Navigating Relationships as a Pansexual Person: Challenges & Opportunities

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Navigating Relationships as a Pansexual Person: Challenges & Opportunities

Hi all, Nora Jo here again with a more personal article to kick off Pride Month! Like many queer folk, I figured out that maybe I wasn’t totally straight when I was in my mid-to-late teens. At first, I thought bisexuality summed me up pretty well. I liked boys, and I liked girls. That meant I was bi. Done and dusted, right?

As I would find out later in my life, not so much 🤷

What’s the difference between ‘pansexual’ and ‘bisexual’?

As someone who has spent most of her queer life (8–9 years) identifying as bisexual and has only recently started identifying as pansexual (3-ish years), I’m often asked to define pansexuality and explain what makes it different to being bi. For a long time, I didn’t know how to respond in a way that didn’t feel like I was under-explaining the distinction or just generally missing something important. It seemed inevitable that I would eventually turn to the patron saint of information: Google.

The first resource that came up was from Minus18, a social advocacy group for young LGBTQIA+ Australians, and this is what they had to say on the bi vs pan topic:

‘BISEXUAL means being attracted to the gender that is the same as your own, AND to other genders. PANSEXUAL means being attracted to (or having the potential to be attracted to) people of ALL genders, binary or not.’

I love this definition because it simplifies some of the issues around semantics within the bi- and pan-focused spheres. Some people assume that BI-(meaning two)-sexual means that a bi person only likes girls and boys, but this isn’t a universal definition. Instead, bisexuality as a whole refers to when someone is attracted to their own gender and to genders that are not the same as their own, though not necessarily all genders.

Some people think bisexuals don’t acknowledge or are never attracted to non-binary and/or trans people, but this isn’t the case. Additionally, some people use the word ‘pansexual’ to be specifically inclusive of trans people, but ‘trans’ in and of itself is not a gender category, it's a descriptor of how one experiences their gender. Really, it just means ‘attracted to all genders’, which can also be interpreted in a way that means you don’t factor gender into whether you’re attracted to someone at all. You can have gender preferences and still be pan, but you can also genuinely not mind!

How do I know if I am pansexual or bisexual?

At the end of the day, it comes down to how you want to experience your sexual identity. For some, it’s not even about the other person’s gender identity, but about what gender the other person presents as — for example, ‘androsexuality’ means having a sexual attraction to people with masculine attributes or to people who present as male, whether or not those people identify as men. People who are gynosexual are attracted to others who present as feminine, regardless of whether they identify as women.

Personally, I think I fall somewhere between the pan experiences of ‘I like all genders’ and ‘gender doesn’t impact my attraction to someone’ since I've always thought pansexuality meant that I could be attracted to anyone as long as our connection as people was right. What gender they are has little to no bearing on my attraction to them. That being said, I’ve realised that gender definitely contextualises my attraction to someone else because there are inherent differences between the gendered experiences while growing up and living one’s life that go on to frame your interactions with other people. For example, my connection with a man will feel different to my connection with another woman since I have a much better understanding of what it’s like to live as a woman, which applies to the physical aspect of things too.

What are some sex toys that work best for a pansexual?

If you’re still reading because you or someone you know are exploring pansexuality, here’s what I’ve found works for me. Having lived experience with women’s anatomy means I’m more familiar with what toys suit my cis female body and what certain types of stimulation feel like, which I can use to extrapolate that experience to other women. When I’m with a female partner who isn’t as experienced with toys or masturbation and self-exploration, I like being able to use my own personal knowledge to help them discover what they like without having to spend years figuring it out like many other vulva-owners.

Of course, given that I could be playing with someone of any gender, I prioritise versatility when it comes to picking out the right sex toys to enhance sexual pleasure and intimacy for me and my partners. Even with the Sexyland staff discount, it's not like I can buy any old toy I want, because ya girl only has so much space in her bedside drawers, y’know?

Gender-neutral sex toys or using multiple toys with good synergy together help me get the most bang for my buck. For instance, my Winyi Klaus Wand Massager gets a lot of love from all my partners, regardless of what they’ve got going on downstairs, since it can be used all over the body for non-sexual massage purposes. It’s also a great non-penetrative sex toy choice (though this wand is also compatible with the attachments that came with my ZALO Kyro Wand Massager in case we want to mix things up).

I also get more use out of my gartered strap-on harness and realistic dildo than I ever could have imagined (thanks largely in part to the rise of interest in pegging)! In lieu of letting someone else use my rabbit vibrator, I can always slip a vibrating cock ring like my Screaming O® OHare® around a dildo’s shaft.

As you can see, there are lots of combinations of toys you can use that pull double-duty between partners of different genders, and I always feel extra gratified when I find a new way to enjoy a toy with a partner! It’s really up to you and what you want to feel during play that will influence your decisions when shopping for sex toys.

Sexyland has always been an LGBT-friendly adult store with plenty of sex toys geared towards the queer community. Personalised shopping advice on how to choose the right sex toy is always available here through our friendly Fun Specialists, who can introduce you to our most popular sex toys for queer couples and singles. Pop into a Sexyland store near you or shop our range of adult toys online! We deliver pleasure products and sex toys all over Australia (and we even have 2hr Delivery available in Hobart now!) so you can play your way wherever you are, whoever you are.

Wishing you all a happy Pride,



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