Dating After Ostomy Surgery: When to Open Up?

May 26, 2024 12:07 pm

Good day to you all. Wondering if anyone has any tips on dating after your ostomy surgery. When should you open up about the new you, on the first or second date?

May 26, 2024 12:20 pm

Good morning. Welcome to the community.

Your topic has been written about quite a few times. If you can navigate the icons above, you will find a lot of information on dating and when or not to tell your date.

The short of it is don't.

Don't tell him or her anything.

There will be a time, and you will know it, over time. Charm them first, is my advice. 😁

Now many here will disagree, feeling to get that info out front, on the table, first date.

Would you give this person your social security number? Tell him where you live on a first date? No, right?

It's personal. You will know when and if to tell them.

And having a bag, two bags, or any disability should not matter.

Our stoma doesn't define us. Remember that.

I guess you are newly single? How's your experience so far dating?

It shows you have been a member for a while. Good to have you back.

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May 26, 2024 3:01 pm

No right or wrong answer, just when you want to.

Personally, I've always told everyone straight away. Mostly, lol, in my younger days there were a few one-night stands and less, lol, that I never had a chance to say I had a stoma. That was never a problem either. I just see it as the sooner you tell someone, the better. Then if they don't like it, you don't have to waste any more of your time or get attached to them. Then you can move forward and meet the right man/woman for you.

May 26, 2024 3:02 pm

G-Day jgray66, Personally, I think on the first or second at the latest, because if he is a runner he will take off anyway. If he wants to see you again, then he's a keeper. Regards, IGGIE

May 26, 2024 3:28 pm

Hi J,

As said previously, volumes have been written on that subject previously... but navigating the search function on here can be a bear. You got much better odds betting on black on the roulette wheel. Essentially, most people fall into two camps... surprise, surprise! Some want to put it right out there immediately, like "Hi, I'm J and I have a stoma. Wait... where are you going?" Others (like me) say it's personal and you don't share all your personal info with a stranger until you get to know them and you sense they have a genuine interest in you... or just what's in your pants.

So there's the Cliff's Notes on all that has been written. But it is good reading... if you can find it.


Stories of Living Life to the Fullest from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Audrey Warren
May 26, 2024 10:07 pm

I was on a dating site and included it in my profile.

May 26, 2024 11:21 pm

Remember, if you meet the right guy, he will accept your stoma. There may be some guys that you never need to discuss the subject. Yes, it is a good thing to discuss, but I would not advertise it nor put the discussion on a schedule.

May 26, 2024 11:21 pm

Remember, if you meet the right guy, he will accept your stoma. There may be some guys that you never need to discuss the subject with. Yes, it is a good thing to discuss, but I would not advertise it nor put the discussion on a schedule.

Morning glory
May 27, 2024 1:45 am

As you see, everyone is different in their time to tell. I personally wait until I see a real interest. There is no need to tell if there isn't. You should know something by the third date.

May 27, 2024 12:59 pm
Reply to IGGIE

I totally agree with Iggie! Would you want to wait until you are in love with each other, then he/she takes off? If you hit it off by the second date, I feel that is a good time to tell of your plight. If the other person takes off, then he is not worthy of you as a total person. If he stays, beautiful things may flourish between you.

May 28, 2024 10:59 am

Hey there, personally I say tell them from the start. You will know in the beginning where they stand and if they are good with it. You won't have wasted time with someone if you wait to tell and that person ends up not okay with it.

May 28, 2024 1:53 pm
Reply to Beth22

Same here, be open and honest from the start. It's part of who you are, and you shouldn't be ashamed of it.

Some people will not be able to see past it, but that's their issue.

May 28, 2024 2:34 pm
Reply to Cheekymonkey111

Agreed... and be proud of it.

May 28, 2024 2:44 pm

IDK about revealing yourself too quickly. On the fence about it.

It's gotta be about the timing.

Also, I say this, why does it have to be about you? Everyone has a little secret. Why not find out theirs? Here's why...

In my last 3 years of dating, only 2 ladies I know of did in fact reveal their little secret. Up front. First date. The other is pending.

First, had diabetes. She wore two appliances for monitoring her sugar and insulin. One for each.

Undetectable, these appliances were, I was in awe of her courage to tell me.

Jokingly, I asked if she told me to scare me off. She said no. Just wanted to put it out there.

I said, "Ok. Well... THAT ain't nothing." And four more dates she never asked what I meant by that. On the 5th date she said I would explain what I meant when I was ready.

5th date. Told her. She's history.


Recently, an online dating site showed a 55 y.o. young lady. In her profile, which read very well, she said she has cancer. And as of April this year, she is in remission. (Bone marrow transplant)

Could this be a trend? Being transparent? Holding nothing back?

I sent her a reply. Fill you in later...

May 28, 2024 6:13 pm
Reply to warrior

Hi Bro,

No, not a trend... either a personal preference or she thinks revealing all her flaws right up front will somehow work out okay for her. And yes, to those without medical issues or an ostomy... it IS considered a flaw. Don't shoot the messenger. With cancer survival rates on the rise, you may just find that people might consider having had cancer not as big a deal as having to carry your toilet on your hip with you all the time. Just sayin'.

I think as ostomates we tend to forget our previous biases towards "unhealthy" people when it comes to finding a partner or mate. "Health" is one of the top 3 characteristics looked for by those looking to find that special someone. How many times have you read in women's profiles that they're looking for someone who's active, kind, considerate, "healthy," etc., etc.? It's hard for people looking for a partner (who EXPECT their partner to be healthy) to deal with someone who's not. There's a simple solution to this that I'll get to in a second. But first, an interesting story...

Two years ago, a gal messaged me on a dating site. She's the real deal, a total package... got the looks, $$$$, fantastic job, big house, cars, great kids, and is VERY health conscious... and VERY healthy. She lives on the opposite side of the country, so we've never gotten together, but we've become best friends. I'm talking BEST friends. I've never told her I had an ostomy, but have given her some subtle hints that I'm not from this planet anymore. I've not told her because I wanted to see how she deals with people and their problems as it pertains to dating. And it's been quite a fascinating experiment, to say the least. She dated a guy who was a total womanizer, filthy rich, and had girlfriends hidden everywhere... a total abuser. Then she dated a guy who turned out to be a massive alcoholic. He only got sober for a few days to meet her and take her out a few times. She finally convinced him to go into rehab... in a place that cost $30,000 a month... and he did... for 6 months. But she also found out he'd been in prison before and gone through rehab for his alcoholism many times. Then there was the guy who owned a dozen hospitals but was dying of bone cancer. And she's told me about all the other guys she meets, and we talk about their issues as well. Then one day she told me she had a friend whose kid had a "colostomy bag." And went on to say how gross that was and how could anyone live with one of those. BINGO! Here came the good data! And I've learned a lot!!!!

So it's all about perception, as I said elsewhere on these dating question posts. People have a perception of how "unhealthy" or "gross" someone must be to have a shitbag. So when they meet someone with one... and don't have a chance to see how "normal" we can be... they bolt. It's just a natural reaction to something they've told themselves they wouldn't like. Or want to deal with. That's why I tell people to ease into telling a stranger about their flaws. We all have them, but it's how we deal with them and get on with things despite them that shows our true character. They have to be shown, not told, that we're not as bad as they're thinking... and that takes time. It's really that simple and has nothing to do with honesty, etc.

Now the solution I promised earlier. There's a ton of dating sites online for "handicapped" people. They all want to meet someone too, and their flaws are obvious and can't be revealed later after they get to know you. Those folks understand what it's like to be less than perfect in people's eyes, so having a partner with a "disadvantage" usually isn't a problem. And there are a LOT of handicapped women out there. So if you want to meet lots of women who'll be okay with your ostomy... they're out there. And it will be a good test to see if you're as accepting of someone with a significant health issue as you want them to be of you. One word of caution... if you go on a handicapped dating site be prepared to meet a LOT of people! I won't go as far as to say they're "desperate" to meet someone, but it's very close. And meet them you will. You might also learn something about your character that may or may not surprise you. But you won't have to worry about them bolting on you, rather you may have to beat them off with a stick. So fair warning!

Oh, almost forgot... if the thought of dating a "handicapped" person doesn't appeal to you... you've just traded places with the gals who bolt on you when you tell them you have a stoma buddy. Perspective, Brother... it's all about perspective!!!


May 28, 2024 6:30 pm
Reply to w30bob

I'm sticking with my dog!

He thinks I am great, loves the way I smell, anytime, and is always glad to see me. Life is good!


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May 28, 2024 6:42 pm
Reply to w30bob

Very good analysis, dear brother.

You were always the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Despite Mom only having butter knives.

Will get back to you on this, but curious minds want to know about that friend on the other side of the world. Are you still corresponding with her? Did she seal her fate?

May 29, 2024 12:41 am
Reply to kittybou

Oh, I hear ya! Absolutely. The only downside is they only last about 10 years, give or take, and then you have to start over again with a new one. But still better than dealing with people!


May 29, 2024 7:15 pm

Interesting to read all of this. W30bob's take especially.

I just went through a divorce after 15 years of marriage. She was the only one I had ever been with after my surgery, so I'm now finding myself in the wild again and with less than a confident sense of direction here. One of my best friends, who's essentially my sister from another mom, insists that I have nothing to worry about. She tells me that with everything else she sees that I have going on, the ostomy won't even be an issue. Unless it is, in which case that person wouldn't be the right person anyway.

I'll have to poke around the older topics on this. I'm a firm believer in being upfront and honest, and my instincts tell me to just lay it on the line, but then again my instincts told me my ex-wife wouldn't lie and steal from me, so who knows at this point.

It's most likely subjective and case by case, as with all things complicated.

May 30, 2024 9:33 am

If you are interested in a quick hookup, then definitely talk about your ostomy on the first or second outing, depending on how soon you are looking for the hookup. If you are interested in something more permanent than a quick hookup, then don't mention it on the first or second date. Some will say if they are genuine or caring, it won't matter. On that score, I disagree. Personally, if on my first or second date I learned the person I was seeing had an ostomy, I would have moved on. I never wanted an ostomy for myself. When I had my first colon resectioning, I told the surgeon under no circumstances did I want an ostomy — I viewed it as repulsive and probably unsanitary. I was blessed that I was able to be resectioned without an ostomy. However, my body didn't cooperate, and after developing multiple fistulas, whose output could not be controlled, abscesses, along with internal hemorrhaging, my surgeon told me if I wanted to get better, I had to get a colostomy. After agreeing, I cried most of the night prior to the next day's surgery. Even with my life in the balance, I wanted no part of a colostomy — so caring people can and will walk away when they learn you have an ostomy. Only after I learned to manage my colostomy was I accepting and comfortable with it. I was in the hospital almost three months and rehab another month before I was released to go home — I mention this to say I had extensive training on how to manage an ostomy. Therefore, after I was released to go home, it took me another month before I was comfortable with stoma management. I was reading and studying to learn everything I could about ostomy, fistula, blockage, diarrhea, constipation, mucosa, etc. Since it took me four to five months to go from being turned off with a colostomy to approval, I can't expect someone with zero knowledge to think management can occur in a sanitary manner — it takes time. My recommendation is not to talk about it early on in the relationship. First, make sure you know how to manage your ostomy; next, wear a wrap and let your partner know you have had abdominal surgery and need to protect your abdomen. Later, you may mention that as part of your abdominal surgery, the surgeon had to install a temporary ostomy — it's amazing what the word temporary will do for the psyche. It's what allowed me to come around initially, knowing that I would be rid of it eventually. Even one of my close friends would encourage me to look at the bright side; I will not always have it. This gives your partner the opportunity to learn that an ostomy can be maintained in a sanitary and fairly non-restrictive way. Finally, you have conversations about the difficulty of your prior condition and surgical complications and that you will be keeping the ostomy permanently. At this point, you will know if you have a true love. My intention was to diffuse the narrative that if the person cared, the ostomy shouldn't matter. My contention is very few people care that deeply on a first or second date. Don't view my exposition as prescriptive, rather as a scenario illustrating how to allow your partner to learn more about you as time progresses.