10 Ways to Know if You Are Bisexual or Pansexual
Coming to terms with your own sexual orientation can be a confusing and difficult experience. If you grew up in a place where the LGBT+ community isn’t accepted, you may be afraid to admit to yourself that you are not straight. Likewise, if you have always thought of yourself as a gay man or a lesbian, it may be confusing to you if you suddenly find yourself attracted to a member of your non-preferred gender. Though many people look at sexual orientation as a black and white, either/or identity and assume most people must be either attracted to men or to women, human sexuality actually exists on a spectrum, so it is very likely you are not 100% straight or 100% gay. Here are some ways to help you to figure out if you are actually bi, pan, or otherwise non-monosexual.
Who is Bi?
A person who identifies as bi is attracted to people who are the same gender as them, as well as people who are a different gender to them. A bi person may be attracted to different characteristics in different genders.
Who is Pan?
A person who identifies as pan doesn’t care about the gender of their partner. They are interested in the person regardless of their gender expression. Some people may use both terms, bi and pan, interchangeably to describe their sexual orientation.
You Are Attracted to Guys and Girls
This is the most obvious sign that you are bi or pan. You probably are not mono-sexual if you sometimes find yourself staring a little too long at cute guys and cute girls. If you find yourself physically attracted to men and women, or even people who identify outside of the male/female gender binary, you are probably bi or pan. Perhaps you have developed crushes on friends and celebrities of different genders.
What does “monosexual” mean?
"Monosexual” is a term used to describe someone who is only attracted to one gender. Straight and gay/lesbian individuals can be described as “monosexual.”
Conversely, Your Own Gender Makes You Nervous
You may find yourself pushing people of your own gender away if you are bi or pan, but haven’t come to terms with your identity yet. This may sound counter-intuitive, but your own gender may make you feel uncomfortable if you aren’t ready to deal with your attractions. For example, straight women tend to be very comfortable hugging their female friends, but a closeted bi woman may feel uncomfortable hugging other women, subconsciously fearing that they inadvertently out themselves.
You Fantasize About Your Own Gender
You prefer to watch adult videos or read steamy stories featuring only your own gender, even if you sometimes also enjoy straight intimate content. If you find yourself fantasizing about being with someone of your own gender, chances are you, on some level, wish to experience it firsthand.
You Felt Relieved When You First Heard the Term “Bisexual”
When you first heard of bisexuality, you immediately felt less alone. Even if you weren’t yet ready to claim that label for yourself, it might have been a huge weight off your shoulders to find out there are other people out there who are attracted to multiple genders.
Your “Happily Ever After” Could Go Either Way
When you imagine your future, you can see yourself with either a man or a woman. You would be just as happy if you end up with a husband as you would be if you end up with a wife. At the end of the day, you just want to be in a happy relationship with someone you love.
You Can’t Make Up Your Mind
If you see a cute (male/female) couple, you can’t decide if you think the man or the woman is more attractive. Perhaps you want them both, even if you would never tell them that! You enjoy variety. Maybe you briefly consider whether you would like to try a polyamorous relationship, even if you know deep down that you prefer monogamy.
What is Polyamory?
Polyamory is a type of relationship involving more than two people. It is not considered cheating by those involved, as there are specific rules about what each person involved is allowed to do within the relationship. People of any orientation can be polyamorous. Despite stereotypes, most bi- and pan-identified individuals are monogamous.
Bisexual Stereotypes Offend You
On the other hand, you are probably also offended when you hear someone imply that all bisexuals are into threesomes, polyamory, or are promiscuous. Maybe you are afraid to call yourself bisexual because you know that these stereotypes do not apply to you.
You Feel at Home in LGBT+ Spaces
You feel more comfortable and at home with LGBT+ people, even if you have been in relationships that appear “straight” to the outside observer. Sometimes you just feel more at ease with people who have things in common with you, even if you aren’t ready to admit that about yourself yet.
You Are Attracted to Androgyny
You find yourself attracted to androgynous people, even if you don’t know their actual gender identity. Though not all bi and pan people will be attracted to the androgynous look, if you are attracted to someone despite not knowing how they identify, you are likely non-monosexual.
What is Androgyny
Androgyny refers to a combination of male and female characteristics. Some people may identify as “androgynous” or “non-binary” if they don’t feel like they are a male or a female. Some men and women also prefer to dress in an androgynous style if they aren’t comfortable in masculine or feminine clothing, but still identify as their biological sex.
It Just Feels Right
The term “bi” or “pan” just feels right to you. Deep down, you know you aren’t straight or gay. Even if you aren’t ready to be out just yet, deep down you know that you are interested in different genders. Take your time exploring your identity, and just be you!
Figuring out your identity can be difficult, especially for young people. Even older people may feel confused about who they are after a lifetime of denying that part of themselves. It is important to fully accept every aspect of yourself, even if you are afraid that other people might not. Today, society is much more accepting of diversity than it was throughout history, but we still have a way to go. If you don’t feel comfortable coming out of the closet in your current environment, it is okay if you want to wait until you are sure you will be supported and safe. The important thing is loving yourself for who you are.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Jennifer Wilber