Sometimes we go off partners for a reason that is so unreasonable it makes you feel like a monster… it’s called The Ick

With over 120k Instagram followers, Lala is the anonymous voice helping womankind through every bump in the road. An established sex, dating and relationship educator, she’s had her fair share of relationship drama and shares her wisdom on social media to a loyal army of followers.

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The ick. I can guarantee you’ve all experienced it. It’s basically the term used to describe the feeling you get when you completely go off someone all of a sudden, often for no good reason. It is more than just going off someone though, it is an intense feeling of repulsion for a person who you were once attracted to.

Once you have got the ick you can barely stand to be around them anymore, their breathing begins to sound like nails on a chalkboard and their touch makes your skin crawl.

Sometimes it hits for a very good reason, like finding their toenail collection in their bedside draw, or being able to smell their bum crack whilst you give them a massage, but often it hits for completely inexplicable reasons and that is when it’s the hardest to deal with.

The ick is irrational, something that gives you the ick for one person would not make you bat an eyelid with another. The ick can hit for a reason that is so unreasonable that it makes you feel like a complete monster for feeling it, like their scarf having a bit of fluff on it, or them being nice to your cat. But once it hits, you just cannot look at the person in the same way again.


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I once got the ick for a guy who I really liked. We had been dating for a few weeks and everything was going well. I found him really attractive, smart, funny, all boxes ticked.

I invited him to mine for Netflix and chill (although it may have been Blockbusters and chill back then) and when I opened the door to let him in, he had loads of mud on his trainers because he had walked through the park from the station. That was it. He had mud on his trainers. Yet my internal reaction was a physical one that I could not control.

I am not fussy about fashion, or prissy about cleanliness, anyone else could have turned up with a bit of mud on their shoes and I wouldn’t have cared, but the ick hit and no matter how much I reasoned with myself in my head, I could not shake it.

I felt terrible about it, I liked him so much and I wanted to keep on liking him, but from that moment on I was filled with that awful ick feeling that makes you want to run as far away as humanly possible.

We still watched the film, but because I was so icked out, his arm around my shoulder felt like a mass of crawling spiders and the crunching sound of him eating his snacks made me want to vomit.

Every time he contacted me after that I felt a feeling of dread, I couldn’t explain that I had gone off him because he had mud on his shoes but I desperately didn't want to hurt his feelings so I made up an excuse about suddenly realising that I am too busy for a relationship.

I do ‘The Ick Stories’ as a feature on my Instagram once a month where people share their experiences of getting the ick and they are hilarious and bemusing in equal measure.

I feel so much empathy for the people who have inadvertently put someone off by doing something incredibly innocent that really should not be off putting at all. Here are some completely irrational real ick examples:

He dropped his hoodie in a puddle

He got a stone in his sandal

She offered me a hanky after I sneezed

The wind blew his hat off and he chased it down the street

A sheet of MDF fell over and he got stuck under it

She said ‘Oops’ when she tripped

Sometimes my followers don’t understand the ick and so they message me to say that it is immature and unreasonable to go off people for such stupid reasons, but that is the whole point of the ick – you cannot control it, it makes no sense, it’s a completely unwanted feeling.

You know how ridiculous the reason is but there is absolutely nothing you can do to reverse it. Once it hits that’s it. It is more common in the early stages of dating, but it happens in long term relationships too.

I believe that the ick is your gut telling you that this person isn't right for you. I think it saves us from relationships that would never have worked.

I have found talking about the ick on my page to be reassuring because knowing that other people have also had to end relationships with really nice people for irrational reasons makes you feel less of a bitch.

It is also reassuring to remember that if someone has ghosted, or suddenly gone off us, we don't need to search our souls for what we did wrong. It doesn't necessarily mean we messed up or did something awful, they might have just got the ick for a wild reason like our hair was too shiny, or we were wearing gloves. We don't need to know why they disappeared in order to get closure.

We can reassure ourselves with the fact that whatever gave them the ick probably won't give the next person the ick. It wasn’t you, it was the ick.

Follow @Lalalaletmeexplain on Instagram for more relationship home truths.

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