I usually don't post anything on here, but really wanted to share my experiences on this particuar subject. I've had my ileostomy for 3 years this coming Christmas Eve, and it's taken me a while to feel normal with it, but experiences along the way have greatly helped me.
When I was taken ill, I'd been with my then boyfriend for a matter of weeks. The operation made NO difference to how he felt about me, in fact it just made him more protective and he said he was so proud of how well I dealt with it all. Absolutely no problems in the bedroom on his part either, to be honest it was me turning him down a lot because just wasn't feeling as attractive as I used to feel. Understandable, but looking back now I wish I just went for it!! We broke up about 18 months later purely because we'd drifted apart.
I've since told two men about it, both very positive experiences. I was SO worried about telling the first guy. I saw him three of four times and then plucked up the courage to send a long text telling him what had happened to me. He replied almost intsantly saying it didn't change a thing and what a wonderful person he thought I was. When I saw him afterwards, I told him how worried I had been. His reply was simply 'Why?!' I decided to break things off with him after a couple of months, purely because my feelings for him had changed.
I recently decided to break up with my most recent boyfriend because I didn't feel the same about him (I hope this isn't turning into a recurring theme with me, hopefully I'll find the right one soon!!!). His reaction on the third or fouth date was pretty much the same as the guy before. This time, I told him to his face. He already knew I'd had major surgery for crohns, so when we were at his, it just kind of came up in conversation. I told him I was 'diverted' right now while my colon rested. He didn't really know what to say, not in a bad way, he just had never heard of it before. After I left, he sent me a message to say that he was touched that I chose to confide in him, and if anything it had made him like me more because he just wanted to look afer me. I remember chatting about it to him in the pub after we'd been together a couple of monhs, and he'd said 'I don't know why you were so worried about telling me. It's no big deal - at all.' We had absolutely NO problems in the bedroom, it was amazing in fact!! I just wore a litte strappy top rolled down, or this great little boob tube stomach thing for people with our operation, I got it on prescripion which was a bonus! But yeah, after about five months I broke things off with him.
Before all this, when I'd just split with the guy it all happened with, I'd read horror stories from people in my position, and I look back at them now and wish I hadn't taken any notice, because my experiences have been nothing but positive - more than positive in fact. It's just taught me that it's only a big deal to YOU, no one else. So if you feel worried, or negative - just try and change your mindset.
My advice to people about to start dating is to take it slow, and maybe wait 3 or so dates until you tell everything. After all, you need to figure out whether you like the person enough to possibly begin a reationship with them!! This gives them a while to get to know you too, before you start telling them your medical history haha. I'm sure there are different ways to go about things, this is just what I've found works for me. What I've found on the last two occasions, is that it makes them confide in you about a certain health issue they, their friend or member of their famiy have got. Everyone's got something to deal with, an ostomy is just our 'something'.
I'm sure people will have other experiences, these are just mine. I wanted to share to help someone who's just had the op and worried about dating, to let them know that it's going to be okay!! Sorry about the essay!!!