There is a lot of fear regarding dating when you have an ostomy.
When you’re single, some may worry that going into the dating world is going to be harder than for those who don’t have an ostomy.
But that couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Here are 9 things you need to know about being in a relationship with someone who has an ostomy.
1. Do NOT worry about bag leaks.
Unfortunately, they can happen. And when it does happen and you’re sharing a bed with your partner it can be so frightening and somewhat embarrassing, especially if it happens during sex. So please be understanding and realise that it isn’t their fault and it can’t be helped. Clean up and help and just act like it isn’t a big deal… because it actually isn’t.
2. It isn’t a big deal
Be supportive and don’t make having an ostomy a huge deal. But also don’t avoid the subject either. Just be there for your partner when they need you the most.
3. Sex is no different
I think people assume sex is going to be so difficult and that people with ostomies can’t do it or can’t enjoy it as much – but everything is totally normal if you both allow it to be. The majority of us ostomate females think ‘Oh i need bag covers or a ‘sexy’ wrap to cover my ostomy’ – but when it gets down to it you’re so comfortable with your partner you really do not care for those things.
4. We need privacy in the bathroom too
Please don’t go into the bathroom straight after! Pre warning! Nothing is more annoying than when you empty your bag and someone comes in straight after then complains about the smell.. hello we did warn you! Did you expect it to smell of roses? FYI – the bag itself does not smell, but remember what’s coming out when we empty it.
5. Don’t make a situation awkward
‘Fart noises’ at meals out or when eating… yep, sorry that wasn’t a ‘fart’ that was my bag. Oops. When eating, sometimes our bags don’t stop making these weird noises. It’s quite funny if you get the humour side to it all. Don’t just ignore it, try to make light of it. There’s nothing more awkward than knowing people are purposely avoiding talking about it.
6. Meeting the parents can be interesting
When trying to explain to your partners parents on exactly how you go to the toilet.. yes out of my stomach… in to a bag…weird right? Of course, they’re just interested – don’t get defensive or take it personally. It’s nice that they want to ask questions.
7. Don’t let there be an elephant in the room
When having a family meal, make sure there is no elephant in the room and that your family are aware (if your partner is okay with that) about their ostomy and if it makes noises or that they want to leave the table to go toilet it’s no big deal!
8. Be sensitive and understanding of dietary needs
Be sensitive towards your partners dietary requirements. Some people with bags struggle to eat certain foods or can’t digest them.
9. It’s okay if you don’t want to look at the stoma
It’s really no big deal! This is not offensive in the slightest, it just means you see it the same as going to the toilet – which really, nobody wants to see! But if you do want to look at the stoma that’s great – whatever you’re comfortable with.
While there are minor differences when it comes to dating someone who has an ostomy, they can still do all the things any other person can. The only major difference between you and your partner is the way you go to the toilet.
Remember to show them that you know that. There’s nothing more comforting than understanding, acceptance and support.
Words by Danielle McCormack