Being a man these days can be confusing. And Sex and the City has a lot to answer for on that count, having showcased every conceivable male shortcoming. It's no wonder a ripple of subconscious paranoia swept through male ranks worldwide. Who, or what, should we be? In the 1990s, British journalist Mark Simpson ( www.marksimpson.com ) defined an emerging male character: 'A well turned out young man with money to spend, living in or close to the metropolis, and taking himself as his own love object, and pleasure as his sexual preference.' The rest is history. In 2002, he made a useful addition to the classification, being the first to use the word 'metrosexual' in print. While males of any sexual orientation can be classified as metrosexual, it is often simplistically viewed as the reference point between polar opposites: the chauvinist, hetero, alpha male and the uber-camp homosexual. In broader terms, it was suddenly acceptable, comical even, for men to have a 'metrosexual moment'. As fast as you could say 'back wax', male grooming spas popped up everywhere. Most people just want to be accepted for who they are. The problem with stereotypes is we want to run as fast as possible from those we don't like - the 'chav' ( www.chavscum.co.uk ) is a prime example - and embrace those with more flattering characteristics. Metrosexual is one such classification. We trick ourselves; in the absence of anything more appropriate we subconsciously assume we might be metrosexual when the reality is entirely different. Cue sighs of relief from men the world over. Cast aside your metrosexual delusions, you may in fact be 'retrosexual'. The retrosexual man is old school; he respects his woman and knows how to do the right thing by her. At the same time, he won't be brainwashed into giving up all the trimmings that make him a man, such as red meat, watching rugby with his mates or the occasional poker night. He knows the right thing to do without seeming like he's trying to impress. He knows his male obligations, accepts them and embraces life. He is the naturally good-looking but faithful type, typified by Mel Gibson, Chen Dao-ming, Johnny Depp and Chow Yun-fat. The retrosexual opens the door for his woman and pulls out her chair before sitting down. He remembers Valentine's Day, birthdays and anniversaries. He is also practical. He knows how to change a fuse, the shower head or a flat tyre. But it's not all proactive. The retrosexual man is adept at going with the flow. If he forgets to change his underwear - or even to put underwear on - then so be it. He favours substance over style and is in touch with his feelings, but possesses a rough readiness. Of course, there's nothing new here. Men have evolved little in the past two millennia, although we have periods of believing we are progressing. While the term had not yet been coined, John Birmingham and Dirk Flinthart unknowingly wrote the retrosexual's guide with their 1995 book How to be a Man. As well as giving advice on fundamentals such as what women look for in a man, personal hygiene, cooking and how to tie a bow tie, the book also provides the answers to the big questions that keep men awake at night, such as how to land a jumbo jet, why they should read Sigmund Freud and how to make a homemade smoke bomb. The retrosexual understands balance and endurance. He will spend four nights dodging insects in a rundown guest house so he can splurge on one blissful night at an Aman resort. He buys his steak from ParknShop rather than City'super or Great. He wears Levi's rather than Seven jeans. And he might visit the Ducati and Ferrari showrooms when he's in the market for a new vehicle, but he always buys a practical SUV. The retro may not always scrub up, but he's at peace in his own skin. He probably doesn't even know he's retro. He just is.