Lack of Male Role Models and the Rise of Pick-up Artists

by Matt Savage

I was recently watching a video of Zan on YouTube where he gives a talk to the Project San Fransisco seduction lair. After seeing this, I was blown away by how profound his insights were.

Zan basically talks about how a lot of men who join the seduction community are ones who grew up without a male role model; how there was no one to give us direction; and how our fathers were absent in this regard. We are basically the first generation of uninstructed men.

This is an interesting topic to me for personal reasons. I was raised by a single mom for most of my childhood. My father left my mom and I at an early age. I believe I was around five years old when he left.

Even if my father did stick around I doubt it would have done any good. He was an alcoholic and was abusive towards my mother. Certainly not a positive male role model. In fact, my only memory of him is of that familiar cliche we always see on television. That of the mother and father fighting in the kitchen and the child crouched on top of the stairs crying.

So, as Zan puts it, my positive male role model was absent. The person who was supposed to teach me about women was never there. I feel this might be true for a lot of the guys who come into the pick-up artist community.

If I remember correctly, in the book The Game by Neil Strauss, the idea of lacking a positive male role model is illustrated through the character and real life pick-up artist Mystery. Strauss writes about Mystery’s hatred towards his father, which caused him emotional damage and low self esteem. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Mystery had set out on his own in an attempt to become good with women.

Also, in a recent blog post by Sean Newman, he mentions that he was a mamma’s boy growing up. He says that though he got loving advice from his mom and sisters, it wasn’t the type of advice that was useful for meeting women. I think Sean says it best with the following: “Because as much as mama loves you, she can’t teach you how to be more of a confident MAN around women.”

There is a great article called, How Boys Learn to be Men by James Dobson, that addresses the influence of fathers on young males. In the article, Dobson mentions some of the ideas of leading Sociologists and Psychologists:

“Sociologist Peter Karl believes that because boys spend up to 80 percent of their time with women, they don’t know how to act as men when they grow up. When that happens, the relationship between the sexes is directly affected. Men become helpless and more and more like big kids.”

“Dr. William Pollock, Harvard psychologist and author of Real Boys, concludes that divorce is difficult for children of both sexes but it is devastating for males. He says the basic problem is the lack of discipline and supervision in the father’s absence and his unavailability to teach what it means to be a man. Pollock also believes fathers are crucial in helping boys to manage their emotions. As we have seen, without the guidance and direction of a father, a boy’s frustration often leads to varieties of violence and other antisocial behavior.”

However, in an interview with Peggy Drexler, author of Raising Boys Without Men, she claims that young males raised by single mom’s can turn out to be perfectly fine.

“In her new book, Raising Boys Without Men: How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men (Rodale Books), Drexler demonstrates through nearly a decade of research that boys who are raised in single-mother homes are just as likely to develop into happy, healthy adults as boys raised in households with both a mother and a father.”

Though I tend to agree with Drexler’s view that boys raised by single moms can turn out to be happy and healthy, she doesn’t address the issue of these same boys becoming the type of man who can be comfortable meeting women. After all, I was raised by a single mom and my life has been pretty good. I’m happy, I’m healthy, I have a good career, and a great group of friends. One thing that I don’t have (or didn’t have) is the knowledge to be successful in meeting and attracting women.

Of course, this whole theory about pick-up artists lacking male role models is completely speculative. It certainly is interesting to think about though. Perhaps I’ll do some more research on this topic. I’d love to hear comments on this if anyone has had similar experiences or insights into this theory.


Ana Renee Jones February 2, 2007 at 8:42 pm


I read through your blog but didn’t actually click on any links (I’m running off to class…I have a paper due in several minutes).

This is very interesting stuff and my father also left my mom and my sister and I at an early age.

I know it has (and continues) to effect the way in which I interact with men. I don’t need a survey to prove it to myself in this situation.

I’ll look at the links and see if I can incorporate any of it into my project.


Blondie February 4, 2007 at 5:31 pm

Same goes for girls, in a sense.

My father left when I was 13 (crucial damned age!), and that gave me a ridiculous handicap when it comes to being confident with men.

In essence, I ‘spose it’s safe to say that a two parent household has the best chances of producing well rounded kids.

Except for the fact that an unhappy parental force can cause just as much damage to a child as lacking one parent.

It all depends on how the stars align, I guess!

Nice blog… I’ll certainly return.

Matt Savage February 4, 2007 at 8:27 pm

Ana and Blondie,

You’re right, this subject certainly has an effect on young women as well as men.

It’s funny because I never really put much thought into this topic before now. I’m beginning to realize how crucial parenting in general is to the development of children. It definitley seems to be an issue in this country and is probably the reason why there are so many messed up people out there.


flic February 4, 2007 at 9:30 pm

This is a very good post. As a (married) father of a 4 year old boy, I had never before having my own son known how important it is (and how so logical and obvious it really is!) to have a father-figure around.

It sounds so much like a cliche, but a (boy) child [I don't have a daughter, so I don't know] gets only half the picture if he’s brought up by a single mom, or even just by a single dad.

This living situation is by no means a guarantee the child turns out to be a splendid super human, but maybe he grows up not wasting his time trying to “find out” his place with women and society, and simply somehow gets a [winning] place with women and society.

I don’t know for sure, of course. Go ahead and do that research!

byrdeye February 9, 2007 at 6:59 pm

YES, I believe this is a common thread amongst men who had to painfully learn how to deal with women (MRAs/PUAs included)!

In fact, I mentioned this in my own formation here myself:

In fact, I find that many frustrated PUAs and MRAs today grew up under a female-domineered household – whether because the woman was more dominant, the hubby was a socially-correct AFC or the women simply outnumbered the men and ruled by majority. The end result is subtle but powerful. My manhood was snipped and suppressed like a wolf raised by sheep. I was explicitly given piss-poor advice that idealized women’s virtues and told me to treat them with the utmost respect like precious angels. Because that was what they all wanted in THEIR best self-interest…but hardly mine.

And even worse, I found myself quietly enduring misandrist statements made by female relatives…while constantly biting my tongue from correcting them out of fear of offending the ruling majority. I was always holding my true self back – in order to fit the proper, emasculated, metrosexual, eunuch role designated for me by feminism. In short, I was raised to thought-police myself into feminist-correct thinking…which then spilled over into all my dealings with the outside world as well. Which, in the world of relationships, is SUICIDAL.

I believe it is like a girl raised up with a gang of brothers like a tomboy…who then must learn how to “be a girl” well later on in life on her own – with varying success.

Sheep must be raised as sheep, and wolves as wolves! If you raise a wolf like a sheep, it will starve once let loose in the wild! Zoologists all know this – and parents should too!

Matt Savage February 11, 2007 at 8:13 pm


Good post. I had no idea there was a community of Mens Right Activists out there. I didn’t even know what an MRA was until now. Definitely interesting stuff.


Sean Newman February 21, 2007 at 11:52 pm

Great post.

I’m luckier than most, because I had an uncle who was good with women (and people in general), and my dad is a great guy (but i really didn’t get as close to him as i should have till later in life).

Men need to guide men. That’s how it’s done in tribal societies, and some communities now. Even black kids in the ghetto, who are less likely to have dads around, have older guys around to show them the ropes… and they at least have a chance to learn confidence (but may be missing out on real maturity and have to struggle to it on their own).

There’s a whole generation of guys who grew up as kids like Kurt Cobain. Never close to dad, never had men around to show them their role, and instead end up licking their wounds and unable to cope with the real power of the feminine.

Women are a potent force, and that’s why it’s tough to be a man without any help.

We men need to help each other every step of the way.

ITotem March 21, 2007 at 9:48 pm

I love this post. The more I read about pickup, the more I reflect on my own experience, the more I realize that men never learned to be men. Maybe I’m going to write something about that now.

You also linked to great articles!

Matt (not Savage) July 24, 2007 at 12:13 am

Interesting. This idea is also a primary theme of Fight Club. It seems to be a meme of current times.

Ian Smith March 18, 2008 at 9:43 pm

I was raised basically by my mom, my dad was around, but I never did much with him. I lived with her, and another guy who actually taught me a lot. There are some things I never learned, actually many things. However, what my mom did teach me was how to learn, and how to get the information I wanted. And I feel that while a woman cannot provide the same teachings a man will for his son, I don’t feel that this cannot be substituted in some other way.

Like, I learned everything I knew about getting girls up through my senior year in highschool from a guy I befriended. I learned deep-thinking and philosophy from my grandmother, which lead me on a great (continuous) intellectual journey. None of which my father had an impact on, all of which helped me become the man I am today. So I have to disagree.

Think about it, those of you that have fathers in your life. Would you really wanna know about getting women from him? I would suspect that the chances are, no. I wouldn’t look to my dad for advice on how he met his new wife, I’d rather figure it out myself actually. Again, maybe that’s just my perspective.

Be Well.
Ian Smith

Mike Stoute April 18, 2008 at 12:41 pm

Nice article, I have been preaching this since the beginning and it’s good to see it’s finally coming up in the community.

Men need mentors in everything, and in a lot of cases it HAS to be another man. The problem isn’t just with guys who are raised by their mother only, it extends to the guys who’s fathers have neglected the duty of passing down their knowledge of women. If that father is just a kept man, (which i see a lot these days) then he has nothing to pass, so it creates an even bigger issue!

This is an issue with life, where did all the MEN go? Why is everyone such a pussy? Grow some balls everybody, life is hard and will only get harder.

You have to man up and have a backbone. Seduction is a TINY part of this equation that will fall into place when you become a man.

You can’t go backwards..that’s why all these pick-up artist get depressed. Inner Game first and foremost!

Talking to girls is easy once you know who you are!

Avalon April 24, 2008 at 6:23 am

I’m not a huge believer in either psychic determinism (it’s your parents fault) nor environmental determinism (it’s your boss, spouse, class, race, relgion’s fault)

Rather, I favor Viktor Frankl’s model of self-determinism, where regardless of what happens to you, YOU decide how you are going to allow it to affect you.

Sunny May 17, 2008 at 3:16 am

Yo Matt, my first comment here. I’ve read quite a few of your posts and they keep me coming back. I relate a lot to your blog.

Check out this post on the lack of male role models/father figures in the black community – sheds some very interesting light on the effeminate qualities that drive the quintessential “alpha thug.”

Keep up the good writing.


Matt Savage May 19, 2008 at 8:24 am

Thanks for that article, it was interesting, and it definitely helped reinforce my ideas on the need for male role models in a child’s/teen’s life.

Patty September 15, 2008 at 8:47 pm

Ana.. thank you for your input. I too am writing a paper.. but it’s on teen pregnancy.. and you just gave me something I can use on girls and fathers leaving.. can I use what you said? thanks.. Patty

hottie Mchottson November 17, 2008 at 4:36 pm

I’m going to have to agree with this post though from a slightly different perspective. My parents are together still today and my dad was always very involved in my life growing up. He was, however, very passive whereas my mother was very dominant which led to lots of nice guy behavior for approval seeking. He also gave me plenty of birds and bees speeches but always from a very clinical viewpoint and never included anything about how to get a woman to the point where that information would be useful. I have three boys of my own, the oldest is 11 so he is getting a much broader education. :)

know1 February 3, 2009 at 4:31 pm

I actually had a father that was always physically present. But he failed to give me the mentoring as a father that I needed. I now know that he couldn’t teach me what he did not know.

I discovered the PUA community after my divorce. I have always had trouble talking to women in a intimate way. I now know better.

Joey July 2, 2011 at 12:08 am

Ross Jeffries (who is arguably the master and founder of the seduction community) has mentioned on his flagship set of cds done from a seminar of his in London that him, and other men did not have another man around to teach them about women while growing up. Ross said his Dad was a great man but, he was never around because he worked 3 jobs to feed Ross, his Mother, his 5 other siblings, and a cousin named Patty who lived with them for 7 years. Ross’s dad had to be a strong man to handle all of that responsibility. That’s pretty mind blowing that the guru of the whole game started out without any guidance when it comes to women.

I definitely can relate, my Father never really taught me anything about women, or gave me guidance and coaching in what to do growing up. All he did was think about his own interests, and brag about his conquests.

It depends on how you look at it all but, the need to mass fornicate could be a sign of emptiness. I think Rabbi Ariel Bar Zadok of has got it nailed by basically saying in his “Protection From Evil” book that sex is an exchange of energy, and the more people you sleep with the more bad energy you bring around you, and this inhibits finding your soul mate. He also explains soul mates in his book, and it’s not the cheesy, gooey, Hollwood BS. It’s about finding a partner you love through the good and bad times.

My own personal goal with the whole game is be a better communicator (because communicating about psycho-babble as my youthful detractors growing up wouldv’e said was totally unacceptable-which is so damn ignorant for anyone to shun understanding both themselves and others) who knows how to captivate a woman’s mind so I can have the best possible relationship with whoever I find that’s truly worthy of my life and love. There are so many messed up people out here today (myself included). The whole system sucks, and smart people have to find ways to get around society’s traps.

DoesNotMatter December 27, 2011 at 9:26 am

Almost all Indian Kids in the United states grew up in families with both mum and dad (divorce being extremely rare in India) and they still suck when it comes to meeting women. You could have a dad while growing up but if he was
1. a mangina OR
2. a prude OR
3. A workaholic OR
4. A beta OR
5. clueless about meeting women himself

you would still suck with women. Nuff said

Josh March 3, 2012 at 7:38 am

I can relate to this…my father was a heavy alcoholic who abused my mom and stuff….no good memories of him…it lowers my self esteem..he never gave me any advice on women either..which is why i turned to PUA. I also found some real life role models which i could follow and i read books on manliness so i can become my own man and learn the stuff my father failed to teach me…sometimes i feel like Mystery from the game..i hated my father but i wont let it bother me.

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