Accepting an Ostomy: Finding Love and Body Image Advice?

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Hello my fellow ostomates!

When I got my ostomy, I became very self-conscious. I didn't think I would ever find someone who would accept my situation and love me despite the think me beautiful regardless of it. I gave up on the possibility of dating altogether. Well...after 10 years, I have finally found a man just like that!

Shane is a wonderful man. We have been together for 3 months and in that short period of time, he has actually forgotten that it's there! He reminds me to empty it if I'm not paying attention. He has also watched me change the appliance. It's awesome.

We have had 2 times when the ostomy leaked at the most inopportune time...and when that happened, I became really embarrassed. How do you guys handle that?

I'm still struggling with my body image...and I am wondering if any of you that read this handles that. How have you fully accepted that it is there...that it is a part of you? How have you accepted that your body has changed forever? If you have a partner, how have you managed to believe him or her when they say that you are beautiful despite the bag?

I look forward to your answers and any advice you may have!


Hello Tink75. Congratulations on finding someone suitable to share your life with, who accepts you for who you are rather than defines you by a quirk of circumstances. You are certainly not alone in worrying about body image as people who want to sell us 'things' push the concept that the way we look on the outside matters.  In your post, you ask how other people cope with this, so I take this as an invitation to put my own perspective on this issue. 

I view what we see on the outside as 'surface' perspectives, often referred to as 'shallow' because it rarely penetrates the surface. Many folks are fooled by this perspective and like what they see in those who concentrate on getting this surface image 'right'. I, on the other hand, am not very interested at all in what I see on the surface, but am much more interested in what's beneath the facade. This is ofter referred to as 'personality' but I feel it is much more than that. It is the way we think, behave and interact with each other. It's about beliefs, values, morals and desires for others as well as ourselves.

We cannot ignore how people percieve us, as the saying goes: 'First impressions count'.  I sometimes take this into account when dressing for certain occasions such as representing someone in court or playing some other  'respectable role'. I am occasionally badgered by my wife to wear a suit and be 'smart' when we go out to dinner. However, as I have pointed out to her many times; there are more ways than wearing a suit to be 'smart'. How many people do we know that look smart, yet soon after we strike up a conversation with them, they do not seem 'smart' at all. For my part, I have never been too concerned about what I (or others) look like on the outside. I want to know what they are like on the inside. Then and only then, do I make my assessment as to whether they are worth continuing interaction with.

They say that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. In my case, the 'eye' is a euphamism for perception. I think that 'beautiful' people are the ones who seek to make life better for everyone and not just for themselves.

I could go on forever about aspects of this subject but will finish with my own AIMS for today by which I try to live.

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

As you can see, the above list has nothing to do with how I look on the outside and everything to do with how I treat other people. Needless to say I have put these aims into rhyming verse because that's the way I usually express things I feel are important in life.


In relationships I proclaim.
That it is good to have an aim.
So think of how much better then
If I increased my aims to ten.

My first aim is to be right there.
If you’re not there how can you care.
To be ‘there’ - for someone.
Has got to be aim number one.

To be consistent is number two.
Then people can rely on you.
They’ll know you will not let them down.
And they’ll know you’ll be around.

Next, I’ll try to persevere.
To be honest, genuine and sincere.
So honesty and sincerity.
Will be a top priority.

Non-judgemental’s number four.
For no one is without a flaw.
Judgements bring things to a close
So this is what I would oppose.

Listening is a lovely thing.
And true friendships it can bring.
Listening’s something that’s still free.
My listening comes with empathy.

What would I choose for number six
For good relationships to fix.
What has potentiality.
Is confidentiality.

In number seven I justify
My belief in D.I.Y.
To ‘my’ will no one will cower.
I try to enable and empower.

Unconditional positive regard.
Can sometimes be a little hard.
So I will try to show respect.
And relationships perfect.

It will come as no surprise.
My last aim tries to emphasise.
That I will focus on these aims.
And principles from which they came.

B. Withers 2007

Best wishes



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I think people would like to know how and where you found him. Please share if you are able. All the best to you.


Thank you for saying all of that, Bill! It has really helped a lot. I often ask Shane why he thinks I'm beautiful and he tells me that it's "in my eyes"...that...although he thinks I'm beautiful on the outside, of's what's inside of me that really attracts him. At first, I felt that he was trying to let me down easily about the physical part of me...because I am quite chubby...but I've learned that it's not that at all. He sees both inside and out as beautiful...even sexy, lol.

I always look at what's inside of a person more so than the outside. Looks can fade...and in fact, do fade over time. What's inside...however...does not that's what is the most important in life!


How we met is actually quite the story!

Shane and I actually met when we were in HS over 20 years ago! His younger sister was one of my close friends. As soon as I laid eyes on him, I had a huge crush...but being that I was close to his sister and he was quite popular, I never said a word to anyone. He graduated and went on his way...and I started dating...but for some reason, he was still in the back of my mind. He always has been.

We found one another on Facebook last year...but didn't really talk until this past July when he sent me a private message. I answered...and we started talking pretty much nonstop! He would either message me or text me as soon as he woke in the morning, and it was constant until he fell asleep each night. Many were the nights when he would literally fall asleep while we were on the phone. That went on until mid-August when I traveled up to spend the weekend with him. It wasn't supposed to be anything really serious, but we quickly fell head over heels in love! After spending 2 more long weekends with him, I moved in with him. We have only been together for 3 and a half months...which is really fast, I know...but for the most part, it's been wonderful!

Living with Your Ostomy | Hollister

That is so wonderful that you have found someone Tink75!! It's nice to know that there are still some non-ostomate people out there who are as loving, caring, and accepting of the special situation we are all in on this site. I myself am still searching, and many times have just felt like giving up!! But your story gives me a glimmer of hope that I too will find someone who will accept and love me for me and not be judgmental of my ostomy. And since I haven't been in a relationship with someone since I have had my ostomy, I am unable to answer your leak question. But I do wish you two all the best and may your relationship only continue to grow and prosper!


I'm sure there is someone out there for you! Have you thought about the possibility of dating a fellow ostomate? Maybe that would be a possibility for you. Why don't you check out your romance picks on here? Might be worthwhile!


Thank you Tink75 for the kind words and encouragement! I have tried finding a fellow ostomate on here without much success. But I will still keep looking on here! Been on a few regular dating sites, and they are just horrible for meeting new people! It's a little discouraging but I will keep trying anyway!

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