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What is The Ick & How Does it Impact Relationships?


person wondering what is the ick feeling for partner

Relationships can be confusing. Especially when you think things are going well and suddenly, you couldn’t be more turned off by your partner. What happened? What went wrong? Can we fix this? Read on to learn more about “the ick” and what to do about it.


What Does “The Ick” Mean in Relationships?


The ick occurs when you are in a short or long term romantic relationship and rather quickly you develop feelings of disgust towards your partner. This gut reaction can happen when your date says something, does something or has something about them that feels really off-putting to you.


You can suddenly catch the ick from any arbitrary experience resulting in a feeling of disgust. Whether you didn’t like the way your date was dancing at a concert, their opening line on a dating app, or how they chewed their dinner, you might feel turned off by them weirdly.


This is most common in the earlier stages of dating, typically the first few months, as you’re still getting to know your potential partner and are exploring the honeymoon phase.


The ick doesn’t always represent a red flag. In some cases, the ick can serve as a defensive mechanism. For example, if you develop the ick for someone after they say something your ex used to always say, the ick can be a way of trying to protect you from this past relationship with toxic dynamics.


The ick can also develop because of an underlying fear of intimacy. Intimacy looks different for everyone, and when a person reaches their threshold of vulnerability, they may develop the ick as a way to protect themselves from being anymore vulnerable. This might be especially true if you find yourself developing the ick with multiple new partners.


Common Signs You’re Feeling “Icked” by Your Partner


You’re disgusted by the thought of having sex with them


Sexual desire and libidos wane overtime, but if the thought of having sex with this person makes you feel sick, it may be an indication that you’ve caught the ick. You might even feel grossed out by them touching you at all.


You avoid your partner


You might be making excuses to not see your partner or you are focused on when you can leave whenever you are with them.


You notice more negative things about them than positive


Even when they do something for you, you might find something wrong with it.


You find yourself irritated by everything they do


Your partner can no longer seem to do anything right. Their attempts at being funny are annoying, you’re repulsed by how they eat, and you’re irritated every time you’re with them.


You’re Experiencing the Ick – Now What?


It doesn’t have to be the death sentence of a relationship.


Take some time to reflect on your own


Ask yourself if the behavior they are doing is really a dealbreaker, or if you are trying to protect yourself from potentially getting hurt.


Have an honest conversation with your partner


Your partner may not be aware that what they are doing is making you uncomfortable. Having an honest conversation with them may give them some insight, and you may be able to come up with a solution together to work through issues.


Speak with a relationship expert or attend couples therapy


Speaking with a clinical psychologist can help your mental health and understand why you are feeling the way you are. They can help you work through some solutions and a path forward.


The ick can be a very confusing experience, but it doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship is doomed. However, sometimes the ick can completely alter how you see someone, and you might feel completely turned off by this person. If you feel this way after experiencing the ick and don’t feel there’s a way to work through it, it may be best to end the relationship.

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.


Author Bio

Jessie is the Digital Media Coordinator at Modern Intimacy. A recent graduate of the University of Miami (FL), with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Psychology, she hopes to become a clinical psychologist and a certified sex therapist. She is passionate about empowering women to speak up in a professional and a personal setting.



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