If you've ever got the "ick" in a relationship before, this expert has some important advice for you

An investigation into the ick epidemic...

woman in bed: how to get over the ick
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ah, the ick. We've all been there - finding something our date is doing irksome, annoying, or even a turn off. 

Originally an exclamation used to express disgust, over the past year the term has developed a new, relationship-specific meaning, referring to an often niche or specific annoyance of a habit of your partners. Think the way they lick their lips after dinner or wink after giving you a compliment - most recently, a guy friend told me he gets the ick when women are clumsy (on a recent date, a woman fell over and it gave him the ick). 

It can happen at any time or place, even on the perfect date, and come out of nowhere. That said, it can be hard to put your finger on where the ick feeling came from, even if you do feel it in your gut.

Thanks to Tiktok, noticing other people's ick-worthy behaviour seems to be on the rise, with daters getting the ick from anything and everything. Case in point - the TikTok hashtag #ick has 2 billion views, while #biggestick has 20.9 million views and counting. There's even an icktok hashtag.

That's why we've enlisted the help of Paul Brunson, Tinder’s relationship insights expert and resident Celebs Go Dating pro. Below, he explains what the ick is, why he reckons people are noticing icks more frequently, plus his top tips for getting over them - because if Brunson reckons it's got to go, we're listening. 

Check out our expert explainers on first date tips, what to talk about on a first date and what to text after a first date, while you're here.

Got the "ick"? Your guide to what it is, how it works, and how to get over it - for good

As above, put simply, getting "the ick" is suddenly finding something your date or partner is doing annoying, irksome, or frustrating.

It could be a movement, expression, or habit - sometimes, you don't even know what's caused the feeling, but you know you've got the ick all the same. 

"The "ick" can best be described as a really intense turn-off from a potential match or date that can be legitimate or very obscure - it isn’t always logical," explains Brunson. "That said, it can often prevent a situation-ship or connection from developing further."

man and woman in bed: how to get over the ick

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The most popular TikTok Icks

Whether it’s chewing with their mouths open, calling their parents "mummy and daddy", or even silly things like them screaming when riding on a rollercoaster, it’s a behaviour or habit that's regarded as a turn off, explains Brunson. 

A quick scroll of TikTok revealed the following popular "icks":


♬ original sound - OSHU
  • "When he waits for the lifeguard to let him go down the slide"
  • "When he uses the chocolate box menu to chose a chocolate" 
  • "When he drops a coin and it keeps rolling and he chases after it" 
  • "When he walks up to an escalator but has to wait for another step to get on" 
  • "When he puts his mouth round the whole bottle to take a drink" 
  • "When there are no cars around and he still waits for the green walk sign"
  • "Those mercury in retrograde girls blaming crystals on their bad vibes" 

♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys - Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

The ick challenge

That's right - "icks" are such a viral phenomenon, there's even an ick Tiktok challenge now.

How does it work? Well, it shows couples, friends or family members sit down with and discuss the behaviour they find ick-worthy with one another.

We guess it goes to show that even when couples do get the ick about each other's behaviour, they can definitely make it work...

That said - one thing I noticed when researching this article was how deeply rooted a lot of said icks are in old gender norms. I found it a little bit concerning - especially when we're all actively encouraging a more liberal and forward-thinking dating scene.  


♬ original sound - Samthompsonuk

Why the 'ick' needs to go?

That's just one of the reasons Brunson reckons it's time to ditch the ick. 

"Ultimately, you shouldn’t let one thing putting you off about a person be a dealbreaker," he advises. 

His advice? "Take a minute to think about what’s really behind this personal dislike. It could just be that you don’t know your partner well enough and assumptions have been made. Relationships are based on compromise and communication, while also maintaining your own authenticity. It’s a fine balance."

If you know in your gut that dating someone isn't working out and you're better off doing your separate ways, do politely and respectfully communicate that. That said, if you're judging your date for a turn of phrase or love of cycling, it might be worth rethinking. 

How to get over the ick? 5 tips

1. Take time to reflect

Brunson's first tip is simply to chat with the person you’re dating. "Get to know each other a bit more and go from there," he shares. "Nobody is perfect, that’s for sure - perhaps those "icks" are actually just weird and wonderful quirks that you can learn to love.”

He also advises reflecting on what you really want is always important. He shares that this will help you decide whether the icks are really a deal breaker or whether you can look past them. 

2. Reframe your thinking

Ask yourself this: is it really an ick or is it a small quirk? Reassessing your thinking patterns and reframing your thinking can be helpful - case in point, would your best friend doing the same thing be annoying or endearing? 

Try calling it a quirk rather than an ick and see what comes from it. Our guide to reframing negative thoughts is a good place to start.

3. Treat others how you wish to be treated

Treating others with compassion and kindness - even if perhaps their won't be a second date, as you don't think you're compatible - is key, shares Brunson. 

Think about it - coming out with "that just gave me the ick" likely isn't the kindest thing to say to another person, and you'd likely find it hurtful if someone said it to you about your own behaviour. 

4. Be clear

"If you’re someone who knows what they’re looking for, then don’t be afraid to give your potential matches the heads up," advises Brunson. 

"While a long checklist of your dream match might put some off, giving a few specific pointers, such as dog parent or travel buddy, will set transparent expectations from the off."

5. Communication

And finally, make sure to communicate with your date, as above, in a respectful and polite manner. No one deserves to be ghosted, after all.

Dionne Brighton

Dionne Brighton is a writer at Marie Claire UK, specialising in all things shopping, beauty and fashion. Born and raised in North London, she studied Literature at the University of East Anglia before taking the leap into journalism. These days, you can find her testing out the latest TikTok beauty trends or finding out what the next full Moon means.