Is Dating Harder With an Ostomy?
Scrolling through my newsfeed the other day and an article peaked my attention. This was the said article.
The letter writer says:
“𝘖𝘯 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘧𝘪𝘳𝘴𝘵 𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘰𝘭𝘥 𝘮𝘦 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘊𝘳𝘰𝘩𝘯’𝘴 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘦. 𝘏𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘪𝘵 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘺 𝘣𝘢𝘥 — 𝘩𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘧𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘰𝘸 𝘢 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘵 𝘥𝘪𝘦𝘵 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘨𝘰𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘰𝘤𝘵𝘰𝘳 𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘯. 𝘐 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸 𝘐’𝘮 𝘣𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧𝘪𝘴𝘩, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘵 𝘶𝘯𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘵𝘰 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘩𝘪𝘮 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘪𝘵?”
The full letter was this:
Before the pandemic hit, I started seeing a new man; since the lockdowns, we’ve texted every day. On our first date, he told me about his Crohn’s disease. He has it pretty bad — he has to follow a strict diet and goes to the doctor often. I know I’m being selfish, but is it unethical to not date him because of it? I don’t know what to do to support him, and I am worried about the future. He said it’s very likely his intestinal issues could get worse, and his life expectancy may be shorter. I want to shield myself from the pain, but I also feel like a terrible person for even thinking about it. Any advice? Name Withheld
The response to the letter, in general, was a little debatable as to if it should have been thought out better…
“𝘠𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘰𝘸𝘦 𝘪𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘤𝘤𝘦𝘱𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝙗𝙪𝙧𝙙𝙚𝙣.”
The article involved was published by the New York Times. It has since had an updated response. As you can imagine the poor person got the full onslaught of the IBD community.
However, this article has made me think: are we a burden? Are our complex issues or surgery number 45 too much for our respective partners?
I asked myself the question what would dating life be like without an illness? What would dating life be like without a stoma?
There was only one-time pre-diagnosis that I got into a relationship. Life was easy, you go on your merry way with the honeymoon period with no thought as to where anything may be going.
Dating after diagnosis
I was back to being a single Mum by the age of 28, I had come out of an 11-year relationship. Did I think OMG it’s going to be hard for me to date because I am ill? No, I didn’t, it was the single mum aspect that filled me with anxiety. Nothing says social pariah like a single mother, same can be said for those who have been married and then divorced. There is a stigma attached to being a single parent, no idea as to why.
I think dating for women is easier. Men have an inbuilt (Me man, me look after you). Dating and relationships are all based on compatibility, and baseline animal instincts, will my mate be good to extend the family line. As humans, it’s a bit more technical and emotions are involved but we aren’t really that far from our baseline animal instincts?
I think as humans we have an inbuilt narcissism due to the perceived social standard of what is and what isn’t attractive. I for one have a thing about teeth. If you don’t have a good set of pearly whites then I am off out of the door. I also have a thing about the caveman mentality of some men, start bossing me about and I am also out of the door.
Have I struggled to date?
In the grand scheme of things, no I have not. I have always been open, upfront and honest about my situation.
I usually use the conversation starter a little about me, I have Crohn’s disease and in the next year, I will be facing stoma surgery. This was my opening gambit on my POF profile. Why I ever felt the need to use a dating site, I have no clue but for a little while, it was entertaining and opened my eyes a little.
I was friends with Ben prior to dating him, we had known each other for years and drifted in and out of each other’s lives.
Ben knew the full in’s & out’s prior to dating me. In reality it should have been relatively easy but due to his divorce, my being a single parent and my looming surgery this caused a fair amount of questionable questioning for Ben from his family and friends. I was a burden, taking on someone’s child is hard, why is she a single parent? There must be something wrong with her!
FYI most of us single mums actually have our lives together, we are responsible for a mini human as well as running a household and being an adult.
The next set of questions that came into play was my ability to have sex, for some unknown reason it’s a common misconception of stoma surgery is that you cant have sex. As to why this is a thing I have no idea. Being asked that kind of question is below the belt, I was having a stoma placed, not a vagina removal.
The next hardest thing for me to explain is the fact I can not have another child, as much as I want to, It is not safe to do so due to the damage caused by endless surgeries, asking a partner to give that up when they don’t have a child is a pretty big ask. Ben seems happy with his decision but it is the one thing that makes me wonder if I have asked too much of him. That is a big life decision to make and forfeit because my body is unable.
Being chronically challenged
Those of us that have underlying health issues, a stoma, or even 2 stomas. Does this make us any less worthy of love? Does this mean that we aren’t capable of having a healthy, happy, loving relationship? Hell No it does not make us any less worthy.
We are normal people, we are human, we all need that love, companionship and human interaction.
We just have a few added extras.
Education and understanding goes a fair way in helping your potential partners to understand we are not any different to dating the next said person. There are the odd mishaps with stoma life but that is par the course.
Most of us are incredibly stubborn, strong-willed and resilient. If we can manage to have our health in check then we can manage a healthy relationship as well.
Having said that there are going to be times when we will face rejection, this isn’t the life every potential partner can handle. This is why being upfront and honest in the early stages of any new fledgeling relationship is key. I am a firm believer that all relationships are built on a foundation of trust.
Being open before building a relationship and the emotional ties is the best thing, that way you will avoid heartbreak and a general mistrust as to whom can or can’t accept us as we are.
There are many of us that have relationships post stoma surgery and for the best part, our partners are incredibly understanding and accepting of that life-changing little bag. In the grand scheme of things that stoma is such a small part as to what makes us as a person.
Many thanks for reading