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PUBLIC OPINION > An Extramarital Affair Shouldn't Mean the End of a Career

Living 2012/11/13 21:00:00
David Petraeus, former four-star general and commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, resigned from his latest position as Director of the CIA on Friday after an investigation discovered he had been involved in an extramarital affair. The circumstances of his resignation are potentially more complicated than that, but the L.A. Times asked the public if an extramarital affair should be grounds for ending a career.



For the most part, people think one's personal decisions should not have much bearing on their career. Of course, it really depends on the career and the impact the affair has on it. In the case of Petraeus, there might be more to the story, and many people pointed that out as a condition for their response. Many people also pointed out that an extramarital affair didn't end Bill Clinton's career. But let's explore how people in difference careers responded.

Affairs Are Fine in Finance


There were some significant differences in how people in different careers voted. The career most relevant to Petraeus's situation would have to be the military, and respondents in the military were a little less forgiving, but not much. The least forgiving career was hospitality -- half of them felt an affair should end a career. Finance, however, was the most forgiving field.

The Unemployed Aren't as Forgiving

We also wanted to see how employment status in general affected how people respond, and it turns out unemployed respondents were more likely to say an affair should end a career. Well, it would mean more job openings, so that's probably a smart stance to take. Though that also means they might change their mind as soon as they got the job.

Too Much to Lose

Finally, we compared income brackets to find out if there was any pattern there. There wasn't much, but people who make more than $50,000 a year were a little bit more forgiving. Naturally, they would have more to lose if they were in a situation like that, but of course this question is all speculation, so no one is actually at risk... right?

If you'd like to vote on this question, dig deeper into the demographics, or engage in existing discussion about the topic, visit our poll about extramarital affairs. We'd love to hear from you!
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Top Opinion

  • Diogenesdaughter 2012/11/15 05:48:58
    Diogenesdaughter
    +7
    When most people marry, they officially or unofficially make a promise of fair and ethical treatment of their partner. Granted, when most people say, "I do.", they have no clue as to what this really means, but with time it may sink in.

    When people join any branch of the U.S. Military, they make an oath of loyalty as well. As with the marraige vows, they too know little of the full extent of that vow, until they see prisoners of war "confessing" on video, or a comrade killed trying to fulfill that vow.

    Long ago, my father taught me that a man is only as good as his word, on anything. Therefore, a man who takes a vow of loyalty lightly in one realm, might very well do it in another. It shows a lack of character, discipline and ethics.If you wouldn't want such a person in your personal life, why would you want him or her leading your company, troop or country?

    Your personal life is only private until you take a step out of the herd and claim the qualities of leadership. At that point, other's livelihood, or lives, become dependent on your decisions, and as such, you have not only the benefits and respect of your position, but the responsibility and transparency that go with it. In other words, if I am supporting you with money, rank and power, you had better be ready to ...

    When most people marry, they officially or unofficially make a promise of fair and ethical treatment of their partner. Granted, when most people say, "I do.", they have no clue as to what this really means, but with time it may sink in.

    When people join any branch of the U.S. Military, they make an oath of loyalty as well. As with the marraige vows, they too know little of the full extent of that vow, until they see prisoners of war "confessing" on video, or a comrade killed trying to fulfill that vow.

    Long ago, my father taught me that a man is only as good as his word, on anything. Therefore, a man who takes a vow of loyalty lightly in one realm, might very well do it in another. It shows a lack of character, discipline and ethics.If you wouldn't want such a person in your personal life, why would you want him or her leading your company, troop or country?

    Your personal life is only private until you take a step out of the herd and claim the qualities of leadership. At that point, other's livelihood, or lives, become dependent on your decisions, and as such, you have not only the benefits and respect of your position, but the responsibility and transparency that go with it. In other words, if I am supporting you with money, rank and power, you had better be ready to defend your right to have it, in every way. You live in a glass house that is as magnificent as it is fragile.

    The unravelling of Petraeus behavior while in one of the most sensitive and trusted positions in our country sounds more like the behavior of a college freshman than that of a general of the most powerful military in the world. Just as his uniform, shave and haircut must be impeccable and reflective of his position at all times, so should his decisions, both personal and public. It is said a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. That link should never be the one that holds the rest of it up!
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  • peter 2013/02/07 16:50:26
    peter
    +1
    i think if they are ona bout promoting family values then yes sack them but if not then a lot of people would be out of a job everywhere if they were sacked for adultry, my dad would been sacked years and years ago
  • Gambit Garrison 2013/02/03 01:25:32
  • moira.faulds.14 2013/02/01 09:38:56
  • moira.faulds.14 2013/02/01 09:36:04
    moira.faulds.14
    I agree that extramarital indiscretions should not be the reason for a senior official to lose office, unless his behavior becomes so indiscreet that he ends up in the Chappaquidic River
  • Chuck 2013/01/14 03:31:34
    Chuck
    Hell no ! Men are men and are programmed to be men by the sheer nature of the beast. He would be less of a man if he didn't have the desire to flirt with the skirt, and sip the warm red wine. Women are created to stir the man's yearnings and when it happens it's because mother nature is at her best, and I would say that soldiers of all ranks should be allowed to practice warm loving relationships wherever the lovely ladies are ready and willing. It helps to keep the soldier aware of why he is attempting to destroy his enemy. haha.
  • Ramón 2012/12/09 05:04:03
    Ramón
    +1
    Sheesh. If he can't keep his willy in his pants or reserved for the woman he married (and the vows... love, honor, obey) then what about his vows to protect his countrymen? A liar is a liar, if he is unfaithful there, what will it take to be unfaithful to his oath of office?
  • Chuck Ramón 2013/01/14 03:41:58
    Chuck
    A man should NEVER be considered "unfaithful" because he desires more than one woman!
    Personally, I think we need to get over this crap about being faithful while worshiping characters from the Bible that had nothing but sex on their minds. Our religious leaders that are supposed to be setting examples have more sexual relationships than any ten of their congregate. (I think that word is right, huh?) But you all know who I mean, it's those people who go to church every several days and think their ol' preacher man is going to be there to greet him but he is really at your home greeting your ol' lady. hahaha Just joking. Don't take offense anyone. I sometimes just have to say things like that for my own personal laughs. It helps to maintain my sanity.
  • Ramón Chuck 2013/01/21 18:43:55
    Ramón
    +1
    I stand by what I said. If he promised to be only with his wife, and then broke that promise, one that is supposed to be the most sacred and personally relevant promise in life, then how can we trust him with anything else. This isn't about sex with strangers, or adultery, it is about trust.
  • Diogenesdaughter 2012/12/08 14:31:26
    Diogenesdaughter
    +1
    Let's get REAL here. If sex were as simple as the old four Fs, we'd all be hopping around like Easter bunnies on crack, but it isn't. Your genitals are attached to a body, that is attached to a brain, (sometimes engaged), that is ATTACHED TO A FAMILY. It IS after all, family that holds this society together. If we could just sashay about doing as we pleased with no thought of repurcussion, anarchy would be the rule, but we CAN'T because doing this would put our children and weaker family members at risk. Think about it buds, we put all these laws into effect to PROTECT AND DEFEND them. We stay out of each other's houses, business and PANTS to respect those boundries we would like respected and THAT keeps our society humming.

    At the MOST basic level, this man and woman knew they had family who depended on their position and social status for their lives and sanity. They knew that if what they were doing were to be known, their families would be damaged. This woman has small children who will read all about what their mother did someday, as will their friends. Her husband had friends and acquaintances who can and will use this issue against him in the future. The man had a wife and family who had made ALL kinds of sacrifices to help him further his career. Is NOT your...



    Let's get REAL here. If sex were as simple as the old four Fs, we'd all be hopping around like Easter bunnies on crack, but it isn't. Your genitals are attached to a body, that is attached to a brain, (sometimes engaged), that is ATTACHED TO A FAMILY. It IS after all, family that holds this society together. If we could just sashay about doing as we pleased with no thought of repurcussion, anarchy would be the rule, but we CAN'T because doing this would put our children and weaker family members at risk. Think about it buds, we put all these laws into effect to PROTECT AND DEFEND them. We stay out of each other's houses, business and PANTS to respect those boundries we would like respected and THAT keeps our society humming.

    At the MOST basic level, this man and woman knew they had family who depended on their position and social status for their lives and sanity. They knew that if what they were doing were to be known, their families would be damaged. This woman has small children who will read all about what their mother did someday, as will their friends. Her husband had friends and acquaintances who can and will use this issue against him in the future. The man had a wife and family who had made ALL kinds of sacrifices to help him further his career. Is NOT your family the MOST sacred trust you have? And if you would take a chance that would endanger them, what chance does your company or nation have? It's pretty obvious your judgement is flawed and THAT is a scarey proposition when putting all that power into your hands. I, for one, don't relish the thought that the man with his finger on the button is busy sending secret e-mails to a woman with such low scruples. Yes, they are human, but being mortal does NOT excuse all impropriety, especially when you have been entrusted with the LIVES of others.

    If we are to achieve the greatness of which we are capable, we must hold OURSELVES and our leaders to a higher standard or morality, dignity and responsibility. To do less it to teach our children that we are liars and hypocrites in our laws, education and places of worship, and that they can just live like animals, taking pleasure where they will with total disregard for the lives of those around them. If you talk the talk, walk the walk, or shut up and take the consequences of lawlessness. You can't have it both ways.

    And for those of you who would take this as an open invitation to government control of morality, DON'T, because is it not meant that way. I don't WANT to control you, or know what you do in your private life, but if you set yourself up as a leader, BE ONE.
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  • Ramón Diogene... 2013/01/21 18:45:14
    Ramón
    Said way better than I.
  • Mike 2012/12/06 11:00:54
    Mike
    It MUST. if you're CIA Director
  • D S 2012/11/29 22:31:10
    D S
    Depending on the arrangement you have with your spouse it shouldn't have to end the marriage either. If people in this country loosened up a bit and understood that marriage is built on love and not sex. Women and men sexual urges differ greatly, men instictively hunt for sex, women hunt for mates. I know times have changed and women hunt for sex just the same so it should be understood and talked about between two people that if one person is gone half the year working sex with someone outside the marriage is inevidible. And if there isnt sex at home theres going to be sex on roam. America needs to grow up. Blow jobs shouldnt impeach presidents, Affairs shouldnt end careers, journalists need to leave gossip to the tabloids and people need to realize marriages arent always going to have monogamy and quit putting the ideal 1950's family dynamic on such a pedestal
  • modurhead 2012/11/29 10:41:39
    modurhead
    he should be fired if hes a spy and got caught hes not very good
  • modurhead 2012/11/29 10:27:53
    modurhead
    at least hes not having kids he cannot take care of
  • Jabbo Jones 2012/11/26 20:35:58
    Jabbo Jones
    No, it should not end someone's career in most cases. However, when it appears that the Public Trust has been violated & compromised, then the person has to go. This woman was found to have sensitive files on her computer, which could have only come from Patreaus' authorization. Those files could have been stolen, hacked by Russia, China, et al....thereby compromising the security of our Country.
  • Avi Rosen 2012/11/22 08:57:36
    Avi Rosen
    Shouldn't end careers.
  • Bob P. Clarkson 2012/11/21 04:29:51
    Bob P. Clarkson
    People who have no experience, or very little experience, with life in the military do not understand how difficult it is on military families during combat deployment. The time away from your family, combined with the adrenaline "death rush" plays hell with a persons head for both men and women. It's not about love, likely it is more about like, lust and a need to do what the body was designed to do.

    It's not so easy for dependents back home, either. Both men and women battle loneliness, lack of companionship, loss of their best friend and the fulfillment of their needs that is common to both men and women.

    Male dependents are fewer in number than female dependents, but because they are male, many of the female dependents will ask for help with guy things. Fear and loneliness makes people do crazy things that they probably wouldn't even have considered, outside the military.

    One might think that there are a lot of divorces in military families because of infidelity - and they would e right.

    You might also think the civilian partner would never be interested in marrying another military person because of their experience. The truth is that the majority of divorced military and their former civilian spouses marry back into the military.

    It's dysfunctional in a lot of ways,...

    People who have no experience, or very little experience, with life in the military do not understand how difficult it is on military families during combat deployment. The time away from your family, combined with the adrenaline "death rush" plays hell with a persons head for both men and women. It's not about love, likely it is more about like, lust and a need to do what the body was designed to do.

    It's not so easy for dependents back home, either. Both men and women battle loneliness, lack of companionship, loss of their best friend and the fulfillment of their needs that is common to both men and women.

    Male dependents are fewer in number than female dependents, but because they are male, many of the female dependents will ask for help with guy things. Fear and loneliness makes people do crazy things that they probably wouldn't even have considered, outside the military.

    One might think that there are a lot of divorces in military families because of infidelity - and they would e right.

    You might also think the civilian partner would never be interested in marrying another military person because of their experience. The truth is that the majority of divorced military and their former civilian spouses marry back into the military.

    It's dysfunctional in a lot of ways, but it is like a big family. You can forgive your brothers and sisters and cousins, et al, because they have your back. There is absolutely no comparison in living in military surroundings than in any, ANY, civilian community.

    Of my three best friends and I (known as "The Four Horsemen who Made the Apocalypse" in our single days), after we all were married, I was voted most likely to divorce soonest. Two of them have been married twice, and one has been married three times. Me? Just once for 41+ years. Who knew?
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  • True~Male 2012/11/20 03:14:34
    True~Male
    +1
    It didn't for Clinton
  • Pat 2012/11/19 22:35:07
    Pat
    +1
    Infidelity should NOT ruin anyone's career. If there's no evidence that there was any breach of security, this shouldn't even an issue and certainly should not ruin a man's career. I feel bad for his wife. I think, if she decides to forgive him, it will be a long time before she ever trusts him again and that's really a shame after all those years together.
  • joe mauro 2012/11/19 21:31:41
    joe mauro
    +1
    This is part of our hypocritical image,what a lie.People want the p ublic to believe that they must set an example for others because they are in powerful positions .Fraud,greed stealing and deception is far more obscene than sex.Many marriages survive affairs , nay do not but thats a personal not a public issue,the american news media loves to destroy peoples lives,the politicians are hypocricts put them together and this is what you get, al ying ,phony system
  • Picasso's Cat 2012/11/19 19:25:11
    Picasso's Cat
    +2
    It wasn't the end of a career.
    He quit..................... he wasn't fired !!!!!
    Some peoples morals and ethics are more powerful than others.
    Petraeus felt his weakness in sex would affect his job, so he turned in his resignation.

    Believe me, there have been literely thousands of our political leaders that have had affairs with all sorts of women, men and boys and never resigned from doing so.
    Hell they don't even resign when they get into a drunken stuper and kill one of we the people in a car crash.

    Petraeus lives by a higher standard................... that's all.
    To bad the rest of our political scumbags don't !
  • joe mauro Picasso... 2012/11/19 21:33:34
    joe mauro
    +1
    its the start of jill kelleys porn career.
  • Picasso... joe mauro 2012/11/19 22:45:30
    Picasso's Cat
    Yeah, we know those who can take advantage of the situation................. will.
  • JessDeCristo 2012/11/19 16:57:23 (edited)
    JessDeCristo
    Look at the bed rolling swapping of the Kennedies, Clinton and so many other polititans , Considering the C.I.A. are the goverments mercenaries, and executioners and God knows how many other normally illegal procedures, what went on with his private life, as long as he didn't give away any secrets, is no one's business. I say he has a damm good taste in women, wow! he even got twins, way to go !
  • True~Male JessDeC... 2012/11/20 03:15:20
    True~Male
    +2
    I just wish Mitt Romney would have won --we need real leadership
  • JessDeC... True~Male 2012/11/20 03:37:36
    JessDeCristo
    +1
    Buddy, you don't know how much I agree withya, thank you
  • True~Male JessDeC... 2012/11/24 17:03:06
    True~Male
    Obama has not proved that he has any leadership skills at all. We will have 4 more years of the same old crap --NOTHING except destruction and division among the races . I'm looking forward 2016
  • Wonder Woman 2012/11/19 16:26:05
  • True~Male Wonder ... 2012/11/20 03:17:26
    True~Male
    +1
    I believe President Obama will make sure he never lives to talk to tell everyone the cover up was started from Obama. There's more to come !
  • Bob P. ... Wonder ... 2012/11/21 04:47:20 (edited)
    Bob P. Clarkson
    +1
    It's been a long time since I was in a biology class, but just think of what you are saying. If a woman had no nerve endings in her vaginal canal, she would feel no pain. There would be no pain giving birth and there would be no pain were she to get a vaginal cancer. If that (having no nerve endings and no pain) were the case, my wife would be an Academy Award winning actress. I was with her when both my sons were born. She was hurting so much I was thankful she couldn't reach me to kill me.

    As for further up the pleasure tunnel, you might want to ask a woman who masturbates. I don't think she's doing it just to pass the time.

    Finally, if your life has been what you say, you've never had a "Partner" who was concerned about you as much as he was about himself.

    I do not mean what I am going to say next as an insult. I really believe that your life would be a lot more happy if you would talk to a Registered Sex Therapist, or even a regular Psychologist licensed to practice therapy.

    Yes, some women have to fake it at times, but it is not a slap at their partner's manhood. It's a gift. They know the male ego is a fragile thing, and they do it for love.
  • Wonder ... Bob P. ... 2012/11/21 07:25:00 (edited)
  • Diogene... Wonder ... 2012/12/08 13:57:29
    Diogenesdaughter
    +1
    Hmmm Wonder Woman, if you are a woman, how do you know all female orgasms are fake? Sounds like you've been frequenting bad brothels or watching too much porn. THAT, of course, is ALL faked, like professional wrestling, or acting, and EVERYONE WITH A FUNCTIONING BRAIN KNOWS THAT.

    And as for women using sex to control men, don't men use money and power to control women? If women couldn't be bought, a lot of ugly, fat, weak, sick and otherwise biologically inferior men WOULD NEVER MATE AT ALL as the survival of the species dictates. Only the physically strong and desirable would survive and procreate. Money and power changed all that, so now any nerd with a wad in his pocket, (not necessarily in front) can and will get laid if the price is right AND maybe even obtain a trophy wife in the process.

    That is what capitalism is ALL about. It is the great equalizer that gives men who in other societies might be beaten up and thrown to the curb, the same draw as the big muscle men. My building is taller, my car is more expensive, my house is more of a status symbol, it's penis envy gone wild, and it works, to an extent. Never mind that after marraige she screws the gardner who is well endowed. The master still gets what he paid for. Justice is served, on a silver platter.
  • Wonder ... Diogene... 2012/12/08 15:51:02
  • Merna 2012/11/19 03:23:25
    Merna
    Oh now you've figured that out?
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.c...
  • HatinOnHaters ;~} 2012/11/19 03:16:50
    HatinOnHaters ;~}
    no but in this case I can understand why it is such a big deal compromising government classified information o ya
  • judge 2012/11/19 02:17:10
    judge
    Someone should investigate the "commander in chief" of the military.
    dual citizen, gay partners,
  • Ledford 2012/11/19 01:55:09
    Ledford
    Sorry but the UCMJ trumps public opinion.
  • Bob P. ... Ledford 2012/11/21 04:51:36
    Bob P. Clarkson
    The UCMJ doesn't apply. a retired General is a civilian.
  • Pamela 2012/11/18 21:47:19
    Pamela
    No it sould not, but Obama made sure people know about his affair so he could hold it over his head in case Petraeus told the truth. This is what the weasels in power are doing.
  • Merna Pamela 2012/11/19 03:39:46
    Merna
    +1
    Obama?
    Jill Kelley: Republican
    Paula Broadwell: Republican
    Frederick W Humphries II.: Republican
    Eric Cantor: Republican
    Where's Obama? Pardon my French but it's time to pull your head out of your ass. It's one thing to be bitter, it's another to be crazy.
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