having an ick is now an ick

So, it turns out having icks is now the biggest ick of all

Picking apart the way other people behave might only make you unattractive

Bouncing on a trampoline, wearing brown shoes, tripping up the edge of a pavement— literally anything can be an ick. But, after years of relentlessly slating people for their minutiae mannerisms while dating, everyone across Tinder, TikTok and Twitter has officially decided that enough is enough: Icks are out in 2023.

Yup, one cursory browse of the internet will show you that the tide is turning and endless people have answered the “I’m looking for” Hinge prompt with the desire to find someone who doesn’t get instantly repulsed by anything slightly cringe: “We’re only human,” 25-year-old Oscar tells The Tab of the constant ridicule. “People have flaws”.

Obviously, picking apart the way other people behave runs the risk of making you seem judgemental and unattractive. And, in the two years that icks have become an every day talking point, it’s clear many people (particularly men) have had enough:

“This ick thing needs to stop,” claimed content creator Pat to almost 90,000 likes of agreement. “It’s getting out of hand bro. Yeah like I can’t swim, apparently that’s an ick. Yes, I run for the bus when I’m gonna miss it. Cause I’m not f**king waiting for another hour…F**king ick this, ick that, ick everything.”

Fundamentally, our definition of the ick has shifted since it first gained popularity roughly two years ago. Initially, the real ick described the sudden pang of unexplainable disgust you feel after dating or sleeping with someone. Like the love goggles have been removed and suddenly you know you need to run.

Now, “icks” denote anything someone slightly dislikes: Android phones, being rude to waiters, not being able to open ketchup sachets— all identifiable and explainable things that have made people not want to be with someone, which is far from sudden – seemingly unexplainable – repulsion.

It’s time to admit that icks are just a bit boring now. But if you can’t seem to resist finding the flaw in every love interest you come across. We’ve tracked down some expert advice on how to actually stop:

But why were people getting legitimate icks anyway?

Sometimes, you know you should be in love with someone. You want your dates to work out. But you can’t shake off that shoulder-rising, skin-crawling feeling that they can’t do anything right.

According to relationship coach Paige Moyce there are two reasons why you get this type of genuine ick. Firstly, it’s a psychological defence mechanism. “If we have things in our past that are unresolved on an emotional level our brain creates the ick so that you can’t get close to anyone,” she explains. “It does it because it thinks that it’s protecting you but it’s actually hindering you.

“Your brain’s doing it because it thinks if I create this ick and keep her or him as far away from this other person as possible, feelings can’t get involved, we can’t get hurt. We’re all good.”

And the second reason is that your brain might have picked up on something iffy about your potential partner that your conscious thoughts can’t even fathom yet: “Your subconscious is picking up on some red flags,” says Paige. “[It’s] that sixth sense that maybe something isn’t right…Maybe the way they eat, maybe the way they walk— something that seems like something quite insignificant but actually [your subconscious is] picking up on a deeper red flag and it’s trying to warn you.”

Okay, so how can we stop getting the ick when dating?

If 2023 really is the year that having icks became an ick in itself, then there has to be a way of stopping yourself getting them. Well, obviously, don’t list everything you don’t like about men on your first date with someone— even if it’s tempting.

And Paige says there are specific ways you can stop yourself experiences the ick altogether, too. “Step one is differentiating which side of the fence you sit on,” she explains. Basically, are the icks happening because of a psychological defence mechanism or are they happening because of an underlying red flag.

“If it’s a defence mechanism this is very easily fixable,” she says. “Basically, when you unpack your own issues, you might stop getting the ick…Sit down with a professional who can help you unpack it.”

But if your subconscious is sensing underlying red flags, that can be harder to analyse. “Why is your brain seeing these [icks] as red flags and why are you attracted to these people that keep giving you the ick?” Paige questions. “[A] really good thing to do is to keep an ick journal. That might help you differentiate which side of the fence you sit on…You’ll soon start to realise, wait, are these things really insignificant or are they not?”

Related stories recommended by this writer:

These stories about girls getting the ick are literally giving me the ick

Have you caught The Ick or is it just a phase? Take this quiz to find out

‘He wanked next to me as I slept’: The wildest reasons you’ve caught The Ick