'toxic' | 

Netflix’s Too Hot to Handle star Nicole O’Brien is taking a break from men

The Cork singer says she has had enough heartache

Nicole O'Brien

Nicole has just launched a casual clothing range

Deirdre ReynoldsSunday World

Summer banger C’est La Vie may be based on her own bad dating experiences, but there’s one lyric that’s happily just borrowed from a friend, laughs Nicole O’Brien.

The reality TV star never got a tattoo of her ex’s name, or vice versa, she breathes a sigh of relief: “No, thank God!

“One of my closest friends has four matching tattoos with different exes, so I took that line from that. I almost did a couple of years ago, but luckily I changed my mind — I’d be straight down to the laser salon!”

Now riding high in the Irish charts, the girl power anthem urges women to love themselves first, and the Cork singer reveals how recording the tune helped to get her own groove back after heartbreak.

“It’s definitely true to my experiences anyway,” she tells Magazine+. “I’ve had an awful experience with men the past few years, to be honest.

Nicole has just launched a casual clothing range

“I feel like I just know how to pick ‘em. There was a few toxic situationships and relationships that completely knocked my confidence. I used to be very confident — and I’m back to myself now — but at that moment in time I would just lock myself away in the apartment and just cry for days on end and just felt really shit in myself.

“I woke up one day and I just had an epiphany. I was like, ‘I don’t want to be giving my time to people like this’. So I went into the studio with my team and we wrote a song about it.

“Although it’s such a happy song, it does have quite a deep meaning to it. I wanted to create an anthem that makes you feel good and gives you the confidence to walk away from any situation like that, because a lot of young girls struggle with stuff like that. It was actually very therapeutic to do it.”

“It’s so funny because I was at an event last week and one of my exes was there,” she adds. “And he was like, ‘Oh, I heard your new song, is that about me?’ I said, ‘I mean... maybe’. But, yeah, of course it bloody well was!”

Innishannon native Nicole got her big break on 2020 Netflix sensation Too Hot to Handle, with the format featuring a group of sexy singles vying to find love (and win a $100,000 cash prize) while having to resist physical temptation in sizzling Mexico proving the perfect antidote to lockdown.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be big,” insists the 27-year-old, who dated co-contestant Bryce Hirschberg after the show ended.

“They told us don’t expect it to be big season one, so we had no clue. We actually had to wait for a full year for it to come out, so I went back to my office job and we signed and NDA where we got fined a quarter of a million if anyone found out — so my mouth was shut. I didn’t tell a lot of my friends back home until the trailer came out. They were like, ‘Nicole, you told me you in Mexico for a work trip and you lost your phone!’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I couldn’t tell you, I’m so sorry’.”

Although she agrees the programme “opened so many doors”, single Nicole — who has previously turned down Love Island — insists her reality TV dating days are over as she pursues her music career.

And the commerce graduate especially won’t be braving the new series of Naked Attraction which starts on Channel 4 this week. “Oh, can you bloody imagine?” she gasps.

“I did Celebrity Ghost Trip on E4 last October and my 96-year-old grandmother was watching me. What comes on straight afterwards?Naked Attraction — she nearly had a bloody heart attack, my mom was telling me, the poor woman.

“They were going to do a celeb version of it. [I can] imagine nothing worse. No more dating shows,” she confirms. “It is so hard to get taken seriously in music if you do dating shows.”

As for dating itself, Nicole reveals how she’s also changed her tune. “I was dating someone casually for the last few months, but I don’t have time for it,” she says. “My parents are always on to me, being like, ‘You’re 27’; I say to them, ‘C’mere, give me a break, 27 is young, I’m in a relationship with my career’.

“I just need to change my type,” smiles Nicole, who has also just launched her own unisex clothing line, Agenda. “Get a nice Irish lad — someone who genuinely has a good heart and isn’t out to get something from me.

“Someone who — how do I put it — basically isn’t a f*ckboy.”

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