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5 Things to Know When You're Dating a Person With an Ostomy

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Congrats! You’re dating a person with an ostomy. Maybe we told you about this months ago and you’ve been mulling the thought of going further over; maybe we told you over cocktails on our first date. Maybe we met on a disability dating website; maybe we hunted you down on something less savory.

But here’s the situation — your significant other might not have one of their urinary or digestive organs.

Here’s some know-how on dating an ostomate (a person with an ostomy):

1. Belts, wraps and bands — oh my!

If you are worried about the bag getting in the way while you are cuddling your honey, there are so many options to keep it secure. There are specially made ostomy bands with pockets, jerry-rigged bands made from maternity underwear — there are even belts meant for extreme sporting.

They also hide the bag. I am private about my equipment and choose to keep my stuff covered up. For an ostomate looking to feel pretty or daring, you have options ranging from high-waisted lingerie to a classic white tank top.

2. Dinner can be a challenge.

Some ostomates are strict vegans. Others have to eat extremely low-fiber diets. Maybe your partner can only have one bite of egg if the moon is full with a side dish of pure rainwater — or maybe they eat exactly the same menu as you.

What I can or can’t eat can be strange, and it can change on a whim. I look like a picky eater when my body is acting up — think salad-dressing-on-the-side, no-bun, pick-out-the-mushrooms, eye-rolling-waiter restaurant orders. Dinner and a movie is a classic date night, but sometimes a home-cooked meal is going to be way easier for an ostomate.

3. Spontaneity? Not a certainty!

Look, sometimes the dinner date was too good. If my bag is full, I have to empty it…yesterday. We can be snuggling on the couch, and a sudden spurt can send me running.

Before I choose to go in flagrante, this lady has to put on a wrap. And you know what? Sometimes those two minutes make the moment (poof!) disappear. But that wrap is my ostomy confidence. Dating an ostomate means dealing with some body quirks.

4. Our illness can be invisible.

You know your partner has an ostomy, but they might not “look” sick.

I can pass as perfectly healthy; some ostomates are perfectly healthy. But having that surgery does take a toll on your body. You get dehydrated quicker. You might have underlying symptoms from what made you sick in the first place. You might have a month of “good days” in a row before something saps you.

I might’ve gone a date with you yesterday and canceled today — and I promise, it’s not you. I’m just not feeling my best.

5. Anything you can do…

Some ostomates hike. Some ostomates ski. Some ostomates cook five-star gourmet meals.

We might have to deal with some quirks in our body, but not only can we keep up with you — we might just teach you a thing or two! An ostomy can be a challenge, but it isn’t necessarily limiting. The limits we have might be the same ones you deal with — demands like time, or money, or writing the perfect online dating profile.

And who knows? Maybe you found your perfect mate dating an ostomate.

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Originally published: June 19, 2016
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