Why do powerful men cheat?

“People who have uninhibited dopamine receptors are much more willing to take risks. People who have low dopamine tend to be more conservatives,” Meyers told TheDC. “Dopamine is what makes you feel good. Risk takers seek dopamine. What addicts addicts to drugs? It’s the dopamine surge you get. People who jump out of planes, race cars, etc. What the hell drives them? It’s dopamine.”

“Dopamine is at the heart of affairs,” she continued. “When dopamine takes over we become less smart: love stupid, lust stupid. When there’s dopamine, there’s not a lot of rational cognitive thinking going on.”

So the very chemical that drives someone to succeed, could very well drive them downward. But there are other factors at play in the Petraeus-Broadwell affair, Meyers suspects.

“My theory about that affair is that it wasn’t just about sex — it was a love affair as well. They had a lot in common. Military men and women have higher incidences of affairs because they’re away from their families,” she said. “You’re in a high-risk situation. You’re away from your family, you’re lonely. If you’re away for months or years at a time, it’s a natural instinct to want to connect with somebody.”

Meyers thinks that Petraeus eventually realized what he was doing was not smart, and broke off the relationship. For Broadwell it was much harder to rid herself of the emotional connection — and that’s when she grew obsessive and jealous of a Petraeus family friend, Jill Kelley (who is now entangled in scandalous matters of her own.)

“My guess is that [Broadwell] went into withdrawal from the high of the affair. The other side of [the high of being in an affair] is a devastating low. You’re looking for anything to fill the gap —  chances are her mind started to all the possibilities.”

And that’s when she started the e-mail harassment that led to Petraeus’ downfall.

“Risk-taking personalities are bold — bold people make bold decisions,” Meyers said.


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