Have You Had ‘The Ick’ For Anyone You’ve Dated?

You may or may not have heard the term “the ick” by now. Basically, it’s a turnoff that was a total dealbreaker in a relationship that you’ve had. Or perhaps you just suddenly felt cringed out by your partner for no apparent reason.

Everything seems to be going fine, and maybe you THINK you like them, but then you suddenly catch the ick…

If You Watched Love Island, You’ve Probably Heard Of This

Olivia Attwood attends the National Television Awards 2020 at The O2 Arena on January 28, 2020 in London, England.
Photo Credit: Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

The term “the ick” was coined by Olivia Attwood, a contestant on the reality dating show Love Island in 2017.

Attwood used it to describe how she was feeling about fellow contestant (and ex-love interest) Sam Gowland.

The Urban Dictionary Definition

dictionary page
Photo Credit: Joshua Hoehne / Pexels
Photo Credit: Joshua Hoehne / Pexels

Here’s what Urban Dictionary had to say about the ick: “Everything seems to be going fine… you THINK you like them but then you suddenly catch ‘the Ick’. From then on you can’t look at the person in the same way, you just progressively get more and more turned off by them.”

“You’ll cringe at the thought of you and them together. Nothing will be the same, you won’t be able to do it any longer and eventually have to cut it off.”

It’s A Turnoff

person with sticker on tongue
Photo Credit: lilartsy / Unsplash
Photo Credit: lilartsy / Unsplash

So, essentially, “the ick” is basically a huge turnoff that makes you reevaluate your connection or relationship with someone. It could literally be anything.

The term was popular on TikTok for quite some time, and lots of users share their own icks with their followers.

Even Carrie Went Through It

Carrie Bradshaw on her computer
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | HBO
Photo Credit: MovieStillsDB | HBO

In season six of Sex and The City during “The Ick Factor” episode, Carrie is super turned off by Aleksandr’s old-school romantic gestures.

It’s safe to say that she caught the ick and couldn’t get rid of it because their relationship does not improve after that, and shortly after, the two end up breaking up.

It Was A TikTok Trend

It was even a trend for users to list a couple of turnoffs (or “icks”) to help other people get over their ex or last partner.

Some listed in this video include when they bend over and you see their buttcrack, them running after a coin, and even them having orange around their mouth after eating.

Icks Are Unique


That being said, icks are NOT universal. Everyone has things that they just simply cannot stand, even if the hottest person in the world does it.

Even though some might find it an “ick” to see their boyfriend wearing tighty whities, I’m sure some people find that attractive (right?).

They Aren’t Just Physical

Woman looking away from man toward subway entrance
Photo Credit: Liliana Drew / Pexels
Photo Credit: Liliana Drew / Pexels

And icks aren’t always physical. Picture this: You’re casually dating a guy and all of a sudden you just can’t stand his presence anymore because you’re no longer attracted to him.

BAM, you’ve just caught the ick, and you may never even know why because there may be more than one reason.

A Few More Examples

Twitter comments:
Photo Credit: @livhartshorn / Twitter
Photo Credit: @livhartshorn / Twitter

If you feel like you have a general idea of the ick, but still don’t quite fully understand it, or want some real-life examples, I’ve got your back.

On Reddit in r/datingoverthirty, a user asked the following question: “Have any of you experience the ‘ick’ factor with someone you’re dating and generally like?”

The Reddit Thread Received A Lot Of Responses

In this photo illustration a silhouette hand holding a mobile phone with a Reddit logo in the background.
Photo Credit: Pavlo Gonchar / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Pavlo Gonchar / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

The post received over 200 responses, so it’s clear that there’s a fair share of people who have truly caught the ick before and lived to tell the tale.

That being said, let’s get into a few of the responses.

Cheesy Phrases

woman holding out hand in front of her face
Photo Credit: Isaiah Rustad / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Isaiah Rustad / Unsplash

“A few years back I was dating a guy that seemed to be the full package—great personality, caring, intelligent, thoughtful, gorgeous, and all my friends and family were so excited for the thought of us dating as he seemed perfect.”

“Until one day he started using these really cheesy over-the-top phrases in normal everyday conversation. At first, I laughed and found it funny but it went on to slowly grow to be extremely irritating for me and I couldn’t shift that ‘ick’ feeling every time he spoke like that.” —tiny_vessels_ / Reddit

It Can Be A Combination Of Things

couple photographed on rocks
Photo Credit: Allison Heine / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Allison Heine / Unsplash

“I didn’t have an extreme amount of attraction to begin with, but I recently got grossed out after being intimate with someone. It was a combo of him saying stupid stuff, having food breath, and acting entitled. On paper, this dude is attractive, but I feel so grossed out still, months later, that I have very little desire to do anything with anyone.”

“I think maybe it’s a done deal at that point, the attraction ship has sailed.” —10petsnokids / Reddit

Don’t Ignore Your Body’s Response To Someone

man thinking
Photo Credit: Zimuzo Duru / Scopio
Photo Credit: Zimuzo Duru / Scopio

“Yes absolutely. Sometimes I knew why and when it happened and other times I couldn’t pinpoint it.”

“There is always a reason but it’s okay if you don’t figure it out for everyone. Don’t ignore your body’s response to something or someone. We have internal alarm systems that serve us well.” —FuzzyGiraffe0 / Reddit

Bad Taste

woman driving with hands on the wheel
Photo Credit: Jan Baborák / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Jan Baborák / Unsplash

“For a bit, I dated a cop. She was definitely my type, but one day, when she picked me up to go out for breakfast, she had Rush Limbaugh playing in her car.”

“Instant arousal killer, and it never came back.” —Replicant28 / Reddit

The Smell Of Your Partner

couple silhouette at sunset
Photo Credit: Travis Grossen / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Travis Grossen / Unsplash

“Yes! When things started to go bad in the relationship with my ex-husband I started being repulsed by the smell of him.”

“He would smell so disgusting if he got even a little bit sweaty. His side of the bed was always greasy and even if he showered right before we had sex he would smell awful within a few minutes.” —did_you_die_tho / Reddit

Sometimes It’s Just Their Face

couple laying in bed staring at each other
Photo Credit: NeONBRAND / Unsplash
Photo Credit: NeONBRAND / Unsplash

“Yeah, that happened with my last girlfriend, relationship only lasted a month or so though. She’s funny, we get along great, she’s super into me, but having morning coffee towards the end of the relationship I was like, um I’m not sure I could see myself in this relationship looking at that face for the rest of my life.”

“Which is weird because I found her and her face very attractive up until that point, but once your body switches, that’s it. That realization caused all of the other problems we had which ended it.” —Kirjath / Reddit

Trust Your Gut

man staring out at view while woman rests on his back
Photo Credit: Milan Popovic / Unsplash
Photo Credit: Milan Popovic / Unsplash

“Yes, but there usually is a reason. It could be him or it could be you. I tried to stick it out, too. The ick factor just got worse and worse, and I started getting angry at small things. The relationship became too exhausting, and it just wasn’t worth it to fight anymore.”

“Hence, after almost two years, we separated. I think you should follow your guts. Whether it’s him or you, you guys probably shouldn’t be seeing each other (right now).” —[deleted] / Reddit