Sexual identity is a person’s understanding of their sexuality. This can include how the person labels their sexual orientation and to whom they are sexually attracted. Many different sexual identities exist today, including asexual, bisexual, homosexual, heterosexual, etc.
Said that in the past year or so, there has been an increased interest in hearing and understanding what it means to be and identify as demisexual or pansexual. Through the advent of social media, more and more people have shared their stories and experiences to help others learn more about these sexual identities.
These two groups have gained recognition in the English-speaking world over the last several years, but there is still some confusion about what defines demisexuality and pansexuality. So, let’s dive deeper and understand the differences and similarities between demisexuality and pansexuality.
What Does Demisexual Mean?
Demisexuality exists on a continuum, so someone who identifies as demisexual might rarely experience sexual attraction after forming an emotional connection. Other demisexuals might experience sexual attraction more frequently — but only once they’ve created an emotional bond with someone.
For example, they may be attracted to someone based on their personality but have no sexual attraction before getting to know them and forming a deeper emotional connection. This is different than being asexual, which is when an individual does not experience sexual attraction at all.
In other terms, demisexuality is often considered the bridge between asexuality and sexuality. An asexual person feels no sexual attraction towards anyone, while a demisexual person feels no sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection. Though demisexuality is not fully recognized as its own identity, many folks who identify as demisexual find strength in connecting with others who share their identity.
Source: LGBTA Wiki
What Does Pansexual Mean?
Pansexual is a sexual orientation characterized by the potential for aesthetic attraction, romantic love, or sexual desire towards people without regard for their gender identity or biological sex. Pansexual people may consider themselves gender-blind, asserting that gender and sex do not determine their romantic or sexual attraction to others. Pansexual people may consider themselves gender-blind, claiming that gender and sex do not decide their romantic or sexual attraction to others.
Despite popular belief, “pansexual” isn’t synonymous with “bisexual.” Using the terms interchangeably is becoming more common, but they aren’t entirely synonymous. Bisexuality describes someone attracted to two genders, whereas pansexuality describes someone attracted to all genders.
The prefix “pan-” means “all.” So being pansexual means being attracted to all genders — including transgender, agender, and gender-nonconforming individuals. And it’s often defined in contrast with bisexuality since bisexuality encompasses only two genders: male and female (although some bisexual individuals see it as an attraction to two or more genders).
Source: LGBTA Wiki
What Are the Differences Between Demisexuals and Pansexuals?
Demisexuality and pansexuality are often confused, but they’re two distinct orientations. The main difference is that demisexual people only experience sexual attraction after forming a close emotional bond with someone. In contrast, pansexual people can be attracted to various genders and may experience sexual attraction before ever getting to know the person on an emotional level.
That said, it’s not uncommon for people who identify as one to use the label interchangeably or both to describe themselves.
The terms “demisexual” and “pansexual” are relatively new additions to the LGBTQ+ vocabulary, so many people still don’t understand what they mean or why some people would prefer them over the more commonly used umbrella term “bisexual” and “homosexual.” While demisexual and pansexual identities are increasingly recognized and accepted, many who use these labels still encounter ignorance and rejection from others within the LGBTQ+ community and society.
What Are the Similarities Between Demisexuals and Pansexuals?
Demisexuals and pansexuals are not the same, although they share similarities. A demisexual does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a solid emotional bond with someone. On the other hand, a pansexual person does not see gender as a defining factor in their choice of partners.
Both demisexuals and pansexuals have a very fluid view of sexuality, making it challenging to label themselves. This often means they will take more time before committing to a sexual identity label than people who are more comfortable labeling themselves gay, straight, or bisexual. They can be attracted to all genders but differ in sexual attraction without an emotional bond.
But how do demisexual and pansexual differ from bisexual? Here’s a quick overview of demisexual vs. pansexual vs. bisexual:
|Definition||Demisexual individuals only feel sexual attraction towards someone after they’ve formed a strong emotional bond with them.||Pansexual individuals are attracted to people irrespective of their gender identity.||Bisexual individuals are attracted to both males and females or more than one gender.|
|Orientation||Demisexuality is a sexual orientation on the asexual spectrum.||Pansexuality is a sexual orientation under the umbrella of queer.||Bisexuality is a sexual orientation that involves attraction to two or more genders.|
|Attraction||Attraction in demisexuality is contingent upon the formation of a deep emotional connection.||Attraction in pansexuality transcends gender lines and is based on recognizing an individual’s qualities rather than gender identity.||Bisexual attraction implies a potential interest in multiple genders, while the specifics of this attraction may differ for each person.|
|Relationship Formation||Relationships often form based on a strong emotional foundation before sexual attraction develops.||Relationships form based on wide-ranging attractions, with gender playing no role.||Relationships can form based on varying levels of attraction to different genders.|
|Inclusion of Gender||Demisexuality does not specify which genders are involved when attraction occurs.||Pansexuality expressly includes all gender identities in the potential scope of attraction.||Bisexuality includes the potential for attraction to more than one gender.|
How Does Demisexuality Present in the Relationship?
Most demisexual people experience romantic attractions infrequently, which is why “demisexuality” is sometimes described as “on the asexual spectrum.” People who identify as demisexual may be almost asexual but still experience romantic attraction if they have a deep emotional connection.
This can make it difficult to date as a demisexual person since many people meet potential partners in situations where they don’t have a chance to build an emotional bond first. Demisexuals may also lack understanding from others, who might label their lack of sexual attraction as “prudish” or “unhealthy.”
When demisexual people are emotionally connected to someone, they may be sexually attracted and want to act on that attraction. However, they will not be sexually attracted to most people they meet.
How Does Pansexuality Present in the Relationship?
Pansexuals are attracted to others based on personality, not the other person’s biological sex, gender, or gender identity. Pansexuals define themselves as such because they feel like sexual and romantic attraction lies on a spectrum, and their attraction doesn’t lie on either end but somewhere in between.
Pansexuality is defined as “attraction to all gendered people,” while bisexuality is defined as “attraction to two sexes or genders.” While both terms are similar, they are not interchangeable.
In a relationship, someone who identifies as pansexual may be attracted to male partners, female partners, non-binary partners, transgender partners, etc. Pansexuality helps to expand further the idea that sex and gender are not binary. Hence, people feel comfortable exploring the full spectrum of their sexuality without worrying about being labeled or put into a box.
Is It Possible to Be Demisexual and Pansexual Together?
Pansexual people do not experience gender as a barrier to attraction. Demisexual people need to feel a strong emotional connection with someone to attract them. The two are not mutually exclusive. There are many ways for a person to identify their sexual orientation, and pan-demisexual or demi-pansexual is one of them.
Pan-demisexuality or demi-pansexuality is a sexual orientation where individuals do not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone. Such people can be attracted to men and women and nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people. Further, some people identify as demi-pansexual because it allows them to express their sexuality without labeling it.
Thus, a demi-pansexual individual may experience attraction only under certain circumstances — this attraction may be fluid or specific to one gender or another. There are no limitations on the experience of sexual attraction with a demi-pansexual person. Demi-pansexuality is that you will only experience romantic or sexual attraction once you have an established emotional connection with someone — just that you need some emotional connection before you can experience sexual attraction.
Source: LGBTQ Wiki
While demisexuality and pansexuality are sexual orientations, they can be hard for others to comprehend. So when someone inclined towards them tries to explain their identity or sexuality to you, it’s essential to understand what they are dealing with. Demisexuality and pansexuality are changing the dialogue surrounding sexuality and laying bare the reality of the fluid nature of human sexuality in general.
Although other sexualities exist on the spectrum, demi-pansexuality or pan-demisexuality remains relatively unknown. However, with more knowledge, some individuals may find that their sexual preferences can be classified under one of these categories. For those who identify as demisexual or pansexual, feeling entirely at ease with their identity can take time and patience. However, these beautiful sexual identities are nothing to be afraid of. Everyone deserves to love themselves in all ways possible and live a life void of shame.
- Greaves, L. M., Sibley, C. G., Fraser, G., & Barlow, F. K. (2019). Comparing pansexual- and bisexual-identified participants on demographics, psychological well-being, and political ideology in a New Zealand national sample. The Journal of Sex Research, 56(9), 1083–1090. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2019.1568376