into him?

Second, admit that you *do* still care what he thinks. Because you do. Admit it. And from there, you're just a small step away from seeing the comedy in this whole crazy situation and being able to laugh about it and move on. Which is why I love Floydd's suggestion, not as a serious possible course of action, but just because it made me laugh. I call this the Elizabeth Bennett Approach.

"Which do you mean?" and turning round he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said: "She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me; I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me."

Mr. Bingley followed his advice. Mr. Darcy walked off; and Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feelings toward him. She told the story, however, with great spirit among her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous."

(Ideally, you will start laughing at a time when he is in earshot.)
posted by granted at 2:10 AM on April 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Is it wrong to just keep the bonus?

Yes, it is wrong.
posted by grouse at 2:13 AM on April 16, 2008

I'm finding this thread really interesting. I'm really surprised by all those people saying 'you made a promise so pony up the cash', as my thinking was 'what? no, way!'. Hell, it's your money - and I'm agreeing here that any 'promises' made during a messy fling are null and void once its over - especially as he played you a bit towards the end. I also think that ANY contact with Fred might make him think you are still into him if he's that kind of bloke, because ANY contact is placing more importance on your relationship than it currently neccessitates. I do very much believe in keeping promises to dear friends, lovers etc, but it sounds like you're not interested in Fred being your friend, he's just some guy you once dated.

However, if you really feel bad about keeping the cash why not split it with Barney instead, with minimum fuss. After all, he's the cause of the windfall, and as he's not expecting it, it would be such a lovely gift. If Fred gets to hear about it, and feels ticked off, well hard chips. He was the one who messed with your head, therefore voiding himself as a future beneficiary of your general aceness. Anyhow his reaction doesn't matter, what does matter is that whatever you decide you can draw a line under the whole incident in your own mind and move on.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:29 AM on April 16, 2008

I find it upsetting that so many people say that she should give this guy money.

The terms of their deal had to do with Barney getting a job at that time, since then, she has gone through additional effort, putting Barney forward numerous times. Fred does not deserve money from future endeavors, only the agreed upon deal... which even then was merely a matter of generosity.

Were they still together, I would say to just give Fred some money to keep everything smooth, but he doesn't deserve it and I honestly can't think of any moral obligation that the poster is under to pay out on this.

Being nice and honest are both admirable traits. Actively working against your own interests is not.
posted by paperzach at 4:14 AM on April 16, 2008

Give it to Barney. Tell him, "When you first applied, Fred and I were dating, and we agreed if you got hired, we'd split the headhunter bonus. Fred and I have split up, and I don't really want to see him again, but I feel guilty about keeping his share of the bonus; so here it is. You can give it to him if you like, or keep it, whichever you like."
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:19 AM on April 16, 2008

You are under no obligation to split your bonus with the ex, even though you mentioned it, at that time. You may have been in the throes of passion when you mentioned it, it was nothing.

This is now, you aren't sharing anything with the ex currently - no dinners together, no movies, no sharing rent and utilities etc...and currently you are receiving the bonus for the work [the referral] you did, so it is all yours.
It was your company you referred the ex's friend, it's your bonus from your current employer.
Period. Guilt free.

You may be suffering from a love hangover, but don't let that stand between you and your money.//
posted by alicesshoe at 6:08 AM on April 16, 2008

Keep 'em.
posted by AwkwardPause at 6:11 AM on April 16, 2008

Keep the money. Based on the language in the question, it sounds like you made an offhand, completely voluntary offer, purely out of generosity and within the context of having a very different kind of relationship with Fred.
posted by tomcooke at 8:46 AM on April 16, 2008

You offered to split it with him because you were in a relationship with him. If your word is super-important to you, then send him half after taxes.

However, in my opinion, you should have never offered to give him half, and he doesn't deserve it. You did a favor for him by putting yourself out there as a reference for his friend that you barely knew. If Barney blew the interview, it could have been embarrassing for you.

If it happened the reverse way, where your company had a gaping hole in its personnel and Fred made you look like a superhero by recommending the perfect guy for the job, then perhaps Fred deserves a share. As you told it though, Fred did nothing for you aside from giving you the opportunity to maybe get this bonus. Besides, I'm sure Barney already took him out for drinks or the equivalent as a thank you.
posted by explosion at 8:51 AM on April 16, 2008

Honor your commitment. It's the right thing to do.

posted by languagehat at 9:02 AM on April 16, 2008

Seriously...consider if he had said he was going to France and would take you. You break up...does he still have to take you to France? No.

In this case presumably neither would want to take a trip to France together.

Now, consider the case where you promised to buy someone a plane ticket to France in the future, or promised to pay them back some money they lent. Should such a promise be voided over the end of a relationship? Perhaps, but I'd say only if such a wrong was done that that person no longer deserved the moral protection implied by promises.

Only the original poster knows if this should count as a promise or just an offhand idea, and if it is a promise, if Fred wronged her enough to void her moral obligations.

I find the kneejerk "keep it, the end of a relationship voids all your promises!" responses disheartening.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:36 AM on April 16, 2008

Honor the commitment because, once you have, you can forget about it and get on with your life. If you keep the money, you'll have to live with that. Even if it's a minor thing, it will affect you in a minor way -- for a long time.
posted by amtho at 11:06 AM on April 16, 2008

The end of a relationship does not void all promises, but it doesn't mean you have to go out of your way to contact a former at-will partner.

Keep half the bonus in a high-interest online savings account. If Fred approaches you about it, give him what's due. After two years or so, withdraw the now-large balance and keep it for yourself. Think of it as escrow and escheat, or maybe just asshole tax.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:16 AM on April 16, 2008

Oh my god, just keep the money. You did your ex a favor by finding his friend a job! He deserves nothing else from you.
posted by Jemstar at 11:49 AM on April 16, 2008

A) Satisfaction from honouring the agreement (for the sake of the agreement, not for your ex) vs B) satisfaction from half the bonus money.

Adjust for the way your ex treated you.

Figure out if A) or B) is bigger and act accordingly.
posted by ersatz at 3:26 PM on April 16, 2008

I find the kneejerk "keep it, the end of a relationship voids all your promises!" responses disheartening.

It's perfectly reasonable for the end of a relationship to void all promises made in the context of that relationship. The boss at my former job told me he'd give me a bonus if he heard no complaints from a particular client of mine for six months. Well, I quit my job before that time- I don't believe he owes me that bonus, as the circumstances it was made under were contingent on me working for him. I seriously doubt if it was something other than money that people would be saying she needs to make good on her offer. As far as I'm concerned, the type of gift or favor doesn't make a difference- the social contract the relationship operated under was void once the relationship ended, and all agreements are void at that time too. If Fred and the OP were co-workers and the offer was made under those circumstances, yes, she should give him the (money, theater tickets, dinner, &c.) now. But that's not the case.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:48 PM on April 16, 2008

if Fred was hired 10 Years Later, would you send him half?

if yes.. send it. if not.. keep it.
posted by Izzmeister at 2:28 AM on April 17, 2008

Oops. ... I meant Barney, not fred.

if Barney was hired 10 Years Later, would you send Fred half?

if yes.. send it. if not.. keep it.
posted by Izzmeister at 2:29 AM on April 17, 2008

email Fred a link to this thread.. and ask him what he thinks. If i were him, after reading this thread, i'd understand:

1) you don't want to have anything dto do with him
2) you want to know if you should be giving him half

he'll understand teh whole picture... and not ask for half the money.
posted by Izzmeister at 2:31 AM on April 17, 2008

It's perfectly reasonable for the end of a relationship to void all promises made in the context of that relationship.

No, not all promises, just some promises. For example, in an employer–employee relationship, here are some promises that would still be valid:
  • a promise the employee made to pay back an interest-free loan from the employer
  • a promise the employer made to provide a pension or all sorts of other benefits for life
  • a promise the employee made to assign any patents arising from inventions made during the term of employment
In marriage it's also well-established that all sorts of promises will have to be rendered in some way even if the marriage collapses.

It's self-serving to claim that you get a free pass on your other obligations because your relationship ended. Can you imagine yourself in front of Judge Judy saying "well, I did make that agreement, but... he was a big meanie to me! I shouldn't have to honor my agreement! I'm keeping the money." Don't you know that she would rip your self-serving justification to shreds? Wouldn't you be embarrassed to try to make that argument on national television? That feeling there is your conscience. Listen to it.

And yeah, Fred would come across badly too for suing his ex, but that wouldn't make you right. In typical daytime reality television fashion, you would both look like jerks. Take the high road instead, secure in the knowledge that Fred is the only jerk here.
posted by grouse at 3:31 AM on April 17, 2008

If you were Fred, would you expect the money? To me, it depends on how "casual" the promise was. It sounds very casual and off-hand, in which case, I would say keep it, unless he asks for it (presuming Barney tells him he got the job).
If it was a very business like transaction (on the order of, "I'm only giving you this referral to get the bonus"), then you're at least obliged to make sure he knows to ask for it (i.e. make sure Barney tells him).
Word is bond and all, but there's a reason people ask for one's "word" when it's actually serious to cement the promise.
I'm guessing most of the people saying you're obliged to give the money have said "I'll call you tomorrow" to a friend and not done it if something else came up (even if they'd still had time to call just to say no time now something came up) or just forgot. This seems most likely on that order of things.
posted by Furious Fitness at 11:18 PM on April 18, 2008

"For example, in an employer–employee relationship..."

Holy ridiculous comparisons, Batman!

The "examples" provided could not be less like this situation. For one thing, they're all picture-perfect, legally binding contracts. Both parties received something in exchange for something from the other party, and they all certainly contemplated the end of the employee-employer relationship.

Here, there's a lot of shifting around of value, but all the OP's Ex did was exchange some names, something that probably wasn't even necessary and, what's more, he likely didn't expect anything for it until after the fact when OP made the unilateral offer to give him some money.

"And yeah, Fred would come across badly too for suing his ex, but..."

He'd also, in all likelihood, lose.

Again, if the offer to split the bonus came as an after-the-fact "Oh, hey..." kind of exclamation, then this wasn't an exchange of promises that OP needs to make good on, it was a gesture of good will, and the good will no longer exists.
posted by toomuchpete at 7:46 AM on April 19, 2008

Holy ridiculous comparisons, Batman!

Whatever. My comparison was in direct response to someone using an example of an employer–employee relationship to make the untrue statement "It's perfectly reasonable for the end of a relationship to void all promises made in the context of that relationship."

Feel free to take it out of context, though.
posted by grouse at 7:52 AM on April 19, 2008

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