A daters biggest fear: The rise of the ‘Ick’

No bubbles in the bath. Wearing hats and gloves. Farting. We’re all way too familiar with the phenomenon that is ‘the Ick’, but how do we navigate this bizarre concept in the dating world?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I have absolutely been given the ick before. Whether it be someone dropping their coins and scrambling about to pick them up or seeing somebody desperately run for the bus, just for it to drive off without them. It happens. It’s funny. But it does beg the question – have I ever given someone the ick before?

For anyone confused, ‘The ick’ is a concept which causes you to, sadly, become immediately put off by the person you are dating. If you suddenly feel cringed out by them or even experiencing feelings of repulsion, then most likely the ick is slowly, but surely, taking over.

But how do we avoid this? Dating is a daunting enough task for many as it is, without the immense pressure of not giving someone the ick, by doing something so simple as walking down a hill or being born in July (real icks provided by our Instagram followers, I may add).

Martha Lee is a relationship counsellor and clinical sexologist, who defines the ick as a complex emotional response that surfaces in intimate relationships, and sheds further light on the new-found dating sensation.

“Feeling ‘the ick’ can indeed have negative implications if not addressed constructively”, Martha says. “It can lead to avoidance, resentment, or disconnection within the relationship, which can potentially hinder emotional intimacy”. 

Although getting the ick can happen completely accidentally, and isn’t exactly anyone’s fault, it can abruptly halt potentially fruitful relationships, and destroy any opportunity for moving forwards romantically. Luckily, Martha provided insight into how to navigate this.

“Ignoring or dismissing ‘the ick’ when it arises, without exploring their underlying causes could perpetuate misunderstandings and erode connections”, Martha explained. “Embracing discomforts in the dating world can lead to profound growth and connection.

“Try to navigate ‘the ick’ by seeing it as an opportunity for communication and deepening emotional intimacy. The key to overcoming it lies in compassionate communication and mutual respect, and is not about blame or judgement, but a way to explore and strengthen bonds between potential partners”.

As impossible as it may feel in the moment, when your toes are curling under the table, as you see your date chew with their mouth open, facing the issue directly can be the best way of overcoming the ick. Obviously ensuring sensitivity and kindness is at the forefront of the conversation, finding a light-hearted way to address your ick can subtly tackle the issue and hopefully allow you to move forward.

It is also to remember that while at the time, your ick may feel like an astronomical and unavoidable elephant in the room, they are often temporary, and can easily fade away with time, as you get to know each other better.

Ally Iseman is a relationship coach and argues that making a permanent decision, based on a temporary ‘icky’ feeling is not a wise choice.

“The ick is often a momentary experience, based solely on emotions which are entirely temporary”, Ally explained. “Socially, we confuse red flags for preferences, and in doing so, we miss out on a lot of people who could add great value to our lives.”

Ally suggests that, as awkward as it may feel, embracing uncomfortable situations, such as the ick feeling, can actually be an insightful experience, and helps relationships develop further.

“The reason why you’re getting the ick should be examined. To do this, ask yourself ‘am I uncomfortable, or am I unsafe’?, she says. “Uncomfortable is a good opportunity to lean in and learn more about yourself, your partner, and your needs in a relationship. Of course, being unsafe is a reason to change direction. 

“Expanding your capacity for discomfort, such as addressing your icks, is one of the greatest qualities you can cultivate in yourself, not only for better relationships that last longer, but for a better you who is capable of achieving more in life.”

Having the confidence to thrive in discomfort, by talking about the ick your potential partner is giving you, is an excellent quality, and can open the floor for more honest conversations, to hopefully help your dating experiences.

So, yes, while  it’s light-hearted to joke about, and provides endless entertainment to have a good laugh at other peoples bizarre icks, don’t let it hinder your dating. There are definitely ways to get past it, and pave the way for compatible, long-lasting relationships.

Also, it is important to not let your dating experiences be overwhelmed with the worry of potentially giving them the ick. If it happens, it happens. But with honest communication, it does not have to be the end of the potential relationship, and can definitely be overcome.

Saying this, maybe don’t let your date see you running with a backpack on.

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