June 10, 2013 catherinetownsend

Relationship Tips from the CIA

Lindsay Mills, the former ballerina girlfriend of whistleblower Edward Snowden, found herself in a real-life True Lies this week when she discovered that her man was 8000 miles away, hiding in Hong Kong. I found myself thinking about her unique position when she wrote ‘as I type this on my tear-streaked keyboard…sometimes life doesn’t afford proper goodbyes,’ on her blog: Not only might she never see her boyfriend again, but she must ask herself whether she had ever really known him at all. After a messy divorce became public, the Washington Post published a fantastic article about CIA splits – according to the paper the CIA has no official figures…but insiders say it’s astonishingly high. Retired CIA operatives Robert and Dayna Baer, who fell in love while working at the agency (Robert wrote ‘See No Evil’, the memoir on which ‘Syriana’ was based) also shared their thoughts on dating a real-life James Bond. Some of the CIA’s tips are common sense; others are simply surreal.

  • The CIA (unofficially) seems to encourage relationships between agents. As Robert says, “you can gossip at night over a glass of wine and not be anguished you’re spilling a secret”.
  • Being married to an agent could mean that you (or your kids) are used as part of an elaborate cover story.
  • The most realistic movie portrayal of the CIA inner workings is Charlie Wilson’s War.
  • The CIA has very good psychiatrists on hand to help.
  • There is a great sense of camaraderie, but when you break up with the agency they keep the friends.
  • The CIA has a Family Advisory Board to ‘help family members and single employees adjust to relocation’.
  • Their advice for marriage longevity of spies: Stay together as much as possible. This may mean relocating to somewhere boring like Brussels. Ironically, they point out that communication is key – within reason, of course.
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