The most common friendship icks and how to navigate them

Friends ick. (Getty Images)
Has something given you the ick in one of your friendships? (Getty Images)

You've likely heard of the ick, whether you've experienced it in the early stages of dating, in a long term relationship (when you might be more forgiving), or just from friends listing off theirs about love interests.

But have you heard of the platonic ick? Yes, the ick can occur in non-romantic relationships too (anything springing to mind?), and with friendships lasting longer than some partners do, they can be important to deal with in the right way.

Here, a new study reveals the UK's top 10 platonic icks, while BACP-registered counsellor, Georgina Sturmer explains how to navigate them and nurture your adult friendships, if that's what's right for you.

Most common friendship icks

Senior friends pause to chat while walking in public park
Shared values of mutual respect and kindness are commonly appreciated across all friendships. (Getty Images)

While the majority of Brits embrace open-mindedness and acceptance, there were some key icks that stood out for some across the country.

'Being late' and 'being rude to others' (both 10% respectively) have been unearthed as the top platonic icks in the UK, Mecca Bingo reveals. Being late is something that those aged 55+ in particular can't stand while 25-34-year-olds are particularly against rudeness, showing that shared values of mutual respect and kindness are particularly appreciated across all friendships.

Next up is a friend 'talking about themselves too much' (8%), 'regularly cancelling plans' (7%), 'constantly putting you down', and 'bragging' (both 6% respectively).

Completing the top 10 is 'trying to flirt with your partner', 'slow replies' (both 5% respectively), 'demanding a lot of your attention', and 'bad table manners' (both 3% respectively).

Of course, many of us have different personality and behaviour types, which should be taken into consideration to help explain some of these traits. But if something really is putting you off someone you're close to, what should you consider before making any haste reactive decisions?

How to navigate the ick in friendships

1. Remember the value of friendships

Lifestyle image of two women hugging outside on a street.
Is the ick worth losing your friendship over? (Getty Images)

First and foremost, Sturmer reminds us: "Good friendships help us to build and maintain our resilience through whatever life throws at us, whether it’s a tricky breakup, a problem at work, or a crisis of confidence. It’s our long term friends who can offer us a sense of feeling grounded".

So if one of your old friends is giving you the ick, try and think about all the positives first.

2. Consider how you react to the platonic ick

Friendship ick. (Getty Images)
Reactions are everything. (Getty Images)

Sturmer points out, "Many of us have default patterns in friendships, so if you find yourself getting the 'ick' often, then it might mean that you should consider your own feelings and reactions. If you're getting the 'ick' but are committed to the friendship, then think about how you communicate.

"See if you can share how you are feeling, without coming across as insulting or confrontational. If you talk about it, then you might be able to salvage things."

3. Try different strategies for each ick

Beautiful pensive young woman holding a glass of beer while sitting in a pub and looking away.
Try and think about how best you could try and face each ick head on, like someone always being late. (Getty Images)

If someone is consistently late, this can be both inconvenient and suggest a lack of respect. "There are a few different ways of coping with this. You could try being upfront. Ask if they’re likely to be late, explain why it’s annoying, and suggest an alternative arrangement. This could potentially nip it in the bud," says Sturmer.

"But for some of us this approach might feel too direct, or even aggressive. You could try a more jokey approach like 'I’ll suggest 12pm as I really mean 12.30 and I know you're always about half an hour behind', and see if this helps you to bring up the subject, while taking the edge off the conversation.

"Or you could even try being late yourself, to give them an opportunity to put themselves in your shoes."

And if they're constantly putting you down, Sturmer suggests noticing how you respond to their criticism.

"We often get stuck in a pattern of behaviour. Perhaps your friend makes a cutting comment, and you show signs of agreement, or even encouraging them. Maybe it started as banter, and now it’s become ingrained in your interactions. This means that you do have the power to change things. Avoid the temptation to offer your normal response," she explains. "Next time, consider showing them that their criticisms are unkind or hurtful. This will give you a chance to see whether the friendship can be rescued and whether your interactions can become kinder, more balanced and more supportive."

And if they don’t stop putting you down? "Honestly, this one’s a real red flag in a friendship. If a friend is overly critical, then I’d suggest asking yourself some questions. Why do you stick around? Maybe you’ve been friends for a long time, or perhaps you feel worried or embarrassed about the idea of withdrawing from the friendship."

Thinking about the big picture with each ick and trying out different methods – e.g. if friend always dominates the conversation, taking a step back, helping others have air time or questioning if they're need to be centre-stage is in fact out of insecurity – can help you decide what you can and can't work through.

3. Question if you're self-sabotaging or not

man thinking
Are you pushing people away without realising? (Getty Images)

Sometimes, a friendship may no longer be serving you anymore, and that's okay, if it's something you've considered properly. But it's worth musing the question, is it really down to them?

"The 'ick' could be self-sabotage. It might be a sign of an underlying fear that you have, that is triggered when a friend becomes too close, or it feels as if they are asking for more than you can give," says Sturmer.

"If this resonates with you, then it might be worth thinking about this in more depth, before you find yourself pushing people away."

However, circling back, Sturmer adds, "The 'ick' could also indicate a useful gut feeling. Maybe you’ve fallen in a friendship due to circumstance or convenience, and it feels as if it has run its course. Tune into what you're feeling, and reflect on what you want and need, and whether you feel able to maintain the friendship."

4. Put quality time into your friendships

Cheerful smiling African-American woman embracing her female friend during a dinner with family and friends.
Spend valuable time with your friend to really see how you feel. (Getty Images)

Lastly, Sturmer asks "When’s the last time you spent quality time with your nearest and dearest – in real life?" Sometimes, this might be all it takes to overcome any more minor icks.

"We live such busy, frantic lives, that sometimes it feels like we must schedule an opportunity weeks or months in advance. So, it's important to remember that there's nothing like quality time with people who know us, who understand us, who we can talk to, and we can laugh with.

"Don't forget to get those dates in the diary to catch up, to do something fun together."

Watch: Caity Baser on getting the ick and what happens when people realise her songs are about them