Dating with an Ostomy: Seeking Encouragement and Advice

Jun 11, 2023 5:26 pm

Anyone have any encouraging words regarding being able to get a date now that they have an ostomy? What has worked for you? Do you tell them early on in the dating process or do you wait a while or what?

I'm happy by myself but it is so very lonely at times. This weekend I had a date cancel on me which only made the loneliness worse.

My heart hurts for others like myself and the boat we've all been put in but we must capture some happiness regardless of our situation.

I'm a very positive person but I must admit, at 2 months post-op I'm beginning to lose some hope here if I'm being totally honest.

Jun 11, 2023 7:40 pm

2 months is very early so I'm not surprised you're feeling down.

There's no right or wrong way, really just your way.

I've always been very open and told them almost straight away, and a few times in my younger days, there wasn't time to tell them. It still wasn't a problem for them.

I never go into great detail about why I had it, just keep it quick and say that it doesn't stop me doing anything in life. They ask when they want to know more as the relationship develops, just as you will be asking them questions about their life and health too.

I'm not going to lie, you could meet 1 or 2 people that will run when you say you have a stoma. I see that as a positive thing; they're not the right person for you, so sooner they're out of your life, the better. The right one for you will be just happy and love you for you.

You will be surprised over the amount of men/women that won't be put off by you having a stoma.

Gray Logo for MeetAnOstoMate

Why Join MeetAnOstoMate?

First off, this is a pretty cool site with 34,000 members who truly understand you.

It's not all about ostomy. We talk about everything.

Many come here for advice or to give advice, others have found good friends, and some have even found love. Most importantly, people here are honest and genuinely care.

🛑 Privacy is very important - we have many features that are only visible to members, ensuring a safe and secure environment for you to share and connect.

Create an account and you will be amazed by the warmth of this community.

Jun 12, 2023 7:28 am

No need to tell everyone you date that you have an ostomy. Just date casually as much as possible to build your confidence. Take your time and seek people with a kind, compassionate heart, ask a lot of questions about their life and past relationships.

I have had my ostomy since my very early twenties. I was with my now ex-husband for 25 years. After the divorce, I went on many dates over the years (the SF Bay area has lots of single baby boomers). I only told 2 serious boyfriends I had an ostomy. Keep trying and have faith. It takes time to find a good person and date safely.

Jun 12, 2023 10:19 am

Umm, I can totally understand what you are saying and I can't give you any useful advice. I nearly spent five years alone after a long marriage and, like you, feel very alone at times.

But generally, I am okay on my own. I am always doing things and comfortable in my own space. But I think that as time goes by, I would rather be with the right person than just anyone because I should hate to spoil two lives and be any kind of reason to hurt or bring sadness to another soul.

In short, I think you simply wait. There is no time limit; it's your journey. Life is not a race. Enjoy your journey.

Jun 12, 2023 2:49 pm

Keep looking, your one is out there. Once you find that person, your whole outlook on life changes. Good luck.

Words of Encouragement from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Jun 12, 2023 7:54 pm

I have been in your shoes. I'm married now to a wonderful man who was and is very accepting of me. Generally, I used to wait until I knew if it was someone I was really interested in, and then I would tell him as early on as possible. Ironically, it didn't seem to put them off. If this puts them off, then move on. You will be better off. I'm so sorry your heart hurts. Hope and pray you find the right person soon.

Jun 12, 2023 10:10 pm

You're an empowered, independent woman. Having a pouch does not define who you are. Enjoy life your way - to the fullest.

Jun 13, 2023 10:22 pm

My advice would be to tell your dates early in the process. I say this because some people will have no problem with your ostomy and others will, for a variety of reasons. I don't think you need to bring it up on the first date, but once you have had the discussion you will know where you stand before you are heavily invested in a relationship. If you are rejected, it will hurt less than if you kept it hidden and began to develop deep feelings for the person you are dating. If you are not, then you will feel so much better not worrying about having to have the conversation in the future. You also won't be wasting your time and can move on to find that person that will accept you the way you are. Don't let the fear of rejection keep you from finding the right person.

Jun 13, 2023 11:44 pm

I feel for you. I'm in the same boat. But I'm about 11 years post-op. And now divorced.

I've wrestled with the same question: when to tell them? When I first tried dating I'd tell them very early on and that would go badly. So lately I've been waiting until we have a more emotional connection, hoping that will be enough to help them ignore the ostomy part. That seems a little better but things still aren't great.

I'll be praying for you and reading others' answers to your post, hoping we both can get some help.

Thank you for being brave enough to post about this!

Jun 14, 2023 3:31 am

Personally, I'd rather a person know early on.

Past Member
Jun 14, 2023 10:08 am

In my opinion, on a first, second, third date it's not necessary to tell. It might take that long for you to realize the relationship is going nowhere to begin with. I was very young (17) so I had a high school sweetheart that I did end up marrying. He was already in love with me. 10 years later we divorced. Now the fun starts, right! I tried both ways, tell don't tell. The way that worked for me was, wait till you are interested, and also gives the other person a chance really get to know you! The you with or without an Ostomy, they see that you do normal things, dress normal, live normal. When you can tell that they are "really" interested in you then have the conversation. Prepare and plan for the "first time". I always wanted to conceal as much as I could, at least for the first few times. Again this is just an opinion. Go on and date tho!

Jun 14, 2023 11:06 am

I've had an ostomy for 45 years - right during my teens and twenties when dating was at its highest. Yes, some people will not be okay with it, but I have found more are okay with it. It's more about your personality and how you feel about yourself that will attract others. Build your own self-confidence and love first, then others will treat you as you treat yourself.

Jun 14, 2023 11:30 am

Wise words expressed here. What's the point of revealing your intimate details if the relationship isn't going to go too far? What you tell or don't tell or when you tell it is your prerogative, nobody else's. Very few know about my ailment, but I live in a harsh and competitive world. Any sign of weakness or vulnerability is not a good omen. In matters of the heart, luck and some other attributes play an important part, like how deep your pockets are or there wouldn't be so many short and ugly men married to so many beautiful women! Lots of luck to all those embarked on the quest for a new and ideal partner.

Jun 14, 2023 4:28 pm

This whole debate has been going on in my head for a while now - not that I've had to do anything about it, my husband died nearly four years ago and I've had the ostomy for ten years... I'm slowly starting to feel I don't fancy being on my own for the rest of my days.... but... I have to admit, the thought of the whole 'conversation' and possible rejection, is making it hard to find the courage to move on... I just hope it'll happen organically - meet someone in passing - and then handle it!! Just like that!

Jun 15, 2023 1:25 am

My thought on telling people in your life about your ostomy. I only tell people who may see me naked or in my underwear. For example, your kids, doctors, serious relationships with your romantic partner. When I first had my colostomy, as a very young woman, I told my employer and after that information was given, my manager would look at my stomach when she talked to me and I became known as the lady with the bag in my department and lots of pity looks. But my life was 1000% better after ostomy! Even the nurses at the hospital felt so sorry for me. My reply was always, "My life is good" with a smile.

Jun 15, 2023 2:47 pm

G'day Crafty, be upfront right from the start and if they can't handle it at least you saved a few weeks of not telling him. It's only 2 months, just keep looking and it will happen. Regards, Iggie

Jun 16, 2023 5:13 am

When I first got my ostomy, I was happily married. 6 years later my wife decides she doesn't want to be married anymore. Never imagined myself 'single and looking' at this stage in life. Ever since being blessed with a stoma, I have not-so-subtly incorporated vests into my wardrobe in order to hide the 'bump.' Anyway. Since my marriage ended, I have relocated from the east coast to the west and joined a couple of dating sites. I will usually tell whomever I'm with about my ostomy later into the first date if I'm at all attracted to them and interested in pursuing a relationship. If not, why even bother? Pretty much all of the dates thus far have been disappointing, so my ostomy has not even come into play. One woman who is becoming a friend was told on the first date. It didn't/doesn't bother her in the least. Then again, we haven't been intimate yet. Two women I did like, and told, were understanding at the time but discontinued communication afterwards. Their loss. Does it hurt? Of course, we're all human. In the meantime, I keep myself occupied with remote work during the week, power walks, attending live theatre (yes, even here in Reno!), dining out and spending time with nearby family. It can be 'all good,' if you take it as such. Those who can't handle your ostomy only prove their human frailty and are, as you'll learn along the way, unimportant...

Ostomate & woundr
Jul 03, 2023 6:22 am

First, I think all single ostomates express the question you propose at some point.

I think you really need to ask yourself one question. Before the ostomy, were you a very private person or the opposite?

If you were naturally a private person before, you're probably still a private person. I would follow the dictates of that and keep it private. If you are the opposite, feel free to share before you even step out the door.

As most have already stated their position, I will tell you I was married to a wonderful man for almost 30 years. When I got my ostomy, he didn't like it. He didn't look at it, but he coped until I lost him to Alzheimer's 10 years ago and lost him to God last year.

Before I came on this site, I started dating another ultimate. We happened to meet by coincidence.

But I agree with you, it hurts to be rejected. The reason I'm on this site is that he decided we were only going to be friends with benefits.

But for me, dating has always been a challenge because I'm a very big, fluffy girl.

Jul 17, 2023 3:24 pm
Reply to Maried

Finding a good person is the hardest thing.

Jul 17, 2023 4:26 pm

Hello crafty

Here is my 2 cents. Wait too long, you hid it, too soon they run. What I am going to try, on the second date after you feel their vibe out just throw it out there " and I'm a survivor, (don't elaborate at this point,) and I'm rocking it! See where it goes

Any thoughts—- btw, you are a survivor and nothing holding you back from anything you want to do! You are 1 pretty 2 now up-front and 3 honest. Who wouldn't like that?

Aug 02, 2023 3:55 pm

It's about what makes you most comfortable. I'm a rip-the-bandaid-off kind of gal. I prefer to tell people who are prospective dates about my urostomy right away. I tried waiting and getting to know some dates before telling them, and I was unbearably anxious. Trying to date after 27 years is weird, and the urostomy makes it weirder. I'm going into it with no expectations and just trying to make connections with new people.

Aug 04, 2023 3:21 pm

I had extensive 9-hour surgery for stage 4 thyroid cancer when I was 23. After recovery, I was told only 10% of patients like me make it 10 years. So I was in the same boat... to tell, or not to tell, on dates. Couldn't hide it though.... 188-stitch surgical scar on my neck gave it away. Eventually, I got married. Been 37 years already.

Craftymom63, I spent a long time alone at a young age. I suffered vocal cord damage during surgery. My voice reduced to a loud whisper. This low voice is actually how I met my wife.

Don't let your stoma get you down. Few people in this world enjoy perfect health. You have to get out there and socialize. Many single folks just search internet dating sites, then meet a prospect for a date. Usually doesn't turn out well. You don't get to know the person. It's forced togetherness. Everyone is on their "best behavior" on a date. You need to meet people casually. That way there's little pressure to reveal everything about yourself to a stranger. Which is somewhat uncomfortable, and brings us back to your original question: "When to tell."

If a local Jr. college is near you, take some fun classes you would enjoy. You'll meet fellow students and have a topic in common to talk about. You could visit a local church. You don't have to join the church or be very religious. But you'll meet nice people. You could volunteer at a local hospital or charity, all places to casually meet people. Once you make acquaintances, and get to know each other, you can mention you overcame physical adversity, resulting in a life-saving stoma. I showed everyone I know at work. They were actually amazed. No one took pity or treats me differently. My wife is unamused by my stoma but is happy I survived complicated surgery. And continue to live a normal life.

2 months post-op is too soon to worry about dating. You're still physically healing, learning how to care for your stoma. Give yourself some time. After you become comfortable with the stoma, you'll be comfortable with yourself. And the time to tell will be your choice.

Aug 26, 2023 2:16 am

All good input here kiddo. These folks have been there and gone through it. They also want to save you from despair. But you know, people vary in opinions, situations. Some get it, some don't. Wait to find out before dropping the bomb on them. Any time spent with this person whether they stick around or run, gives you thick skin. You will know the time to tell them. I don't tell them. Here's a true, recent story- the names have not been changed to protect the innocent- even me.

I am a male, dating, well trying to.. It sucks. No doubt about it..

I say nothing to those dates about the stoma or my health. Unfortunately, I have a hearing problem- wear something called a cochlear implant which is different than a reg. hearing aid... and that's an awkward beginning for starters.. To me that's like "strike one" and I am not even up to bat yet.

However.. This hearing loss was not a big deal to my surprise, and most date-prospects. I felt relieved and we did enjoy each other's company for that one date.. yes.. one date.. with maybe 5 people over the last two years. Always a first date, pleasant.. respectful.. funny. Thinking I am grateful for not telling them first time out about the stoma.. Whew! Right? You know why? Company. And learning about something I was clueless about..

What lost the deal was CHEMISTRY. Yep.. no appliances.. no health issues.. Chemistry. I say this now because it's a deal breaker for women.. Men just can't compute it I guess. Well-- I don't obviously so that was an unexpected blow to accept since I considered we hit it off well..

Enter Kim... Yep. This one amazed me.. We have had 4 dates this year. 2023.

The first date she tells me she is a diabetic..

She wears two appliances. One for blood sugar, and one for BP? But the fact she told me on a first date was awesome.. I felt this one is a keeper. I asked her if she thought that telling me this was a test, perhaps to see me run away? She laughed saying no. She felt better telling me it up front. (Yes, I am guilt tripping myself now).. I said, "so you wear two appliances? That ain't nothing. I am not running". I felt connected to her.

Date four, I told her after dinner about the IBD, stoma, and surgery likely to happen (Ken Butt). And asked if we should continue dating cause I admitted to her I liked her and wanted more. She didn't want to commit to a relationship and said it in an honest, sincere manner. It was not revolting as I would have expected cause we built up something prior to this and with her telling me about her "thing", I told her mine.

Texting became different after that encounter... I have not seen her in 4 months. I do know I can text her about this.. I was hoping she would call though, even to say "hey" cause I am always texting her first... . Nope. Nada.

I think she was just in a different place, dating, being newly single... I do not feel it was my health issues, cause she could relate to them in some way. I guess this time I got lucky or felt lucky.

Do not sell yourself short. You are two months out. Heal, vent, come to this site for answers. Ask. Sometimes, it's all about timing.. and chemistry. Who knew?--------------Still a Warrior, but still clueless.

Aug 26, 2023 9:19 am

Our society has changed dramatically in the last 35 years. The rise of cheap, high technology and social media has made life impersonal. We can easily communicate anywhere in the world, at any time, from a handheld phone. But we don't actually talk to each other. We text or use email. Hardly anyone uses a "landline" anymore. Society has lost the ability to communicate face to face, or by talking on the phone. Text has little context or emotion. We can't see someone's face or body language. A happy face emoji in a text just doesn't do it. This has created a lonely world. I see it all the time. My wife & I go out to restaurants a lot. Nearly everyone around us is silent... staring intently at their phones.. not talking to each other.

It's a "Brave new world." Silent people staring at cell phones, adrift from each other. There's no antidote for this. Can't put the Genie back in the bottle. Artificial Intelligence software is only going to make us more distant from each other. What is real anymore?

Having an Ostomy or other physical affliction makes our life harder. We learn how to maintain our stoma, deal with our compromised health, but usually do it alone. My wife does not like my stoma.... Not at all. Yes, she's relieved it saved my life. But wants nothing to do with it. Out of sight.. Out of mind.

I started going to church a few years ago. Met nice people and made new friends. Also been going to a local restaurant to watch baseball games in the bar area. And made new friends who came there a lot to watch games too. Dating web sites are not going to do it. You have to socialize. Join a ballroom dancing class, take a class at a local Jr. college. Learn to golf. Sign up at a Dojo to learn Karate. Point is: Socialize, meet people, put yourself out there.

It's 2:00 am... so I'm ranting a little. On my way to work in another hour. This is it. Our one life. We've been given a second chance, another bite at the apple.

Aug 26, 2023 7:24 pm

Great advice..!

Aug 27, 2023 4:47 pm
Reply to Beachboy

Yep, the sooner people get out of their shell and start living, the better their chances of finding someone. And if a person doesn't find someone, at least you're living and not just surviving.

Aug 27, 2023 6:59 pm

Mine's a nautilus shell.