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 gay or lesbian, it may be confusing for you if you suddenly find yourself attracted to a member of your non-preferred gender.
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. However, human sexuality actually exists on a spectrum, so it is very likely that 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 than 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're not sure if you see yourself with a man or with 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 or a non-binary spouse. 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.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
How do you choose between bi or pan? Also, how do you know it is safe to come out?
Bi and pan are very similar terms. Some non-monosexual people prefer one term over the other for various personal reasons. Some people may also use both terms interchangeably to describe their sexual orientation.
The main difference between bisexuality and pansexuality is simply semantics.
Bisexual people usually describe themselves as being attracted to both like and different genders. Bisexual people may find themselves attracted to different qualities in people of different genders. Some bisexual people may find that they are mostly attracted to femininity in women and masculinity in men. Others may only be attracted to feminine women, and more feminine men. Perhaps some are attracted to men emotionally, and women physically. There are many, many different ways to be bisexual. Some non-monosexual people also identify as bisexual because it is a more recognizable term than pansexual.
Pansexual people describe themselves as being attracted to people regardless of gender. These people tend to think of their attractions to people as having nothing to do with the person's gender. They can be attracted to people regardless of their gender expression.
You should identify as whichever you feel best describes your sexuality. It is okay if you use both interchangeably, or just one term. It is also okay if you start using one term, but then later realize that the other fits you better.
Regarding your other question, if your family seems supportive of the LGBT+ community, it is probably safe to come out to them. If you live in a more liberal city, it is also probably safer to come out than if you live in a more conservative city where people still have backward beliefs about LGBT+ people.
Is there a local LGBT+ organization at your school or in your community? If so, you could contact them to meet other LGBT+ people who can help to support you as you decide to come out to other people in your life. It is always a good idea to have a support system in place in case things go wrong when you come out to your family.Helpful 34
Honestly I’m kind of confused about how to define my sexuality. I’m a girl and I know for sure I’ve been physically attracted to other women, but that’s as far as it goes. I could never see myself dating one. In my “happily ever after”, it just feels more...right to end up with a guy because I always feel like I have a deeper romantic connection with them. Am I still considered bi, even though my attraction to one gender is much more muted than the other?
If you feel like you are bi, you are bi. If you feel like a different label better fits you, that is okay too. Remember, you don't have to be equally attracted to each gender to consider yourself bi or pan. Do what feels right for you. Don't worry about labels if you don't want to.Helpful 23
I am married to a man whom I love dearly, but I think some women are sexy. What should I do?
You don't have to do anything. It is okay if you are married to a man, but find yourself attracted to women. You might feel distressed because you love your husband, but you are having sexual thoughts about other people, especially women. It is okay to have these feelings. It doesn't mean that you are any less committed to your husband or that you love your husband any less.
Being bisexual does not mean that you don't love your husband or that you can't be in a committed monogamous relationship or marriage. It just means that you are capable of being attracted to your own gender and other genders. Many straight people and gay people find themselves attracted to people other than their spouse as well. As long as you don't do anything with someone else behind your spouse's back, enjoy your fantasies.
If you do wish to explore your sexuality, it is important to be open and honest with your husband. Perhaps your husband would be okay with you exploring your sexuality with other women, either with or without him involved. It is important to talk to him before doing anything, however, to reach an agreement that you are both comfortable with. Never coerce your husband into agreeing to an arrangement that he is clearly not okay with and never go behind his back to cheat on him with a woman. This would eventually destroy your relationship with him.
Would attraction to trans m/f and men and women be bi or pan?
You can consider yourself either bi or pan if you are attracted to both men and women, including trans men and trans women. You can claim whichever label you feel best describes you. Trans men are men and trans women are women, so you can be attracted to transgender people and still be bi.
I have been questioning my sexuality for four years now. I am scared of dating a girl because of the stereotypes, and also because when I came out to my mom, she said that she believes bisexuality is a phase and when one claims to be bi that in time they 'go gay or go straight.' How do I conquer my fear of coming out? And as of lately I have been more attracted to girls. Does this mean I'm a lesbian?
Many people still believe negative stereotypes about bisexual people, including that bisexuality is just a phase. While some people who initially identify as bisexual do eventually realize that they are actually gay or straight, the majority of bisexual people continue to identify as bisexual throughout their lives. Remember, over half of the LGBT+ community is bisexual. It may help to show your mom material written by older bisexuals, such as bi activist Robyn Ochs, to show her that bisexuality is not a phase one grows out of.
If you meet someone you like and want to date, try not to let other people's misconceptions prevent you from being with the person you want to be with. Your relationships are for you and for the person you are in a relationship with, not for anyone else. Don't worry about what other people will think. Your happiness is more important than their bigotry.
You can be bisexual and be more attracted to women than to men. You don't have to be equally attracted to men and women to consider yourself bisexual. Perhaps you are a lesbian, or perhaps you are bisexual with a preference for women. Only you can determine this. To figure this out, ask yourself if you still find yourself attracted to men at all, or if you are only interested in women.
© 2018 Jennifer Wilber