Having a passive, ineffective or absent father has an enormous effect on a man's development and eventual self-confidence. The quality of your relationship with your father, and his ability to pass on to you his positive masculine wisdom and energy are the most important factors in you developing your full potential as a man.
However, if your father was relatively passive, non-assertive, ineffective, absent physically or even just shy and withheld, you may have some work to do in order to recover what you missed out on. Here are some suggestions on how to fill the gap your father left:
Join a Men's Group
The most important indicator of confidence in a man is your secure ability to relate meaningfully to other men. Your relationship with other men is modeled on your relationship with your father, and on your friendships with other boys while growing up. You can't improve on this by yourself, nor can you do it with women: you need to find other men who you can relate to on a deeper level.
Find men you can trust who are prepared to drop the usual competitive male bravado and talk straight with you about their successes, failures, frustrations and joys in life. Learn from their wisdom and their mistakes, and practise sharing yourself on a deeper level with them. I attend a monthly men's group with this specific purpose, but any group with mature, trustworthy men can fulfil this need provided everyone is willing to support each other and most importantly be authentic.
Find a Male Mentor
Having learned everything you can from your father, which may have been most of what you need to know or may have been relatively little, you need other male mentors to fill in the gaps. Nobody achieves success in life without having other mentors in the form of teachers, counsellors, coaches, and supportive older men who have the wisdom you need. Start looking for potential mentors around you, and attend courses which teach the things that you haven't yet learned.
Don't let your pride get in the way of you learning from another man who has mastered a skill that you desire. Develop a habit of ferocious curiosity and life-long learning. There are mentors who can teach you everything from how to manage your money to how to seduce a woman. Take any area of life where you feel frustrated and consider what relevant skills you're missing and who can teach them to you. Anything your father wasn't particularly good at is also a good starting point.
Develop Your Communication Skills
Many men are poor communicators. While girls sat around talking to each other for most of high school, most men were out on the sporting field beating each other up one way or another. Conversation skills weren't highly valued by most of us guys during adolescence. We may have wanted to get laid, but we didn't know what to say to the pretty girl in order to make it happen. Our ability to communicate determines how well we can get our needs met involving people, and show when we can meet theirs. Any time we feel frustrated with someone else, we can either blame them and get angry or look at ourselves and ask the question: “How could I be communicating more effectively?” A fist in the face usually isn't the most helpful answer.
No man is an island. We need other people. To get what we want from them, we need to learn to communicate. And it cuts both ways: there's little point feeling love for your woman, your children or your fellow man if you can't communicate it with them. Communication is the soul of human relationships, so it's worth taking some time to learn how to do it. Assertiveness training courses teach active communication skills which will boost your self-confidence as your learn to get your message across more effectively.
Learn to Master Your Emotions
Learning to master our emotions is one of our key developments as a boy growing into a man. My father was a model disaster when it came to mastering his emotions, so I couldn't learn this from him. I found other men to teach me instead. The secret is to allow yourself to feel your emotions, and express them in some constructive way. Repressing or avoiding how you feel sets you up for depression and anxiety, while dumping emotional baggage on other people destroys relationships and leaves you feeling guilty and lonely.
Being able to express both pleasant and unpleasant emotions constructively is vital for your emotional and mental health, and a key skill in relating with women. Modern women are crying out for men who are willing to share their feelings with them. Women are emotional beings and they starve in relationships with men who are emotional brick walls. Often feeling at the mercy of their emotions, women want to know that you have them too, but have learned to master your emotions and have the stability they seek. If you want better relationships with women, this is where to start.
To learn more, see Part 2 of Confident Man which is devoted to emotional mastery, including specific chapters covering Sadness, Shame, Anger, Fear, and Self-Love.