Hi - I have an iliostomy too - for 8 yrs. I do not understand why so many people on this site say it's a major dating problem and that others don't want to date because of it. Nor do I understand all these marriages that break up over it - but I sincerely feel very bad for those of who having suffered these relationship issues due to our surgeries. The surgery and diseases that resulted in them are enough to deal with, let along non-supportive and/or judgemental people. A few things I've found to help:
1. First and most importantly - don't look for the "one night stand" or immeditate hook-up types! Obviously that is going to leave you wide open to being hurt and rejected. And this is mostly because of "what they are" - sex - noncommital and way too soon. So SLOW IT DOWN! If you take the time to really get to know the person BEFORE divulging your ostomy, chances are an interpersonal relationship will already exist and each will be more understanding of the other's "less than perfect" bodies. Now I know many of you disagree with this - you say it's not being honest and to let the person know right away before investing more time, etc. Well, I couldn't disagree more. I've NEVER had someone reject me because of my ostomy! And I've never told them until it was going to be obvious as physically things were progressing - weeks or more into the relationship. I've also told them via email (just me - but I find it easier and it also gives the person time to reflect to the information privately before responding). Just do what feels comfortable. But I've always given them an "out" by joking, "ok, you can run now" after telling them. And the "keepers" respond in like - usually telling me some past experience or surgery or whatever they find not perfect with them and telling me I can run now too. :)
2. Keep your ostomy issues to yourself! Meaning, take care of your medical needs, be "normal", don't make them talk about it or point it out or be involved more than they need to be. Do you discuss your tooth cavities in depth? Making them feel it in your mouth? See it? Etc? Ok, obviously not! That's my point. Deal with it naturally and don't make a big deal out of it - they likely won't either.
3. As a woman there are many things you can do to be sexy with an ostomy bag. Get a mini-bag. I use Hollister 2-piece because it's easy to change from mini to standard for "date night" to "overnights"! Early on, I eat very light that day so less bag changes/bathroom visits. You can even roll up a mini bag to smaller for an hour or two if you haven't eaten a lot prior - then after sexual activity, roll it down or change to a larger bag. Also, check out pretty bag covers! I love my lace covers that are custom made from Pouch Pals http://www.pouchpals.com/ostomy.htm. I also use two-way lingerie tape (available in lingerie depts and stores like Kohls) to adhere the covers snuggly to my body. Again, quick and easy to change afterwards. Finally I couldn't live without my odor-proof black disposal bags http://bagitaway.com. You can dispose of these bags easily where ever you are. Oh, and don't forget the sexy lingerie - try 2 piece cami sets or lingerie that hides the bag - you can find so many things - us women are lucky that way ;)
4. Don't use your ostomy as an "excuse" and don't wear it on your sleeve, so to say. By getting to know the person first and letting them get to know you, the relationship may or may not be right for one of you - if he leaves, maybe you weren't compatible! Don't be too quick to blame your ostomy. You mentioned your husband left you 2 years after your ostomy - but was the marriage strong before that? If so, did you continue to contribute to the relationship AFTER your surgery - and not become a "patient" for too long and let the relationship deteriorate? I have had Crohn's for 45 yrs so I certainly understand the pain of illness and what it's like to be chronically sick! But I live as a person, not a patient, no matter how I'm feeling. The point is - we may not have a choice why we needed this surgery - but we DO have a choice how we respond. You can let it overtake you and let it control your life - or YOU can control it and take charge of its direction in spite of the diseases or challenges life throws at you. If you tell yourself that, and live that way, people are more likely to respond to you in the same manner. And if they really are that much of a jerk that you have a great relationship but then bail after hearing you have a bag on your stomach - they are not a quality person that you want to fall head over heels with anyhow - they won't be the ones to be there when anything else goes wrong in life either - so why would you want someone like that next to you now?
None of these things are meant to be judgemental to anyone and if you totally disagree with these comments I respect that fully! But I have been reading this blog for so long and I just had to share. Dating life is not over with an ostomy unless you BELIEVE it is - that's my opinion and my reality for the past 8 years.
Best of luck - may you find someone special soon :)