11/14/2012 12:22 pm ET Updated Jan 14, 2013

Woman Behaving Like a Nasty 'Girl'

Paula Broadwell is an intelligent, well-educated woman; a 1995 West Point graduate who, according to the New York Times, has been a lifelong high achiever, beginning when she was still a high school student. She was homecoming queen at her high school, valedictorian of her class and an All-State basketball player. It didn't stop there.

Her professional résumé certainly is impressive: After graduating from West Point, where she was a fitness champion, she served in the United States Army and the United States Army Reserve; was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Reserves in August 2012; became Deputy Director of the Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University; and worked with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. Ms. Broadwell has also written for the New York Times and the Boston Globe and is a public speaker. Somewhere along the way she also managed to get a graduate degree from Harvard University. My head is spinning with all she's done! This is a woman who can be a role model. Besides her professional accomplishments, the woman is not too shabby to look at, either; she was blessed with good looks as well as a keen mind.

So, with all she has going for her, for all her supposed sophistication, her smarts, her accomplishments, why did she revert to the same immature, mean-girl tactics as a 14-year-old girl? You know, the one who writes nasty emails to a classmate who dared to look at or talk with her boyfriend? This is unacceptable behavior. And guess what? The 'boyfriend' in question here isn't even hers to begin with! He's a married man.

The woman who received the alleged mean girl emails is Jill Kelley, a friend of General David Petraeus and a social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. In May 2012, she began receiving emails that amounted to what she described as cyber-harassment. After contacting an acquaintance who was an FBI agent, an investigation was launched and the emails were found to have come from Paula Broadwell.

Now the question is this: Why would the accomplished Paula Broadwell do that? The simple answer may be that Broadwell is jealous of Jill Kelley and suspicious that another woman was in the process of beginning an affair with Petraeus. It sounds like a plot from a teen movie; two silly girls fighting over one goofy guy except in this instance the guy is not goofy, has been married to another woman for 37 years and was the head of the CIA.

The emails to Kelley are highly reminiscent of what's commonly called a 'cat-fight.' Alleged statements such as 'Who do you think you are?... You parade around the base ... You need to take it down a notch' seem like they could have come from the mind of a disgruntled teen. The fact that Jill Kelley had to get an authority figure involved to help her solve her email problem also verges on the childish to me. (Ms. Kelley may have her own pot-boiler in a tête-à-tête with a certain General Allen, but that's another story). A little bit of maturity is needed here. As my former headmistress would caution us about petty silliness over a boy, "Girls, please, he's not worth you making yourselves out to be fools."

What is it that makes people who are rational in all other aspects of their lives so irrational when it comes to the opposite sex? The fact that any woman would resort to the level of a lovesick teen is as ridiculous as it is sad. To be fair, it isn't only women who act this way; we've only to look at men such as Andrew Weiner and Mark Sanford. Their level of immaturity was low adolescent at best.

A friend told me he thought that it was the idea of power that made Broadwell act in such a way. She was, he said, jealous not only of another woman making a play for her man, but basking in the reflected glory of the power of his position. That's certainly possible. Power is as enticing to the female of the sexes as it is to the male.

But what Paula Broadwell seems to have forgotten is that, regardless of the sexual allure she held, despite the interesting and potentially dangerous pillow talk she shared with her lover, she was simply a diversion. She had no real claim on David Petraeus and certainly none that should make her act in such a "nasty girl" manner.

I have to say that I still admire someone who has done as much as Paula Broadwell has done. She's accomplished much before the age of 40 and that shouldn't be forgotten in light of this indiscretion and bad behavior.

Maybe it was the lure of power, maybe it was plain and simple jealousy. Who knows? The French seem to understand the position of someone who is in an extramarital affair. It is quite common in European society. My friend, Mireille, describes it well: "A mature attitude and being unobtrusive in his or her world is essential to this type of relationship. A mature person knows what he or she is doing. Certain bad behavior is simply not accepted."

Maybe the talented, accomplished Ms. Broadwell needs to learn this simple lesson in extramarital manners. There's a big difference between a 'girl' and a woman.

© 2012 copyright Kristen Houghton

"And Then I'll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First" ranked in the top 100 books by Tower

Kristen Houghton is the author of the hilarious book, No Woman Diets Alone - There's Always a Man Behind Her Eating a Doughnut in the top 10 hot new releases at Amazon available now on Kindle, Nook, and all e-book venues.

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