The Ick

Oh The Ick. The Ick is one of the most horrible things to happen when you are dating someone, or even worse, when you are in a relationship with them. The Ick is the term used to describe that feeling of being turned off by someone who you were once turned on by. You can meet someone and find them really attractive, and then somewhere down the line, sometimes for no tangible reason, you can suddenly go off them. Everything they do becomes super irritating, things that you once found cute are now fucking grossing you out, you wince when they try to kiss you and you can’t bear the sound of them chewing. Once The Ick hits it is very hard to backtrack from it, it tends to just get progressively worse, as Olivia from Love Island said:

“When you’ve seen a boy and caught The Ick, it doesn’t go. It’s caught you and it’s taken over your body. It’s just ick, you can’t shake it off”.

I remember one of my friends texting me a few years ago when she’d caught The Ick with her man, she messaged me saying: “Wesley is sitting up in bed, he’s just eaten a WHOLE massive bag of doritos, a sandwich, a mars bar and now he’s eating a fruit pastille lolly. This fat idiot is making me sick. How do I make him leave?”. Before that she had loved his chub and she found his eating habits endearing, who knows why but all of a sudden she got The Ick and from then, everything he did annoyed her.

The Ick is horrible because quite often you don’t want to feel like that, this is someone you liked, someone you could have seen a future with and they haven’t actually done anything wrong, so you get trapped in this thing of feeling like a total bitch and not wanting to hurt them, or lose them, but needing to end it because the sound of their breathing makes you want to cut your own ears off. The other traumatic thing about having experienced The Ick is the knowledge that someone has probably felt it with me before. I’ve probably been innocently feeling myself thinking that a guy is loving my company and all the while he’s sat there wanting to vomit because of the way I’m playing with my hair. Some of those times when we’ve been ghosted, or when they’ve ended up ending things out of the blue, have probably resulted from them feeling The Ick with us. It’s a horrible thought, but it’s not one we should take personally. It can happen with the sexiest, most amazing men for no apparent reason.

I got The Ick last night, BAD. Let me tell you about Vince. I met him on Tinder 4 years ago. He’s a good looking guy, half Guyanese and half Egyptian, born and raised in South London, he works in film as a producer of small budget edgy documentaries, he smokes loads of weed and drinks red wine and listens to underground bands that I have never heard of. He wears converse and jeans with T-shirts and a worn looking long leather jacket. He’s not my usual type but I found his indie style quite attractive, especially because he had such a nice face. He’s about 5ft 11, slim, he doesn’t work out, no tattoos or beard or any other distinguishing features, quite a plain guy with a cute face. We had our first date in a bar near his, it was refreshing to talk to a man who had something about him. He travelled, went to gigs and exhibitions, he was always at some hipster film premier or book launch. He was cool and interesting and we could talk for hours about all sorts of things. He took me to pop up restaurants and funky secret bars. I liked his company, I didn’t like his style though. He looked a bit ‘skaterish’, he would wear big baggy almost boot cut jeans, not full on boot cut – I would have run screaming, just a mild boot cut, and battered old vans or converse, every time we went out, no matter where we went. But I worked with it, I knew it would be ridiculous to write him off for something so irrelevant when we got on so well, it is not about what someone looks like or how they dress, it’s about how they make you feel, and he made me feel good.

Vince was really complimentary, I never had to seek reassurance because he was constantly telling me how amazing I was. He made me feel fantastic. I would catch him looking at me while I was doing something and he would be shaking his head and muttering to himself that he couldn’t believe how lucky he was. It was exactly how a man should be. We slept together after about 5 dates, he came back to mine and it seemed like natural progression. The sex was great as I knew it would be because I felt super confident with him, his compliments and general treatment of me had secured that. He didn’t stay over because he had work early the next day, and I was happy with that, I wanted a lay in. We arranged to meet again a week later, this time I was going to go to his. He lived in a flat share with two guys and a girl. They all partied together and hung out but I hadn’t met any of his flat mates. We spoke frequently in between our dates, as per usual, but on the day we were due to meet he barely messaged me at all and then an hour before I was due to leave my house he text me and said that something family related had come up. He didn’t give an explanation and said we would talk tomorrow. I was pissed off, but I accepted that life happens.

I wasn’t child free again for another fortnight but we maintained our regular conversation, and arranged our night in at his in advance. On the afternoon of the date I messaged him to ask what time I should come and what his postcode was. I got the blue ticks after about half an hour, but after 2 hours I remained on them, so I rang him, and of course, his phone was off. I was severely fucked off. You know how I feel about wasting my child free weekends, but it was more than that, I really did not expect this from him, he’s a total non-fuckboy. Anyway, his phone stayed off all night, I know, I called him approximately 68 times and left 5 back to back whatsapps calling him a cunt. The following morning he called me and told me that he was sorry, he explained that he’d had a brief affair with his female flat mate when she first moved in, he said that for him it was just sex but she fell in love. He said that it was an awkward situation in the house and that he really wanted me to come over but he didn’t want to rub it in her face.

I was so angry, it felt like he was choosing her over me, had he perhaps explained this to me from the beginning then I would not have felt such a way, but because he went about it in the most fucktard manner and left me sitting at home, confused as fuck, feeling hurt and rejected, I was fuming. He said that he didn’t know how to tell me, but that still doesn’t explain why he completely ghosted me. It was shit, and I was not willing to put up with mild boot cuts and battered vans for that bullshit. I blocked him on everything and moved on.

About a year later Vince called me on private number and asked me to hear him out, he gave me a big explanation about how much he regretted what happened, how she had now moved out, how he hadn’t stopped thinking about me, how he feels like he might have let ‘The One’ slip through his fingers. He gave me a whole big speech, a good speech to be fair, and the combination of that, and he fact that my love life must have been really dry at the time, made me give him another chance. We spoke everyday and followed each other on social media again. It was light and easy, I really liked him. We got on well and he was my intellectual match. I wanted things to work with him because he was good on paper, he was a nice guy and he made me feel good.

I was out for a friend’s birthday on my next child free Saturday, and after too many spiced rum and diet cokes I decided to booty call him on my way home. He invited me over and I made the cab take a detour. I hadn’t been to his flat before and I hadn’t really imagined what it might be like, but how it was, was not how I expected. It was situated in an alley above some shops. The front door looked like a squirrel could kick it in without much effort and there was mould in the hallway. Vince had a double bedroom but it was piled high with records, trainers, caps, film editing equipment, and magazines so it felt small. It was messy, there were clothes piled up on a little worn out two seater he had in the corner of his room. His bed was a thin, tired looking mattress with a polyster duvet and non matching sheets and pillow case. It looked clean but unkempt. It didn’t look like a bouncy, cosy, fresh, ‘I want to spend all day in this’ kind of bed. But I was drunk and he was telling me how sexy I looked and so we ended up in his boot cut version of a bed and it was great, I had a lovely time. But as soon as I came I felt The Ick. He was trying to cuddle and kiss me and I was feeling repulsed by his touch. I was desperate to get out of that bedroom. I went to freshen up and his bathroom just made me feel even worse, it was damp and smelt stale. There were washcloths and wet towels just left all over the place, and laundry haphazardly hung up on a clothes horse, it looked like it had just been thrown on. It wasn’t dirty, you could just tell that it was a bathroom shared by three blokes.

I went home and voice noted my best friend Grace to tell her how disgusted I had felt. She asked if the house was really that bad or if I was just drunk. I didn’t know but I knew that I did not want to see Vince again. I didn’t block him this time, I just wanted him to stop messaging me, but he didn’t. He was keen, so, so keen. He was determined for us to have a relationship and I felt really shit about how icky he had made me feel. I used the fact that he had ghosted me that previous night as my excuse, I told him that I couldn’t get over it, but that just made him want to stick around to prove to me that it was a massive mistake. This went on for ages. I was getting on with my life and going on dates with constant streams of men who turned out to be fuckboys, or getting ghosted mid conversation by people on Tinder, and he was there in the background going “Hey, I want a relationship, I will treat you well, I want to have your babies some day, and make you my wife”. Over the next couple of years a kind of pattern developed, he eventually accepted that nothing was going to happen between us but we stayed in touch occasionally. He was always just sort of there, and every time I had a shitty experience with a fuckboy I’d end up gravitating towards him, for the compliments and attention I guess.

I would forget The Ick he had given me and I’d end up at his on my way home from nights out when I wanted male company, we didn’t sleep together again, but he would go down on me. I’d arrive there all like “Nothing sexual is happening” and then he would put it on me and I’d allow it to happen. But again, The Ick always hit whenever I came. I regretted seeing him every time. Also because I felt cruel, like I was abusing the fact that he liked me and using him when other dickheads had pissed me off. He really is such a nice guy, I know the flat mate thing was shitty but I genuinely don’t think he was still seeing her at the time, I think he was legitimately trying to not hurt her and he allowed the situation to overwhelm his thinking. He is one of the good ones and I did not want to be a fuck girl and so I stopped seeing him. But every now and then I would think about him and wonder if we needed to start again, I would panic a little that maybe he was the one, and that maybe I was throwing away my future Husband, so I’d send him a message just to keep him there (this is what fuckboys do FYI – this is why they always come back, they are keeping us there, just in case). He was like my fall back guy.

In late 2016 Vince sent me a message and told me he was thinking about me, we bantered a bit and I asked him how he was and he said “Erm, I’m good, although I have just been diagnosed with testicular cancer”. I was floored. It upset me so much and I suddenly began to feel like I desperately wanted to hold him and take care of him. I started worrying that he might die and that I should have loved him in his last few years. I was devastated at the thought of him dying and this made me realise that maybe I did really care about him. Everything progressed really quickly in terms of his treatment, surgery, radiotherapy etc, and I stayed in touch with him every day. He was staying with his Mum in Lewsisham and so I didn’t see him until he came home, about a 3 weeks after the radiotherapy finished. We went for brunch at a cafe and he did not give me The Ick. He was frail and his skin looked green, he was quiet and not his usual self, but he was positive and sweet and he seemed strong despite being so weak. I just wanted to love him.

But I was also seeing Callum at the time, or rather, the Callum thing had literally just finished and I was a bit all over the place and not emotionally available. Vince was still recovering and he wasn’t in regular contact, once I knew he was OK and that he was likely to get better, our communication sort of fizzled out. Late last summer Vince contacted me again and asked me out for dinner. I agreed without hesitation, I wanted to see him, and I was single as fuck and again I wondered if it might be a good time to try to let go of The Ick and take him seriously as a prospective boyfriend.

I was standing outside the restaurant waiting for him and I got The Ick the second he arrived. He was wearing his shabby looking leather jacket and it really annoyed me, I wanted to say “Why are you wearing that annoying thigh length jacket? You look like a sex offender” but I didn’t, because that would be unbelievably rude. I hated his smell too, the jacket smelt like roll ups and his skin had that smell about it that skin gets when people have been walking outside for a while, I don’t know how to describe it but it smelt repugnant to me. I hated myself for feeling these irrational feelings towards his jacket and his skin, I really fought to not feel it because it is horrible to have to sit at dinner with someone who you want to like but feel like you despise for no fucking reason.

The poor guy could do no right, I kept that to myself but I am sure my vibe must have been significantly off. Vince has quite a posh accent and he rambles a lot, he often loses track when he’s telling a story and he goes off into his own little world where only he knows what he is talking about, like a mad professor. I found it quite endearing when I fist met him, but now it was driving me insane. It even annoyed me when I suggested ordering a Tiramisu to share and he asked what that was. In my head I was screaming “WHO DOESN’T KNOW WHAT TIRAMISU IS YOU FUCKING PLONKER” but I stayed silent because I knew I was being completely irrational and that The Ick had just taken over. I would listen to him talk and he was being sweet and interesting, but I just sat there wishing he would shut up. The meal ended and I made an excuse for not going on to somewhere else, I also told him that I was now celibate and that I really didn’t want to be tempted to do anything sexual so I didn’t not want to go back to one of our houses. I told him that I intended to stay totally man free and that I loved his company but he was just too much temptation for me and so I thought it was best for us to avoid each other. I wanted to spare his feelings and so of course I didn’t tell him the truth. He tried to kiss me as we parted company but I turned my head and started basically jogging down the road.

I absolutely vowed to myself that I would never ever see him again, it was unfair on him and The Ick had gone too far, there was no coming back from it, I’d experienced it every single time that I had seen him over the past 3 years and I was determined never to feel it again. It’s truly a horrible feeling. So you are probably wondering how I ended up meeting up with him again last night. I don’t know if I’m a bit stupid, or if I am suffering with short-term memory loss – some kind of dickmentia – but for some unknown reason I thought it would be a good idea to give it another chance. He posted a picture of him on his Insta story, it was a TBT from 10 years ago and he looked gorgeous. I DM’d him (because I had deleted his phone number) and told him that he hadn’t changed. We got talking again and as usual, our conversation was great, he’s funny and lovely to talk to. I reminded myself about The Ick but then I thought about how great he actually was, and how perhaps The Ick was something I could control. He would be a great Dad and partner, and I was thinking how much he could add to my life. I started having far fetched future thoughts about him moving in here so I could save money on bills. I was thinking about how stable and mature he was. I was focusing massively on the positives and feeling like maybe my period of being fully fuckboy free had changed me and made me more ready to accept a man who was ready to love me.

We spoke back and forth in the DMs before moving to whatsapps and it wasn’t long before he asked what I was doing that evening, I know him well and so it did not seem weird to invite him to mine for a cup of tea. I told him that I was still celibate because I did not want him getting the wrong idea about what I was inviting him round for, but he said that it hadn’t crossed his mind and he was really looking forward to catching up. The second I answered the door The Ick hit me. He was wearing that same old leather jacket. My house is a no shoes house so he took them off in the hallway and I was massively irritated by the way his shoes were strewn. I wouldn’t even notice most people’s shoe placement in my hallway, but his were just really rubbing me up the wrong way. He sat on the sofa whilst I sat at the kitchen table (it’s open plan), and as he sat there making conversation I had this deep feeling in the pit of my stomach that was making me feel sick. He was rambling away, at length, and he kept going off track and then saying things like “Jesus, I’m speeding along like a Bulgarian dustcart with no brakes – woah there Vince, slow the chat boy” and I would just look at him open mouthed like WHAT? How did I ever find this madness attractive?

He knows about the blog, although he doesn’t know the name or any details, when we went out for dinner last summer I told him I had started writing for women and he had been really positive about it. He asked me how it was all going and I was telling him how much it had grown and how I had this little community of amazing women who were all helping each other because we had all been facing the same shit with men. I told him that I was genuinely helping people and how much I loved that and he said:

“OOh you and Sally and Sandra all sitting there online DMing each other saying I hate men”

That annoyed me.

I kept checking my phone and that was clearly irritating him, but instead of saying it, he would make little digs like “Are Sally and Sandra crying because you’ve been gone for 10 minutes?”. I ignored him. As I was scrolling through Instagram the video of Kanye West saying that slavery was a choice seemed to be on every page, it had just happened and so I watched the video and showed him, he said:

“That’s old, he’s been saying that for years”

“No he hasn’t Vince, this literally just happened”

“It’s nothing new”

“Actually it is, Kanye has said some fucked up things before but he has reached new levels now. Why is everyone posting it if he’s said it before?

We argued about it for a bit and then he started cussing the music industry and talking about how shit Drake is and how none of them do anything good for anyone, so I put on the God’s Plan video and showed him Drake giving away money to worthy causes. He said that Drake was a dull, unattractive guy, and I told him that I felt the opposite. I pointed out Drake’s amazing dancing on the video and I told him that he has swag. Vince said that Drake had no swag and that he was a shit dancer. He then got up and started copying Drake’s dancing in his socks with one toe poking out through a hole. It was like he was trying to show me that anyone could do it. But he did not look anything like Drake, he was doing little spins and holding his hands really stiffly at his chest. It was all too much for me and I told him that I needed to get to bed. As I saw him out he leaned into kiss me and I could not believe that he was attempting that, had he not picked up on my disdain? Needless to say, I swiftly turned my head. I sat on my sofa after he left and I felt a mixture of guilt and relief. I was so glad he was gone.

There is no way that Vince is my soul mate. NO WAY. There is no way that I can lose The Ick for him, it doesn’t matter that he’s the kind of guy that I should be with, he’s not the guy that I should be with and that is that. The Ick is a gut feeling, and as we know, we gotta follow our guts. I don’t know why we question our guts, they are in-built life guides, danger detectors. If a Zebra was out in the planes and suddenly got a gut feeling that there was a lion nearby, they would not question it, they would run. Animals survival is based on them following their gut instinct, and so is ours, so trying to go against our guts just leads to even greater gut feelings, which is why The Ick just keeps on getting stronger. For whatever reason, we are just not supposed to be with those people we get The Ick with, we don’t need to know why, we just need to follow our guts.