It doesn’t need to be a ‘legit’ concern to give you the ick (Picture: Getty)
If you’ve ever watched someone you’re attracted to do something completely normal but that you’ve found repulsive you may have suffered from ‘the ick’.
Whether it’s holding their cutlery with balled fists, running for a bus, or wearing a Christmas jumper, ‘the ick’ refers to that feeling you get when the behaviour of someone you fancy disgusts you.
It doesn’t need to be rational, logical, or serious. The ick is different from obvious relationship-enders (such as violence or abuse) in that it’s not caused by clear red flags, rather an otherwise insignificant thing that grosses you out when done by someone you’re romantically interested in.
Ted Mentele, from language app Babbel, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘The term itself is attributed to former Love Island contestant, Olivia Attwood, who used the phrase to comment on her relationship with Sam back in 2017.
‘Linguistically, “icky” is a combination of the words “sick” and “ickle” (meaning little), in use in both the UK and USA from around the 1920s to mean either “sticky” or “overly emotional”.
‘It has, of course, evolved over time and now means “disgusting”. A noteworthy use of the term “the ick factor” can be heard in an episode of the TV show Friends from 1995, in reference to a breakup situation with Monica. “The ick” appears to be an amalgamation/combination of these.’
Personally, if I’m in the early stages of dating someone and they, for example, wear a short-sleeved floral shirt, I lose all attraction. Other completely stupid icks of mine include eating food from a lunchbox, being overly competitive in a game or quiz, or if they’re shy when asking for a drink food order.
See? Not rational.
The ick has had something of a moment lately, with people on TikTok joking about small things that turn them off.
With that, we decided to ask the general public what their icks are. Common themes include bad shoes and overfamiliar pet names. Read on to see theirs.
‘Men with no socks on and short jeans and a nasty veiny ankle.’
‘When people eat breakfast cereal or soup from a cup. I have no rational explanation for this, but I find it exceedingly icky.’
‘Watching someone eat, and biting the fork really gives me the ick. Also, loud eaters! I know this is going to be a common one..’
‘If they have a massive pimple they haven’t popped. If they eat Wensleydale. If they finish a packet of crisps then pour the crumbs into their mouth from the packet. I am repulsed by all these things.’
‘Wearing a cotton stretchy snood instead of a face mask.’
‘When a guy calls me “babe” un-ironically.’
‘Trousers with too much material – there’s no need for it! Men who wear dinner jackets to day functions, or men who wear “smart” shoes on the weekend when out.’
‘Gloves and I have no explanation why!’
‘Loud eaters/eating with mouth open. Actually makes me grimace and has previously instantly turned me off someone.’
‘A guy I fancied once tripped and he looked as if his life had flashed before his eyes and it gave me the biggest ick. I feel like such a bitch because I fall over my own feet all the time but it made me cringe so hard.’
‘When people make popping noises with their mouths it makes me want to cry.’
‘For me it’s definitely bad shoes and fussy eaters. Deal breakers!
‘Definitely of the leather variety (i’m less particular about trainers). I just did some research and discovered they could be described as “the Nineties Winklepicker” – cheap leather/pleather hybrids of classic men’s shoe designs and very ugly.’
‘Treating cashiers and wait staff weirdly. Massive ick.’
‘I once dated this guy (a long, long time ago) who could never get “your”, “you’re” and “there”, “they’re” and “their” right. Used to drive me crazy. Luckily, I’m now in a happy relationship with a guy who knows the difference between all of the above.’
‘For me I can’t stand hearing people chew their food (or gum). It makes me shudder and I can’t concentrate. There is a name for it, misophonia. I literally feel the fight or flight response.’
‘The thing that gives me the biggest ick is dressing gowns! Something so normal but honestly the thought of my boyfriend or any male in a dressing gown honestly makes my stomach go funny. No idea what it is but it really is the top of my list in terms of things that give me the ick.’
‘When guys use the term “hun” it literally makes my skin crawl. There are so many nicer words than that.’
‘Low top converse as “smart/dress trainers” particularly with skirts. Fine for decorating the gaff or whatever but that’s it. High top, slightly more acceptable but depends.’
‘Bad shoes. There is absolutely no excuse for tatty shoes. To clarify, I mean more along the lines of when you can tell they never undo their shoe laces at the end of the day. They’ve never put a trainer through the washing machine/scrubbed them with a brush. That type of tatty.’
‘When any male in the workplace says “it needs to be sexier” or “sex it up” when talking about something as dull as a monthly report. Makes me want to stick Bic biros in my eyes and run full pelt into the nearest wall.
‘If I’m in a crowded area and a bloke feels the need to put his hand on my lower back as I’m passing. The rage I feel when this happens has no bounds.’
‘Skinny jeans with rips in them – usually worn by the same men that used to pick on skater guys for wearing skinny jeans back in the 2000s. But now they shove their steroid pumped arms into a shirt that’s two sizes to small for them, spray on their jeans with their hairless tanned legs poking out and waddle down the street to the nearest watering hole to order a bottle of Grey Goose while usually cat-calling anyone with a pulse.’
‘Hearing or seeing other people brush their teeth. Even on TV. I want them to do so, obviously, just nowhere near me.’
‘Crude chat but when they say it in a chavvy way, for example “aww fa guft?” instead of “who pumped?”‘
‘Someone being a Soundcloud rapper gives me the ick, despite being a Soundcloud musician myself. Also tight jeans.’
‘For me it’s when men wear trousers with longer socks but there’s a gap of leg between the sock and trouser – really irks me. One of my friends also got the ick at a guys wallet, and another common one in my friendship group is when they don’t let people out in traffic.’
‘When boys call me baby and put “x” at the end of every message – grow up.’
‘Hungover girls in big puffa jackets.’
‘Someone having a “photo face” or pose that they use in every photo, goony sunglasses especially if they’re expensive, scrambling eggs in the pan while they’re cooking rather than in a bowl pre-cooking, babyfication of words, loud sniffing, mouth breathing, wide necklines on T-shirts.’
‘All these things give me the ick:
- Saying lol/the crying laughing emoji
- Being called hun or lovely or babe
- ‘This one’
- Short-sleeved shirts. Oh my god they are maximum ick territory.
- Loose boxer shorts
- Metal-framed glasses
- White homemade face masks (it’s niche but god they turn my stomach)
- Fruity chewing gum’
‘Bad hygiene and being naggy. Dirty smelling and looking dirty isn’t great. Plus, most fashion these days is sh**; all those pretentious girls at festivals.’
‘The main taxi company where i live didn’t accept card up until the pandemic, yet every single time my ex ordered a taxi, he would say “please can you send one where I can pay by card?” and it used to make me cringe.
‘They would tell him “we don’t have card machines” every time he asked, and I could hear them getting more and more tired of it as time went by. It’s so stupid and he was such a nice boy but it genuinely did my nut in.’
‘A really unironed shirt. Like you could hide things in the creases level of unironed.’
‘Loud chewing. Waistcoats. And Dungeons & Dragons.’
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