When dating with an IBD or ostomy a question always comes up which you ask yourself. It’s something that is thought about even when you aren’t dating and it’s something that’s thought about the minute you meet someone. That question is, how do I tell them about my IBD or ostomy? And then once you figure that out, when do I tell them about my IBD or ostomy?
The answers to these questions aren’t easy and can stress someone out to a point were they aren’t able to handle the situation properly. Thinking about what to say and when to say it can ruin the start of something that should be exciting, something that should make a person feel amazing, not stressed and upset about what’s ahead.
Know that I’ve had these discussions now since my ostomy a number of times and not once has it scared a girl away from dating me. I even started dating one girl a couple of days before my ostomy surgery and it didn’t scare her away. It’s a stressful topic, but as the patients we over think how to answer both of these questions and might not give people the credit they deserve. In the end they don’t care as much as we think. The person we are is much more important.
My answer to both of these questions is to be open and honest with the person, tell them what your situation is and then let the rest of the conversation happen naturally. After telling the person of interest that you have and IBD or ostomy, let them know that you’ll answer any questions they have but that you want to be able to enjoy their company as well. When the time is right and you get to know each other, then have the conversation. Try to have fun with it too. For example the current girl I’m dating and I have conversations and to make them lighter we call them “In the name of science” talks.
When the conversation does happen, don’t let it scare you. Most people these days are extremely understanding about disease and illness. Don’t hide from it, embrace it and discuss how it’s made you stronger. If you let them think that it’s something which will make you weak or give them the idea that challenges are ahead, they will only be more scared about what’s to come. On the other hand if you show how it’s led you to overcoming many obstacles and has given you a greatly realistic outlook on life, they’ll know that what’s ahead in a relationship can be overcome as well.
You might even be surprised at how well the talk might go or better yet, that there might not be a need for a talk. When getting to know Lisa, I spoke about my Crohn’s a little bit the first few dates. She knew what it was but we never got into any of the heavy lifting as they might say with having a talk. When the time was right I told her that I didn’t just have Crohn’s disease but that I had an ostomy as well. Her reaction was “I know. Kind of figured that was the case.” Here I was terrified about what might be ahead and yet another talk, and she already put everything together. I asked her if she wanted to know more and she told me that she already knew what it was and that it didn’t matter to her. When she had a question she would ask. The rest of the night was filled with laughter and a joking question from time to time. No conversation was really needed.
In the end, just do what you can to be informative, let the person know that there is something which needs to be discussed, but then let the big conversation happen when it comes naturally, it might not even have to be a big conversation. When they have questions they’ll ask them and when you give positive, confident answers, your IBD or ostomy won’t be the issue that you thought it was going to be.
Never Stay Quiet!