The recent cheating scandal that eventually made Gen. David Petraeus resign from his post as head of the CIA reads like a case study in what not to do. The most obvious takeaway is “don’t cheat on your wife, even if you are one of the most important people in America,” but there are plenty of other fails that took place between Petraeus and his mistress Paula Broadwell. Here’s how to avoid those same errors, even if the fate of the free world doesn’t depend on it:
Don’t un-break the chain.
Broadwell and Petraeus met because she was writing a biography of him. They reportedly agreed to end their affair when the project ended, but hooked back up again later. Moral of this story: if you end it, you have to really end it. What kills longtime drug addicts usually isn’t the withdrawal when they quit – it’s the relapse. If you’re mature enough to recognize a toxic situation and get out of it, stick to your decision.
Don’t be surprised when a cheater cheats.
L’affaire Broadaeus was discovered because of a third party, a woman named Jill Kelley. Petraeus reportedly had a fling with her, and Broadwell got jealous and sent threatening emails to Kelley. Kelley, in turn, had the FBI investigate the emails, and that brought us to where we are now. A tip, Ms. Broadwell, that I learned from my grandma and 90210: if he cheats with you, he’ll cheat on you. A woman having an affair with a married dude kind of loses her right to be mad about him being with other women.
Don’t use classified information as pillow talk.
New York magazine dug up a video of Broadwell giving a speech. In said speech, she mentioned a couple of things about U.S. security and the military that she wasn’t even supposed to know. It’s possible she came across all the info while doing research on her Petraeus biography, but it’s also possible that the information came up as pillow talk. Even if you don’t know secret nuclear codes, it’s best not to give confidential information on any topic out to a person who you’re having an affair with.
Don’t send shirtless pics to people you are supposed to be protecting.
When Kelley reported her threatening emails to the FBI, the agent assigned to investigating the case decided to send her a bunch of shirtless pictures of himself. He was then removed from the case, but that meant additional work for the other agents and extra time wasted while trying to get to the root of the problem. I guess we should be grateful the guy didn’t go full-on Anthony Weiner and send below-the-belt shots, but still.