Boyfriend's Acceptance Issues: Need Advice


Hey guys,

Just need some advice. I had to have my surgery in emergency circumstances due to severe ulcerative colitis - so there wasn't much time to discuss it!

Since having it, it's been about 5 weeks now, and I'm recovering really well. But it seems as more weeks go by he's avoiding me more and more.

The first couple weeks after surgery he was talking to me normally like we usually do and then I moved and you'd hear a bag movement and he'd freeze. And he just said he just needs to get used to it as it's new to him too! And I appreciate that as it's a massive change for him and for me.

Then due to work he had to go away for a week or so so I didn't see him or really hear from him. So when this usually happens we hang out when everything's settled, or if it's still mad busy we'll make time to literally call each other even if it's just on his journey home. It's been like that procedure for a year! However, since then he came round once, I made him dinner and he I just presumed he was stressed from work. But then bits like taking the tray out of the oven, I asked him for help cause it just felt too heavy. And he just froze because I've never really asked for help before. So then after dinner, with zero talking he just went home. I spoke to him that night and wanted to know what was on his mind cause I feel like his feelings have changed for me. His response was he doesn't know if he can support me.

With that response, is it worth staying and putting up with feeling like this? Could it just be his way of dealing with it or is this just rejection?

Thanks! X


Hello ZarahC. You pose a question which is very difficult for anyone else to answer other than him. In situations like this, I feel that people should be strong and independent for themselves and not so much for other people.  By all means try to give him support for his personal inadequacies in  dealing with something that is new for him. However, it as well to be realistic about relationships and so many people on this site have outlined how their partners have departed at the first signs of problems, that I would be very wary ab out putting too much store by him remaining a reliable partner for the long-term. If it were me, I would not want a situation where he 'doesn't know'. I would want to try to talk it through to the point were he is is very clear about whether he wants to stay or leave. That way you can both get on with your lives either together or apart. I would like to start that process sooner rather than  later.

Just my own contemplation of the subject.

Best wishes


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Hi Zarah,

I'm really sorry to hear that you're going through this. I had a very similar situation after my surgery. I put up with it for a whole year and looking back, it's one of my biggest regrets. I regret not facing it head-on - he would never admit he had an issue with my ostomy, but I could tell by his behavior he did. He eventually cheated on me, which I think was his way of getting out of the relationship without actually saying he couldn't accept the changed me.

I think you need to sit him down and have a frank and honest conversation and see where you stand. If he can't deal with this life's little hiccup, what kind of partner will he be when the s@ t really hits the fan?! You want to know the answer to that sooner rather than later so you don't waste a whole year on someone just like I did.

I wish you all the best. xxx



Hey sweetie

First of all, I'd like to say how sorry I am that you are going through this. I know that it must be awful for you! How long have you been with him?

I was single when I got my ostomy...but I worried constantly that no man would ever want me again...want to love me again. I had a horrible time with that. The first man I dated was very good with it...but when we broke up and I met someone soon as I told him about it, he just stopped calling. That was enough for me to give up. It was 8 years before I met Shane.

He was okay with "sami" until it leaked out all over the bed one evening. He was pretty horrible about it, so I thought it was over. But he apologized and now he has a habit of forgetting it's even there!

What I'm trying to say is that there is hope, hun. With regards to your current boyfriend...maybe he does just need time to wrap his head around the fact that your body has changed in a way that he has yet to be able to understand. You might just need to give him some time and space to adjust.

I hope this helps!

Past Member

Hello Zarah,

It takes a lot of courage to share this, and I admire you for doing that. So many of us have experienced a negative reaction from our partner or others and just suffered in silence.

Like you, I had an emergency operation, so there was no time to discuss and get used to the idea beforehand. I remember asking the doctors to phone my partner when the op was finished, which turned out to be in the early morning hours, but not to tell him about the stoma bag I was expected to have. I knew instinctively that was going to be a very difficult sensitive conversation, which only I could do.

It is a tremendous shock for people, and strangely dealing with other people's reactions can often be much harder than dealing with it yourself. (The same is often true of other things I found, e.g., cancer). I think how someone reacts reflects their own deeply seated fears. Ultimately, you cannot make someone accept it; they have to get there in their own time and way. Sometimes they never do, which is very sad.

How was your partner told initially? Were you given the opportunity to explain it gently to him, or did he hear the 'brutal' facts from a doctor or nurse?

In my case, the conversation with my partner went well, and he was a fantastic help in every way, except in reality, he never wanted to actually see the colostomy bag stuck on me. Hence the use of body wraps, etc.

I took time to show him and other close family members and friends what the colostomy bags look like and explained how they stick on, etc. Mostly, people are surprised/relieved that the bags are very discreet and neat. I must admit I was too when I first saw one. Above all, I found that 'comedy' was the best way of helping others get over their fear/embarrassment. For example, like many people do, I gave my stoma a 'cartoon' name (mine was 'Stuey the Stoma'). If you treat/refer to the stoma like it is almost a person, they become 'part of the family'. And folks are relieved to be able to smile/have a laugh if you make a joke about a sudden unexpected noise or tell a tale about a stoma 'incident'.

I gradually realized, however, that my partner could only really cope with the physical reality of it by clinging on to the hope that it was only temporary. Luckily, it was only temporary as it turned out, as I have been very fortunate to recently have a reversal. However, this so easily could not have been the case, and I definitely felt that I would need to have very frank conversations about the future with him if this did not happen.

You can't carry someone else's load of fears and worries. You have so much to work through yourself. It has only been 5 weeks, and you need to be kind to yourself and take one step at a time. I'm not being funny, but how about him cooking dinner for you?! No way should you be lifting heavy objects for ages. 50% of stoma patients get hernias from lifting things too soon. Always wear a stretchy stoma support belt and don't be shy asking folks for help. You will soon find out who your real friends are.

So most importantly, take good care of yourself. It's early days yet. Your partner will come back if and when he's ready. Meanwhile, focus on getting well and strong, plenty of fresh air and exercise, and having some fun/laughter with your family or mates. My best wishes. x

Getting Support in the Ostomy Community with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister

I have to agree with everything you have said. My wound ostomy nurse suggested that I give the stoma name as well...mine is now "Sami the Stoma" lol. When I first came home, I had more trouble with my body image than worrying about finding someone that would accept it. My body image was horrible. I couldn't even look at it! It took me years to do it.

Maybe your partner is just having a lot of trouble with a fear that he will somehow hurt you by accidentally hitting the bag. A lot of people find that to be a fear.

I think you do need time to heal does take a lot of time for your body to adjust to having new "plumbing" so to speak. Concentrate on figuring out your new diet...drinking A LOT of liquids because we tend to dehydrate quite easily. We can also be prone to getting pancreatitis, so please be careful with things such as cheese.

I'm here if you ever need to talk!

Newbie Dana

It may be that the sound the bag makes can be creeping him out. If you have the kind they give you in the hospital (clear plastic, rustles a fair amount), they can be noisy. Or have you already switched to the opaque cloth-covered kind? Those don't make much, if any, noise.

Of course, it just might be the whole idea that you are "different" now. But think about it - after 5 years, we are ALL different than we used to be. Does he expect to have all his hair in 10 or 15 years? Chances are, he won't. Some "changes" are more drastic than others. Would he feel the same way if you were in a car wreck and lost your hand? Would HE expect to be treated differently if he were in a wreck and lost his hand? All you lost was your rear end - surely not as bad as losing your hand!

All these things can be talked about. Anything that can reach him to get him to express what his real feelings are, and why. And it could be that he really DOES feel you are "less" now that you have your stoma. If so, that is HIS loss, if he lets a little thing like that stand in the way of recognizing how beautiful and how REAL you are, whether you have a stoma or a hole in your behind.

If he can not come to terms with that, know that it is HIS problem, NOT a reflection on you. There are people out there that this makes NO difference to. If he is not one of them, don't be afraid to go out and find someone who is!

Good luck, and all the best.


Well, it's new for you and it's new for him, and one of the issues is that we guys typically do a pretty awful job of dealing with our feelings. It's important to talk, not necessarily deep and long hours at a time, but with some frequency, because the way you feel today and the way he feels today can be quite different than a week ago. A rustling bag or a stoma noise that sounds different and loud today, neither of you might even notice in a week or two.

He might be quiet because he's not sure how he feels, but before too long things will settle down from the operation and you really will be the same old person and hopefully you can get back to enjoying what you have always liked about each other.

Saying he doesn't know if he can support you is just a feeling and could just mean he doesn't know what to feel. Give yourselves time to both adjust, and try to talk about your feelings.


I am very familiar with what you are going through. I had a girlfriend who left me due to my ostomy and the problems that came along with it. Obviously, she didn't care about me. I was very hurt and heartbroken. The fellow you are involved with, to me, it seems you having a stoma is too much of a problem for him and if he really cared for you, it wouldn't matter. By the way he is acting, he does not care about you, he's very selfish. I would let him go as he is not worth it. You will find someone else who cares about you and having a stoma is part of you and won't matter to them. Don't feel bad, it's his loss.


Hi, I'll keep it simple, his loss, not your fault that these things happen to us, doesn't change who we are as a person. Don't read into this; but I'd be honored to be your boyfriend.


Zarah, in agreement with Bill and Nina, you sound like a patient, caring lady--showing more respect for his feelings than your own new and challenging adjustments. Bill and Nina point out one thing: this is only one of the many steps in life. You need someone to catch you when you fall, not run away. And we will all fall many times on our journey, having a partner to really 'be there' as you seem to be for him is essential. You will not be happy on a one-way street, you should be able to 'look both ways'. Not knowing your age or how long you two have been together is not really an issue, as you will read on this site, many people have been deserted by their supposed lifelong partner after a situation like this. I'm a woman, too, and from your description, he's giving off all the 'I'm outta here' signals.

So let him be, but don't torture yourself. Gracefully let him go with your blessings--you should not go through life worrying about a rustling pouch. Does he ever fart? Men make all kinds of weird noises, especially in the morning. My point: it's your life and you should share it with someone who loves you. A true love takes all of you, just as you take him, warts and all. It's ok to say horrible, mean things about him after he's gone away. Vent your disappointment and anger, then open your eyes and heart to the beautiful possibilities out there...waiting for you.


Oh sweetie!! I so feel for you. I had my first surgery as an emergency too. I lost my whole lower bowel. Then, for the next 7 months I remained in severe pain and could eat hardly anything. In February of 2018, I had emergency surgery again due to a stoma that had strictured so tightly that all the intestines behind it were ready to burst. I almost died a second time! Prior to my first ileostomy surgery in July of 2017, I fell and broke my foot on June 25th in Salt Lake City at the VA hospital. I had to stay there and have a screw put in it. My husband had to drive from Montana to take me home because the VA hospital had given me a bunch of adaptive equipment. I was ordered off my foot for 90 days. 12 days later after eating a supper my husband fixed for me, I became severely ill and lost my bowel. I was in ICU for three days and in the hospital for almost 10 days. I couldn't walk due to my broken foot and was stapled stem to stern! I had to sleep downstairs in the dining room for 2 months because I couldn't go up the 16 stairs to the bedroom. My husband had already been ignoring me early in our 13-year marriage, now he was really frustrated with me even more. Also, I was feeling afraid of him because I thought he had tried to kill me, causing the loss of my bowel but I was feeling guilty about those thoughts because of all the surgeries so close together. We continued to grow apart until I moved out in June of this year. I am giving him a year to sort out his issues and if he doesn't get help for his anger and abusive behaviors, I will not move back. So far, he has done nothing. Some people just can't get past that little bag on our tummies that is saving our lives. You can give him some space and time to adjust but if he cannot, you will have to cut your losses and move on. It is NOT your fault, it is his issue so do not blame yourself. Concentrate on getting well and learning about your "new belly buddy." You will find a new love who will accept everything and not base how he feels on looks only. I hope someday I will find someone to love me again and not be abusive and controlling. Good luck to you!


Hon, if you think it, it's probably happening that he's having second thoughts about being with you. Trust your gut feelings here. It's been well documented here on this site, people lose their partner all because of a bag. Most people will find it disgusting. As I do. And, as an ostomate, I am parting ways with my own wife of seven years. I'm miserable, making her miserable. You don't want that, dear. Give him and yourself some time to adjust or commit. Then move on. We lacked communication. And it's my fault. Pride got in the way. Talk. Resolve, move on. People change for the worse sometimes. Good luck. We are all here to help you through this difficult time.

Past Member

Sort of new on here....How are you doing now?.....You are still so very young, and I am young at heart but a bit older. With me having a urostomy a few years ago, every stage in life has issues and concerns. Basically, don't waste any of your life with anyone .......who does not care or understand......If you sense that, bow out gracefully, keep your dignity, raise your head, and walk away.........The right people will love you......Tess....x...

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