We all know about “the ick” by now. It's the term given to that very specific and uncomfortable feeling – usually in the earlier stages of dating – when a person does something relatively innocuous that completely turns you off. You cannot return from the ick. It is the Grim Reaper of shagging. It knocks on your door and you can never shag them again.
When my straight and bi friends get the ick, it's often because a man has done something that makes them look oddly pedestrian, or like a big baby. Examples include: tying their shoelaces before crossing the road, owning a shirt that has poppers instead of buttons or, as one person told VICE, “I once got the ick because a guy gave me a Christmas present. It was a scarf.”
The ick usually doesn't come from nowhere – it builds up over days or weeks – but something triggers the final death knell and any remaining desire shrivels up.
But the ick is also genderless, and women get the ick about women too. I know this because I have experienced it myself. One lesbian friend told me that they got the ick after a girl she was dating got a stomach ache. Another said it was when she saw gaps in someone’s fringe.
And so, for balance and fairness, here are some queer women recounting times in which they got the ick.
“I started casually DMing someone during lockdown and it just got out of control – like always texting and voice-noting even if I wasn't replying. I told her so many times that it was overwhelming and she'd be like, 'Okay, okay.' I'd get an hour’s peace and then get another message like 'So if you were an animal, what would you be?'” – Grace, 25.
“Women who wear dressing gowns with animal-themed hoods.” – Beth, 25.
“It was just a level of intensity that I couldn't match. She was very sweet but zero to 100, and after date one seemed to assume that we were going to spend every waking minute absorbed in each other. Like, I left her at 11PM on the Sunday, we texted each other that we got home safe; then she texted at 5AM on the Monday. When I replied at 10AM, she was annoyed that I'd been to the gym before immediately replying. A day or so later she invited me to come to Tenerife.” – Megan, 27.
“We went to Dublin’s only gay bar. She got super drunk because she drank before she met me. All of a sudden we got kicked out. While I tried to help her get her jacket, I realised she was wearing a Superdry jacket. Like one of the ugly ones. With a million zips. And she couldn’t zip it up. I tried to help her. I felt so bad, but she got so aggressive. There were so many zips.” – Niamh, 23.
“I was dating this girl and she kept describing things as ‘artsy.’ Like, ‘she’s so artsy’ and ‘you’re more of an artsy type’ and ‘artsy skirt’. It just made me irrationally repulsed. ‘Artsy’ is on par with words like ‘trendy’. I wouldn’t mind if someone’s mum said it, but not someone I’m sleeping with.” – Sam, 27.
“She asked ‘What are we?’ two seconds after we’d finished in bed and the first time we’d met. That’s a lot to me and shows they’re too eager and came off as desperate. There was no actual connection formed yet. It’s just a weird question to ask after you’ve met someone for a couple of hours.” – Em, 22.
“She was telling me a story about her parents and referred to her mum as ‘mummy’. Not even, like, ‘my mummy’. Just ‘mummy’, like that was her name.” – Jo, 25.
“When they sing, without music or instruments. You know how people sometimes just… sing. But they’re not joking, they’re being serious and trying to sing nicely. Like proper Mariah Carey-ing. It kills me.” – Rosie, 28.
“Lesbians who act out misogyny and act like a misogynistic dude. There are women in the community that seem to have internalised misogyny in such a way that they project it onto people that they are interested in.” – Susannah, 31.
“It gives me the ick when women make fake, porn-y sex noises in bed. It’s happened to me once. Maybe that works on guys? I have no idea. It dries me up.” – A, 26.