Did General Petraeus Stray Because Of His Wife’s Hair? Guest Post by the Blonde Bombshell

First of all, let me register my disappointment with General Petraeus. He is the last in a cavalcade of public figures (Democrat and Republican) who has fallen short when it comes to resisting the charms of the fair sex. Some have tried to say that in our modern era—in the wake of the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”—sexual tastes and behaviors “don’t matter” and those who are discovered to cave in should be given “a break.”

Holly Petraeus with short hair
My heartfelt condolences extend to Mrs. Patraeus, who seems to be, judging from the pictures obtained by the press, a cheery, good-natured woman. She has already weathered the strains of a military marriage, with its multiple separations, which in any way does not match those of a civilian couple. If they can make it through the next few weeks the prognosis for their union is good.

But why? Why would a man with a quiver full of accomplishments need to act in such a way? A few years ago Irish playwright Peadar De Burca interviewed over 200 men who engaged in extra-martial flings, and he has some ideas. Forget about drifting apart, having different interests, and feeling emotionally unfulfilled. He said, “One of the most unexpected things I discovered was that men nearly always cheat with women who have longer hair than their wives…They want to rekindle their youth with a younger version of their wives and long hair seems to equal youth.”

Paula Broadwell with long hair
The paramour of General Petraeus wears a low chignon, which indicates that her hair has some length. The wife has a chin-length cut that is ubiquitous among professional women. When she was younger, she had beautiful long straight locks typical of the time.

It is crass and unfair to suggest that the general noticed the hair length of one or the other, but women are endlessly conflicted with their hair, and are given distinctly mixed messages by society and their best friends. Writing for Elle Canada, the playwright suggests that women compliment each other on a new haircut in an effort to limit the competition.

One time I was with my mother-in-law in a convenience-store parking lot, and a woman in the next vehicle got out, and had lovely long hair that swished by her behind (she had unfortunate bangs, but we’ll leave that alone). My mother-in-law (who has long hair herself) sniffed, “She should cut it. It’s too long. But men like it.”

A young woman may cut and grow her hair experimentally, but she is often “growing it out for the wedding” so she has more “styling options” for the big day. After the wedding, and sometimes before the honeymoon, many women submit to the barber shears. After baby is born, many more go in for “mom hair” (yes, it’s a term, like “mom jeans”) that is wash-and-go.

If a woman wears her hair incorrectly out of cycle, she will start hear people asking about when is she going to donate it to one of the organizations that collect hair to make wigs for cancer patients. Women are discouraged from growing their hair for their own sake and enjoyment. They must be growing it out for the greater good—the follicular equivalent to, say, recycling.

Then, as the change happens, some women experience thinning hair, and the advice is to cut it so it will be “less noticeable.” I really don’t follow this logic. If one has less hair…then cutting it will somehow obscure the balding patches? A few weeks ago I saw a woman on the street dressed in business clothes with thinning hair, but she kept it long. She was able to devise a flattering hairstyle that didn’t make her look like a plucked mole.

My advice to women is to go ahead and grow your hair if you’d like. Maintaining long hair is not difficult or expensive. My advice to men is don’t be a jerk and ruin your marriage. She loves you still.

Editor’s Note: The well-married Bombshell has lovely long hair.


See also these:





  1. GoneWithTheWind

    I often wonder if people who frame marital infidelity as a “male” thing are math challenged. If it requires a man and a woman then logic says if there are a million men who cheat there are a million women too. I suppose it would be possible in theory that a million men (or even a million women) could have cheated with one person of the opposite sex but in general it doesn’t work that way. while I feel sorry for the spouse in a cheating relationship I am not so naive to think it is always the little woman who is wronged.

  2. Petraeus cheated on his wife because she had BAD HAIR? This makes him sound like some unfortunate mook in an Amos and Andy skit. Hair aside, the General’s problem is a common one among men: thinking with the little head instead of the big one. (Hell, there’s even a car commercial on TV that encourages it.)

  3. Chinahand

    For a blog which shows up poor statistical inference, cherry picking, over-generalizing from small sample sizes etc this is a very strange posting.

  4. Jonathan D

    GWTW, I’m very aware that it’s silly to say it is only a male thing – Broadwell’s husband is just as wronged. Having said that, while I don’t think Briggs has mentioned anyone framing marital infidelity as a male thing, surely those who do are not so much mathematically challenged, as aware that you do not need to be married to have an affair with someone who is.

  5. cb

    Such pretty niavette on the part of the public. Which came first: the spy’s excuse, or the spy’s need for an excuse. Why attribute essential honesty to someone like this?

    Also, seriously: did Clinton resign? No. So why should this twit?

    This is the point you are making, right?

  6. Briggs


    You left out rollicking good humor.

  7. Briggs in his quaint but impeccably accurate way is pointing out the absurdity of assuming “coincidence” when a career government appointee voluntarily outs himself as an ethical failure at such a convenient and serendipitous time for a troubled administration. Only idiots desiring reassurance of the correctness of their cause will momentarily consider these supposed “facts” are as they’ve been presented. Every parent of a teen-ager instinctively knows nothing in this tale, to-date, is as claimed.

  8. prat

    Look at her – she is beautiful brunette. Paula, you are worth that. You dawg General!!! way to go man….jumping jumping.

  9. Amy Williamson

    1. Look at his wife, look at his mistress. Who would you be with?
    2. Maybe his wife was a nag or refused him sex.
    3. To believe that this is the first affair he has had, with his power and opportunity, and lengthy times away from home, is naive.
    4. Men are visual. They do want to be faithful, but it is difficult to be faithful to something you can’t bare to look at.
    5. Look at photos – with his wife, he is barely there, with his mistress, he is giddy. Men are visual. Be visual, not dowdy.

  10. GoneWithTheWind

    Jonathan D, the author certainly implied it was a male thing. If you are unaware that in general both publicly and privately it is framed as a male thing then I can understand your comment. My comment is not intended to be a put down to either the author or Briggs it is simply that this was the latest place where this misconception was stated/implied and it gave me the opportunity to correct it. So I’m not sure what your point is? Either you agree, which you seem to, that cheating by it’s “one on one” nature creates one cheater from each gender each time it occurs OR you believe it does not and through some manipulation you can prove me wrong. But I have to add that even the choice to prove me wrong implies that you believe that cheating is a male thing. Why else would you choose to argue it is not 50:50???

  11. Ted

    Yeah, but Broadwell being sporty & attractive is also married with 2 kids. This reminds me of how the KGB worms it’s way into the power circle. Also reminds of King David who should have been at the battle leading. Not back where it’s safe, lady chasing.

  12. Jonathan D

    GWTW, it’s one thing to say that it’s often framed as only a male thing, it’s another to object to it as a response to a post which doesn’t really touch on teh question. The author talks about male cheating in a way that implies he thinks it is worth thinking of in different terms from female cheating. This is probably true in some ways and not in others, and in this case I don’t see anything that sugggests it is based on a idea that women don’t cheat.

    But back to the numbers. If anyone involved in one of these affairs is a ‘cheater’, then you’re right to say it’s probably close to 50:50. Certainly on some level they’re equally responsible. If you hadn’t said anything about the wronged spoouse, I would have assumed that’s what you meant, and agreed. But it seems the author, Briggs and you are all talking about ‘marital infidelity’ in terms of ‘people who cheat on their spouses’, and it’s simply not true that the person they are cheating with must also have a spouse to cheat on.

    It’s possible that married men have affairs with single women more often than married women have affairs with single men, in which case it would be true that married men cheat more often than married women. I can’t see why it matters, though.

  13. GoneWithTheWind

    In response to your claim “in this case I don’t see anything that sugggests it is based on a idea that women don’t cheat.

    The quote from the post is “He is the last in a cavalcade of public figures (Democrat and Republican) who has fallen short when it comes to resisting the charms of the fair sex.”

    Unless you think the fair sex reference is about men then the assumption is it is men who cheat.

    I liked your statement that “It’s possible that married men have affairs with single women more often than married women have affairs with single men”. You have fallen into the trap that all people who rationalize fall into. So I can only conclude that you mean to say women are more often home wreckers when they cheat then men are and that single women are more promiscious then single men. A logical conclusion given your defense.

    However you actually hit the nail on the head with your last statement “I can’t see why it matters, though”. Which is the point I have been making all along. Since it is 50:50 and I can’t see why it matters you have to assume when someone makes it matter they must have a reason; a bias. Why???

  14. Jonathan D

    GWTW, you seem to be reading a lot into my comments, as well as the post. Do you dispute that he is one of a line of men in public positions who has been exposed cheating? There might be many reasons for describing the situation in this way rather than some equally true way, and one of the least likely is an assumption that only men cheat.

    I’m not sure about either of your conclusions from my statement. The possibility I described can’t logically be extended to a general statement about promiscuity. For the other one, it depends exactly what you mean by ‘home wreckers’. Either way, you seem to think that something describing women doing something bad more often than men is a ‘trap’ I’ve fallen into when defending something else. I’m not defending any view of women and me – I’m attacking your idea that anything about the incidence of cheating on a partner follows mathematically/logically from the fact that two genders are generally involved. Home wreckers might be men more often than women. So what?

    I actually can’t see why it matters even if it’s 70:30, as long as noone thinks it’s 100:0. My point is that you can’t know it’s 50:50 from abstract arguments alone, and there’s hardly any reason to think anyone (other than perhaps Mike Anderson) is making it matter in this case.

  15. GoneWithTheWind

    You digress. I do think you fully understood my points but lacking a rebuttal you combine nit picking with “who me?” as a defense.

    70:30! Really? If cheating, as we are defining it, is a man and a woman then it is by definition 50:50. Any other conclusion is rationalization.

  16. Eric Anderson

    Hmmm . . . Sounds like a strange “study.”

    Coincidentally, just the other day I mentioned (very kindly and in a good spirit of course) to my wife that I liked her hair better when it was shorter. We even pulled out some old photos of a decade+ ago to see what her hair looked like then. Bottom line: in our case she is the one who likes it longer; I don’t.

  17. Jonathan D

    GWTW, given that part of my point is that you seem to be confusing your definitions, saying “cheating, as we are defining it”, is sort of missing the point. Either I’m rationalising for whatever it is you think you’ve read, or I’m pointing out that that wasn’t what anyone was talking about in the first place.

  18. Jonathan D

    GWTW, to put it clearly – there are a decent number of both men and women out there doing scummy things. Why do you really care whether they’re doing it in a gender-symmetric way, or whether the men are more likely to be wrecking their own marriage only and the women more likely to be wrecking the man’s?

  19. Go Whitecaps!!!

    Can you prove it was the hair and not the extra 63.22 lbs.

  20. Go Whitecaps!!!

    Maybe he was looking for Alice and found Paula?

  21. Ted

    Yeah, now the “love hiar” deal takes a twist. Enter Kelly (house wife with FBI freind) & General John Allen with 20,000 email docs.
    So, Broadwell & General Petraeus + Kelly & General Allen. A bad hair day? A quad love triangle? Seems like these house wifes can call a general just like placing a call for a fast food take out order!
    Yes sir.

  22. GoneWithTheWind

    Jonathan; I can only repeat myself and agree it does not matter which makes you wonder why people choose to do it. Why place your biases in print unless you either have an agenda or subconciously believe what you have inferred.

    Regarding “gender-symmetric” cheating, I again repeat how could it be anything else. One man and one woman sounds pretty gender-symmetric to me.

  23. SLJ

    How could he NOT cheat when she looks so homely???? Fix the hair, wear make-up, shorten your skirt. Done deal.

  24. Ricki M

    I’m a woman and I can tell you one thing: if I looked like Holly Petraeus, I would have to EXPECT to be cheated on, especially if my husband was such a high profile figure! This isn’t Mr. Johnson down the street, it’s the Head of the CIA, and a respected General. Sorry Holly, you didn’t do your job, and some other woman did.

  25. Tom

    The flirtatious Jill Kelley is well-married and has lovely long hair.

    Who should really be on trial here? Not Holly.

  26. Jonathan D

    GWTW, maybe you believe that whenever one man and one woman are cheating on someone, the man and the woman are equally likely to be single. I have no idea whether this is anywhere near the truth, but it sure doesn’t follow simply from mathematics. If you don’t believe that, then what you’ve been saying is a not-so-clever way of twisting what you’re replying to.

  27. Tom

    Amy Williamson, Ricki M & Blonde, the majority of 60-year-old men is not perverted.

  28. Raquel

    Blonde Bombshell hit it 100% on the money, right down to finding a long hairstyle even after your hair is a little thinner. The truth hurts, but it must be spoken.

  29. Trinity

    How delightfully archaic and slightly amusing!

    While I agree that men, as a general rule, have a preference for long hair, men who cheat aren’t doing it for the hair, and it isn’t the lady’s fault. He would have cheated even if her hair was still long.

    I have alopecia universalis–not a hair on my body, and I wear a medium length wig. My husband ADORES me, and he is a handsome CEO. We’ve been together 13 years and he practically worships at my feet (as I do with him). Every year our love deepens. You see, we have something called appreciation and respect….and honesty between us.

    Blonde Bombshell, with all due respect I think you need to screw your head on properly.

  30. Trinity

    And….yes. He married me this way. It did’t happen later. He had actually met other women at the beginning and dumped them for me from the start.

  31. GoneWithTheWind

    Jonathan: Equally likely to be single??? Why would I believe that? Perhaps you believe that if you are single then you are not cheating. Both parties are cheating. Did you think one party was blameless and honorable?

  32. MattL

    Who says that each cheating pair is even of opposite sexes?

  33. Aurora

    Sorry Holly…Once you produced his kids and enabled his career connections (through your pedigree) you lost some value. Note to women…never be complacent. It’s laudible that you launched a valuable career, but he doesn’t sleep with your Blackberry.

    I hate this, but most men are visual and easily flattered. The older they get, the more they succumb to flatterly.
    I love to flirt with older men…it’s safe and fun to hear them laugh. My friends and I say we’re doing their wives a favor….they go home happy and may tranfer that giddiness to their wives.
    Holly could have gotten a better hairdresser…the haircut is bad !! Nothing wrong with gray, if you enhance it. Gray is the new platinum. Many of us Boomers are letting our hair grow…it’s powerful when well-kept. She needed to keep her weight down to look healthy…something The General would respect. Show a little cleavage.
    Speaking of respect…there’s nothing wrong with making sure that
    the Man belongs to you. It sounds primitive, but men enjoy knowing they are valued. Our good-looking friend once told a woman…”My wife would kill me”, when the woman made advances.
    So my advice is….keep up your appearance, keep the bed warm and don’t be naive.

  34. Tom

    Aurora, I would be ashamed of you if you were my daughter.

  35. Sunny

    What happens after the hair turn on?

    For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,
    And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
    Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,
    In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:
    And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.
    (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:
    Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)
    So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him,
    I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.

    Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.
    I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.
    I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
    Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.

    For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey:
    He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.
    With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.

    He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;

  36. Jonathan D

    GWTW, my point the whole time has been that most of the language in teh post, the linked article and even your comments has implied we’re talking about your own spouse. The single partner to the cheating, if there is one, is often equally worthy of blame, but they are nevertheless in many senses in a different position. There might be different things to say about them, if what we’re saying isn’t simply to point out that it’s wrong.

    Once you understand that, you might realise that that could apply to men and women for good reasons, and even that if their reasons are stupid, they aren’t necessarily what you’re implying. Especially if it’s just plain funny.

  37. Bobcat 183

    “Note to women…never be complacent. It’s laudible that you launched a valuable career, but he doesn’t sleep with your Blackberry.” So when Petraeus was in Afghanistan and Iraq, she was sleeping with what? Skype? Women can only have careers if they don’t interfere with men’s lives in the slightest bit yet men are pursue their careers as they see fit. Thanks for the clarification I am so glad women just got sent back 50 years and that women are so shallow as to judge each other on the basis of hair length.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *