The Ick in a Long Term Relationship: What is it and How to Overcome

The Ick In A Long Term Relationship

August 2, 2023

When it comes to dating and marriage, we often hear about the butterflies and the fireworks, but rarely do we hear about the ick in a long term relationship. But what about the moments when something feels off? Something inexplicable that sends shivers down your spine and makes you question everything? Ah yes, I’m talking about the infamous “ick.” The ick is like that unwanted guest who overstays their welcome. It’s that nagging feeling that something just isn’t right, and it can take a toll on even the most solid relationships.
The sensationalized phrase has been rising in popularity since 2017. But it wasn’t until TikTok started featuring video’s of the ‘ick’ in fans ‘For You’ page that it really started taking off.

As a relationship and sex therapist, working with folks in all kinds of relationships, I see people feeling the ick everywhere. Someone wears sneakers when they should have chosen casual dress shoes, or they can’t figure out how to work their car alarm. Seemingly small things that shouldn’t be a big deal turn into a reason not to date. As if dating wasn’t hard enough already, modern singles are putting more and more no’s on their list of red flags, and not enough yes’s on their list of yellow’s.

The ick is slowing down long-term connections, and speeding up break-up’s. But it’s not something new. It’s that sudden repulsion or unease you feel towards your partner, as if they’ve transformed into a completely different person overnight. The ick is the cringing at their quirks and the annoyance at their habits. It’s when their mere presence makes your skin crawl. So, how can you identify if you’re experiencing the ick? Some telltale signs include: finding excuses to avoid physical contact, feeling repulsed by their touch, or even cringing at their laughter. It’s that shift from being attracted to being utterly repelled.

The ick can stem from various sources. Maybe you’re feeling bored and stagnant in the relationship, or perhaps there are unresolved issues simmering beneath the surface. It could also be a result of unrealistic expectations or the monotony of everyday life. But fret not, for there is hope! Now that we’ve shed some light on the mysterious ick, it’s time to delve into the juicy part – overcoming it. Stay tuned for some life-changing tips and tricks that will breathe new life into your relationship, banishing the ick for good. 

Understanding the Ick In A Long Term Relationship

The ick in a long term relationship is that uncomfortable feeling you get when you look at your significant other and suddenly realize everything they do annoys you. Their laugh is no longer cute, their quirky habits that you once found endearing are now just irritating. So, what exactly is this ick and how do you overcome it before it tears your relationship apart?
One of the telltale signs of the ick is a general feeling of discomfort or unease whenever you’re around your partner. You might start avoiding physical contact or making excuses to spend less time together. It’s like you’ve lost that sense of familiarity and comfort that once defined your relationship.

So, what causes this sudden shift in perception? Well, it could be a combination of factors. Perhaps you’ve fallen into a rut and the relationship has become stagnant. Maybe you’ve both grown complacent and stopped putting in the effort to keep the spark alive. Or it could simply be that you’ve reached a point where the honeymoon phase is over and you’re starting to see your partner’s flaws more clearly.

The good news is that the ick doesn’t have to be the death sentence for your relationship. There are steps you can take to overcome it and rekindle the magic that once brought you together. 

Overcoming the Ick In A Long Term Relationship

The ick is something that can creep into a long-term relationship and wreak havoc on your once-blossoming romance. But fear not, there are ways to overcome this dreaded phenomenon and reignite the spark in your love life.

Open Communication

Picture this: you and your partner are sitting on the couch, engrossed in your respective phones, barely acknowledging each other’s existence. Sound familiar? Well, it’s time to put down those devices and start communicating.

Open and honest communication is the key to unlocking the door to overcoming the ick. Talk about your feelings, your concerns, and your desires. Be vulnerable and let your partner in on what’s been bothering you. Trust me, a heartfelt conversation can work wonders for a relationship.

Rediscovering Shared Interests

Remember the early days of your relationship when you and your partner used to have so much in common? But somewhere along the way, life got in the way, and those shared interests fell by the wayside. Well, it’s time to dust them off and bring them back to life. Find common activities that you both enjoy and make time for them. Whether it’s going for a hike, cooking together, or even binge-watching a new TV show, reconnecting through shared interests can reignite that old flame.

Create New Experiences

Routine done the wrong way can be the ultimate relationship killer. When you find yourself doing the same things day in and day out, it’s easy to start feeling like you’re stuck in a never-ending loop. Well, it’s time to break free from that monotony and create new experiences together. Take a spontaneous road trip, try out a dance class, or explore a new cuisine. The possibilities are endless!

By injecting novelty into your relationship, you’ll not only create lasting memories but also remind yourselves of why you fell in love in the first place.

Injecting Excitement and Spontaneity

Let’s face it, folks – relationships can sometimes be a bit dull. But who says they have to be? Injecting excitement and spontaneity into your love life can be a game-changer. Surprise your partner with a date night, plan a surprise picnic in the park, or leave them little love notes to find throughout the day. It’s the small, unexpected gestures that can make a big difference. So, grab your inner spontaneity by the hand and get ready to shake things up!

Prioritizing Intimacy

When was the last time you and your partner had an intimate moment that didn’t involve Netflix or sleep? If it’s been a while, then it’s time to make intimacy a priority. Set aside dedicated time to connect physically, whether it’s through cuddling, holding hands, or, well, you know… Don’t let the stresses of everyday life get in the way of maintaining a healthy physical connection. Trust me, a healthy dose of intimacy can work wonders for your relationship.

Seeking Professional Help

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the ick just refuses to budge. And that’s okay. Seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength and commitment to your relationship. A relationship counselor or therapist can provide you with valuable insights and tools to navigate through the ick and emerge stronger on the other side. So, if you find yourselves hitting a roadblock, don’t hesitate to seek the guidance of a professional. They might just be the superhero your relationship needs.

Rekindling the Magic

After dealing with the ick in a long-term relationship, it’s time to rekindle the magic and bThe Ick In A Long Term Relationshipring back the spark that initially attracted you to each other. Remember those early days of the relationship when everything seemed so romantic and dreamy? It’s time to bring that back! Revive romance, spice up the bedroom, embrace novelty, pursue personal growth, and celebrate every milestone. Remember the reasons why you fell in love in the first place and work towards creating a stronger, more exciting future together. After all, life is too short for boring relationships!

By: Jennifer Seip, LMFT

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