Petraeus – Broadwell Affair: Eight Warning Signs

The news broke recently that General Petraeus, the current director of the CIA, had an affair with author and military researcher, Paula Broadwell. This has shocked many because Petraeus was a greatly respected general as well as someone who held one of the highest positions of national security. How could he let this happen?

petraeus broadwell affair

General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell

This question has fascinated me for years. I remember the shock I experienced when I learned that President Kennedy regularly cheated on his wife; and then, probably worse, when I learned that my pastor had many affairs (that was thirty years ago).

These affairs mystified me that they could ever happen. They still do to some extent: I don’t understand how men (or women) can put so much at risk for such a fleeting thrill. But at the same time, I approach the topic with humility, knowing that I share the same humanity with these people and am susceptible to the same fate if I’m not careful.

So, with that in mind, I’d like to point out a few warning signs that lead to an affair that I drew from reading about Petraeus in a CNN article as well as observing people in affairs through the years.

Petraeus Lesson – eight warning signs of an affair:

1. You live a high pressure, high responsibility lifestyle. When you are constantly on the go you drain your emotional tank. You can’t fill it fast enough and so you look for quick emotional fixes.

2. Your position and speed of life keep you isolated and lonely. You don’t realize how lonely or tired you are until someone is sitting next to you showing some concern. The CNN article mentions the loneliness that Petraeus experienced after leaving the military.

3. You are physically separate from your family and friends. I used to travel for my job and it surprised me how traveling to another city made me feel like I was in another world. I could see how people cheat on their spouses because it felt like a separate universe. That’s why the Las Vegas motto, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” rings so true. They want you to believe that Vegas is indeed an alternate universe where you can live a different life and not be held responsible. It’s become a selling point for their city.

4. You spend long periods of time with someone alone. This will naturally develop a bond of some sort. Petraeus spent hours of time with Broadwell being interviewed.

5. You are stimulated by the intellectual camaraderie. Broadwell was an intelligent woman whom Petraeus enjoyed talking with about military leadership. Sharing that common interest probably wasn’t something he shared with his wife. It’s easy to kid yourself at first and say, “We just talk business”. But that’s part of the attraction…someone that can keep pace with you mentally. Petraeus is a driven, intelligent man. Few were his equal, only adding to his sense of isolation. To find a woman who specialized in military leadership, had his same intensity, idolized him, was attractive, and twenty years younger must have been too much for him to say “no” to in his weakened moments. It’s important to know your weaknesses and what you find attractive to guard yourself from this happening.

6. You share personal intimacies with them. Sharing personal information will always strengthen your bond with someone. Do this with a golf buddy and you’ll be better friends. Do this with someone you find sexually attractive and you are playing with fire.

7. You arrange your schedule to “bump into” this person.

8. You lie about meeting with this person.

Question: Do you agree? What are some other signs you would add to this list? Leave your comment below and share the post with others who might need a warning.

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2 thoughts on “Petraeus – Broadwell Affair: Eight Warning Signs

  1. KC

    Totally agree!!! I would also add that when you have to justify to yourself about your behavior with the other person, you are setting yourself up to fail. When you refuse to deal with the issues in your current relationship and then use it as an excuse to seek comfort outside. The flesh is so weak!

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