“Ugh, He’s Giving Me The Ick!”: Why Guys We Like Suddenly Fill Us With Disgust

Picture this: You meet a guy who seems pretty much perfect for you and you start crushing hard. He’s hot, funny, great in bed, and not a misogynist, which makes a pleasant change. In other words, he’s your dream guy. Then, all of a sudden and out of nowhere, you get the ick. Gone are the butterflies. In their place, you feel kinda grossed out and full of disgust. Nooo, how can this be happening?!

What is “the ick”?

While the term has been around for a while — remember “Ally McBeal”? — the feeling is as common as ever. Simply speaking, the ick is the feeling that comes over you that completely and utterly repels you from a person you were once really attracted to. Where you used to be super into them and want to jump their bones, now you want nothing more than to get away from them, STAT.

It’s important to note that the ick is not the same as simply losing interest in someone. There’s nothing casual about it. Whereas it’s possible for a connection to simply fizzle out into nothing, the ick is quick, intense, and revolting. They don’t seem boring or unexciting, they literally make your skin crawl. As relationship counselor and psychotherapist Gurpreet Singh so perfectly explained it to Cosmopolitan: “It’s a very strong gut reaction, either to the mannerisms of the person or the way they behave.”

Why a guy can suddenly gross you out

While it’s hard to say exactly why this happens, there are a few common reasons for getting the ick. Of course, some of these reasons may come off as somewhat superficial or judgmental, but hey, they’re true.

  1. He does something unhygienic or gross. Whether it’s loudly farting on a date or playing with his junk while you’re eating dinner, there are some things that are just nasty. If he doesn’t shower after the gym or doesn’t think about brushing his teeth in the morning, that can be enough to turn anyone off.
  2. You find out something about him you really don’t like. When you first start dating a guy, you build up a picture of him in your mind. Finding out he’s actually completely different can easily turn you off. This is especially true if there’s an element of his life that you’re not happy about. Say, for instance, that he’s been married before or that he has a kid that he never sees (or that he sees regularly).
  3. He starts acting clingy or obsessive. Many women get the ick when the guy they’re seeing seems a little too keen. You want a guy who’s into you, but when he starts love bombing you or proclaiming you to be the most perfect woman he’s ever met, it comes off as fake, desperate, and kinda creepy. Ugh, get away!
  4. He smells bad or doesn’t groom himself very well. Gag! No one wants to be close to someone who doesn’t wash properly, smells of B.O., and doesn’t even own soap or deodorant. Snugging up to a guy who doesn’t smell nice is not something any woman wants to do. How does he not smell himself?
  5. He does something weird or inappropriate during sex. To be fair, this might not be his fault. It could be that he has a weird orgasm face or that he likes to keep his socks on while he does it. While you never want to kink shame anyone, discovering a guy’s unconventional sexual tastes can seriously put you off him.
  6. He has a habit or hobby you find bizarre or cheesy. It’s kinda silly to judge him for being obsessed with The Goonies or worshipping Maroon 5, but hey, it happens. If he’s into something that you have an onconscious (or very conscious!) bias against, finding this out can be off-putting, to say the least.
  7. He lives like a slob/his apartment is gross. His apartment is covered in takeout containers, empty soda bottles, and dirty clothes. The dishes are crusted over and piled in the sink and it doesn’t seem like he even knows what the word vacuum means. It makes you never want to be over there. In fact, you may never want to see him again.

Is there any going back once you’ve got it?

Once a guy gives you the ick, is it possible trying to get back to crush-filled bliss or is it over? While you might wish you could go back to the beginning when you were wild about him, chances are, that’s unlikely to happen. Once you have such a visceral response to someone, trying to erase that from your mind and retrain yourself to like him is a pretty hard task.

Singh told Cosmopolitan that whether or not you can get past it is down to how badly you’re put off by the behaviors that gave you the ick and whether or not the guy can (or is willing to) change them. If it’s just who he is, you’re better off walking away and letting him find someone who likes him for who he is.

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill