Highly decorated, former four-star General and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency has helped America succeed in Afghanistan, cripple Al Qaeda, and to prevail in various military campaigns through-out the world. At the same time, his over 37 years of experience in the United States Army did little to prepare America’s top spy for the stealth, cunning, and emotional instability of his most lethal opponent – Paula Broadwell, his biographer.
He didn’t even realize he had slept with the enemy until shortly before tendering his letter of resignation to President Obama.
We were all aghast when CIA director David Petraeus admitted to having an affair with Paula Broadwell, a reserve Army officer who penned his biography, “All In”, while he was head of the US Army. Although his salacious affair and subsequent tragic fall from grace seems uncommonly amazing, it is actually amazingly common. History is replete with similarly powerful men who succumbed to this vice: such as George Washington (and the slave-girl, Venus, who mothered his only child), Thomas Jefferson (mistress Sally Hemings), Lyndon B Johnson (who had a buzzer installed in the oval office to accommodate his mistresses), JFK (mistress Marilyn Monroe), and Governor Spitzer, or Bill Clinton whose stories are all too familiar.
Like these distinguished leaders, he will go down in the annals of history as a philanderer – cheater.
However, unlike these men, General Patraeus’s selection of a mistress was amazingly poor given our access to and obsession with mass social media and email. (That said, I don’t think there is ever a good choice other than to choose to not cheat.)
Despite his superior virtues and intellect, accolades, military genius and historic discipline, the otherwise exceptionally lucky General had the uncanny bad-luck of picking a mistress whose sense of self-importance, narcissism and grandiosity had overtaken her basic maternal, survival and even her “mistress” instincts. Even worse, he had the misfortune of having sent countless, and some even explicit emails to the brazen and emboldened mistress whose newfound celebrity and power were so intoxicating she lost sight of the basic precepts of being the other woman, especially when you are successfully married and have two sons. As the Greeks would say, “Hubris Nemesis” (pride before the fall) would make his down fall inevitable: it wasn’t a matter of if the General would fall, but when.
Let’s take a closer look at General Patraeus’s “7 Fatal Mistakes When Selecting His Mistress – And How to Avoid Them!”
- Underestimating her ambition. Mrs. Broadwell was a Harvard educated, West Point graduate who was working on her Ph.D. with Patraeus as the topic of her dissertation, pretty, sexy, charismatic; yet, she shows up in Afghanistan wearing tight clothes and goes on 7 mile runs with the him. Is it me, or should the General be saying to himself “is this too good to be true”? I’m not trying to discourage anyone from selecting a high-quality mistress. But, really doesn’t this have setup or ambush written all over it. In addition to wanting to meet and greet America’s elite General, she clearly wanted be part of the elite class – and knew how to “Win Friends and Influence People” and had the credentials to gain entry. As such, the affair became part and parcel to her career and life goals, and even her identity.
- Underestimating the temptation of the media limelight. It’s one thing to have an affair, but another thing entirely to have your mistress on national television doing interviews with John Stewart and C-SPAN sounding like your pseudo military spokesperson talking in military operation speak. You personally cosigned the other woman’s ticket to fame with your credibility by making her your biographer, and she began to enjoy the role of the “leading lady” instead of the infamous role of the “other woman.’
We all know casting makes or breaks a movie. While casting an actress with supporting actress talent into the leading role is painful to watch, casting an actress with leading lady talent into a supporting role is excruciating. Throw in the biggest military icon since General Douglas MacArthur commanded the Pacific theater during World War II and you have the recipe for becoming the biggest media sensation this side of the Tiger Woods.
Make no doubt about it, Paula Broadwell had star power in her own right. So why do you think she would possibly want to give up the accruements or celebrity that accompanies being the leading lady to be the other woman. After being on National media, did he really think she would be relegated to irrelevance? It’s hard to imagine he didn’t see a star was being born.
- Picking a women with nothing to lose – or who was willing to lose it all. We have to give him credit for having the good sense to pick a woman who seemed to have everything to lose. Married to a radiologist who was a known socialite in North Carolina, and had two young sons, you would think her marriage would be the top priority. However, sometimes it’s better to be born lucky than good. Paula was willing to lose it all once fate intervened and introduced the attractive, Jill Kelley into the mix. The General's fate was sealed the moment Paula's gut instinct told her they were having an affair. How dare he cheat on me? Now, Broadwell was willing to lose it all.
- Underestimate her need for fidelity – While many men can have multiple sexual partners, it's a rare man who can negotiate multiple mistresses. Remember the hit Blues song “I Think Your Husband Is Cheating On Us” by Denise Le Salle. Simply put, the General didn’t make sure she had no reason to doubt she was the only other woman. He was derelict in his duty, and would pay the highest price for this offense.
Believe it or not, one startling phenomenon I’ve observed is that a mistress will lose respect for (and even come to resent) the cheater once it comes to her attention that he has yet another other woman. It’s one thing to lie to the wife because she’s all things evil, but quite another thing to lie to her. Now you aren’t someone cheating because the two of you have an amazing connection, but because you are, well, a cheater.
- Overestimate her ability to keep a secret. If we didn’t learn anything else from the Monica Lewinsky and President Bill Clinton scandal, we should have learned famous, powerful men’s mistresses don’t keep quiet, and even worse they keep evidence. If Lewinsky would keep a semen stained dress and later have it used to implicate a sitting US President, why would he think Paula could keep a lid on such hot commodities as juicy emails sent from his account. Monica not dry-cleaning her dress pales in comparison to Paula setting up an interview with CNN all the while knowing they were aware of the illicit affair.
Talk about unmitigated gall.
- Underestimating the danger of abruptly cutting her off. Don’t know that you need a Ph.D. for this one. You are the central figure in her Ph.D. dissertation, and she’s written a book about you. At best she’s got a case of obsession, at worse your spidey senses should be saying “Run Forest, Run”. My god she makes Glen Close in “Fatal Attraction” seem aloof. I think psychologist Karl Jung is brilliant, but really to write my whole dissertation or a book about him. What were you thinking? Never mind, I’m a man, I know “you weren’t thinking”, cause if you were thinking something would have screamed out “this isn’t going to end well.” Any time a woman writes a book about you and names it “All In”, you have to recognize leaving probably isn’t really an option, especially if she suspects it’s for another mistress. It’s no coincidence the book wasn’t named “We Are – All In.”
Note to self: People think very carefully about what to title their books. Pay close attention to that.
- Over estimating her emotional stability Last but certainly not lease, when a married mother of two shows up to meet you in Afghanistan during wartime wearing tight outfits at the least shouldn’t the hairs on the back of your neck stand up? Let’s say you could get past the dissertation thing, should you really be surprised to find she has identity, control, jealousy, anger management, and compulsivity challenges? That said, is it really a stretch to find she’s sending the other, other woman harassing emails or trying to hack your top, top secret government email account? Failure to recognize her emotional instability put General Petraeus on shaky ground, and it was inevitable that either he would leave his wife for her (yeah, right), Paula would take the highroad and exit gracefully (again, yeah right), or the ground underneath the General would crumble (it did)!
By no means am I advocating infidelity, and frquently I've seen it be akin to switching seats on the Titantic for spouses who do. However, if you have to cheat you might want to avoid these 7 habits of the highly unsuccessful cheating General when selecting a mistress. The career or family you save could very well be your own.