“Men tend to be awful at asking questions”

Sex therapist Rachel Cooke joined Jennifer Zamparelli on the RTÉ 2FM to discuss dating turn offs and the idea of ‘the ick’.

For those not in the know, ‘the ick’ is a catch all term for when you suddenly lose all romantic feelings towards someone. What once may have been considered cute is now cringe-inducing.

Think of it this way: If you have a crush on someone, you can convince yourself that no one else on planet Earth butters toast as well as they do, where as when you have ‘the ick’ the idea of that person doing anything at all is a bit off-putting.

Dating expert Hayley Quinn told Cosmopolitan: “‘The ick’ is a dating term that means you get a sudden cringe feeling when you have romantic contact with someone: and become almost immediately put off by them. You might feel suddenly repulsed, put off or cringed out by the person you’re dating – that’s “the ick” talking.”

With all that in mind, let’s dive into some of the turn offs that daters should avoid if they don’t want to induce an feeling of nausea in their potential match.

Reflecting on her discussions with clients, Cooke says that turns offs include (deep breath) being late, making no effort in terms of their appearance or arranging the date, being rude to waiters, making rude comments, being on their phone too often, complaining, getting into debates and one-upmanship, being judgmental, having bad breath, being too keen, talking too much, talking too little, and not asking questions.

Asking questions
Speaking on the difference of turn-offs across genders and sexualities, Cooke says that one trait has become clear across the board:

“The thing that I hear most is that men tend to be awful at asking questions. I think there’s a big societal aspect that the asking of questions can feel quite vulnerable to some people, to the person asking the question.”

“I think for a lot of different reasons, men have been conditioned to feel that they more have to peacock, and display themselves and sort of brag and talk about their achievements and things that they’re into.”

Although this parade of accomplishments may come with the good intention of proving what a good partner they can be, the consequence is that whoever they’re on a date with end up feeling that the man has no curiosity about them.

How keen is too keen?
Dating is a careful game whereby players must show their interest while remaining mysterious, becoming vulnerable while retaining power, acting coy but also seductive, simultaneously being an open book and a cliffhanger – you get the gist.

While singletons want to let potential matches know they’re interested, they also don’t want to come across as too eager. So, exactly how keen is too keen?

“Loads of people say they’ve been totally turned off by someone who comes across as really eager, trying too hard, or even desperate. What that means to each person is quite individual.”

Although it can be a tricky line to walk, and will ultimately depend on the individuals involved, Cooke recommends that people remain wary of “love bombing” behaviour.

“If someone is telling you very, very early on that you’re their kindred spirit, or they’re acting like you’re already in the honeymoon phase of a commited relationship – that can be really overwhelming.”

Physical attraction
When it comes to looks, Cooke insists that there is far too much focus on beauty trends and image in Western society, and says that attraction is something that can absolutely grow over time.

“The idea of what’s attractive to people of any gender is changing all the time,” she reminds listeners. “Whether that’s being thin, having huge muscles, being much more sort of sleek, being tall, being shorter – it really varies.”

Although you shouldn’t force yourself to date someone you’re not attracted to, the sex therapist says that daters should really think about what it is that’s attractive to them and why before they swipe left.

“For some people, how someone smells or how they touch is extremely important – possibly a lot more important than they physical aspect. Really here, focus on building comfort and rapport with someone.”

To find out how to make yourself ‘more dateable’ and for first date question ideas, listen back to Rachel on The Jennifer Zamparelli Show on RTÉ 2FM above.


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