What Is Polysexuality?

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on January 10, 2024
4 min read

Polysexual individuals are those who are attracted to people of multiple genders. Notably, the prefix “poly” means many.

People who identify as polysexual often use that word because it suggests a greater variety of sexual orientations than traditional gender binaries of male and female, or hetero- and homosexual. Each person will have their own specific preferences when it comes to who they are attracted to.

While polysexual means you're attracted to people of multiple genders, polyamory (also known as “poly”) means having more than one romantic relationship at once. People of any sexual orientation can be in a polyamorous relationship.

Multisexual (also known as “plurisexuality” or “bisexuality umbrella”) is an umbrella term for people with a sexual orientation (attraction) toward at least two genders. It includes polysexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality, and pomosexuality.


Bisexual individuals are attracted to people of their own gender and at least one other gender.


Gender may or may not be a factor for polysexual people. They may be attracted to people of multiple genders, but they’re not attracted to people of all genders. Because bisexuality means a person is attracted to more than one gender, it can be seen as a form of polysexuality. Some people may even use the terms interchangeably. While bisexual people are not necessarily attracted to both cis men and cis women, the word “bisexual” is historically associated with this gender binary. For this reason, some people prefer the term polysexual because it ignores gender binaries altogether.


Also known as “pansexuality,” omnisexual people do not take gender into consideration when forming attraction.


Pomosexual people prefer to resist conventional categories of sexual identity, including those that label gender at all.

There are several misconceptions that can hurt bisexual, pansexual, or polysexual individuals:

Myth 1: Polysexual people can’t be faithful to one partner.

Polysexual individuals form relationships in the same way that other people do. If they’re in a monogamous relationship, they are no more likely to cheat than anyone else.

Myth 2: Polysexual people are hypersexual and/or want attention.

Polysexuality means nothing about a person’s libido. Like everyone else, they have preferences regarding with whom and when they want to have sex. Consent is just as important when approaching a polysexual individual as it is for anyone else.

Myth 3: Polysexual people are unsure or experimenting and will eventually pick a side.

Polysexuality is a valid identity. It is not a choice.

When left unchecked, these myths can lead to abusive or dismissive behavior.

Some people assume that polysexuality changes based on who you're currently partnered with -- you're straight if partnered with a different-sex partner or gay/lesbian when you're with someone of the same sex. This is incorrect and erases or ignores the sexual orientation of polysexual people. This stigma can affect your mental health and leave you feeling isolated.

Many people believe that sexual orientation stays the same throughout your life. But it can, and often does, change. Sexual fluidity is a phenomenon in which you may experience changes in:

  • Attraction. You could be attracted to one gender at a certain point in your life and another at a different time.
  • Identity. You may identify as gay now and describe yourself as bisexual in the future.
  • Sexual behavior. For example, you could have cisgender and nonbinary sexual partners at different times in your life.

Sexual fluidity can happen as you learn more about different sexual orientations or meet new people you're attracted to. It happens more often among younger people and people who are LGBTQ+.

If you are polysexual, it's your choice whether or not to share that information with friends and family. Coming out can be traumatic. However, it can also reduce stress, help your self-esteem, and connect you with a community. Think about coming out to people who are likely to be most supportive and can help you share your orientation with others.

After coming out, your loved ones may have questions. Let them know if you're open to answering them, and if you want, you can point them to books and websites for more information. Also, remind your friends and family that you can only speak from your perspective, not that of the entire polysexual community.

If you do decide to come out, you are not alone. Many organizations provide free counseling and advice. Look for a therapist who's informed about and affirming of LGBTQ+ issues. Some therapy websites offer filters for therapists who work with LGBTQ+ clients. During your first call, ask questions about their training and experience working with this group.

The Human Rights Campaign has a helpful pamphlet of available resources. The Trevor Project has a guide to coming out specifically tailored to young people, as well as a support hotline and other resources.

If your loved one has come out to you as polysexual, here are some ways that you can support them:

  • Thank them for trusting you enough to share their sexual orientation.

  • Don't judge your friend or family member and keep your beliefs about the LGBTQ+ community to yourself.

  • Keep their sexual orientation to yourself and allow them to share with others.

  • Ask if they're open to answering questions.

  • Learn more about the LQBTQ+ community.

  • Be supportive as your loved one comes out to others.

Polysexuality means you're attracted to people of multiple genders. Although there are many myths surrounding this sexual orientation, it's a valid identity, which can change over time. Coming out to family and friends as polysexual can be hard, but may also give you a sense of relief. Share your sexual orientation with those who will be supportive. There are online resources to help guide you through the journey.