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How Honest Should You Be When Hooking Up and Dating With an Ostomy?

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So you met a really cool girl (or guy) at the club and you guys hit it off; or maybe you matched on Tinder and now you’re off to her place. What. Do. You. Say? I mean, it’s not like she’s not going to notice the bag hanging off your stomach, right? So how do you tell a stranger you’ve literally just met about your ostomy?

The answer is it’s really up to you how much to tell them. Me personally? I’m straight-up honest. However, I will say that the fact that I have a bag has stopped a few women from hooking up with me. I’m not kidding. About two months ago a gal I met and I were literally about to leave for her hotel room when she felt my Stealth Belt under my shirt. She asked what it was and I explained. Suddenly she stops and says she really needs to get back to her friends. Now of course she said my bag wasn’t the issue but… come on, really? 

screenshot of online conversation about ostomy

I’ve also had the above posted screenshot happen to me as well. A girl straight-up told me she could never find my ostomy attractive (at least she was honest, though… many are not). I’ve had plenty of women disappear on me when the whole ostomy thing came up, but I’ve also had women who were drawn to the fact that I was 100 percent completely honest about it and said it was ballsy and attractive that I “owned it.”

I’ve never felt the need to hide who I was and you shouldn’t, either. However, if you’re just looking for a casual fling/hookup, I’ve found it may be best to give very sparing details. The “I had surgery and it’s complicated but don’t worry I’m fine” usually works pretty well for me. I’ve used this when I don’t feel like explaining it right that second; I always tell them later because I’m more keen on raising awareness, but they don’t ask a second time — it’s always me bringing it up after they’ve already asked once. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your ostomy, disease or whatever else you may have (unless you have an STD or communicable disease, then you do owe it to them to say something).

I think this generation especially is more tolerant than previous generations but also more shallow. In a world where a new sexual partner is literally a “swipe away,” I think we’ve become more obsessed with a certain “generic conformist standard of beauty.” Here’s the thing: I would never advocate hiding who you are, but if I’m just looking for a casual thing or a hookup (and many men and women are), if I want the greatest chances of success I believe it’s best not to potentially kill the mood with too much information.

selfie of man showing is ostomy bag

This is the complete opposite of what I think you should do if you’re looking for a relationship. Ever since I added this disclaimer to my online dating profiles: “Disclaimer: I have a bag attached to my stomach, I’ve been through a lot and I’m lucky to even be alive right now. If that’s not your thing I totally get it, but say so before we waste each other’s time. I’ve also uploaded a picture so before you judge me for shirtless pictures just remember it’s because I’m being honest about what look like haha,” the amount of traffic and responses I’ve gotten have not only been better and of way better quality, they’ve also been a much higher quantity. I’d say it’s at least doubled if not tripled my traffic/responses on OkCupid and Plenty of Fish. It didn’t seem to make too much of a difference with Tinder (which I would say is a good thing, since that’s almost purely based on looks) and also didn’t seem to make much of a difference on Coffee Meets Bagel. The real kicker is when I go on dates and meet these women in person, it just seems like the connection is so much better.

Relationships are based on honesty. I think hooking up is most certainly not; there is a huge difference between the two and I hope this article will help ostomates and other people with disabilities feel a little bit better out there in the dating scene. I know it’s scary putting yourself out there, but stay courageous and keep on fighting!

Follow this journey on Ostomy Bag Swag.

Originally published: August 23, 2016
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