Dating with a stoma

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“When meeting new people, try to be open and honest. Honesty is the foundation of any relationship.”

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February, the month of LOVE... but as a person with a stoma, it can be quite daunting to think of relationships.

Let me start of the blog by saying, YOU ARE LOVEABLE. You are worth so much more than you give yourself credit for and you deserve to be loved and cared for.

February is always a weird month for me. In 2008 right around Valentine’s Day was when I was rushed to hospital for emergency ileostomy surgery. Fast forward 5 years, on Valentine's Day of 2013, I had a my ‘Barbie Butt’ surgery, also known as a proctocolectomy. So, I always think of February as my ‘rebirth’, my second chance at life!

Looking back, I remember thinking that nobody was ever going to fancy me, let alone fall in love with me if I had a stoma bag. Who would want to date someone with a bag attached to their stomach? Now, I realise I that was a pretty shallow thought from 17-year-old me!

Thankfully, in the 15 years since I had my ileostomy surgery, I have never experienced any negativity towards my bag from anyone I’ve had a romantic relationship with. I think I’ve been quite lucky to have met open-minded people. I think once you learn to accept yourself as you are, you gravitate towards people who are just as accepting.

In the digital age, with social media and dating apps, it makes sense that one of the most common places to meet new people is online. I personally think it’s fine to meet people online. It gives you a chance to “suss them out” before even meeting them in person.

When online dating, I usually chat for a while and try to find a natural segue in conversation to allow me to mention my ileostomy when I feel comfortable.

Although, when chatting online, most people will search for your social media profile, and I certainly don’t keep my ileostomy a secret on there! For me, it’s important for me to tell the person I’m talking to as it’s a huge part of my life. If they’re not accepting of it, they don’t have to be a part of my life. My bag saved my life and it’s something I’m not willing to hide.

When meeting new people, try to be open and honest. Honesty is the foundation of any relationship. If you’re open about your health condition, there is nothing to surprise them later down the line. I prefer to be open about my health from the beginning, to save the heartache if they turn out to not be accepting of my stoma.

I do still get nervous about dating. You’d think at 32, I would be over that, but no! I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. I’m single right now, but that’s a choice I made.

I feel like we have all been brought up with a bit of a fairy-tale. That we go to school, get married, have kids and live happily ever after, but I think we're all now learning that it’s not that simple and everyone is on their own journey. I enjoy my own company and I guess you could say that I’m still learning to love myself. I want to make sure I have fully accepted myself in every aspect of myself, before welcoming a new person into my life.

While I love, love; being true to yourself is even more important.

Having a stoma shouldn’t stop you from dating but don’t put pressure on yourself to find “the one”. Take your time, be patient with yourself and others. Enjoy the little moments in life, learn to embrace who you are, and the right person will come along when the time is right.

Remember, you are loved.

Nathan x

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by Nathan Wheeler

Nathan Wheeler

About the author

Hello - I'm Nathan Wheeler! I'm a YouTuber and I've had an ileostomy since 2007 when I was just 17, so I have a pretty good idea about how to deal with the struggles of a stoma! I want to share my experiences with you and bring a light-hearted approach to all the questions that no one wants to ask! You can follow me an Instagram and YouTube.