James W. Hicks, M.D.


In Sexual Types on August 24, 2010 at 12:04 pm

“Restrained” is the fifth sexual type I discuss on this blog, though it might be more accurate to think of it as a feature that qualifies one of the other more fundamental sexual orientations.

If you are restrained, you have romantic feelings and sexual desires which are at odds with your family or societal role and sense of identity. For example, a married parent, a clergyman, or a politician may be under great pressure to deny or suppress same-sex feelings that could destroy his or her relationship to family, church, or a conservative constituency. Less commonly, you may be troubled by heterosexual urges if you are in a gay relationship. If you are sexually excited by cross-dressing or imagining yourself to be of another gender, you may feel ashamed and compelled to conceal your preference from your partner and others. You may suppress your feelings, or engage in them only secretly and guiltily, feeling they are abnormal and wrong. You may pursue furtive experiences “on the down-low.” You may feel conflicted and confused, or you may defensively deny your feelings even to yourself.

If you are restrained, you have much in common with those who are transitioning, except that you have chosen not to address your evolving feelings or to resolve the discrepancy between your outer and inner lives. You have not found an identity that successfully accommodates your orientation. Others might be tempted to label you as “really” gay or bisexual or “in the closet,” but this ignores the value you have placed on maintaining a certain role and certain loving ties in relationship to your family and society, perhaps reasonably fearing the repercussions of coming out.

Many outwardly heterosexual (and ironically, often homophobic) politicians and clergy have been caught in recent years in homosexual trysts. Former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey came out of the closet as a “gay American” after being blackmailed by another man. Until that point, he was married to a woman who did not know about his sexual preferences, and his sexual type could have been characterized as “restrained.”

Among those who have taken my Flex Test, I’ve been struck by several who identify themselves as “heterosexual” at the start of the test but indicate in later answers that their attractions and experiences with the same sex are at least as strong as those with the opposite sex. Many of them also answer questions indicating that they face strong societal constraints (being married, wanting children, having nosy family) and that their lives would be “ruined” if others thought them to be gay.

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