person looking embarrassed. biggest icks
person looking embarrassed. biggest icks

The Biggest Dating Icks for Students Revealed

Are they taking the mik or are they giving you the ick?

Whether you’ve heard the term before or not, we’ve all experienced the dreaded ‘ick’. They normally crop up when you start seeing someone new and things are going well until one teeny, tiny, slightly-off putting habit or controversial opinion gets the better of you and you declare “I’ve got the ick”. Ouch, harsh words.

But, it happens. You’re not alone, either. Doesn’t matter if you’re the ick-ee or the ick-er, everyone has got the ick and has been the one with the ick behaviour at least once in their life. And sometimes, the ick is completely harmless and quite ridiculous, other times it may be a warning sign of a potential red flag. 

A poll of 2,000 adults based on actively-dating Americans had some pretty interesting (and seriously funny) icks to report that totally put them off setting up the next date. While the sample size is relatively small, it sheds some light on what people consider to be icks — some very specific, some very odd, and some very relatable. 

Read on if you want to find out the common icks for guys and girls — be warned, though. Some egos may be bruised. 

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Everything you need to know about the biggest icks

What are icks?

Wondering what icks are? They’re those awkward moments that make you cringe a bit. Picture a friend dropping a joke that’s more awkward than funny or someone attempting a dance move that just doesn’t land right. It’s that uncomfortable feeling that makes you want to laugh or look away. Icks are typically associated with dating and in romantic contexts, or social. 

Icks happen to everyone – it’s a shared human experience. Instead of stressing, think of them as the quirky side of life. Embrace the awkwardness, share a chuckle, and remember that those cringe-worthy moments are just part of the ride. 

However, sometimes they’re justified, while others can be totally irrational and actually pretty mean. Although on the surface icks seem rather rude and offensive, they’re purely meant to be used in a playful way. Most of the time, common icks are just silly little habits or things someone does that another might not be used to.

Other times, icks can be signs of a red flag, and you might have to trust your gut on an ick if you think it’s more than just a quirk you can’t get behind.

Who invented the term ‘ick’?

The ick factor first appeared in the American Newsweek magazine in 1979, according to Prospect Magazine. In the 80s, the ick was an expression that was used interchangeably with the yuck factor for any generic feeling of repulsion.

In 1995, the ever-popular sitcom Friends devoted an episode to “The One With the Ick Factor” – in which Monica sleeps with a handsome young man, but catches the ick when she discovers he’s still a high school student…

In 2004, an episode in season 6 of Sex and the City – called The Ick Factor – also references the ick as Carrie grapples with how she feels about her partner’s grand romantic gestures. And in a 2020 episode of Love Island, Leanne dumped Mike due to a case of the icks. Classic.

The definition of an ick is “something someone does that is an instant turn-off for you, making you instantly hate the idea of being with them romantically”, according to Urban Dictionary.

There are also tonnes of ick content doing the rounds online, if you’re needing more context. Some of it’s pretty hilarious, too. As with most things these days, especially slang and the ever-changing lingo of the younger generation, social media popularises things quickly and that’s exactly how icks became a thing. Thanks to Instagram and TikTok shedding our deepest secrets and insecurities.

Here are some TikToks depicting icks in both girls and boys.


Last one is my worst nightmare if it happened to me i would stop talking to the girl #ick #icks #firstdate #funny #haha #jokes

♬ original sound – EunJun Park

We also asked you guys what your ‘library icks’ are — and they make so much sense!

What is The Ick?

There’s a minor difference between The Ick and just an ick. The Ick is often too big to overcome, whereas some icks can be passing phases of a relationship, especially when you’re in a new couple.

Some of the ick examples we hear about are sensible and actually pretty reasonable, like chewing with your mouth open or being rude to people. Other things, however, are more weird and seemingly harmless, like using too many emojis while texting, wearing flip flops or having an Instagram account for your pet (shame on you).

Some very funny and common icks we’ve heard include:

  • The thought of them stalling their car
  • Saying something funny in the group chat but gets ignored by everyone
  • Android phones (this one is rude and I am taking major offense – I won’t have any android slander)
  • Jumping up and down at a festival (fair enough TBH)
  • Eating spaghetti and getting stained orange around their mouth
  • Filling up their car with petrol (isn’t this neccessary though???)
  • Men sitting in the bath
  • Pressing the button at the traffic light and waiting
  • Holding an umbrella

This study got us super curious about what you lot were thinking, so we asked over on our Instagram to tell us your biggest icks too — which we’ll share below.

What gives people the ick?

couple holding hands. Icks

Everything…kind of.

This study was commissioned by the dating site Seeking, and conducted by OnePoll. The study found that over half (65%) have previously ended a relationship because of an “ick” they caught — and 88% of them had ghosted someone completely because of these icks.

Here are just some of the top findings when it comes to Biggest Icks:

  • The top-rated ick was simply smelling bad, which accounted for 24% of those surveyed
  • This was followed by pretending to be a “know it all” or being rude to the waiter on the date (both gained 21% of votes)
  • 16% of women reported a date wearing a ‘tacky watch’ would give them an ick, and a further 15% would judge someone for referring to their favourite sports team as if they were part of the actual team
  • 15% caught an ick because the other person was obsessed with star signs 

Have you ghosted or were you the ghost-ee? Find out what ghosting says about you.

Splitting the bill is apparently still a no-go

What we find is a very practical way to be fair on a date, is apparently still seen in a ick-worthy light by some. The study found that 73% would judge the other person negatively if they wanted to split the bill — but this was mostly due to if the other person suggested the date. Plus, a further 72% would seriously judge the first date location if it wasn’t up to scratch.

We get the last part somewhat…but hello? Cost of living crisis? Perhaps it could be correlated to the 33% who say salary is important to them, as well as a further 30% looking for a good sense of style and fashion. There’s nothing wrong in having a preference for these two things, but what happened to keeping an open mind on splitting the bill, eh?

Does dating get harder as you get older?

Out of the 2,000 respondents — 40% felt that dating does get harder as you grow older, despite 37% being completely set on dating someone who matches their preferences exactly.

What gave you the ick?

lady covering her face in shame or embarrassment. Icks for girls

Now onto the good stuff, some of the most funny icks and some we’d imagine are pretty common. 

People are, if nothing else, absolutely ridiculous… and we LOVE it.

  • Using the word ‘babe’
  • Not being a feminist – duh
  • Eating with their mouths open
  • Not cleaning up after themselves
  • Saying “I’m not like other boys”
  • Being rude to restaurant staff
  • Not communicating properly
  • Expecting sex after a date
  • When they agree with Andrew Tate — valid
  • Bad teeth
  • Listening to motivational podcasts and make the gym their personality
  • Being too formal over text, including full stops and capital letters
  • Wearing tracksuits
  • Thinking something is really funny when it isn’t
  • Explaining a joke when no one finds it funny
  • Talking in a baby voice – unless babies are involved, obvs
  • Bad hygiene, including bad breath
  • Not trying new things and experiences
  • Making cringey TikToks
  • Taking too many selfies
  • Noisy eating
  • Not asking if you got home safe
  • Putting your phone on the table during a date
  • And some amazing one-word answers:
    • Men
    • Dating
    • Everything (relatable AF)
typing message out on phone. Icks for girls

Common biggest icks

The list of icks seems never-ending! However, there are some common ones that tend to pop up frequently.

These include using a baby voice, going overboard with makeup, taking public selfies, audibly breathing, loud eating, oversharing on social media, referring to oneself in the third person (a big no-no), and clapping when an airplane lands (apologies, Dad).

Biggest icks for guys

Sorry, girls, the examples of icks for guys is chock-full of fairly seemingly unproblematic behaviour that’s giving men the ick. Looking for examples for icks for guys?

Here’s our non-exhaustive list of icks we’ve found that people get from girls, in no particular order:

  1. Too much interest in astrology – ugh, sorry for having hobbies
  2. Talking in a baby voice – again, okay if babies are around (sometimes)
  3. Talking too much about an ex
  4. Taking too many selfies
  5. Not offering to split the bill
  6. Fake laughing
  7. Really long nails (fair enough, you don’t want to be scratched)
  8. Bad hygiene
  9. Being on their phone too much
  10. Girlbosses

Fashion faux-pas are also one of the biggest icks for guys. You know, Ugg boots and spider lashes, that kind of thing.

Common icks for girls

Women also have a lot of strange and varied turnoffs when it comes to things men do that give them the ick.

Here’s our list of common icks for girls we’ve found that people get from guys, in no particular order:

  1. Not paying on the first date
  2. Mansplaining – an obvious one
  3. Too much interest in cryptocurrency
  4. Body odour
  5. Acting too tough or ‘alpha’
  6. Gym mirror selfies
  7. Wearing socks to bed
  8. Being rude to waitstaff
  9. Arrogance
  10. Being overly touchy on a first date — have you heard of personal space?

Some honourable mentions also include:

  • Not wearing socks with shoes
  • Living at home with parents (not fair this is an ick in this economy!)
  • Clapping when an airplane lands
  • Breathing heavily
  • Referring to themselves in third person

Ouch, you guys are harsh. But funny.

The funniest icks we’ve come across

It seems that everything from wearing water shoes (excuse me ,what?) to chasing a ping pong ball is an ick.

Along with these harmless, if not slightly unattractive behaviours, funny icks include the way guys’ swimming trunks inflate when they jump into a pool, running with a backpack on, an umbrella being turned inside out by the wind and donning the cape you have the wear to get your hair cut (nothing is sacred). Some icks can be oddly specific, like these ones from Buzzfeed.

We took the streets to find out what Manchester’s biggest icks are, and we discovered this northern lot aren’t afraid to tell their partner to their face. Subscribe to our Youtube channel to find out what other icks we uncovered.

When are icks a red flag?

Sometimes an ick is just an ick. But sometimes, it can be indicative of a red flag or a boundary being crossed. Things like a partner not introducing you to their friends, talking very badly about their ex or lovebombing you are all fair signs of concern in early stages of dating and in a long-term relationship.

The ick doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do anything, often it can be based on your mood or where you’re at emotionally more so than the other person.

In fact, strained relationships in many ways may be more vulnerable to icks cropping up as you may pay more attention to them if you’re unhappy in your relationship. What we mean is, an ick doesn’t need to end a relationship, although sometimes it may feel inevitable when you catch the ick.

Getting the ick is completely normal though and is likely going to happen during the beginning stages of a relationship. If it’s something that grosses you out a little or maybe annoys you sometimes, then it’s just an ick. If an ick makes you feel hurt or belittled in any way, then it may be a red flag. Red flags can often crop up later in the relationship though, whereas icks typically appear during the honeymoon phase.

Red flags could include:

  • controlling behaviour
  • putting you down
  • gaslighting

As you can see, red flags are a lot more serious than icks.

couple holding hands. icks

Why do I get the ick so easily?

If you get the ick constantly with everyone, you may ask yourself why. And for good reason, perhaps.

For new couples, icks may crop up when the novelty fades. But it’s completely normal to find someone frustrating when you’re suddenly around them a lot – especially if you’ve moved in together recently. It’s a big change, and a big step in the relationship, so issues are bound to arise due to stress. Making sure you take time alone for yourself, communicate issues openly and make space for intimacy are a few things you can do to prevent problems.

However, some issues are deeper and involve triggers that relate to someone’s anxiety around their emotional and physical relationships. Anxiety disorders, fears of intimacy and an inability to be open can cause some people to self-sabotage when it comes to dating. Sound familiar?

You’re ignoring the signs

People often brush aside aspects they might not fancy in a partner or date. Whether it’s the haste to commit, turning a blind eye to warning signs, or getting stuck in repetitive negative patterns, there could be a more profound issue at play. We’ll touch on a couple of them briefly below.

Fear of engulfment

A fear of engulfment describes those who are afraid of being controlled or losing themselves in a relationship or another person. The fear stems from being afraid to lose your identity or overly immerse yourself in your romantic relationships. Essentially, the other person depends on you to meet all your needs and they swallow you up in the process.

Some people suffering from a fear of engulfment may sabotage relationships to avoid being overwhelmed. It’s also possible to swing between both.

Fear of intimacy

Intimacy issues and a fear of intimacy aren’t uncommon terms. When you develop deep feelings for someone, you’re afraid of getting hurt or hurting them – it’s a vulnerable position to voluntarily put yourself in. Sometimes random milestones or events – like moving in together or getting engaged – might make you feel subconsciously defensive because you’re open to a lot of potential pain.

These issues can be deeply rooted in a a variety of past experiences. Depending on the severity and impact on your life, you can seek our a professional to work through these issues with.

Reflecting on your own icks and the icks of others? We hope this has shed a little light on those. But don’t fret — an ick comes on when we least expect them to, and it’s totally normal! Sign up for Student Beans and follow our Instagram page to keep in the know with topics such as these.