Life&Style’s Jenny Magleave explains that while the ‘ick’ is mostly harmless fun between friends it could also reflect legitimate incompatibility or our own insecurities
I have never laughed more than when, while out for drinks, my friend pulled up a four-page long list of ‘icks’ that she had encountered. The list varied from ‘shouting at video games’ to ‘playing Pokémon Go’ to literally just ‘wearing flip-flops’. We laughed and drank, exchanging our most cringe-worthy experiences with boys and dating as we went through her list. It got me thinking- what truly is an ‘ick’? Why are some things that our partners do all of a sudden just repulse us? And crucially, if you truly like someone, do any of these ‘icks’ come into play?
I have come to realise that there are different types of ‘icks’, and with them different sensations and levels of severity. There are the joking ‘icks’ like my friend’s list that are humorous, cringeworthy moments that we find awkward and embarrassing in a partner and would most likely find awkward and embarrassing in ourselves. There are the more serious ‘icks’ that a partner can do or say that are just a complete turn-off and a mark of our incompatibility – insert where a date once turned and said to me ‘ugh, wait, you’re not a feminist are you?’ And then there is the physical ‘ick’. Something that goes beyond our consciousness or something we can pinpoint and laugh about with our friends. This ‘ick’ is much more of a gut feeling and biological reaction to a partner and is much more unrecoverable than simply the idea of them ‘bouncing on a trampoline alone’.
The viral trend of ‘icks’ that have surfaced in the last months refers to the first type. The joke type. The kind of thing you could even say to a partner: ‘that’s an ick’. They are things that come from being aware of what people think of you and others and are, I think, a reflection of our own social awkwardness. These are the things like trying and failing to get a waiters attention, spilling a drink down yourself or singing along to a song and getting the words wrong. These ‘icks’ are recoverable and don’t really exist when you’re actually into someone as you are then more likely to see these awkward fumbles as cute, funny or endearing.
The second type of ‘ick’ is slightly more serious. These are things that are more personal and deep and can be a real dealbreaker in a relationship. These can be political views, life goals or their sense of humour- things that make you ultimately quite incompatible. In the most recent series of Love Island, this is the ‘ick’ that islander Priya was referring to with Brett when she worried that he was too boring and too unadventurous for her. Gurpreet Singh, a relationship counsellor and psychotherapist at Relate, deduced that these ‘icks’ don’t necessarily mean that your partner is doing anything wrong per se, but that ‘they’re just the way they are and it might just irritate you’.
These aforementioned ‘icks’ are mental, things we can see, evaluate and think about a person and are in our control. That’s what makes them laughable sometimes as we see ourselves as ‘vain’ or ‘silly’ for noticing them. We go on to share these things with friends because we can deduce and perceive them not only in other people but in ourselves. Dating and relationship expert, Hayley Quinn, said that the ‘ick’ can be a great opportunity for self-reflection and to learn more about what you want in a partner and for yourself in the future. Sometimes, the ‘ick’ can reflect our own insecurities and perhaps discomfort in getting to know someone, rather than being something that the other person is actively doing that’s putting you off.
I think that there is another side to the ‘ick’ that is more like a biological and instinctual reaction that makes you almost physically repulsed by someone but this sensation is much rarer and in my opinion, is not what we have come to know as an ‘ick’. Gurpreet Singh goes on to say that people often underestimate the amount of unconscious communication that happens in a relationship. She says “our responses to somebody’s smell, behaviour or value systems can largely be unconscious, and the ick usually comes from that unconscious gut reaction.”
So in the case that you feel the dreaded ‘ick’ dawning, take a minute to see if it’s all in good fun or if it truly is gross and icky.
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