Polysexual vs. Pansexual: How Are They Different?

Polysexual and pansexual are sometimes used interchangeably, but these terms do not mean the same thing. Although similar, polysexual is different from pansexual. Here we explain how and why they differ.

Polysexual vs pansexual explained

The main difference between polysexual and pansexual is that people who identify as pansexual place no emphasis on another person's gender, they are what is sometimes referred to as “gender blind”. For this reason, they are attracted to people of all genders.

Polysexual individuals, on the other hand, are usually aware of others' gender. They may be attracted to more than one or two genders, but they are still aware of genders, and there are some genders that they are exclusively not attracted to.

Some people confuse polysexual with bisexual. These concepts may be similar, but they have their differences. Usually, bisexuality is defined as being attracted to your gender as well as being attracted to other genders.

Polysexuality is sometimes used as an umbrella term to categorize other sexualities. For example, it is sometimes thought that bisexuality and pansexuality are subcategories of polysexuality.

Is polysexual the same as pansexual?

No, polysexual and pansexual are different things. However, pansexuality does fall under the category of being a type of polysexuality. There are different subcategories of polysexuality — pansexual is one of them. Some other examples of polysexuality include bisexual and omnisexual. Think of polysexual as an umbrella term under which other concepts can fall.

Polysexual and polyamory differences

Sometimes the concept of polysexuality is confused with polyamory; however, these are not the same thing. Polysexuality means being attracted to multiple genders. Being in a polyamorous relationship means being romantically involved with more than one person while all parties are aware.

Just because a person identifies as being polysexual, does not inherently mean that they prefer a polyamorous relationship. Polysexual people may still prefer to be in a monogamous relationship or, they may not.

Is polyromantic a thing?

Polyromantic is another term that is commonly used alongside polysexual. Polyromantic is very similar to polysexual in that it involves being attracted to more than two genders. The difference is that polyromantic relates specifically to romantic attraction, which is usually more emotional and requires forming a deeper connection. In addition, polysexual people are sexually or romantically attracted to multiple genders, so a polysexual person could also identify as polyromantic.

Polysexuality and relationships

Being polysexual shouldn't influence a relationship or dating life as long as the partner is comfortable with the other's sexual identification. People often confuse polysexuality with polyamory, but just because someone is attracted to multiple genders doesn't mean they'll want to date more than one person at once.

People with unique sexual identifications like polysexual might deal with others assuming that they are gay or straight, which can be uncomfortable. It is best not to make assumptions about another person's sexuality just based on the gender of the person that they are dating. For example, a polysexual man may be dating a woman then that same man may date a man. You should never make assumptions about another person's sexual identity, especially based on the gender of the person they are dating.

Distinguishing between all identities

It is easy to get confused with all of the different terms that exist today in relation to sexuality. Polysexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality, pomosexuality, and polyamory are all examples. Here are definitions to help distinguish the differences:

Sexual identityDefinition
PolysexualSexually or romantically attracted to more than one gender
PansexualSexually or romantically attracted to people regardless of their sex or gender
BisexualSexually or romantically attracted to both men and women
PomosexualChooses not to fit into any sexual orientation label, including homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual
PolyamorySexually or romantically involved in multiple romantic relationships while all parties are aware

How to tell which term fits your identity

There is no clear-cut way to figure out exactly what your sexual identity is. The best way to figure out your sexual identity is to live your life, and at some point, you will figure out which term best fits your experience. There is absolutely nothing wrong with changing your identity if you figure out that there is a different term that better fits your sexual identity.

It is helpful to understand the different types of sexual identities in our society today to understand better what identity might fit best with your personal experience. Sexual identity is a very nuanced concept that is ever-evolving, so it is best not to make assumptions about the sexual identities of others.


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