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The Truth About Men and Dawgs

Women (and therapists) know the species well: predatory types who are anything but the good guys they appear to be

April 27, 1998|MARTIN MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A million or so years ago, man was but a knuckle-dragging, hairy oaf scampering around nude, munching on tree bark and communicating primarily by grunts. His short-lived days were supremely simple in purpose: avoid being eaten, and make as many little knuckle-dragging, hairy oafs as subhumanly possible.

Eventually, man rose up from the mud, the muck and the slime, scrubbed up a bit, put on a tie and claimed a planet. So much so that today, speaking in evolutionary terms, there can be little doubt that modern man is truly up on high.

But, oh, how some of the mighty have free fallen back down the evolutionary development chart. This particular breed of man has tumbled past the Western Lowland gorilla, the cocker spaniel and the Green Tree python. Past lab mice, blue-green algae and right by the Ebola virus.

These ex-men are, in today's vernacular, "dawgs."

The quintessential predatory male, dawgs are endlessly chasing their own tails, so to speak, piling up one meaningless sexual conquest after another. Except in this case, the tails they chase are actually attached to other people--women.

While pretending to be a woman's best friend, dawgs are anything but, as they demonstrate an almost feline-like cunning in cornering their prey.

"They're all charming, cuddly and wonderful," says therapist Lillian Glass, author of "Toxic People" (Simon & Schuster, 1995) and "Attracting Terrific People" (St. Martin's Press, 1997). "They praise a lot or they have a pitiful act, and that's how they seduce you. But when it comes time to deliver the goods, they aren't there."

Adds therapist Elissa Gough, author of the recent "Infidelity and You" (Face Reality Books): "They can say, 'I love you' to many women at the same time. They just want sex. It's just a good tennis game to them."

Spotting a dawg isn't as easy as it might seem. While retaining the sexual temperament of their Homo sapien ancestors, dawgs today are much better groomed and dressed.

Even their behavior--outside the bedroom--can camouflage their favorite urge. Part of the contradiction of dawgs is that they are often model citizens and fairly ethical in their nonsexual actions.

And dawgs are usually successful in their careers. Politicians and sports and entertainment figures appear especially vulnerable to that silent dawg whistle, which sends them speeding like a greyhound out of the gate after women.

Dawgs hail from all walks of male life, regardless of class, race, religion or IQ. If reputations and accusations are to be believed, their pack includes former Sen. Bob Packwood, singer Bobby Brown, actor Charlie Sheen and President Bill Clinton. (Hopefully, this will set straight Darrell Issa, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in California, who contended earlier this month that the president is "a slut.")

Fact is, if you're a man, you probably know a dawg or are one yourself. And if you're a woman, you've either fought them off with a stick or you've slept with the enemy. At least 10%, and as many as 25%, of men fall into the category, therapists say.

But in spite of dawgs' numbers and stealthy skills, therapists maintain a dawg can be outed. The key is to listen. Dawg conversations always revolve around themselves and have either the tone of effusive self-congratulation or of a self-pity festival.

"They know how to play women," says Gough, who is single again after five marriages. "They enjoy the challenge and the chase, and once they get what they want, it's on to the next toy."

Of course, it takes two, sometimes more, to tango with a dawg. And dawg partners tend to be women with the self-esteem of a character from the film "Barfly."

It's a rather sad coupling, therapists lament.

What should a woman do the minute she feels a potential suitor could be a dawg?

"My advice is run. Run for the hills," says Glass. "A lot of women make the mistake in thinking they'll be the one to change them. Believe me, they won't."

While a dawg may seem as if he's having a grand old time, he's actually not, therapists say. In reality, the dawg is usually an empty, lonely carcass of a human being, unconsciously acting out a deep rage against his mother, therapists explain.

And short of a life catastrophe, like losing all their money or experiencing a brush with death, dawgs rarely evolve into a 20th century man.

While not necessarily defending dawgs, there are many who plead for more understanding toward the lowly beast. These folks don't rely on psychology so much as biology.

In strict evolutionary terms, men and women are at cross-purposes when it comes to ensuring the survival of the species. Women want a loyal mate who will protect and provide for the family. Men, on the other hand, want to spread their genes around as much as possible.

Men's Health columnist Randy Wayne White recently commented on Mother Nature's role in the dawg condition: "We are the only primate on Earth obligated to live contrary to our own genetic coding."

Well, maybe that is mother rage, after all.

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