How To Distinguish Between An Ick And A Real Dealbreaker

Dating brings up a whole world of decision-making. We want to make sure we're making the right choice for ourselves, especially if we're choosing someone to marry, have children with, or looking for a life partner. There are a lot of things that join together in a relationship: finances, families, hopes and dreams. Plus there's the day-in, day-out life of practicalities that one shares with one's partner. It's a lot to consider. So making a relationship decision is nothing to be flippant about.

Dr. Barton Goldsmith offered tips for how to pick the right person in Psychology Today. Goldsmith suggested looking for someone who is kind and loving, as well as someone we can talk to. He also urged that we look for similarities, like spiritual outlook as well as political affiliations, as differences in these arenas can create conflict as time goes on. But he also noted that it's our job to listen, because people do tell us exactly who they are. We just have to hear what they say and watch what they do.

As we're being attentive in this way, we're inevitably going to pick up on different things we don't like. Some things might be small and annoying, what we'll call an ick here, while some might be major problems for the relationship. These are dealbreakers. Here's how to distinguish between them.

What's an ick and how does it impact dating?

It's inevitable that we're going to find some unappealing traits in our partners. These ick factors are essentially things we find annoying in our romantic partner, but they're things that can change or they're not serious enough to warrant a breakup. In fact, reading through people's icks online is a comedic treat, as we relate to the completely irrational things that turn people off. Some icks include having long or dirty fingernails, referring to their favorite sports team as "we," or wearing sunglasses inside (per Yahoo Life). One noted that she saw her man run for candy from a piñata, so there's nothing too petty to give us the ick. Other icks can be more serious. For instance, poor hygiene often makes the list, as does cigarette smoking.

It's up to us to decide what icks we can get past. After all, part of dating is loving someone in spite of the fact that they're going to be goofy and make mistakes. But how do we navigate these turn-offs? Dr. Sanam Hafeez told Self that icks tend to arise early in relationships, and so long as they're harmless, give them some time. But if the ick persists, it could be speaking to a deeper issue. "The ick is a gut reaction, and you should always trust your gut," Hafeez explained. If our guts are telling us something's off, it's best to cut ties sooner.

What are real dealbreakers?

Real dealbreakers in relationships are the traits that we cannot accept in a romantic partner. These, like the icks, can be different for everyone, but they're traits or behaviors that are total red flags. Dr. Grant Hilary Brenner referenced data from the journal Personality and Individual Differences to share what the top six dealbreakers are for the average dater. These include the "gross" factor, including bad smells, being unattractive, and poor hygiene, Dr. Brenner wrote in Psychology Today. "Addiction" was the second dealbreaker for many, and in this list was cigarette smoking, showing that addiction can be an ick for some, while a dealbreaker for others. "Clingy" was third on the list, and this attribute included jealous and controlling behavior. Next was "Promiscuous." This included infidelity in the relationship, but interestingly, also included having previously dated many people. "Apathetic" was another, and this included a lack of interest in the relationship, as well as displaying untrustworthy behavior. "Unmotivated" was yet another, and this included a poor financial future as well as a lack of ambition and interest in life.

Insidious forms of abuse was another dealbreaker that psychologist Judy Ho spoke about with Insider. "Physical or sexual abuse are absolute deal-breakers in a relationship and occur more often than one might think," Ho explained. "What is sometimes tougher to spot is psychological or emotional abuse. Sometimes this occurs alongside physical and/or sexual abuse but sometimes it can occur in isolation." Ho said that this is an absolute dealbreaker.