Finding Love After Surgery: Navigating the Dating Scene with a Colostomy Bag

Feb 16, 2011 1:03 pm

Hello everyone! Well, where do I start....both feet in, here we go!!! 17 years with the same partner, surgery during that time, and reassurance that this is what I needed to do to be healthy. Even words of encouragement like "if I had known you were going to be this healthy, I would have suggested it years ago" 9 years later, I find myself single for totally unrelated reasons and going, now what! I've read some of the posts with regards to finding someone who doesn't run when they hear about dear baggy and am starting to feel hopeless. Here's my dilemma, there are enough jerks (for a mild term) out there that I don't even want to meet most of them, and then what happens if I do meet someone that I want to date? How do you even bring up the topic????
Uggghhhh, I'm so confused....I'm too young to become a lonely spinster, but I'm afraid that's what's going to happen to me. If anyone has some ideas, I'm open. The last thing I want to do is say, "Hi, my name is xxxxx, and meet my buddy baggy!"

Feb 16, 2011 6:53 pm

Well, I'm not single but I am a bit out there when it comes to my stoma. Because it's visible as a lump under my t-shirt, people often ask, "WTF is that?" I tell them it's my front bum and I crap in a bag. I guess I'm more outgoing than some, but I never hide it. It's like when you see someone walking down the street with a nicely shaped butt. I always say to myself, "Nice arse." Well, why can't we say, "Hey, nice bag!" God knows it's kept us going and eliminates the need to sit on those disgusting public toilets. Don't fret, sotfncuddly, your man will come along, and when he does, be upfront with it. At least you will know right away the ones that are worth pursuing and those that need the flick. Good luck with it.

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Feb 16, 2011 7:11 pm

Hi. I read your question about when do you bring it up, the bag that is. I am going through the dating thing for the first time after my surgery too. I really thought my dating days were over. I met a very sincere man on a dating site. I never mentioned the bag. We went out and on the third date I finally got the nerve up. (I told him that I had something very serious to talk to him about. I then told him that due to being deathly ill, my colon was removed and I now have a bag that my poo empties into. If you would like to think on this and decide if this is too much to handle, I perfectly understand.) He looked at me and said "What kind of man would I be if that made any difference? I like YOU" then he said "For a while there you had me scared..I thought you were going to say you had been a man" ha.. I think you will know when the time is right, truly. If he's a jerk and never sees you again, realize that he wasn't worth your time..there are nice guys out there. You might have to sift through the rubble some but he's there..I promise! Good luck! yaya

Feb 16, 2011 9:26 pm

I guess my advice would be to be honest with someone. No one who really cares about you as a person will have any problems with your stoma.

Just be brave and go for it .... x

Feb 16, 2011 10:40 pm

Thanks to all of you for your words of encouragement and bringing a smile to my face.....

Getting Support in the Ostomy Community with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister
Feb 17, 2011 3:08 pm

I am totally honest from the start....knowing my luck I would be out on a date and my bag would leak and then trying to explain I hadn't just sat there and peed myself and it also soon dwindles out the men that aren't worth your time....xx

Feb 18, 2011 2:14 am

Thanks for putting some hopeful stuff out there. I needed to hear it. My boyfriend of almost 4 years left me after my surgery and I know my ileostomy had something to do with it. I don't think he could handle it. Prior to my surgery, I was pretty happy with myself physically and I was starting to get back to that place when he called it quits. It has definitely made me think there isn't much hope for dating again and wasn't sure how best to handle springing the news on someone. Thanks for the encouragement.

Feb 18, 2011 4:46 pm

Like Gus, I'm not single and I cannot speak from experience on this issue. I can, however, share some thoughts which might be useful. The timing of your "announcement" is critical. If you bring it up too soon, you might appear pushy. If you bring it up too late, you could be seen as manipulative. So, what to do? First, don't treat it as an "announcement" but rather as just one more element of a much larger picture of who you are. Chances are, if you don't make a big deal of it, your friend won't either. If you give your friend the impression that this is a major handicap or deficit, get ready to say "goodbye". Second, don't be descriptive. Any sensible person would know that "poo goes in the bag". I am new to this site but I cannot get over how so many women ostomates have such low esteem and low expectations for happiness. (Just look at some of their screen names.) Men are not seriously attracted to women who project a poor self-concept. How can they expect others to love or respect them if they don't love or respect who they themselves are? Good luck, and stay positive.

Feb 18, 2011 5:21 pm

It's been 9 months that I have had my ostomy, and haven't dated yet. Guess I just wasn't really ready yet. Think I am now, but I would have to agree with the mates that say they are totally honest from the start. Then not much time is vested and feelings won't be as hurt. At least I would hope not. I always think of my ostomy as a good judge of character. If you have a problem dealing with it, then you are not worth my time. And truly believe you will meet someone wonderful who will love you for you, plain and simple. I read something the other day, it was a line from a book. It said something to the effect of since most hurt comes from relationships, so must healing. I hope that with your next relationship you find that healing!!

Take care,

Feb 18, 2011 9:45 pm

I have to agree with you, JJ. While I understand what you are saying, Prime, I just feel that a person who is genuinely interested in you and would be prepared to be your mate, warts and all, would be open to being informed early on about your situation. I know that I would be hurt far more if I waited, really got to know them, and felt great about the whole thing, then told them and they could not deal with it. It may also work in this fashion with them as well, as they may feel you should have been honest with them from the start and introduce all these doubts with regards to trust.

As I said in another post, if they are going to cut and run, they will do it sooner or later, as if it is because of the bag, timing will matter for nought.


Feb 19, 2011 2:08 am

I do not think it is "hiding" anything from the other person if you do not share every aspect of your medical history with them before getting to know them. I would not do that with anyone.......the term "too much information" comes to mind here. If you get to know someone as a person.....and you find them to be absolutely endearing in many ways.....the information that they have had some sort of medical issues in their life is secondary (or it should be).

I think that most everyone here can agree that if they "knew" about the ostomy ahead of time they were not "ecstatic" about it. Acceptance usually comes is not an automatic thing for most. To expect it from others is really not is not "life and death" for them.

Yes, it does weed out the "bad guys".......but it also might weed out some people that are just scared. It's a lot easier to turn and run when you are scared if you don't care about the other person. If you get to know them as a "real person" is not nearly as easy.

Just my opinion Sheila

Feb 19, 2011 9:43 am
This issue raises its head regularly on forums on this site and I guess we will always have differing viewpoints, which is a good thing because it creates discussion. I find the whole question slightly confusing and wonder if we don't really miss the point. That includes me.

Is the question really about when to tell a prospective partner or about, as was stated, keeping things close to our chests regarding our medical histories? I think we could sum up the fears of many by the words in brackets in your post, Sheila (or it should be). This is the exact doubt which creates the question at hand. I think that is the query that many have when they contemplate discussing this with someone they may want to have an ongoing relationship with.

It is really a catch-22 when it comes to this most difficult of issues, and it depends, I suppose, on the ability to reconcile your own feelings towards your condition.

Past Member
Feb 19, 2011 12:49 pm

Just a thought, but if you date another ostomate you don't have to explain anything. As a result, your "risk factor" becomes a common bond.

Feb 19, 2011 2:53 pm

Caos calling yes the last 4 I am agreeing with cause I can't really come up with my own. There is a bit of my thoughts in here, probably all really. Hey JJ, my girl, so glad you're back in town. Need you hehehhe in a good way and SB and all, except the band wagons. Anyway, yeah, how long does anyone think you should wait? Like, what if you're having drinks and forget you had one too many? Just a thought, you never know. Not guilty, spelling wrong again. Boooo! Someone might want to ask this question. Hahah, but be shy. LOL.

Feb 21, 2011 4:18 am

I've been on this site a while, and of course this is one of the hottest topics.

I haven't resolved it and that is why I'm still dating my beagle. He accepts me unconditionally.

And like MMSH once said - if he's too much trouble (or snores too much) I can put him out in the yard. Hee, hee

Feb 21, 2011 10:02 pm

I tell them I am bionic! I've had lots of parts removed or replaced, including my neck and no colon. I had my ileostomy in 1990 due to U.C. I tell them it's wonderful to be able to go to the bathroom when I want to. I am in my mid 50's, so I probably know older folks. The usual response is, "Oh, is that all that's wrong? That's nothing." I wouldn't waste time with someone who had a negative response. I'm sure you know there are tiny "cap covers" for those intimate moments, so you don't have a large bag on. I think back to when I was practically living in the bathroom and always had to know where the nearest bathroom was. I am a very active person and have done many more things since my surgery than before. Good luck!

Mar 12, 2011 1:58 am

Just adding my 2 cents worth. I was married when I had my ileo almost 2 years ago, after 2 failed resections. My husband stepped up to the plate like a home run hitter. For a long while he did everything - changing bandages twice daily on my open wound, changing the pouch when needed, which was often, cleaning me up when needed and doing the laundry. I think all of this took its toll when he went into cardiac arrest a year ago and I lost him.

Recently I was "friended" by a man I almost married over 25 years ago and he wants to get together. (We live 3000 miles apart). I told him about the ileo after a few emails and phone calls. I agree with all those who say if someone leaves after the revelation, they weren't worth it. Maybe it would be different if we had no history, but it didn't seem to faze him one bit. As he learned how open I am about it, he started asking questions. He's a science teacher, so that may have added to his acceptance of things. If I ever get back into "dating" (UGH!!!), I would think deciding when to drop this "bomb" would have to be done depending on the other person. Hopefully, while there may never be a time that feels like the "right" time, if I'm going to be thinking about sleeping with someone, I sure better be comfortable enough to tell that person about Walter, my wenis.

Good luck to us all.

Apr 20, 2013 7:41 am

Hi all, like most of you I have a colostomy, mine due to colon cancer. I was feeling down and blue as my oncologist appointment was in two weeks for my evaluation. I had been invited to a get-together with friends and I decided to go. Well, everything was okay, as friends were asking me how I felt and if I was still in remission, so I would just say, "I will know in a couple of weeks." I then had a guy in his 40s approach me using the same line he heard others use and asked me, "So, how are you feeling?" I looked at him and said, "Oh, I would be feeling a lot better if I didn't have cancer to worry about with the colostomy." Now this guy's holding his beer, takes a drink, and said to me that he never heard of colon cancer and asks what kind it is. I now lost it and looked at him and said, "Oh no, not colostomy cancer, colon cancer where they cut a hole in your stomach and pull out your intestines and it hangs in a bag where you poop." I found out real quick that this was a guy that could never handle a colostomy as he threw up, saying he had a weak stomach. Keep looking, there is someone out there, although I haven't found him yet. LOL Best of luck, Hometown.

Oct 24, 2015 6:14 pm

I feel for you - the man I was with dumped me after 28 years. But I contributed to it. I got tired of being treated like an unwanted piece of furniture! He can't deal with couples counseling.

For the last two years, I have been crying all the time at the mere thought of him. It's hard to get over someone that was such a huge part of my life. I am 66 and well scarred from numerous revisions, etc. Dating? Wow, I can barely think about hugging someone else, not to mention dating!


Feb 24, 2018 11:07 pm

I am no different than you. I was married for 39 years, and my husband just passed in January. So, like you, I have no idea what the hell to do. And it's true, nobody knows what it's like when you are alone or when other people look at you weird when you tell them you have a bag. I had one guy I knew come over, and he knew I had a bag, and he brings a friend to do a twosome. Really? So, I do know how you feel. I think I will be alone a lot longer than you. Both me and my spouse were police officers. Who wants an old broad with handcuffs? Lol. It's good to talk to other people like you. You have to have a sense of humor. Take care, Donna.

Past Member
Feb 28, 2018 6:16 pm

Hello, I'm 61 and have had an ileostomy for 17 years. I've been divorced for 20 years. I'm hoping I can find a woman to text or talk to. I live in San Antonio, TX.

Feb 28, 2018 10:46 pm

I know exactly how you feel. It sucks because unless somebody has the same as you, they don't get it. The other day, a male friend of mine was here to say hi and out of being nosy, I asked him if he would go out with somebody like us with an ileostomy. His reply was, "No, never." I asked why, and he just said it was not his thing. He also said all his friends wouldn't either. Well, that made me feel really great, but I guess if I didn't want the truth, I shouldn't have asked. So, I know just how you feel. I'm sorry. Now I really feel crappy. - Donna

Past Member
May 08, 2018 7:04 pm

I think I would rather be whipped than dealing with someone that unevolved. Unfortunately, it is sadly true that we are surrounded by mediocrity, ignorance, and emphasis on physical perfection. This doesn't define or diminish the rockstars we are. My goal is to say "screw it" to aches, pain, and medical supplies. I am going to take my daughter and go see some of what I have missed. Like the sunset in Ireland, my mom's cousins in Manchester, Scotland, and the Amalfi Coast. In other words, carry on.