From Women’s Health…
Once upon a time, people thought sexuality was pretty simplistic: You were either gay or straight, and that was that. Now, more and more people are learning that it’s not so simple…or binary. There are a slew of other identities, including pansexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, and demisexuality.
Despite the more nuanced understanding of sexuality, mix-ups still happen. A common point of confusion comes up when trying to pinpoint the characteristics that make bisexuality unique from pansexuality. “’Bisexual’ is a commonly known and understood term,” says Stephanie Buehler, PsyD, a psychologist and AASECT certified sex therapist, and author of What Every Mental Health Professional Needs to Know about Sex. “‘Pansexual’ not so much.”
Why? Because people often use the terms interchangeably, says Margaret Nichols, PhD, author of the upcoming book, Queering the Psychotherapy Room: the Modern Clinician’s Guide to LGBTQ+ Clients.
Language around sexuality is also changing quickly, as people who once identified one way discover there may be more accurate ways to describe and differentiate themselves, Buehler says. Here, experts break down the frequently misunderstood characteristics of pansexuality vs. bisexuality, plus the major differences to keep in mind.