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10 Things Pansexuals Need to Know Before Coming Out

Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey
Diverse friends holding a pride flag
Coming out can be difficult. And it can be even more challenging when your identity isn't well-known or adequately understood. Coming out to friends and family will go smoother when you are able to define your sexuality clearly and are entirely comfortable with your sexuality and your choices.

Being pansexual means being attracted to people regardless of their sex or gender identity, and dating members of all sexual identities. Yes, there is a wide variety of sexualities that are less common than being gay, straight, or bisexual.

Here are 10 things that you need to know before coming out as pansexual.

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1. Have a Clear Definition of Pansexuality

Before coming out, you need to have a clear definition of pansexuality and be able to communicate it to others. You cannot assume that people will know what pansexuality means.

When people don't understand what you are talking about, it makes it more difficult for them to accept you. So while you should not have to explain yourself, being able to do so will likely help people to be more accepting.

2. Know What You Want to Achieve When Coming Out

It's important to understand why you've decided to come out at this time and to this particular person. Are you looking for acceptance and validation from someone you're close to? Are you attracted to this person? Do you simply want this person to know you better?

Having clear goals raises the likelihood that you will feel good about the conversation.

3. Be Prepared to Come Out More Than Once

You'll rarely be able to gather everyone together and only come out once. In addition, many people will have difficulty remembering that you are pansexual or understanding pansexuality, so you may have to come out to them multiple times.

» Tired of trying to explain yourself? Try using examples of pansexual celebrities to help people understand you better.

4. Connect With Other Pansexual People Before Coming Out

Having a supportive community around you will help to make the experience of coming out easier to manage. Finding the community you best relate to can be difficult, so this may take some trial and error.

When you surround yourself with other pansexual folks, you'll find guaranteed support and a place to learn about others' experiences.

» Check out these safety tips for LGBTQ+ online dating before connecting in person.

5. Choose Who You Come Out to Carefully

Some situations, and some people are not safe. You are under no obligation to share your sexuality with anyone you are not planning on having a sexual encounter with.

You should always feel like you can be yourself in any environment. But be careful. Not being heteronormative could put you in situations where it is not safe to be open.

6. Understand That Not Everyone Will Validate or Accept You

There are people who are not going to accept your sexuality. As a result, they may not accept you. Don't waste time and energy looking for validation from everyone. Work on feeling happy with yourself and gaining the acceptance of those who are important to you.

7. Be Prepared for Negative Feedback from the Heteronormative and LGBT+ Communities

Negative feedback from fellow alphabet community members can be the most painful. Many people are very binary and believe that you can only be either straight or gay. They find it difficult to relate to people whose attractions are not based on gender. They can also find it difficult to relate to people who can pass as heteronormative when in a heterosexual relationship.

Sometimes gay people are convinced that bisexuality and pansexuality are just stepping stones on the way to admitting gayness. This isn't true, but they may not be willing to hear this and so will belittle a pansexual identity.

8. Be Aware of the Many Myths People Believe About Pansexuality

One of the biggest myths about pansexuality is that pansexual people are attracted to everyone. Pansexuality is a gender-neutral orientation. This means that gender is not the basis of their sexual attraction.

People talk about being attracted to others based on their energy, for example. This does not mean they are attracted to every single person; just that gender doesn't limit them when it comes to sexual attraction.

9. Choose Your Time Wisely

People often make the mistake of starting a serious conversation without making sure they have the other person's attention and sufficient free time to have the conversation. Choosing a bad time might make the conversation extra stressful.

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10. Tell People in Person

Face-to-face conversations lower the risk of misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Telling someone in person will allow you to observe their tone, facial and body expressions, and energy—rather than relying only on their words. Coming out via text or email increases the possibility that it won't go well.

Top Tip for Having a Great Coming-Out Experience

Before coming out, make sure the time is right, choose the people you come out to wisely, and have support in place for when the conversation derails. And remember that people who love you will try hard to understand.

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Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey
Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey, a GSRD therapist, psychologist, and expert contributor to Top10.com, specializes in sexuality, gender, and relationship diversity understanding. She guides individuals and couples toward fulfilling intimate relationships, drawing from her trauma-healing expertise since 1987. As a relationship therapist on "Open House: The Great Sex Experiment" and host of "The A To Z Of Sex®" podcast, she fosters open dialogue about intimacy and self-expression.