Myths About Pansexuality That You Shouldn’t Believe (and What Makes It Different From Bisexuality)

If you’ve ever found the word “pansexuality” confusing, you’re not alone. Although we as a society are making a lot of progress when it comes to gender identity, that doesn’t mean finding the right labels will always be easy. But as more and more public figures are coming out as pansexual, hopefully it will become a more common household word — and people will actually understand what it means.

Like sexuality itself, the term is rather complex, and a lot of people get the wrong impression. These are the biggest myths about pansexuality that are all too often believed.

1. Being pansexual is the same as being bisexual

Gay couple at the park

Gay couple at the park |

In a way, pansexuality and bisexuality are similar, as both may involve dating members of the same and opposite sex. But while being bisexual means being attracted to both men and women, being pansexual simply means “not limited or inhibited in sexual choice with regard to gender or activity.” This leaves things a lot more open — for example, pansexuals typically have no problem dating or sleeping with a transgender person or someone who considers themselves gender fluid or genderqueer.

In other words, being pansexual means loving and being attracted to someone for who they are without regard to their gender.

Next: This is a common misconception.

2. Pansexual people will have sex with anything

Lesbian couple

Lesbian couple | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

Identifying as pansexual does not mean you’ll be sleeping with inanimate objects like frying pans.  While people might think they’re clever for making a joke like that, it’s really not doing anyone any favors. Being sexually attracted to someone based on who they are inside and not their genitalia does not mean they have any strange fetishes or odd desires.

Next: You can still be shallow if you’re pansexual.

3. If you’re pansexual, you only love people for their personalities

old couple at cinema

Older couple at the movies | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

Let’s be real: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when it comes to the initial attraction, looks matter. And even though pansexual people are attracted to all genders, that doesn’t mean they base their desires on personality traits alone. As pansexual writer shares with Cosmopolitan, “I fully believe that you can be a shallow-ass person when it comes to looks (I know I am!) and still be fiercely pansexual.”

Next: These terms might seem similar, but they means very different things.

4. Pansexuality is the same as polyamory and gender fluidity

A couple smiling in bed

A couple smiling in bed |

These are actually very different things. “Pan” refers to sexuality, who you’re attracted to. You can be a pansexual person and date one partner at a time. Polyamory refers to the types of relationships you have, meaning you’re comfortable dating more than one person at once. It’s possible to be polyamorous and only be attracted to one gender.

Gender fluidity, on the other hand, refers to a person’s own gender identity, and it comes from within — it’s about how you feel you fit into the social notions of gender.

Next: This is another common myth that’s simply not always true.

5. Being pansexual means you’ll also be sexually promiscuous

Couple kissing in bed

Couple kissing in bed | Oneinchpunch/iStock/Getty Images

No matter how people identify, most of them don’t go around trying to sleep with every single person they find attractive. So it seems a bit silly to assume that pansexual people are promiscuous simply because they’re attracted to people of all genders. While they certainly do have a larger “pool” of potential partners to choose from than most, that doesn’t mean they’ll sleep around. It’s entirely possible to identify as pansexual and remain in a monogamous relationship, heterosexual or otherwise, for life.

Next: Looks like pansexuality is here to stay.

6. Pansexuality is just the latest trend

Two men walking together

Two men walking together |

If you’ve never heard of pansexuality, it’s easy to dismiss it as an internet fad or something illegitimate. But pansexuality has existed for as long as people themselves have. We just didn’t have a word to describe it until the 20th century.

We’ve come a long way in our society as far as inclusion and acceptance of sexual preferences, so it makes sense that more millennials and Generation Z people feel comfortable identifying this way. It doesn’t only exist among younger people, and since it’s been around so long, it’s clearly not going anywhere. Calling it a trend is misleading at best.

Next: Pansexual people aren’t any more confused than straight people.

7. Pansexual people are just confused

Lesbian couple standing and looking at each other

Lesbian couple standing and looking at each other |

There has always been a myth that bisexual people are confused, and many think pansexuals are even more confused than bisexuals. Neither are true. Pansexual people know exactly what they want … and even if they aren’t sure, it’s normal and healthy got people to explore that part of their identities. In the end, it’s all about what makes you feel satisfied and happy.

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