Is it sexist if men experience The Ick?

Posted by Lisa in Lifestyle, Relationships

Recalling the incident still makes Liam cringe. He was at ⁢his local pub with a woman he had been dating for a⁣ few months. Their relationship had progressed quickly, spurred ‍on by the‌ lockdown. They had vacationed together ⁢and met each other’s friends. ‌Then, ‌one⁢ afternoon, she showed him her Instagram account and her recent shift to video content, where ​she​ talked about her 30-day fitness challenge ⁤to her followers.

“The silence was deafening,” says Liam, who is now 34. Despite his best efforts, he couldn’t hide his genuine reaction. “She was a ⁢wonderful person, fun ‍to be around –‌ but I found this to be ​a turn-off,” he admits. “I’m not ⁣really from the generation that talks into the camera. It made me feel uncomfortable.” His date‌ could⁤ tell ⁢from ⁢his⁣ expression, ⁢Liam says. “She was ‍utterly embarrassed, my reaction was clearly⁣ one⁣ of shock.”

His date attempted to downplay her Instagram ambitions, but⁤ the damage‌ was done. A few weeks later, Liam ended the relationship: he had experienced‍ his first-ever ick.

You might have experienced it too: that sudden, seemingly trivial​ turn-off that can spell the end for a budding romance or even ​a relationship.⁢ The term “the ick” (as in “I got the…” or ⁤”it gave me an…”) was popularised by Love ⁤Island last year and has since become a common term‌ for an unexpected loss of attraction.

For Ben, ⁤it‌ was discovering that a girl he⁢ was dating kept a can of Coke ‌by⁢ her ⁤bed and sipped from it every⁣ few hours. Tim ended things with a woman after she referred to her father as “daddy”⁢ in​ conversation – and⁣ with another⁣ when she ‍introduced him to her pet hamster during his first visit to⁢ her house. “The ​hamster ​was ⁢adorable,” he says. ​”But I knew ‌that was the end.” For Xavier, it was finding out ​over dinner that his date ‌didn’t know how to use chopsticks. The restaurant was upscale enough⁢ to make the request ‌awkward, he remembers, “I never felt the same ​after that.”

The⁢ ick​ can be superficial or profound; it‌ can occur suddenly, or ‌gradually. In the ​recent second season of ⁢the BBC series Industry, Harper ⁤experiences‌ it not even mid-hookup but “somewhere between the cab and the front door”. Regardless, ⁤it ⁢is believed to be almost impossible to ‍recover from. According to a recent survey by dating app Badoo,‌ 82 per cent of users said‌ they ‌had experienced the ick‌ and 78 per ‍cent had ended a relationship because of⁣ it. However, while we⁣ might discuss the ick as a consistent and widely shared phenomenon, the concept‍ is vague – and‌ highly personal. Clinical psychotherapist Jordan Dixon says it reflects our ​own “erotic blueprint”. “We all have a diverse range of things that turn us ⁣on ⁢– the ​same⁤ applies to what turns us off,⁢ and our icks.” She adds: “Disgust doesn’t usually come out of nowhere.”

For both ‌men and women, the‌ ick can be a reliable indicator of a lack of connection or‌ even incompatibility. Today, Liam ​recognises his strong reaction as​ a sign of a‍ deeper disconnect that would have inevitably surfaced over time. “In‍ retrospect, ⁢I just wasn’t connecting with her in the way I would with a partner,” he says. “As we​ spent more time together,​ that connection⁤ wasn’t growing, and then ‌I didn’t really want it‍ to. That’s when ⁣the ick set ⁣in. It⁤ was​ just a stark moment among other subtler moments of‍ me thinking: ‍’This isn’t quite right’.” ‍At the time, Liam admits, he was ⁢so disturbed by the⁤ sudden change in his feelings, he turned to Google to⁣ try to understand it. “It ⁤was so strange to‌ me: I’d stopped being attracted to someone.”

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