Bad Advice Club: How to overrule the ‘ick’

5 mins
09 Jun 2022

Welcome to woo’s new advice column with Chanté Joseph, tackling your questions on life, work, love, and every dilemma in between

words Chanté Joseph

I’m Chanté – writer, presenter, internet addict. I write a lot about relationships, internet trends and being the best, most delusional version of yourself. So welcome to the Bad Advice Club: I’m here to give you some loving advice on your life problems. Listen, I am by no means perfect, but I think that makes me ideal to assist you in navigating tricky issues because nine times out of 10, I’ve been there! Bad advice, bad decisions – these are the twists and turns that make life sweet. So let’s ride it out together: I have some gems to drop, so don’t be shy and send in your stories, woes, dilemmas.

Dilemma: My friends and I are obsessed with the 'ick', but what was first a bit of a joke has become so imprinted on my brain I think I'm using it to put myself off potentials before giving anyone a real chance. How do I know what's a rational turn off, and what's a little niggle to look beyond?

Ah, the ick, it can take a 10/10 to a 5/10 instantly when it’s bad. There are so many things about men that give me serious, toe-curling ick that I absolutely cannot overlook. On the list are: men whose most controversial opinions include ‘pineapple on pizza’, or those who refer to themselves as ‘alpha males’. Of any of us, who can look past the men that call women ‘females’?

But we cannot let the ick rule us; we have to rule the ick.

It sounds backward, but hear me out: sometimes, the things we very swiftly decide are turn-offs aren’t necessarily our most authentic, instinctual feelings. We can be influenced by our friends and surroundings in one immediate moment.

To overcome this, we have to decide what is important to us – friends aside, that is. Think deeply about what you want from a partner and what is absolutely non-negotiable. If a particular ick doesn’t jump out at you, it shouldn’t define which romantic interests you take seriously. Another way to decide what is rational or not is by getting to know these icks; sometimes, what we see as an ick may be superficial, but they can also be connected to past experiences or are amber flags on their way to being red. Perhaps something reminds you of a bad ex, or it is activating an insecure attachment.

Important to remember: nobody, nobody is ick-free. There is always going to be something about someone – or something about them – that weirds you out a bit, and you have to decide what is a redline for you and what you’re willing to let go. I feel like in some circumstances, there is grace to be given; I’m sure there are things that you and I do that other people find ick, but we are not defined by what makes us icky, so we expect people to look at us holistically, so try to do the same for others.

The last guy I dated encapsulated this: “I thought you’d find me a bit cringe,” he said while I applied my makeup for the true-crime scavenger hunt date he had organised. I was puzzled, because he was the most well-adjusted person I’d ever been with.

“I don’t think I would have enjoyed him trying to hide what he internalised about himself as an ‘ick’. I was glad we both had the space to indulge in the things that made us strange and unique to the outside world”

“I have all these quirks, and I often see girls on Twitter saying these things give them the ick,” he continued. By quirks, I think he meant his nerdy nature – he worked with numbers and spreadsheets – and the way he’d randomly break out in song, which I found extremely cute. I find it so bizarre that we deny ourselves the things we love in the name of avoiding being branded an ick. Though the relationship ended soon after, I don’t think I would have enjoyed him trying to hide what he internalised about himself as an ‘ick’. I was glad we both had the space to indulge in the things that made us strange and unique to the outside world.

The best relationships happen when we don’t force ourselves to contort into these strange ways of being because the internet told us they were odd. People do not ‘live their raps’ – meaning, what they state is an absolute ick doesn’t always reflect who their partners are. I promise you that your friends probably aren’t taking such a rigid approach to dating, and they certainly aren’t disclosing all of their partners' icks to you. Some people are dating – or even married! – to people who exhibit certain ick factors, so don’t let the way someone reverses their car get in the way of you meeting your one.

And if you absolutely cannot get over an ick, perhaps you’re using it as an excuse to write off people you’re just not particularly attracted to, but don’t know why. Articulating attraction is one of life’s greatest mysteries. I feel like the many things that give you the ick won’t matter too much for the right person – IRL musical performances or otherwise. When you really like someone, those turn-offs won’t make you feel so grossed out; you might even find them charming!

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