The ‘ick’ – the true ruiner of all dating scenarios. Just when things seem to be going well, bam! it can rear its head and give you a permanent cringe towards the other person. And no matter how much you want it to work out, once you have the ick, you just cannot stop thinking about whatever gave us the feeling of disgust.
The cause of the ick can be as trivial as the way they say a word or the way they do something – but whenever you think about it, you just feel total inexplainable repulsion.
But should we actually trust the ick? Is it just a moment of panic that we need to learn to move past or is it a gut reaction we should trust? We spoke to relationship expert Anuradha Gupta, CEO of global matchmaking agency Vows for Eternity, to get the lowdown.
What is ‘the ick’?
According to Gupta, the ick has become a cultural phenomenon. Although there’s a whole lot of debate of where the word came from, she argues that it was first coined on an episode of Sex and The City called ‘The Ick Factor’.
It’s a term that’s become popular thanks to shows like Love Island (Leanne chucked Mike because she caught it after all) and over on social media, many of us have been sharing the most ridiculous things that have given us the ick.
“Essentially, ‘the ick’ is when your attraction flips to feelings of cringe, disgust or annoyance towards your partner,” Gupta explains. “Despite your better judgement, you can’t let go of these feelings, even if they are seemingly out of nowhere. Contrary to belief, ‘the ick’ can happen in both short-term and established long-term relationships.”
Is ‘the ick’ a gut reaction or momentary panic that should be ignored?
Bad news guys – according to Gupta, it doesn’t really matter if the ick you feel towards someone is a gut reaction or caused by panic, it’s still a sign of a bigger issue.
She says: “Essentially, ‘the ick’ is a gut reaction in the enteric nervous system.
“Your intuition is telling you something feels off within the relationship and is making you uncomfortable, so you should listen to this instinct.
“Whether you are finding faults in your partner in order to protect yourself from getting hurt, or a sign of larger incompatibilities, at its root ‘the ick’ is a defence mechanism signalling to underlying issues within the relationship.”
But why do we get ‘the ick’ in the first place?
Gupta advises that the ick can come into play if someone has hard time committing to their relationship, whilst it can also appear if someone has rushed into a relationship and is only discovering their partners bad habits later on.
The ick can be a protective response from your nervous system, warns Gupta - perhaps you are struggling with an insecure attachment style, which is causing patterns of fearfulness and avoidance.
“Of course, ‘the ick’ can be brought on by your partners bad behaviours too,” says Gupta. “How loud they chew or if they constantly interrupt you when you’re telling a story can all give you the ick.”
According to the pro, if you are frustrated with your partners bad habits, communicate and address these concerns with them, no matter how awkward it may initially feel. If you are nit-picking their behaviour or overthinking, turn inwards and examine your behaviour.
Is ‘the ick’ a death sentence for a relationship?
“If ‘the ick’ is stemming from larger issues which are difficult to navigate, such as a lack of attraction, commitment issues or chemistry, think about where these feelings are stemming from and whether you would like to move past it,” Gupta advises.
For those in longer-term relationships, where the ick may be being caused by bad habits, Gupta says that its best to communicate why you are uncomfortable to your partner.
“Remember, they are not mind readers and will not be able to comprehend the extent of your discomfort unless you communicate honestly. That’s the point of relationships, you work with each other to make both your lives better,” she adds.