Worried You Like Your Date Too Much? This Could Help
- A TikTok "dating trick" suggests that individuals hold onto one physical characteristic of their date that gives them a sense of "the ick."
- It's important to distinguish between minor annoyances or "icks" and serious red flags.
- How you can maintain a healthy approach to new relationships by focusing on genuine feelings rather than following rules or playing games.
My dating life used to be best described by the lyrics of O-Town's "All or Nothing." I was either all in, head over heels obsessed without even really knowing him, only for it to crash and burn one to three weeks later, or I would want nothing to do with a guy pursuing me. This either turned into mutual ghosting, or worse, the guy taking my indifference as a challenge.
So, how can you stay grounded when you first start dating someone you're really into?
The Tiktok 'dating trick' for keeping your cool
"This message is for all the lover girls out there," said Sahar Khorram while swirling a tall iced matcha latte on my For You page. She advised her audience of 3.9 million and growing to remember one "ugly" attribute or physical characteristic that kind of gives them "the ick" of the person they're seeing.
"Because once you get into the relationship and you start idolizing him and you start acting out of character and being desperate and needing him, you're going to need something to bring you back down," she said.
Khorram went on to explain she always thinks about how her boyfriend's head is "shaped like a peanut," which reminds her she's the catch. This video is flooded with comments thanking her for such on-point advice.
I unknowingly followed this hack with a guy I was really into. He had this gold chain necklace he never took off and it kind of gave me the ick. Now we're married.
Is this actually good advice?
According to licensed experts, this may not be the best advice because when you fall hard for someone, chemistry makes it impossible to stay calm.
"Falling hard creates a release of feel-good chemistry which moves through us at a wild speed," said Rachel Fleischman, L.C.S.W., psychotherapist and founder of Bliss Counseling who's based in San Francisco, California. "These hormones can make us giddy, energetic and euphoric, often affecting our appetite and sleep. With that level of giddiness, it's hard to be cool."
This hack may come off as cruel, too, since everyone has their own quirks and flaws.
"What matters is showing understanding and acceptance of these imperfections rather than using them as a tool to distance yourself," said Bayu Prihandito, a certified psychology expert and life coach based in Hannover, Germany. "The key is to find a balance between idealization and devaluation, without being judgmental."
- Are We Too Obsessed With Red Flags to Pay Attention to Green Flags?: Flip the script and look for some positive signs the next time you're on a date.
- Why Are You Dreaming About Your Ex?: Unwanted appearances—even when you're asleep—don't always mean you're hung up on someone.
- Between the Pages: The Dos and Don’ts of Dating and First-Time Sex: Author Hayley Quinn's dating advice book provides practical and straightforward suggestions.
While this advice can work if you're a lover who's often putting your dates up on pedestals or feels your dates are too good to be true, it's important to explore what this says about your own confidence and self-esteem.
"If you're looking for perfection in a date and you find it hard to notice their flaws, you might want to ask yourself some questions," said Georgina Sturmer, M.B.A.C.P., a counselor based in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. "Do you feel like you enter balanced, real-life relationships? Are you setting unrealistically high expectations for other people? What happens if they don't meet them?"
When an ick becomes a red flag
So what exactly does it mean to have the ick? Icks are minor annoyances or small quirks, but sometimes we convince ourselves a red flag is an ick that can be easily brushed off.
"The key is to understand the difference between an ick and a potentially dangerous red flag," said Kelsey Holiday, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist who works at Coast Family Psychological Services, Inc. in Los Angeles.
"If the 'ick' has anything to do with your values or your safety, that can be a red flag you don't want to ignore," she added.
"Other icks which could be red flags in disguise is behavior that makes you feel undervalued, disrespected, or falls into the category of abuse or if it's actions that personally matter to you but may not be deal breakers for others," said Kendra Capalbo, L.I.C.S.W., a licensed couples therapist and founder of Concierge Couples Counseling who's based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"It's crucial to be honest with yourself about these dealbreakers to avoid overlooking them and realizing later on that they are, in fact, significant," she said.
Playing it too cool can backfire
Acting too chill in a new relationship could lead to your date thinking you're not into them or could make you lose interest in your date, when they could actually be a great match for you.
"I tell my patients, 'playing it cool, being a little coy,' that's fine, but if you posture enough that you seem distant, ambivalent or disinterested, you're doing yourself and the other person a disservice," Fleischman said.
This mindset can be especially problematic if you're the type of person who tends to focus on the negative qualities in a potential partner instead of seeing the positive ones, Holiday added.
The Biggest Red Flags on Dating Apps—and How to Stay Safe: If a potential match shows these signs, do yourself a favor and swipe left. Major red flags should never be glossed over or ignored, and going out of your way to protect yourself online is never a bad idea.
The real best way to stay grounded in a relationship
A healthy way to stay present in a new relationship is to focus on your feelings, said Amanda Bradford, the Austin, Texas-based C.E.O. and founder of The League.
"Don't focus on what you think you should be doing or feeling, focus on what you actually feel," Bradford said.
"Another way to make sure you don't fall too hard for someone you just started dating is to try to maintain your regular routine and interests outside of the relationship," said Dana Lieberman, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, C.E.O. and founder of Coast Family Psychological Services, Inc. in Los Angeles.
"It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new relationship, take the time to slow things down and truly get to know your partner first," Prihandito said. "Balance how much you're investing in the relationship with how much they're investing. Notice reciprocal care, time spent, sharing the duty of initiating contact."
Follow your gut instead of dating 'rules'
Pay attention to what's driving your infatuation. Often, we convince ourselves we've found our perfect match when really we've just fallen for the idea of romance.
"Don't worry about following rules or instigating games," Sturmer said. "There's no secret formula for how often you should be in touch, what you should say and what you should do. Follow your gut and be open and honest in your communication. Keep an eye out for game-playing from your date too."