You Can Come Back From ‘The Ick’, and These Love Stories Prove It

weheartit / @annterra

Getting ‘the ick’ is something we’re all familiar with. It describes that unfortunate and confusing moment when your attraction to someone is suddenly flipped to a feeling of disgust.

However, with only 48% of Australians saying they never overcame the ick, that means that 52% of people do come back from it, according to new research from the EXTRA Oral Healthcare Program.

This got me thinking — how does the ick actually work? Are there people out there who’ve felt the ick but then still gone on to date that person? Can we really get over the ick?

So, I decided to ask around to see if anyone had in fact overcome the ick. And it turns out — they have!

Here are two stories of people who overcame the ick, and what happened after.

Robbie, 25

“One day, I walked into this coffee shop and saw the most gorgeous barista I’d ever seen. He had super kind eyes and a soft speaking voice, and the way he looked at me felt electric even before we’d exchanged names and numbers.

“Fast forward a week later, and we went on a date. It was actually super cute and wholesome. He wanted to go shopping for new shoes so I offered to go and help him pick them up out. We went to the city together and went shoe shopping. Then we went for a walk in the park. We just sat on this park bench talking for hours.

“It was strange because I found him really attractive and I felt really into him, but there was just something stopping me from kissing him — and it wasn’t nerves — but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

“Then we went to his friend’s bar for a drink afterward. We were being super flirty and I knew that at some point he’d try to kiss me. We ended up going back to his house. He showed me some of his photos while we drank tea on his bed. Then he went in to kiss me. I didn’t resist because I was into him and wanted to kiss him, but couldn’t understand my body’s hesitance.

“We kissed and pretty immediately, I wasn’t vibing it. It could’ve been the way he was kissing — slow and soft, when I like more of a firm, purposeful and passionate kiss — or it could’ve been the musty smell of his beard. Whatever it was, I could tell I wasn’t physically into him at that moment. It was like my head was telling me one thing and my body was telling me something else.

“I left pretty abruptly that night without an explanation because I didn’t really have one. I just put it down to getting the ick. There was no particular reason for it, I just felt like I really didn’t want to be sexually intimate with him.

“But then, the more time we spent apart, the more I thought about him. I couldn’t get him out of my mind. I felt totally stupid — how could I be thinking about someone this much, if I had the ick for them? I decided I wanted to see him again. I had to understand what was going on and how I was feeling.

“We met up a few weeks later, this time at a bar. He seemed a bit more guarded, which is fair enough — I’d left pretty quickly last time, in the middle of an intimate moment. We had a really nice time; flirting, chatting.

“When he left the bar, he grabbed me and kissed me and this time — I tried to just be totally present. I stopped my mind from wandering, asking questions and thinking too much and just let the kiss wash over me.

“I swear I felt this click in my body, like something shifted. Instead of resisting him, I began to lean into his motion and let go of my inhibitions. We kissed for a really long time, sitting at a bike post on a busy suburban street in Melbourne’s inner north, and it was really sexy.

“I couldn’t believe that only a few weeks earlier, I’d felt the need to run away from this dude; that I was sure I had the ick for.

“We actually dated for a few months after that. I put down my momentary ick to me resisting vulnerability. I could tell that he was really into me and that I was really into him, but I’d recently had my heart broken.

“I think I was trying to avoid heartbreak again so soon. It was as though my self-protective instincts came into place in a moment of vulnerability, and I mistook them for the ick.”

Priya, 31

“A year ago I met this tall, dark and handsome guy in a coffee shop. He came up to me — I remember thinking ‘Who meets someone in real life like this anymore?’ — when he asked for my number. A few weeks later, after chatting heaps, we went on a date.

“I got the ick pretty quickly on our first date because I just felt like he was trying too hard. He drove us to this lookout point and had a bottle of wine and had obviously planned everything out — but he didn’t really speak. I think he was nervous but wasn’t really owning it.

“Also, he had a beard. That’s not necessarily a dealbreaker for me, but when he tried to kiss me, I could smell food in his beard. I think that was the major ick moment for me.

“Things fizzled after that. We didn’t chat for about six months, but then he re-emerged on a night when I’d actually been stood up by someone else — so I was feeling vulnerable.

“He asked if I wanted to go to a gig with him, and I just responded ‘Yeah, that’d be awesome’ and so we went. It was actually so amazing. It was his friends’ band, so I hung out with him and his friends all night, which was really great. His friends were amazing and I was seeing him in a different light. I felt really into him again. I thought to myself ‘Wow, I’ve managed to lose the ick!’.

“He was being really respectful and funny and chatty. I actually ended up staying at his house that night. He gave me a two-hour massage and didn’t try to hook up, which I thought was super gentlemanly and nice.

“But then, the next morning, the ick returned. I went out for breakfast with my friends and I was telling them how into him I was and how surprised I was that I’d lost the ick. It was almost like, how did I get it in the first place?

“But then, I looked at his Instagram story (to show my friends) and IDK what it was… but he just came across as super inauthentic online. Like he was trying to be hipster or something? It just made me cringe. He’d filmed himself in a silk robe, dropping it in slow motion; trying to be kind of funny, arty… who knows. It was legit full bum. I could see his balls from the back.

“And that was it: the ick returned, and there was no going back.”

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