Differences between bisexuality and pansexuality

Not sure what is the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality? We clarify the panorama for you and dispel some myths around these labels.

Last update: January 06, 2022

We live in a time of great change regarding sexuality. During the last decades we have seen how the labels of male / female, heterosexual and homosexual have undergone changes. At the same time, we have seen others appear that better correspond to the existing panorama. This has led to confusion, such as that between bisexuality and pansexuality.

We are not lying to you when we say that both terms are the target of controversy, misunderstandings and even various conflicts. Indeed, and from now on we anticipate the conclusion, the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality, at least as of today, is not completely settled. We will discuss this with you thoroughly in the next few lines.

What is bisexuality?

Bisexuality has historically been understood as the attraction to both men and women, despite the fact that there is always a slight preference.

To try to clear up the misunderstandings around bisexuality and pansexuality, we will start by clarifying the terms. Bisexuality is a word that became popular in the second decade of the 20th century. At that time it alluded to the attraction, romantic or sexual, that was felt by the two established genders: man and woman.

In fact, the prefix bi, of Latin origin, refers to two things. So bisexual refers to the attraction you feel for two genders. Keep in mind at this point that when the term was coined some 50-60 years ago, the idea of ​​genres was very different from what we have today.

For all this, the concept of bisexuality has mutated from the attraction to two genders to attraction to more than one gender. Many of those who classify themselves as bisexual use the latter meaning. Of course, we also find those who are more sympathetic to the first.

In general terms, and at least seen from today, bisexuality is the attraction to more than one gender. This in prejudice to the prefix that makes up the word. Because of the latter, many people believe that the term perpetuates the binarity of the genders.. In view of this, alternatives such as pansexuality have emerged.

What is pansexuality?

Fortunately, defining what pansexuality is is much easier: refers to those who are attracted, either physically or emotionally, to all genders. In this case the Greek prefix is ​​used bread that refers to a whole or a set. It is then a word that encompasses all genres that can be cataloged, even those that have not yet been established.

Although it is true that it is a popularized word in recent times, it was actually coined more than 100 years ago. Its creator was Sigmund Freud in the context of describing the sexual instinct. Although it was used previously, it was not until the nineties that it began to be used in a massive way.

Some consider it a branch of bisexuality, since it was born as a movement within it. Many bisexuals today consider themselves pansexual, in part because they believe it is a more inclusive term. The latter is the heart of the problem, since the prefix allows to include a greater number of genres.

What are the differences between bisexuality and pansexuality

As you have been able to corroborate, the differences between bisexuality and pansexuality are very subtle. Although according to the researchers there is a certain consensus between those who are classified as one and the other, in practice it is a cause for confusion. Especially, and how could it be otherwise, among those who are not cataloged within these labels.

Some experts have coined the term bisexual umbrella to bring together all those non-monosexual preferences. If we stick to it, it would encompass pansexuals, people queer, those of fluid gender and others. If anything, many pansexuals aren’t comfortable with the blanket etiquette, largely because of what we’ve discussed above about perpetuating binarity.

It should be remembered that these terms are only labels, which of course never get to group the whole set. Just as the term pansexuality emerged as an alternative to bisexuality, other concepts have also emerged. We have already mentioned them: queer and gender fluid.

Misconceptions about bisexuality and pansexuality

The first step in respecting sexual diversity begins with understanding the terms that define this characteristic of human beings.

Before dismissing this comment on bisexuality and pansexuality, we want to point out some misconceptions around both concepts. The first one is about gender preference. Although of course we find exceptions, according to the evidence both bisexuals and pansexuals tend to have a preference for one of them.

That is, although they are open to having romantic or sexual relationships with more than one gender, or with all of them, they feel a preference for one of them. This of course does not negate your inclination for others, it just tips the scale more to one side. As we have pointed out, exceptions can always be found.

Another of the erroneous ideas towards both terms is found in the claim that everyone practices polyamory. That is, they maintain relationships with three or more people at the same time. It is also associated with promiscuity or infidelity. Although of course there are bisexuals and pansexuals who maintain these practices, in reality monogamy is just as or more common among all of them.

By last, Another widespread idea is that it is only a phase that is followed by fashion. A bisexual or a pansexual does not identify as such to attract attention or to experience a stage. The choice of terms must be done under free will, it all depends on which one you feel the most sympathy or comfort with. In any case, you can always do without them to get away from the labels.

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