Am I Bi? A Closer Look at Pan and Bisexuality

Feeling a little… confused? You’re not the only one. Questioning your sexuality is incredibly common and can happen at any point in life.

Unfortunately, the heteronormative society we live in falsely teaches many of us that these curiosities are bad and that we should suppress same-sex desire to adhere to social norms.

Misconceptions about bi and pansexuality prevail even in 2022. Some people even believe there’s no such thing as bisexuality, that you’re just experimenting or really gay but not ready to admit it. These views are homophobic and biphobic, and completely untrue. Luckily, LGBTQ+ activists are changing this.

So, are you wondering Am I bi? or curious to learn about the difference between pansexual and bisexual?

How to Know if You are Pan or Bi and What the Terms Actually Mean

What does bisexual mean?

Someone is bisexual if they identify themselves as having the potential to be attracted to someone of their own gender and someone of a different gender. These attractions, which can be emotional, sexual, or romantic, don’t have to happen at the same time or in the same way for someone to identify as bisexual.

Some falsely claim the ‘bi’ in bisexual means they are only attracted to people on the gender binary - male and female - and that the term reinforces this binary and excludes gender-nonconforming people.

This isn’t the case. Bisexuality means an individual can be attracted to their own gender, and other, multiple gender identities. Most modern people who identify as bisexual include gender-nonconforming people in the genders they can be attracted to.

Bisexuality can be sexual or romantic or both. It’s not all about sex, as some wrongly suppose.

What’s the difference between pansexual and bisexual?

This is a tricky one, so don’t worry if you’re not sure of the difference between pansexual and bisexual.

The terms pansexual and bisexual are sometimes used interchangeably, but for people who identify as one or the other, there is a difference.

Generally, a pansexual is someone who is attracted to people regardless of gender. The Greek root of ‘pan’ means ‘all’. Some pansexuals feel like gender isn’t a factor in their attraction to someone. There is more of an emphasis on gender fluidity and attraction being about an individual.

As you can see, the terms bisexual and pansexual mean something very similar. There isn’t a huge difference in the ways bi and pan people approach sex and relationships in terms of who they are drawn to.

The differing labels are more about which term feels right to each person. Neither term is more enlightened than the other.

How to know if you are pan or bi

Firstly, when it comes to how to know if you are pan or bi, it’s important to note that the sexual spectrum is fluid and the only important thing when it comes to self-identifying is self-identifying. If you choose to pick a label, pick the one that feels right to you, no matter what other people think.

Also, you don’t have to pick one of these labels or ‘figure yourself out’ at any point. Your sexuality will probably change over time, and if you do pick a sexual orientation, you can change it whenever you want in accordance with how you feel.

How to know if you are pan or bi? Sure, there are tons of online quizzes claiming to figure out your sexuality for you - bisexual, pansexual, bicurious, heteroflexible, there are many sexuality terms… But it’s much better to talk it through and self-reflect.

Am I bi? Try saying to yourself ‘I am bisexual' or ‘I am pansexual’. How does it make you feel? Do you get a feeling of ‘Yep, that’s me!’? Do you feel excited? Comforted? Free? Do you feel good about yourself?

If your answer is yes, it’s a sign the term could be right for you, regardless of how you view the difference between pansexual and bisexual.

Start exploring bi or pansexuality 

If you think you want to start exploring your bi or pansexual side, consider these questions first: What am I attracted to in a person? What do I fantasize about? Do I have internal prejudices? What are they and how can I overcome them? What desires do I feel ready to act on?

If you’re in a hetero relationship, talk to your partner as you could open your relationship in a way that is comfortable for you both.

Talk to friends and people you feel comfortable with who already identify outside the hetero norm. Read articles and join online queer communities or meetups. Go to a queer club night or watch same-sex porn.

If you’re adventurous, go to a sex or play party, talk to people there about your desires and see how you feel kissing or hooking up with someone whose gender (if they have one) isn’t what you have gone for in the past.

And if the thought really excites you and you meet someone you like, ask them out!

Do things at your pace and in your own time. Am I bi? Your sexuality can be whatever you want it to be.