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Having Icks is the Biggest Ick of Them All

It’s official: icks are being left behind in 2022.

Credit: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock

Swimming with goggles on, pushing a ‘pull’ door, wearing brown shoes – literally, anything can be labeled an ‘ick’.  Slating your crush on social media over mundane ‘icks’ even spawned a whole genre of TikTok; IckTok. Whilst complaining about icks has long been a part of dating discourse online, 2023 really is a New Year for icks. Across Tinder, TikTok, and Twitter, people are proclaiming that icks are out and having them is the biggest ick of them all.

If you’re lucky enough to have never heard of the ick or come across an IckTok video, you might be wondering what the term even means. The term, during the two years it has become part of dating vocabulary, has shifted in meaning. Initially, the ick described the sudden unexplainable disgust you feel after dating or sleeping with someone. More recently, the ick came to denote anything someone slightly dislikes which turns them off being attracted to a person. Icks became more and more mundane and ridiculous, vilifying human habits or traits that pretty much everyone has.

Credit: joeleggett / TikTok

However, the age of shaming people for harmless habits or mannerisms is over. The tide is turning and having the ick is no longer something to post about. A considerable number of people have answered the “I’m looking for” Hinge prompt with the desire to find someone who doesn’t complain about icks. Having icks and publically posting about them is becoming accepted as a red flag. Obviously, picking apart the way other people behave makes you seem judgemental and unattractive. Now, people are calling out how everything gets labeled as an ick and the unachievable standards having these icks set.

Why do people get the ick?

Why is it that you suddenly feel disgusted with the person you were attracted to a day ago? It seems very confusing but it’s really a misdirected psychological defense mechanism. The ick is something your mind does to motivate you to avoid a person to protect you from imagined harm. It doesn’t mean your subconscious is picking up on a red flag. Rather, icks come from unresolved emotional issues from past relationships. For example, if you are afraid of intimacy or being hurt by a break-up, the ick is your brain’s way of preventing you from getting into a situation where you could be faced with intimacy or get hurt by a potential partner. Having the ick often has more to do with your own issues rather than the other person’s.

Credit: paigemoyce / TikTok

Occasionally, getting the ick might be a legitimate warning sign that the other person isn’t the right one for you. If you’re getting the ick from a potential partner doing something you find immoral, this flags up that they have different views or values from you. For example, if you really care about the environment, then seeing your crush litter might give you the ick. If this is the case, listening to what your subconscious tells you is for the best.

How to stop icks from ruining your dating life

If 2023 is the year that having icks is an ick in itself, then resolving whatever icks you have should be a priority. The first step is inspecting if the icks you are experiencing are a misfired defense mechanism. If you can identify the ick as a defense mechanism, you should look inwards to resolve it. Unpacking and processing your own issues when it comes to relationships will help you stop getting the ick. Seeing a therapist might be a part of this or even just journaling can help you work through these issues.

Another thing is to inspect any beliefs you have about dating. Remember, many of us grew up watching romantic films or are constantly seeing perfect couples on social media all the time. This can result in believing that you have to find ‘the one’ – a perfect person who has no flaws. Obviously, no one is perfect and having standards like this will only cause conflict and pain. Reflecting on the ick and seeing how you can work through it means you don’t have to leave the relationship.


Replying to @taetae808hi Why are you getting the ick and how can you stop it? #ick #icks #theick #mentalhealth #therapy #therapytok #relationshiptips #dating #datingadvice

♬ original sound – TherapyJeff
Credit: therapyjeff / TikTok

However, if the ick stems from a legitimate conflict of interest then you need a different course of action.  If you and your potential partner don’t see eye to eye about issues you feel strongly about, this will result in a lot of conflict and unhappiness. In this case, consider if they are the right person to be pursuing. No one deserves to be in an unhappy relationship, so sitting down and thinking about what is important to you in a relationship can make it clear whether this ick can be worked through or if it’s a deal breaker.

Written By

Postgraduate student studying journalism at Edinburgh Napier University. Fandom enthusiast and ex-Wattpad writer.

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