When Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in The Merchant’s Tale that “love is blind” and Shakespeare used the expression multiple times in his plays, they weren’t exaggerating. As awe-inspiring as love can be, it can also make people do extremely stupid things. Whether these people did really love or thought that they were in love is up for debate. Below are some incidents we found on a Reddit thread in which men made a fool of themselves for a woman and ruined their career or suffered terrible consequences.
1. Thad Roberts, an intern at NASA, stole millions of dollars worth moon rocks gathered from Apollo missions. He was sentenced to six years in federal prison after having sex with his girlfriend on a bed full of the rocks.
In 2001, a married, 24-year-old Thad Roberts was accepted into one of NASA’s co-op program for aspiring astronauts and was assigned to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. From the Apollo missions, NASA had so far collected 842 pounds of moon rocks, some of which were in the 600-pound laboratory safe of scientist Everett Gibson. One night, with the help of two young female interns, Roberts entered the lab. Unable to crack the safe, he simply loaded it onto a trolley and drove to Orlando with one of the accomplices, 22-year-old Tiffany Fowler.
Roberts had previously emailed Axel Emmermann, a Belgian mineral collector, to sell the rocks. An hour before the sale, he and his girlfriend celebrated in a hotel room by putting the moon rocks under the blanket and having sex on them. Emmermann, who was suspicious, informed FBI of the sale. Roberts pled guilty and was sentenced to six years in prison. In an interview, he stated that he did it all for love, which the FBI did not believe, and that they wanted to fund science that might change the world.(1, 2)
2. In 2012, Captain Francesco Schettino caused the cruise liner Costa Concordia to capsize when he misjudged the sail-by maneuver while with his girlfriend on the bridge, resulting in the death of 32 passengers.
A sail-by, or sail-past salute, is an ancient custom, especially among Italian and Greek seafarers, in which the ship is sailed close to the shore to salute those on land. On the night of January 13, 2012, Costa Concordia was sailing off the Italian island Isola del Giglio with 3,206 passengers and 1,023 crew aboard. The ship’s captain was 53-year-old Schettino who was in a romantic relationship with 26-year-old Moldovan dancer, Domnica Cemortan. It is unclear whether Costa Cruises, the company that owns the ship, had ordered a sail-past, though Schettino claims the managers did.
Having done the maneuver three or four times before, Schettino turned off the computer navigation system’s alarm to navigate by sight. When he saw waves breaking on the reef he turned the ship abruptly and in the process the ship’s hull hit an uncharted rock. When the ship capsized, instead of helping the passengers, he abandoned the ship even though the Coast Guard ordered him to return to the ship.
The incident resulted in 32 deaths and about 300 passengers were left aboard until they were rescued by helicopters and motorboats. It was revealed during the investigation that the captain was entertaining his young lover, who had boarded the ship as a non-paying passenger, against the rules on the bridge. The prosecution alleged that her presence “generated confusion and distraction for the captain.” Schettino was found guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.(1, 2)
3. While running for president, former American politician John Edwards cheated on his wife who was suffering from terminal cancer with a woman he hired to document his campaign and got her pregnant.
According to Newsweek, John Edwards hired Rielle Hunter in December 2006 to produce a series of webisodes about the behind-the-scenes life of his campaign. In 2007, the first mention of a possible affair between them appeared in the New York Post and The National Inquirer. In December 2007, the Enquirer also published a follow-up story including a photograph of a pregnant Hunter. One of Edwards’ campaign members, Andrew Young, reported to ABC News that he was asked to “Get a doctor to fake the DNA results … and to steal a diaper from the baby so he could secretly do a DNA test to find out if this indeed his child.” Though he initially denied it, Edwards admitted to having an extended affair with Hunter and that he was the father. In January 2010, his wife Elizabeth announced her intention to divorce him but by the end of the year her breast cancer returned and she died on December 7, 2010.(source)
4. President Warren G. Harding left behind about 1,000 pages of explicit love letters to his mistress, Carrie Fulton Phillips, in which he nicknamed his penis “Jerry.” Phillips is the only woman to have successfully blackmailed a major US political party.
The Harding and Phillips were family friends and toured Europe together. In 1901, Philips’ toddler son died. During this time she grew close to Harding and they would carry on their intimate relationship while on their tours. When Harding’s wife, Florence, found out about their affair, the Phillips family returned to Europe so as to reconcile their respective marriages. Meanwhile, Harding ran for the United States Senate. As Europe plunged into war, Phillips returned to America and their affair reignited. Phillips was passionate about Germany and reportedly even threatened to expose their affair if Harding voted in favor of war against the country.
In 1920, Harding was nominated for US president by the Republican Party. After he disclosed his affair and the hundreds of love letters he wrote to her, many of them on Senate stationery, the party officials sought to keep it quiet, especially considering Phillips’ support for Germany. In return for her silence, Phillips dictated her own terms and received an extended paid tour of Asia and the Pacific Islands, along with an annual stipend for the rest of her life.(1, 2)
5. In 1981, John Hinckley Jr. tried to assassinate US President Ronald Reagan in order to impress Jodie Foster. One of the bullets ricocheted hitting Reagan in the chest and critically wounding Press Secretary James Brady.
John Hinckley became obsessed with the movie Taxi Driver (1976) and developed an infatuation with Jodie Foster who plays a teenage prostitute in the film. When Foster joined Yale University, he moved to Connecticut to stalk her for some time before enrolling in a writing class. While there, he would slip messages and poems under her door. Unable to impress her, he began fantasizing about hijacking planes or committing suicide in front of her. He finally settled on assassinating the president just like Robert De Niro’s character Travis Bickle did in Taxi Driver. He trailed President Jimmy Carter until he was arrested on firearms charge in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1981, he targeted newly elected Reagan and just before his attempt wrote to Foster,
Over the past seven months I’ve left you dozens of poems, letters and love messages in the faint hope that you could develop an interest in me. Although we talked on the phone a couple of times I never had the nerve to simply approach you and introduce myself…. The reason I’m going ahead with this attempt now is because I cannot wait any longer to impress you.
Hinckley did not try to escape and was arrested immediately. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was placed under institutional psychiatric care until September 2016.(source)
6. In 1936, Edward VIII created British Empire’s worst constitutional crisis by abdicating the throne in order to marry the twice-divorced American, Wallis Simpson.
Edward first met Wallis Simpson, an American citizen and wife of British shipping executive Ernest Simpson, in January 1931. Ernest was Wallis’s second husband, the first being a US Navy pilot Win Spencer. By 1934, Edward and Wallis became lovers. The idea of a married American divorcee, with a questionable past, having such influence over the heir apparent led to anxiety and both of them were secretly followed by members of Metropolitan Police Special Branch. On January 20, 1936, following the death of his father King George V, Edward ascended the throne.
Edward and Wallis continued their relationship. By the end of October that year, Wallis filed for divorce and it was rumored that the king would marry her as soon as she was free. The marriage was opposed by the governments of the UK and British Commonwealth. Also, the Church of England did not allow a British monarch to marry a divorcee if her ex-husbands were still alive. Knowing that the British government would fail and the political neutrality of the crown would be jeopardized if he married her, Edward abdicated on December 11, the same year. With just 326 days of reign, Edward is considered the shortest-reigning monarchs in British history.(source)
7. In the 1790s, Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the US, had an affair with Maria Reynolds and was blackmailed into paying over $1,300 over the course of nine months while he continued to see her. A few years later, the affair was made public in a pamphlet.
In the summer of 1791, 34-year-old Hamilton and 23-year-old Maria Reynolds started an affair which lasted with varying frequency until June 1792. Maria’s husband, James Reynolds, was well aware of the affair and used it to extort a total of $1,300 in exchange for secrecy. When Reynolds was arrested in November 1792 for his participation in a scheme involving unpaid back wages, he tried to blackmail Hamilton again by telling him to choose between his affair being made public and falsely admitting complicity to his charges. Hamilton instead chose to reveal the nature of his affair with Maria to James Monroe, Abraham Venable, and Frederick Muhlenberg. Though they decided to keep the affair secret, Monroe wrote about it to Thomas Jefferson, who, being Hamilton’s rival, started rumors about corruption and the affair five years later. Hamilton denied all charges of corruption but did not deny his relationship with Maria which severely damaged his reputation.(source)
8. In 1961, the SL-1 nuclear reactor had a meltdown when one of the technicians withdrew the control rod improperly, killing all three people present. It is suggested that the man who pulled the rod was committing a suicide-murder because another operator was having an affair with his wife.
The SL-1 or the Stationary Low-Power Reactor Number One was a US Army experimental nuclear power reactor in Idaho intended to provide heat and electricity for small, remote military facilities. The meltdown happened on January 3, 1961, as the reactor was being prepared for restarted after it was shut down for 11 days of holidays. One of the maintenance procedures involved manually withdrawing the central control rod a few inches to reconnect it to its drive mechanism. The rod was withdrawn too far, and in four milliseconds enough heat was generated to cause a steam explosion.
The explosion knocked down two of the operators, killing one and fatally injuring the other. The third operator was impaled by a shield plug that shot through his groin, exited his shoulder, and pinned him to the ceiling. The entire reactor vessel weighing 26,000 pounds jumped up by 9 feet 1 inches and about 1,000 curies of fission products were released into the atmosphere. The most common theories proposed for the improper withdrawal were sabotage or suicide by one of the operators, a suicide-murder involving an affair, inadvertent withdrawal, or intentional attempt to make the rod travel more smoothly.(source)
9. In 2016, following a series of scandals, American politician Anthony Weiner was investigated by the FBI for sexting with a 15-year-old girl. His laptop was seized, which also contained emails related to the Hillary Clinton email controversy, resulting in a controversy late in the presidential election.
The scandals began in May 2011 when Weiner used his public Twitter account to send a link to a 21-year-old woman. The link was to a picture of his erect penis concealed by boxer briefs. Later, bloggers reported a tweet by 17-year-old that said, “Seriously talking to Representative Weiner from New York right now! Like is my life real?” Weiner admitted that he communicated with her but denied sending any inappropriate messages. Several other scandals involving photographs and conversations over social media surfaced.
In September 2016, following a report from the Daily Mail, Weiner was investigated for sexting with a 15-year-old girl. The emails relating to Hillary Clinton’s email controversy found on his confiscated laptop prompted the FBI to reopen the investigation late in the 2016 presidential election. Weiner pled guilty to sending obscene content to a minor and was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison.(source)
10. In 1836, Mexican politician and general, Santa Anna, lost the Battle of San Jacinto in just 18 minutes. It was believed he was caught unprepared because he was having sex with Emily D. West.
In 1824, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna repealed the Mexican Constitution which ultimately resulted in the beginning of the Texas Revolution. On April 16, 1836, a free woman of color, mixed race, or a “high yellow” named Emily D. West who was working as an indentured servant was kidnapped by Mexican cavalry. She was forced to travel with the forces of Santa Anna as they were preparing to fight the Texan Army led by General Sam Houston. On April 21, their camp was attacked by Houston’s forces and Santa Anna’s forces lost easily. Though there are no contemporary records indicating that he did sleep with a woman called Emily D. West, the story was recorded in the journal of an Englishman named William Bolleart in 1842 who heard it from Houston.(source)