How to Know if You’ve Got The Ick

How to Know if You’ve Got The Ick

Part 1 of 2:

Understanding the Ick




  1. Understand that getting the ick is not your fault. Society often stigmatises the ick and those who suffer from it. This means it can be easy to believe that you are a bad person. And maybe you are. You might be super judgey and perhaps also co-diagnosed with chronic self-sabotage. But it’s not your fault! If you have the ick it is the result of circumstances outside your control, not personal failings or anything else. Remember that you cannot control the actions of the other person. If they choose to wear socks in bed, or hoodies that (God forbid) actually fit them, that is their decision. You. Are. (Probably). Not. The. Problem.


  1. Understand the possible risk factors and causes. There are two possible ways one can contract the ick:
  • From another person. You may really like this person, and there may be nothing wrong with your relationship/situationship/whatever you guys are doing. It might just be that they have done something which has revealed their inner ickiness. If this is the case, you must not judge them. Some people can’t help being icky. Even though they have made the decision to play frisbee competitively, or pretended to know the lyrics of a song which they in fact don’t, you must remember that they are helpless here.


  • From yourself. You just might not like them. You may be giving yourself the ick in order to justify the fact that you don’t actually have feelings for them. It’s always easier to blame the other person! Just remember that this is a form of self-sabotaging behaviour and could result in future regrets. Potentially the reason why you get so icked out seeing them at AskOtago (like, why don’t you know how to connect to the Uni WiFi?), or using an umbrella (just get wet?) could have something to do with the fact that you just don’t like them.


  1. Recognise the warning signs and symptoms. If you think you may have contracted the ick, there are some tell-tale symptoms to look out for. If you have symptoms that persist, consider seeking help. Warning symptoms include:
  • Chronic cringe. Does your face metaphorically or literally contort into a grimace when you picture their ickiness in your mind? Did you see them running with a backpack on or chasing after a ping-pong ball in beer pong? Did that fill you with an overwhelming and long-lasting sense of cringe? If so, you may be suffering from the ick.
  • Physical rejection of touch. Does their once electric touch now feel akin to that of a weird uncle? Would you literally rather be alone forever than hold their hand? These are common physical manifestations of the ick.
  • Nausea. Think of something they may have done that might be icky. Perhaps they had to do an awkward little run to cross the road, or perhaps they stopped mid-root to have a hoon. Does the very thought induce feelings of nausea? Ask your doctor if you have the ick.


  1. Determine the nature of your symptoms. It is important to understand which type of ick you have contracted in order to identify the best coping strategies and whether there is a cure. If you have identified with any of the above symptoms, read on to see how you can seek help.


Part 2 of 2:

Coping with the ick 














  1. Accept your condition. If you have contracted the ick from the other person,

you may be in denial. You may really like this person, however seeing them tie their shoes in public or wear no-show socks has made you question whether you want them to be part of your life. The first step to recovery is acceptance, so it is important to recognise your symptoms and know that it’s going to be okay. The longer you stay in denial, the less space you are giving yourself to mitigate your symptoms and potentially find a cure.


  1. Avoid judging yourself. It is common for people suffering from the ick (especially those with self-induced ick) to feel as though they should be able to just “snap out of it”. However, just as you wouldn’t expect yourself to “snap out” of a hangover or an existential crisis, you shouldn’t judge yourself because you’re struggling with the ick.


  1. Recognise your part to play. You may be feeling as though you have a pattern of doing this. That perhaps it has something to do with your commitment issues, that perhaps you continue to get the ick from people in order to avoid commitment and thus subjecting yourself to the risk of heartbreak. If this is the case, then maybe you should snap the fuck out of it. In a totally non-judgmental, understanding way, of course.


  1. Avoid self-sabotaging behaviour. If you have contracted the ick from another person, this may not apply to you. But if you have self-induced the ick, stop self-sabotaging, respectfully. Just because she determines her mood by the alignment of the stars (Mercury is always seems to be in retrograde) or unironically used the term “grindset”, this doesn’t mean you have to have to completely give up on the relationship. Set your issues aside and realise the self-sabotaging element of the ick.


  1. Establish a support network. Talk to your friends. Tell them what’s going on and how you’re feeling. Maybe they will be able to help you see reason, that boys should be able to go to AskOtago, or that they should be able to wear a raincoat when it’s raining. Or maybe they spoke in baby talk unironically, in which case your friends should absolutely not support this going any further. If they do, consider finding some new friends.


  1. Keep a journal. Sometimes mindfulness is key. Journaling can be a good way to organise your thoughts and see how ridiculous they may look when written down on the page. For example: “I saw him waiting in line at the supermarket and I got the ick” sounds dumb as fuck when written down. And when said out loud. And in general. This one is genuinely dumb. Stop being dumb.


  1. Separate the ick from the source. Consider it similar to separating the art from the artist, if you will. It’s not impossible; people still listen to Michael Jackson. And watch Miramax films (ick). So try and view the person as separate from their ick. Just as you wouldn’t define someone by their diabetes or heart disease, you shouldn’t define others or yourself by the ick! See if you can create some space between the “icky” version of them and the “real” version of them.


  1. Consider talking to the other person. As hard as it is, perhaps the most effective way to cope with the ick is to communicate with the one who gave it to you and let them know how you are feeling. It’s important to be honest with all your partners, and to get regular ick tests if you’re seeing multiple partners at once. They may be able to explain to you why their mum still does their washing for them, or why they wear shorts that go down to their mid-calf. Just give them a chance. Unless they’ve paid for the blue tick on Instagram. Then you may have to accept that there is simply no hope; there are just some things you can’t explain away.


  1. Know that you’re not alone. The main thing to remember is that if you have the ick, you are not alone. Thousands of people experience the ick every day. As a species, we are generally becoming ickier. Living in Dunedin, you are more likely to encounter the ick due to the simple fact that Dunedin culture is a thing that exists, where people unironically wear crocs and everyone thinks they’re a DJ.  Let’s be real, you’ve probably given someone the ick. No one is safe. No one. Avoid judgement, accept help from friends, and, if you’ve chosen to get the ick to avoid commitment, acknowledge your part played in contracting the ick. But find solace in the fact that you are not alone, and that “icky” is just one P away from “picky”.
This article first appeared in Issue 11, 2023.
Posted 11:54am Tuesday 16th May 2023 by Anna Robertshawe.