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November 21, 2013

Sexual Confessions from a Former CIA Officer

When Emily Brandwin joined the CIA, she quickly realized that the skills that made her coworkers excellent agents also made them terrible boyfriends.


Photo Credit: Courtesy of miles aldridge/trunk archive

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SAM STOOD IN MY APARTMENT DOOR with a duffel casually swung over his shoulder. "What's in the bag?" I purred, even though I knew the answer. "A few pieces and a couple of ammo cartons—you know, for work," he said, suspiciously looking around before quickly walking inside.

We stood in my living room after undressing each other with awkward abandon. Sam looked like he'd neglected the gym for a couple of months, but with his crystal-blue eyes and mop of shaggy blond hair, he was a sexy, grown-up version of Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris. "What took you so long to get here?" I breathed, while we dropped to the carpet. "I had to drive a surveillance detection route," Sam said, meaning a long, circuitous route with planned stops to determine if he was being followed. "Remember, no one at work can know about our relationship." He winked and smiled a devilish grin. "Just think of me as your asset. It's your job to keep me safe."

"Assets," "surveillance detection routes," duffel bags packed with weapons: These were not by-products of a kinky fantasy life. This was my very real relationship with a CIA officer. I'd met Sam, a 34-year-old weapons expert with a longtime girlfriend, a month after joining the agency. I was 24, a sexually inexperienced new officer, and completely blindsided by Sam's seduction. Our passionate encounters erased my reservations about being "the other woman."

We've all heard the warning not to date our coworkers. But soon after I started at the agency, I felt I had no choice. The CIA gives covert employees cover jobs so as not to arouse interest, and thanks to my vague government position, I was a complete yawn to potential dates in Washington, D.C., where everyone has a wildly impressive career and expects their dates to have the same. At least I could be honest with my colleagues about my work. Plus, everyone at the CIA dated one another; it was like D.C.'s version of Melrose Place.

But dating within the CIA adds a degree of difficulty to a process already fraught with therapy-inducing anxiety. The U.S. government trains intelligence officers to lie and sneak around to prepare them for the dangerous job of stealing secrets overseas. Adopting a new persona at a moment's notice becomes second nature. When you deceive successfully at the CIA, you don't get fired; you get promoted! And the men I dated were products of excellent government training.

After a solid six months of clandestine rendezvous in out-of-the-way locales and communicating in coded texts, I started to resent the fact that Sam was practicing his well-honed spy training on me. Did we actually need to drive a surveillance detection route to ensure that his girlfriend wouldn't spot us every time we went out for dinner?


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