People Tell Us How, When and Why They Got 'The Ick'

“I was chatting to a guy, which led to sexting, and he sent me a video of him wanking, but he did it from a weird angle – like, from the top?"
Couple taking a selfie in London
Photo: Bob Foster

A few weeks ago, while doom scrolling, a tweet appeared that spoke directly to my soul.

Someone had got “the ick” – a moment when the person you are shagging, or want to shag, does something so profoundly disgusting that your entire body cringes up into a ball and you lose all feelings you ever had for them – about something so innocuous, and yet so specific, and I understood it on a level deep inside me.


A lad had a printer in his room. That was the reason. In the comments was a beautiful summation of why it caused such a visceral reaction:

Seeing someone you fancy doing something so normal and pedestrian, but fumbling it, thereby ruining the facade – that is exactly what “the ick” is to me. A very specific thing someone will do or say, which will just dry up my fanny and turn me off a person who, only the day before, I was daydreaming about a stupid little future with.

For me, a guaranteed ick is when supposedly dominant men use the purple devil emoji to demonstrate just how fucking mischievous and naughty they can be. Another – surprisingly common – one is when men call me “trouble” or say, “Hey, you” or, even worse, when they say, “Where’s my cuddle, you.” These things don’t just put me off wanting to interact with these men, they actively put me off shagging forever.

When I asked people what their icks were, more than a few said they got it when lads had dusty unused dumbbells and protein powder in their rooms, or when they were called “hun” or “babe”. But, as you will read, the ick can come from something much more specific than that.

“Watching this guy eat a Maccy Ds burger, and as the gherkin slid out the bottom… I literally got up and left.” – Laura

“I was chatting to a guy, which led to sexting/snapping, and he sent me a video of him wanking, but he did it from a weird angle – like, from the top? All I could think was, ‘IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE PLUCKING A MUSHROOM OUT THE EARTH.’ It was so off-putting, we never shagged. I texted some lie about cumming and falling asleep, and then ghosted.” – J


“I was speaking to a girl on an app and suggested we meet in High Barnet, as it was a halfway point for us. She said, ‘Sure, I will take a cheeky galavant down to High Barnet.’ As if that wasn’t bad enough she later messaged, ‘I am enjoying a delish Vino and hummus wbu?’ I blocked and deleted.” – K

“A guy I was talking to used to snap me every day, always using the mirror in his kitchen, which is a weird move anyway. It was a full-length mirror and he always took a photo on his way out to work. Same pose, same place, every single day. Over the course of a month I watched his bin get fuller and fuller, to the point where shit was literally hanging out of it. There was a white carrier bag, which obviously came from a takeaway, and I counted it was there for nine days. You could see there was food still inside it. It ended up having, like, five Pot Noodle pots stacked at the side, as they couldn't fit in. That was my breaking point. If you are having to stack Pot Noodle pots, you need to take that bin out. All Bombay Bad Boys too. I can't look at them anymore without thinking about it. I can't believe I let a lad ruin Pot Noodles for me. I had to block him.” – Issie

“I’d been on a few nights out with this guy, and one night things were finally progressing. We started sexting, and three texts in he goes, ‘I fucking love fat girls.’ It just gave me the ICK. I was raging. We stopped talking for a bit, but a few weeks later we were on a night out again and I drunkenly serenaded him to ‘Big Blonde and Beautiful’ from Hairspray.” – Ruth


“One guy was about to get an invite back to mine after weeks of chatting filth. He took my hands in his, leaned across the table and said, ‘Let me make sweet love to you, I promise I’ll use all my willpower to be gentle and not unleash my inner animal until you’ve seen what a gentle and sensitive lover I can be.’ He was about half my size and weight, and after that little speech the horny goggles came off and I realised he was more likely to be a ten-stroke-Jackhammer-cum-and-cry merchant. I didn’t fuck him. He suddenly went from being the hottest man I had ever seen to looking like something that strolled out from under a toadstool. I really need to keep my vadge out of decision-making until it learns more sense.” – Anon

“I once got the ick because a guy gave me a Christmas present. It was a scarf. We’d been seeing each other for around four or five months, and it was nowhere near relationship status at all, we were just going on dates. But he gave me this Christmas present – I hadn’t got him anything – and it was a scarf. It was that weird material that malts fucking everywhere. Like, fluff for days, even after you’ve washed it. It was a weird ombré of colours. He said he thought it was ‘very me’, but I am very into bold colours and animal prints, not a pastel ombré. It just made me feel weird, and I texted him a few weeks later ending it. I felt so guilty, but man needed to be taught a lesson. I don’t know what that lesson is, but I never signed up to be a teacher.” – Nikita


“Any time a man mentions ‘cuddling’ in early messages or his profile, that’s an instant and irreversible ick from me. It offends me significantly, more than if someone gets explicitly sexual too soon. I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe because it’s presumptuous about sex, by implication, without bothering to be remotely sexy. I hate it so much. Many men seem to think of women as a monolith, and use sex to get cuddling or something, which underestimates our sex drives tremendously. If I like someone, I like cuddling with them – up to a point – but on a first date I’m not thinking, ‘Ah yes, I’ll endure this so I can get sexlessly sweaty on his couch some day.’” – Sara

“Two times I got the ick and ended things. One: They kept saying ‘bog’, like ‘I’m going to the bog,’ and two: we went to see a band, I think it was Camera Obscura, and I glanced at him and he was gently nodding along to the music like a groovy dad, and then I didn’t fancy him anymore.” – Rebecca

“I slept with a guy, and in the morning saw that, in his bedroom, he had an A2-sized portrait of him naked with his erect penis. I hadn’t noticed the night before, since it was dark. I made my excuses in the morning, promptly left, and did not question him. He wanted to meet up again but I brushed him off.” – DD

“I went on a date with a guy who asked the stranger next to us if he could eat their pizza crusts, then proceeded to do so like it was the most normal thing in the world. They were going to leave and he said, ‘Are you done with that?’ and they said yeah, and he just… tucked in. They looked at me and I looked at them with this profound look of horror and confusion. Then, at the end of the date, he said, 'I get the sense you don't want to see me again.’ A bit surprised, I said, ‘Well, the pizza thing was a bit weird.’ He got extremely embarrassed and apologised, but he didn’t explain why he did it! And then he ghosted me.” – Hannah

“A few guys have given me the ick. Once, a guy cleared his throat. Literally just went ‘ahhehehhmm’. But I heard something more gargling, so I dipped out. Another one put on an episode of Blackadder on his phone to show me something he referenced, and I felt my vag sew itself back up. There was also a guy who told me his surname is onomatopoeia for a fart in the bath. Then there was the one who kept calling me ‘dudette’ and sent me snap after snap of him and his wife having sex. The worst, however, was this guy who used to call down for his mum, but instead of shouting ‘mum, mummmmm?’ he said ‘MU – UMMMMM’ in a sing-song way. I don’t know why, but making it into two syllables and two different sounds creeped me out.” - L

“I once went on the maddest date ever. Things had been super normal and chill until like three drinks in, then he started telling me how his dad was a politician who'd been murdered. We started snogging in the back of the cab back to his flat. Inside was huge – he had this massive Ableton studio and a fucking surf board. You could see central London from his window. I cannot overstate that this wasn’t a bedsit, it was a spenny af flat, but I looked at his bed and he legit had one pillow and one duvet (single) without a cover on. I didn't notice the size of the duvet until post-shag because I was so drunk, but when we stopped shagging he grabbed the duvet and we had to have it over us, like sideways, so both our feet were out. It was 3AM. I made my excuses and left and ghosted him.” – Anon