What Is Getting 'The Ick'?

If you've ever found yourself completely smitten with someone and then something happens — could be anything! — and suddenly you're repulsed by them, you've caught a case of "the ick." You can be happy as a clam with your partner and all it takes is one moment, one experience, one thing that sends your gag reflex into overdrive, and you're just done, over them, sayonara baby. Although you may be able to pinpoint when it happened, why it happened is another thing. 


"Sometimes the ick is nearly instant when you become intimate with someone, and you just can't shake the feeling of wanting to recoil if someone comes any closer to you," licensed psychotherapist and certified trauma specialist Susan Zinn tells Shape. "A bad kiss or being 'bad' at sex can suddenly be a major turn-off. This is different from having doubts down the line in a relationship. An ick feeling is instantaneous, and your intuition is signaling to you to get away as fast as possible."

But while a bad kiss and a less-than-satisfying sexual experience can make someone run for the hills, sometimes the reasons, if we can even call them that, are banaler. For some people, it can be their partner's taste in music, the way they stick out their tongue for photos, or the fact that someone doesn't like a type of food (via News.com.au). Then, you can find yourself making excuses as to why you need to break up because the "reasons" are too silly.


Haven't caught "the ick" yet? Here's what you need to know in case you wake up with it tomorrow. 

'The ick' can happen at any time

Although it might seem like something that only happens after the first few dates, that's not always the case. "[The ick] can also happen later on in the dating stages, when someone does something that suddenly becomes a major turn-off," dating expert Hayley Quinn tells Cosmopolitan. It could even be something that never turned you off before, but now it does.


Some experts contribute this feeling to a sort of defense mechanism based on past experiences. "For example, if you were in a toxic relationship prior with someone who wore a certain cologne, you might then experience the ick if the new person you're dating starts wearing that same cologne," clinical psychologist Elizabeth Fedrick, Ph.D., tells Well + Good. "This is less about the new person, and much more about experiencing a sensory trigger that results in a feeling of disgust due to previous unsafe situations."

In your mind, this is a heads up to bail so as to prevent similar circumstances from happening again, even if those similar circumstances are actually never going to happen. 

What to do about it

If you know your "ick" is legitimate, as in you are in an unhealthy relationship and your instincts are trying to protect you, then you can examine that. Is the relationship worth working on or is it too toxic to stick around? If it's the latter, then it's best to go in another direction (via Women's Health). Toxic partnerships rarely evolve into good territory without boatloads of therapy. 


Or, you can stay if the other person is definitely not to blame, but "the ick" is linked to your own hang-ups. Stay and hope it passes, of course. Just know it won't necessarily be easy. It's hard to see things rationally and clearly when we've already decided that something is, well, icky.

"It is completely possible for relationships to move past an ick," Natasha Briefel from the dating app Badoo tells HuffPost U.K. "It could just be that you don't know your partner well enough yet! So, chat to your partner or the person you're dating, get to know each other a bit more and go from there."

Considering how arbitrary "the ick" is, you never know when or if it's coming until you're in it. However, should you catch it, it's important to understand you can't just take a pill and it will go away — if only "the ick" were as simple as a headache. Instead, "the ick" is going to force you to make some decisions you may not want to make. You just need to trust your gut when you do and hope "the ick" was right.