Navigating Dating with an Ostomy: When to Share Personal Health

Jul 04, 2024 10:30 am

So, I had my first date since my split/divorce with my ex-husband.

I wear bag covers over my ostomy bag and my date saw it and asked me what it was. I explained to him about my health and that I have a permanent ostomy. I could tell right away after that by the look on his face it was over before the date even started.

My question is: when do you tell someone about your ostomy, and how do you deal with the rejection?

Jul 04, 2024 10:42 am

I am so glad I do not have to deal with that. I think the sooner the better to clear away the losers. Look in the mirror and say I am better than that.

Gray Logo for MeetAnOstoMate

Why Join MeetAnOstoMate?

First off, this is a pretty cool site with 35,000 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.

Jul 04, 2024 11:30 am

Totally agree with nine. It's so his loss for being so shallow about you having a stoma. You've got this - you're an empowered woman. Go and enjoy...

Jul 04, 2024 11:34 am

Hello momfourus478.
Thanks for sharing your experience. This subject has come up a number of times and the past posts can be read in the archives at the top of the page.

There is no right or wrong way to approach an initial conversation about stomas.
If someone asks a direct question, then I am inclined to think that they deserve a direct and honest answer. What their response is to that is entirely down to their own perceptions and personality.
It’s like xnine and many others have said, it is probably best to know earlier rather than later, who can and cannot cope with this sort of information. Fleeting relationships are probably easier to overcome than those that have been well-established.
Dealing with ‘rejection’ is a slightly different concept. 
The inability to cope with illness, disability or even disfigurement, is entirely their problem. Underlying that will likely be a whole host of other problems, which feed into wholly unacceptable thinking and behaviour patterns which you are probably much better off doing without.
This type of ‘rejection’ can be construed as a manifestation of the potential to be a covert ‘bully’. It is also a warning sign of the type of relationship that you should also be ‘rejecting’, right from the outset. 
The simple message is: ‘Be thankful and move on.’
I believe that ‘good’ relationships are built on the principles adopted by ‘pets’ towards humans, as generally, many humans cannot be relied upon to work these elementary things out for themselves.
I will leave you with my ‘Aims for Today’ list which is a direct plagiarisation from the communication I have had with many pets over many years.
(You will see that your date did not even get past the first ‘Aim’, of being ‘there’ for you.)

Best wishes



Sometimes caring and compassion
shows in someone’s inner passion,
which can evolve from having aims
that a person proudly claims. 

When a person’s truly kind,
this partly is a state of mind,
which often has a theory base
guiding their practice interface.

It’s good to have your aims right there
so you can show you really care,
and you can point to each facet
as a caring, sharing asset.

The aims we list should show we may
be kind to people everyday, 
then,  with our smiles and personal charm,
make sure that they don’t come to harm.

Some time ago I made a list
of aims, so people got the gist
of what my caring was about 
so, they would never be without. 

My list of aims was based upon 
the kindness, friendliness and bond
that’s found between people and pets,
for that’s the best that friendship gets. 

And once I sowed that seed in mind,
it grew into me being kind,
for that’s the way my pets taught me 
and that’s the way I want to be.

The thing about the aims I’ve got,
they have no devious, hidden plot,
so, bullies feel that I will not 
align with them, as a tosspot.  

              Be Withers 2020
(in: ’Be Withers-Be Kind’  2022)


1.    To BE – THERE
2.    To be CONSISTENT
5.    To LISTEN: Empathetically
6.    To keep things CONFIDENTIAL
7.    To ENABLE & EMPOWER (DIY process)
8.    To show POSITIVE REGARD (unconditional)
                                        FEELING & NEEDS
10.  To FOCUS CARING (according to my principles)



Jul 04, 2024 2:12 pm


My preferred option is to get to know someone a bit first before explaining everything, as you may find you are not keen on the person anyway, and there's no need to go into all your medical history. If you are both getting along and you think it's going somewhere, then you can explain about your stoma and the reasons why, etc. If they know you as a person they have feelings for, then I think they will be more accepting of everything. I just feel if you go straight for medical, hospitals, etc., on a first date, people automatically think you need to be cared for/looked after and do not look at the real you, which quality time with someone can show them.

Just my opinion, good luck. There are some good caring people out there 😀

How to Manage Emotions with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister
Jul 04, 2024 2:17 pm

Hello, Wisconsin!

Yeah, that body language from anyone's date surely puts a damper on things. Such a buzzkill.

How awkward was it after that?

Indeed, this topic has been beaten to death... as Bill mentioned, check out the archives. It will be entertaining for sure.

If I may be so forward, how did your date see your bag cover?

You know there are ways to conceal it? And I find that works best with first dates.

First dates are awkward in general... Think about the date, not what's wrong with you.

Besides, how do you know something isn't wrong with your date? Everyone has issues, secrets, hides stuff, why put yours out front?

As lonely as it can be as a single ostomate, time is a factor.

Good advice is if you don't want to invest the time, come clean and mention the appliance. You will be home very early 😁.

If you want to charm them over, see what kind of person you might be involved with, then wait. Don't tell them. Until it's time to tell them. Wait. 🤔

Members here agree or disagree respectfully on when to tell your date. Some here are very wise. Others are clueless because they lack the experience of dating.

You are in charge of your fate. You...not your bag.

Don't make having an appliance define you. If someone cares, they will understand. Thing is, first impressions can be a killjoy moment. Dates won't understand unless they are really interested in you. Make them interested in you!

Yes, there are shallow Hals and shallow Haileys out there, true. But sometimes, you can come across a prince or princess. Someone willing to understand. Don't give up.

Jul 04, 2024 2:18 pm
Reply to Dowdena

Bingo. Well said.

Jul 04, 2024 2:33 pm

They weren't the right person for you, so it's better they're out of your life now than wasting your time and energy on them.

There's no right or wrong way; just do what you think is the right time. Personally, I've always been upfront and open and told them from the start and never had any problems... I see it just the same as before I had an ostomy: take me as I am or watch me as I go.

Morning glory
Jul 04, 2024 2:46 pm
Reply to warrior

Agree with you and dow

Jul 04, 2024 3:16 pm
Reply to warrior

It was so awkward after that... needless to say, it didn't take him long to leave after that.

I had a tank on and I didn't notice my bag cover was sticking out. He noticed before I did.

This being my first situation with this... I know my worth and I know I'm a good person. It's sad that people look not at you as a person, but at your health condition.

I'm living my best life and I thank God every day for being alive. I almost died twice; life is too short.

Jul 04, 2024 3:23 pm

When one door closes, countless others open up. Now, you can find the guy who's going to rock your world 🤭 instead of being with that dumbass. In my opinion, you tell them right away, like you said, life is too short.

Jul 04, 2024 3:50 pm

G-Day Mom, you said your bag was sticking out and he spotted it. All you have to do is use the IGGIE clip I made up, and you can fold it over as much as you like to shorten the bag. See the photo. If you look closely, I added a magnet to the clip so that when you fold it over, it stays closed. Regards, IGGIE


Login to see image


Jul 05, 2024 2:22 am
Reply to warrior

Well said, Warrior.


Thank you for this post.


Jul 05, 2024 7:43 am

"It's sad that people look not at you as a person, but at your health condition."

mom4.........sorry to hear about your dating experience. When two people meet, they're subliminally looking for differences and reasons they wouldn't be a good match, not the other way around. This topic of dating has been discussed a million times on here, and the bottom line is some think it's best to put it right out there……and some think you should wait until you find out if there's genuine interest or not.

The problem you're dealing with is ignorance combined with a stigma. By telling someone right up front that you're different……..and for a reason they don't understand…….you're perpetuating both, and the outcome is very predictable. And we all exhibit the same behavior without really thinking about it much. Like when you pick up a can of something at the store and find the can has a little dent. We put it back and choose one of the many undented cans. There's nothing wrong with the contents of the dented can, but we don't want to take a chance. Or when you're walking down the street and you see some guys wearing hoodies approaching you. You cross the street to avoid any issues, but you know nothing about those guys and there's a stigma with guys wearing hoodies as being trouble. We don't give it a second thought, we just do what we think is right.

The way to both overcome ignorance and eliminate a stigma is with education. But to educate, you have to have a captive audience, and that's why I say get to know the person a bit first. It's why used car salesmen always point out all the good things about a car first……to get the customer interested in the car, so that when he points out a ‘flaw' you're going to weigh that flaw against all the good stuff you've heard and it probably won't be a deal breaker. But if the salesman starts out telling you what's wrong with the car before he tells you what's good about it……you'll bolt for the door. Meeting people is the same thing. First let them know all the good things about you and THEN discuss things that they might not understand. Do it the other way and it's ‘no sale'.

I'm sure the guy you went out with wasn't perfect, but didn't bring up any of his “issues” during your conversation. On a date, you're trying to sell yourself, whether you realize it or not. We'll never sell ourselves to people who don't have the same issues as we do if we highlight our differences before we've highlighted all the good things about us. So……….if you think there's lots of guys out there looking for a dented can………tell them right away. But if you think most want an undented can.......then wait until they enjoy what's in the can before you tell them it's dented. And at that point……..a little dent probably won't matter.


Jul 05, 2024 5:54 pm

I always imagine how I might react if someone came right out with something about themselves. I appreciate honesty and really value a sense of humor, so I tell a new friend (if I deem them worthy) that my colon tried to kill me, so now I poop in a bag, and… oh yeah… I'm an HIV positive woman who is many years undetectable. If they can handle that information, they will gain an excellent friend; if not, they will miss out.

Jul 06, 2024 1:26 am
Reply to Hasapoopbag

That's deep. Success rate?

Jul 06, 2024 5:00 pm

Well, as Bill has said, this comes up a lot, so definitely check the archives for even more insight on the situation. I'm in the same boat myself as I just recently was divorced and am finding myself now in the "field" for the first time since having this surgery back in 2005. It's a nervous and sort of miserable anxiety I think a lot of us are forced to have, despite the countless pluses in the "still alive and keeping on" column.

I'm a big believer in being upfront and honest, but as many have pointed out, find the time you're comfortable with and remember that if they can't see past this, they can't see very far at all.

Keep your positive attitude!

Jul 06, 2024 5:21 pm
Reply to Andrew82

I don't get the “forced nervous and miserable anxiety” concept that so many seem to have. 🤷‍♂️ If you're not confident in who you are under any circumstance, how does anyone expect a potential partner to have confidence in you as well? Confidence, or the lack of it, is very easy to sense in a person, and lacking confidence is an unattractive trait. Stand up, be an adult, and don't use excuses. If you tell someone you have whatever health issue and it scares them off, have the confidence in yourself to go on and find the right person.

Jul 06, 2024 9:26 pm

I'm sorry your date couldn't see past your ostomy to have an enjoyable time together. Some people out there are like that. It shows they're shallow. It's his loss, not yours. If I weren't married, I'd love to take you on a date. I think you'd be a wonderful date🙂

People are more than issues tied to their health. It's his loss he couldn't see that and that you are a complete woman with a lot to offer.

I've tried hiding my bag in public places and usually it works, but sometimes it's obvious. That's just life. At least you're alive and able to enjoy what you can. I'm sure there are those close to you that depend on you and you're still here for a reason.

There are really only two options going forward date-wise. Tell them upfront or try to hide it. I would tend to tell them upfront and thus not waste an evening if he bails because of it. Men have to know you have more to offer than being someone with an ostomy bag.

If I were there, I'd give you a hug and more encouragement. You're a very pretty woman and I'm sure a guy will not even care about your ostomy.🙂


Jul 06, 2024 10:35 pm
Reply to Dowdena

Great advice

Jul 07, 2024 3:31 am
Reply to eab3691

Hi eab,

This reply isn't directed toward you, but is just a comment to all, since you brought up being "shallow", and I want to pull the string on that one a bit. I hear that a lot when it comes to dating. Having an ostomy is a physical attribute of our bodies, plain and simple. So if someone doesn't like that physical attribute, they're somehow “shallow”? Have I got that right? But it's okay to not want to date someone because they're bald, or short, or have bad teeth or tattoos all over their body... or they're just plain ugly. Those are valid reasons to not date someone without being considered ‘shallow'? Or are you ‘shallow' if there's any physical attribute about someone you don't like?

I mean, we literally have a shitbag hanging from our abdomen and people on here talk like that shouldn't be a big deal (or a deal breaker) when dating someone who may have never even seen such a thing before! Not to mention the fact that regardless of when we tell them about our ‘little surprise'... they're going to be basically blindsided and put on the spot! That's always a great thing to do to someone you just met, whether you tell them on Day 1 or Day 36! Remember that dating and the way it's done and the way people behave hasn't changed... we have. Yet everyone on here expects normal people to just overlook or ignore the data dump you just gave them when you told them about your stoma buddy. Then when confronted by that unexpected ‘baggage', we're somehow shocked when our date decides we're just not the one for them... and we label them as ‘shallow'.

Me thinks people are forgetting how hard it was to date even without an ostomy. People find lots of reasons not to like other people's physical appearance. And that's totally normal and okay and part of what we call ‘attractiveness'. Everyone has their own list of what makes other people attractive to them, and I doubt having a shitbag is on very many people's list. So having an ostomy is just one more reason someone might not like you, if they don't find another reason first. And let's be honest here... we're all in this nice cozy bubble of a site devoted to people like us, where we support each other and help when we can. But to the other 99.999 percent of the world, an ostomy is weird, ugly, and downright gross. And you thought the exact same thing until you found that cute little bag taped to your abs. So I think we need to cut those who choose not to want to deal with something they don't understand, possibly fear, or just don't want any part of, a little slack. Their reaction is normal, but ours... maybe not. Bottom line... it's not ‘shallow' to not want to date a partner with an ostomy.

And yes, I hear ya. The way people ‘exit stage right' could sometimes be done in a more classy manner. But there are more jerks out there than nice people, so it is what it is. Just ignore them and continue on and don't hold a grudge! Eventually, you'll find that great person you were meant to find. But let's give the ‘shallow' moniker a break and reserve it for those that are truly worthy.


Jul 07, 2024 5:36 am
Reply to w30bob

..hey always..good call on the subject. Maybe we should define the word "shallow."

There is a lot of misunderstanding going on with terms used as an ostomate.

Especially when anyone speaks of the parts used.

Wafer, base plate, mounting plate, flange, O ring, barrier ring, bag, pouch, etc.

I just used that as an example of terminology we hear on site.

So what consists of being a shallow person? As opposed to being a complete dumbass or dick?

I think "shallow" can be described by many adjectives.

Basically, it's the "go-to" word, universally used. Perhaps accepted by laymen/women?

I hope Bill W. gets inspired with a poem or rhyme about shallow.

"Shallow" is being misused a lot. My 2 cents? COWARD, is quite fitting.

Jul 07, 2024 9:33 am

So sorry you had to go through that and that someone acted in such a childish manner.
There is nothing wrong with having a stoma, and you certainly shouldn't be made to feel less of a person if you have one.
Shame on that individual, and I hope he never has to deal with having a life-changing condition.

On the plus side, if I were in the US, I would date you. 😉

Jul 07, 2024 11:03 am

Here's my two cents. Never talk about money or personal issues until there's a connection. A 'first date' is a meeting with a stranger. I would never tell anyone about my third-stage cancer that caused my ostomy, or how my husband died, or how our daughter is doing—this is private and none of anyone's business. This sort of highly personal and sensitive information is for later in the relationship, and the two of you may never get there. So always play your cards close to your chest, be womanly and mysterious, because you will find out all of his peccadillos and quirks as you move on, and you may decide to leave or move on to another need for this one to have unnecessary personal info about you. Finally, be more discreet with your pouch, no need for embarrassing questions.

Jul 07, 2024 12:20 pm

Unless you are looking to score on the first date or it was a date on the beach, I would avoid telling anyone on the first date. As a retired radiographer, I watched young technologists grimace and get sick at the sight of a stoma. They would beg me to take over the case. Get to know each other before revealing your "little buddy." Little did I know that years later I would have one.

Welcome to our world. There are many good people to meet. I wear a Stealth Belt and no one can see it. I occasionally remove my shirt when hiking. People think it's a back brace or hernia support. Remember Dr. Ho's back brace ads?

Jul 07, 2024 12:30 pm
Reply to Dowdena

Best advice in this thread.

Jul 07, 2024 12:34 pm
Reply to Bill

wrt AIMS - Where were you when I was 17!!!!

Jul 07, 2024 12:43 pm
Reply to rlevineia

I would have to agree with you on that. At 13 likes, that's about everyone on here responding to his reply and liking it.

The key points being addressed by many should be noted.

Until you are in the spot, on the receiving end of that date, is the only way you're going to handle it and know what to do next.

Jul 07, 2024 1:01 pm

My initial response was to be open straight away. That's because I'm a cards-on-the-table sort of person. That's my natural way, but it isn't necessarily the right thing to do.

I read a book that was about putting a CV together. Most advice on writing a CV is how to get yourself picked for an interview. This book was different. It was about how to write a CV that gets you picked for an interview for a job you want to do. Dating is exactly the same.

If the aim of dating is to find someone to be a companion, live with, or marry, then you don't want to be a companion, live with, or marry every man that exists. You want the man you want to be with.

From reading the advice and perspectives on here, I've realized that cards on the table isn't the way to go. Find out if you like him (or her) first. You might not. You risk losing someone you do like. So, I guess good timing would be when you do like them but not too much. And recognize that accepting your stoma is on your list of dealbreakers. So, it would be you rejecting him (or her) for not being who you need. And recognize that it can be a shock. So, if he (or she) backs away, say, "I like you. If you change your mind, get in touch and we can talk."

In this situation where he saw your cover, it's the first date and his response was an obvious recoil, be the one to walk away. Say that it looks like that's a problem for you. Is it a problem? Stand up, say bye, (optional: you've got my number if you change your mind) and walk away. That way, you won't feel diminished by someone's perfectly normal reaction. I'm—gosh! counting on my fingers—5 years in and only just starting to feel like I'm not Robocop. And there are days when I really can't face changing my bag in case my stoma gets active midway—as it did this morning.

Jul 07, 2024 1:02 pm

For me, it all depended on how well I felt the connection was. If there were good mutual conversations and I could see a building of trust, I would share about my ostomy early. I always started the conversation with, "I was very sick for a long time and this saved my life and it made me stronger as a woman." It shouldn't be a big deal with the right person. I also had fleeting relationships that went nowhere. Eventually, I found a good one! Dating is hard even without an ostomy! Just get out there, hold your head high, and have an adventure!