Pansexuality at its core means the attraction to people regardless of their gender, Pansexual people are sexually attracted to people of all gender identities. Now, on the other hand, the term Panromantic signifies romantic attraction to people of all genders. “Can fluidly move among binary and non-binary romantic partners” as stated by Xanet Pailet( sex and intimacy educator and coach.)
Although both these terms have the word “Pan'' common, they are quite different from each other. Pansexual people are usually leaning towards the sexual connection and may not necessarily want an emotional one, that being said Panromantics care quite a lot about the level of intimacy that could be formed with their partner. But it is important to remember that although sexual and romantic attraction may be two different things, a person who identifies as Panromantic does not mean that they experience desire in the same way toward persons of all genders, and it does not mean that a person experiences sexual attraction irrespective of gender.
There are various terms Pansexual and Panromantic are often confused with and it is time to end that confusion.
Starting with the terms Pansexuality is confused with:
- Bisexual: The two terms are similar, but not the same. Pansexuality is broader whereas bisexuality is the attraction to two or more genders, but not necessarily all.
- Polysexual: Polysexuality specifically means that there are some genders to which the person is not attracted. Poly means many, but not all whereas Pan means all.
Panphobia myths are always around and it is important to educate ourselves because it is essentially a ‘myth’. It is assumed that Pansexuality is purely lust-driven but pansexuals simply view themselves as capable of building a physical and emotional connection regardless of gender, rather than because of it. Pansexual people are just as likely to lean towards monogamy as hetero- or homosexual people but it is not the same as polyamory due to the fact that the attraction to all genders is not connected to a preference for multiple partners. The point is that people are free to express their sexuality however they want and that is not dictated by orientation.
Moving on to the terms brought up with Panromantic and also confused with:
- Biromantic: People who are biromantic are romantically attracted to multiple genders, but not necessarily all genders while those who identify as panromantic can feel this romantic attraction for people of any gender identity.
- Panromantic Demisexual: A term often brought up with Panromantic is demisexual, which means that a person needs to have an emotional connection to feel physically and sexually attracted to someone. Panromantic demisexual does not automatically equal pansexual. Taking an example from Cosmopolitan, we could have a person who identifies as panromantic, demi-homosexual, “Meaning they experience romantic attraction irrespective of gender, but they only experience sexual attraction toward a person of the same gender with whom they have formed an emotional connection.”
Panromantic people as well are likely to stay monogamous if they wish just like anyone else.
The spectrum does not end here, and we as a society need to understand that we have to strive to be inclusive and accepting of everyone around us. Interest in pansexuality both the word and the idea has seen a rise every time a celebrity has come out being as one. In August 2015, Google searches spiked after actor-singer Miley Cyrus described herself as pansexual. And although this is not a bad thing, societal norms and myths created around pansexuality and panromantic people can only be removed when we are educated enough and take the initiative to learn ourselves.
This article is a part of a collaborative series between The Paradigm and Vex Ed. Vex Ed is an initiative to provide comprehensive, holistic, and inclusive sex education through module-based workshops. We aim to create a safe space for conversations around taboo topics that most educational institutions do not address. Click here to know more about Vex-Ed.