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Five Ways To Get Rid Of A Toxic Friend

Updated on November 17, 2017

"Make new friends, but keep the old, One is silver and the other gold."-Girl Scout Song

And, unfortunately, some are just slug nickels.

Well, you “kinda sorta” liked him or her, at first. They seemed ok and nice enough. After all, you don’t become friends with a jerk, right? They might do or say something nice, seem fun to be around, etc. But after a while you realize, they have another side of them.

I compare a toxic friend to a fisherman. They put an tasty bait on the hook, you bite, they reel you in, and eat you for dinner.

The only difference is, a toxic friend wants to eat your SOUL for dinner.


So, how can you identify the species I like to call frendous toxicous?

  • They just want you to do this ONE favor for them, which turns into two, and then a dozen.
  • They make you feel guilty for hanging around other people, not calling them back, or forgetting their nieces’ daughter’s birthday.
  • They put you down CONSTANTLY.
  • They mooch, they steal, and they invite themselves over all the time.
  • They gossip about everyone, so chances are, they gossip about YOU too.
  • They try to stir up trouble between you and your spouse, pointing out their flaws and shortcomings. Before you know it, you are mad at your poor spouse.
  • Worse of all, they’re leeches and very difficult to rip off.

To get rid of them, you need to get serious!

1. First of all, you need to start screening your calls.

If their caller ID pops up, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, BUDDHA AND ZEUS, DON’T ANSWER! Ok, you are tempted in some morbid fashion, because after all, they had some good qualities and you had some fun with them. But seriously, you can’t be available to these people, anymore, PERIOD!

For my toxic friend, I put a special ringer on my phone just for her. I used a Chris Tucker voice clip from the movie "Friday": “Don’t ever EVER..evereverever come by here…ok?!?”

There is a dual purpose here: I don’t have to run to my phone to see who it is, and also, I get a humorous reminder of why I don’t want to be friends with her anymore.

2. Throw Emily Post out the window.

They say in the National Parks, “DON’T FEED THE BEARS.” You need to adopt this motto for your toxic friend situation. Just like bears, if you feed them once, they will come back.

There is a time and place to be a gracious host/hostess, and a time not to act like a doormat. When your toxic friend comes over in the middle of dinner, let them sit there and watch you eat. For someone like me, this can be difficult; you think, I don’t want to be “rude” and eat in front of them. But remember, this is what they are counting on!

Example: I already had company at my camp when my toxic friend neighbor “coincidentally” came over to sit her butt down at our picnic table while I was making dinner for our guests. She kept offering to help me, awww how sweet, right? SUCKER. She was just fishing for a proper invite to our repast, and I knew it. So, I politely waved off her offers of help and we all had second and third helpings, right in front of her nose. She got the hint.

3. Walk away.

They won’t stop yapping even after you have told them several times that you need to go? Take advice from Kelly Clarkson: you need to just walk away.

Remember: you aren't the one being rude!

4. Forget the special occasions.

When my toxic friend and I were still in the honeymoon stage (the stage before you realize your friend is a total soul-sucker),I surprised her with an upside-down pineapple cake for her birthday. She raved about this cake, and I was very pleased with myself. Unfortunately, my nice gesture made her believe I was her private bakery. Every year since, she requested cakes for her daughter, husband, granddaughter’s birthdays. Not only did she have the gall for that, but she wanted them done in a certain way, and delivered to the recipients at a certain time. Now, she would offer to pay me, but I felt weird about that. She was my "friend", after all (haha). But it also sucked all the joy out of doing something nice for someone. It became a chore.

So, stop sending birthday cards, gifts, or knowledge any sort of way a special occasion, even if they knowledge yours. This might be a tough thing to do, but you have to be strong. If you back slide, you are back to square one.

5. If all else fails, be a complete …you-know-what.

They still aren't getting the hint? Ok, make plans with them, elaborate plans. Confirm them several times. And then, don’t show. If they run into you and ask you what happened, just shrug and say you just didn't feel like going, or something else came up.

Just so you know, this isn't something I've ever done, or could do. I’m still too much of a sap to be act that way. However, if you have the kahunas, more power to you!

Some of you might be asking, "why can't you be just honest with your toxic friend and tell them exactly how you feel?"

Well, in my situation, I did just that. They still didn't get it!!! She blamed my anger at her as "misdirected," that I was really mad at my husband!!! HUH???

I think most toxic people are in extreme denial of their behavior. They think they are the most awesome friend ever. This is why they are so difficult to get rid of; they just can't imagine why you wouldn't want anything to do with them!

So, good luck dealing with your toxic friend. It took me 2 years to finally get rid of mine. With consistency and discipline, you can do it! Be strong!

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      RubernGlue 4 years ago

      I am unable to get rid of a toxic friend. He is always sticking with despite of very rude and indifferent behaviour from my side. I do not know what to do, he is reading my mind all the time and trying to be a step forward than me. I decided to be extremely rude but wondering if this is the right idea. Please help......

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      I know how you feel...people like this are drawn to me. It's a learning experience, for sure.

    • DuckyDee profile image

      Dusti Pitman 5 years ago from Washington

      Strangely I am drawn to people like this or maybe they are drawn to me. I am learning to choose my friends wisley though. This is very good advice.

    • soconfident profile image

      Derrick Bennett 5 years ago

      Well I stop picking up the phone and hanging out with them

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      DeviousOne:100% agreed. Thanks for your comment!

    • DeviousOne profile image

      DeviousOne 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Good advice. Simple but effective. It can be such a pain having toxic friends so it's best to have them disappear as soon as possible =)

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      A show for America to sleep by :)

    • johndnathan profile image

      John D Nathan 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas. USA

      They will. It's called "The Introvert".

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Thanks, Johndnathan. I hate drama and avoid it whenever possible :) I guess they won't be making a reality show about me anytime soon!

    • johndnathan profile image

      John D Nathan 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas. USA

      Nice article, Hecate-Horus. I can think of a few toxic people I know by association. Thankfully, a good majority of my friends are low-drama.

    • johnwindbell profile image

      johnwindbell 5 years ago from - the land of beards and buggies

      Hi Rosa, thanks, I'll read it.

    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 5 years ago from Canada

      @ johnwindbell - I actually wrote a hub about that called, "Freeing Yourself From Harmful People Within Your Family" ... hope it helps :-)

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      My toxic friends' daughter is in this situation. I've met and talked with her several times, and she knows what a difficult person her mother is. Her solution? To move far away. :(

    • johnwindbell profile image

      johnwindbell 5 years ago from - the land of beards and buggies

      Wonderful page, hecate-horus, thank you much. One question: what to do if your toxic friend(s) are your parents?

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Lovebug: I'm glad you saw her for what she really was. Thanks for sharing and not feeding the bear :) You go, girl!

    • profile image

      Lovebug 5 years ago

      Great article! I met my toxic friend a year ago and I just noticed this past weekend HOW toxic she really is. I kept letting things slide and looking at her good points. She does have really great things about her that I just love, but the bad outweighs the good. She just doesn’t know how to truly love and care for another girlfriend. Instead she makes it a mission in her life to constantly try to make me jealous. This past Saturday was the LAST straw. She showed me text messages between her and my ex-boyfriend (the guys that broke my heart into a million pieces). She also showed me a gift that he recently got her from overseas…HUH??? Actually typing this makes me realize how toxic this really is. I finally went off on her and let her have it. I told her she gets off making me feel bad. She told me I was too immature to handle hearing about him. Now today she sends me an invite to a happy hour like nothing happened???? Yeah – I am SO DONE!! Oh and I WAS her only girlfriend. You think that would have been a red flag. I also realize that I befriended her when I was really torn up over my heartbreak and I was willing to be friends with anyone and everyone just to have someone to hang out with all the time. Now I appreciate my alone time –at least it’s peaceful and drama free! I will not FEED THE BEAR!!!!

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Agreed, Efficient Admin. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Efficient Admin profile image

      Efficient Admin 5 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Anyone who is disrespectful and/or doesn't listen, or tries to make you feel bad about yourself most likely doesn't value the relationship and it's time to cut them loose. I believe this applies to family members as well. Great hub, voted up.

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Hi Susi in Maryland, and sorry to hear that you've also had a "toxic" experience. They all have similar M.O.s. My toxic friend was also really bossy and bragged about how guys would always stare and try to grab her big...well, you know.

    • profile image

      Susi in Maryland 5 years ago

      Wow. The description of a Toxic Friend matches my "friend" exactly. SHE was okay in the beginning and I did a few favors for her ..... but soon I realized what a horrible jerk, chiseler and user she is.

      Here's her modus operandi....She's an older "church" lady.... she hooks people in with a sob story about how her family mistreats her (constantly tells of all the horrible things they do ... drugs, abortions, porno, fights , etc). When she broke her knee and later hip, she really used it to her benefit. Everywhere she would go she would chisel free stuff from people. I witnessed this and she would tell me about it. Eventually I realized that her constant complaining about how abused she is ... is how she works people over. Free car trips, free auto repair, free food, free flowers , parking ticket fixed. The list doesn't end. A real con artist.

      Another thing I noticed was She would make snide comments about my looks from time to time... always commenting on my hair dye or my weight... and brag constantly on herself own looks... flip photos of her young self and tell of how when she was younger she " could get any man she wanted". This from a church lady!

      She tells others what they are going to do for her (told me I was going to Walmart with her and carry her great granddaughter around for her ! ). Eventually I wised up and starting avoiding her like the plague. That has helped but she still has called me to invite herself over to my house (I dodged that one). Now when I see her I just politely say hello and get away from her as fast as I can. I think she's starting to get the hint but in no way does she realize that she is TOXIC. I could go on about this woman with stories you wouldn't believe.

      She is very manipulative too.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 5 years ago from london

      Thank you. I try to serve in what seems to be the most appropriate way. I am sure you do too. Many blessings from within and Above.

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Good food for thought, Manatita44! Thanks for stopping by.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 5 years ago from london

      There's a part of us that invite all that stuff, usually to fulfill a need. Learning from the experience of a bad frendship can be useful. The pain drawn from the 'dead elephants' left sitting on our shoulders can help us. Good to share. Do so with inner goodness, though. We are all walking towards the Light and trials are sometimes necessary.

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      TammanyB: You are lucky to have this person! Thanks for your comment!

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Relationshipe: Thanks for your comment! It amazes me how many people deal with this issue. It seems that 50% of us are raised to be helpful, courteous, and kind, and the other 50%...well, aren't raised at all. :(

    • profile image

      TammanyB 5 years ago

      It helps if an outside person whom you trust or cares for you can see the picture clearly from the outside. Its hard to tell that person what you can see happening to them, especially if they love and care deeply for this toxic friend. But its easy to look in from the outside and see how this person uses the one that you care for, and they only show up when they need them. I was lucky to have someone like that in my life who could paint me the picture and help and guide me through the process of walking away. A friend should cause constant heartache!

    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Good advice. Too many people hold onto toxic friends who drag them down in life. I have let go of a few of them, and life is really much better without them. It's just the doing it that is hard.

      My one toxic friend kept trying to influence me and make me feel bad when I decided we needed to 'break up', as if she had never done anything wrong in our relationship and I was acting completely unfair. That was very hard, but in the end, I felt much better.

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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Hi Mac31, and thanks for your comment...I'm wondering if your wife gives in and watches the kids? Hopefully not!

      If this was me, I would tell your oldest not to let anyone in the house while Mom is in bed, sleeping. I think that's a good practice, toxic friend or no.

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      Mac31 5 years ago from United States

      My wife has a friend that just will not leave her alone and the funny thing is that she shows up everywhere she goes like a magician. My wife does not want to be mean to her, but I think that there is a limit as far as how much you can bother someone. Let me give you an example....she knocks on my door during the week when I am at work and my oldest child answers the door only to have her walk in with her 2 kids while my wife is asleep in her PJ's. The funny thing is that she then asks if my wife can take care of her kids.....like really. You are going to just walk into my house and ask my wife if she can watch your kids.

      I am not sure how else to handle this type of person.

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Ksinll, agreed. And most toxic friends won't make an effort to change. There are clueless people and people who just don't care, and I've found that toxic friends can be a little of both.

    • profile image

      ksinll 5 years ago

      I once had a friend that used to make plans with me then would frequently cancel at the last minute. She expected me to drive her around town and all that too. One time I called her on it when she assumed that I would be picking her up. I asked, "don't you have a car?" I also told her that I didn't appreciate waiting outside a restaurant for 30 minutes wondering where she was. I think you have to tell people, but if they don't make an effort to change then I eventually just stop making plans with them and move on with my life.

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Thank you for your comments, Tammany B.

    • profile image

      TammanyB 5 years ago

      Love yourself enough to know who is good for you and who ,as you say "eats your soul" . We only live once, and the energy , love and vibrance we put out into the world is very important. " You get what you give" and you are influenced by what you hold dear ... or what's surrounds you. Be open to people who abuse you , take note, accept and let them go. Eventually it will become second nature to spot them a mile away... but of course we live and learn and have to go through the heartache that comes with losing a "friend" who you believed was a friend. Great topic to touch on. Thank you!

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Congrats Templar Vision! Glad to hear it!

    • profile image

      TemplarVision 5 years ago

      Well said. I literally just cut out toxic 'friends' from my life and it was the best choice I've made so far this year. My 'friend' and her husband turned our 4th of July into a bizarre spectacle because he was told that we did not want him doing any drugs at our house (last year he was toking up within view of our neighbors, in the front yard without even asking if we objected- not too bright) and she acted like a boor to everyone and they brought their adult daughter who was on Diuretics and dominated the use of the bathroom until she plugged the toilet with over half a roll of paper: we spent an hour plunging and finally had to flush the clean out with the garden hose - Her husband made snide comments to me in front of our other guests then topped off the day by making a really nasty, sickeningly obscene comment to me in front of all present, which I ignored to avoid an ugly scene. They ate their fill then left in a hurry. I didn't hear from her for a week or so, then she wrote me an email today: asking if I was upset with her because she hadn't heard from me. I replied with civility, focusing on the points at issue and explained that I needed distance after the experience. She responded with rage that accellerated with each sentence to include assumptions and a few lies until she finished with an all out verbal assault on my character and worthiness, all punctuated with many exclamation points.

      My first thought was wow, kind of over the top, there. Then I realized that I felt lighter and although I don't enjoy ugliness - this was worth it.

      I'm FREE!!

      Sometimes its necessary to cut the tumor out in one shot. Life is too short to bother with clods who will only suck the life out of you over time.

      I'm FREE!!

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      You hit the nail on the head, Innerspin. I sometimes wonder what makes them tick? How did they get like this? Thanks for your comment!

    • innerspin profile image

      Kim Kennedy 5 years ago from uk

      Love this hub! Toxic friends are exhausting and perplexing, really their brains don't seem wired right. They don't understand subtle hints or sometimes, as you say direct statements. Good tips, and I enjoyed your writing, thanks.

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Thanks for the helpful advice, Joanwz!

    • joanwz profile image

      Joan Whetzel 5 years ago from Katy, Texas

      Another variation on some of these is to just make other plans and "forget" to tell the other person. Like planning a family outing, or going on a date with your spouse to a restaurant they don't know about, or simply doing something else (anything else!) on days when you normally would have done something with this person. In extreme cases - say, if you belong to the same church - and the "friendship" is getting out of hand, you may have to consider changing churches. If you live down the street from them and can't afford to move, you may have to get tricky about when you come and go, or which route you take out of the neighborhood, so they can't track you comings and goings so easily. (Yeah, I've been there too.)

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Like I said in tip #5, my toxic friend wouldn't even listen to the direct and honest approach. She was that much in denial of her behavior, Good luck with your situation and thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      TemplarVision 5 years ago

      I disagree with some of the methods suggested here as it involves compromising oneself in adopting mirror image behaviors of the toxic friend.

      If the friendship is truly one that must end, why not establish boundaries honestly and cleanly?

      A toxic person doesn't make friends, they take hostages.

      I am up against this very situation right now. I have a friend who after 24 years of on and off caustic put downs, bragging, interrupting, openly jealous behavior toward me that I've always forgiven, choosing to turned the other cheek, I'm cutting ties with her.

      Life is too short to waste it on co-dependancy and needy demanding people.

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Iwriteforyou: So true! And they do get bored and move on...my toxic friend did, thank goodness! Thanks for your comment!

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      I am Rosa, thanks for your comments. I think you handled your situation well!

    • iwriteforyou profile image

      iwriteforyou 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great hub and a very enjoyable read.

      We've all had toxic friends and it's always good to move away from them as quickly as possible. In my experience they've always had very strong agendas and wanted things on their terms. What's worked for me is respecting my own needs and only doing things that make me happy and don't cost me personally. After a while they get bored and move onto someone else that will give them what they want.

    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 5 years ago from Canada

      Excellent advice and congrats on losing the energy drainer. I had to learn this lesson PDQ! Unfortunately, it much harder when the soul-sucking troublemaker is a family member, but we need to stick with it and remember why we don't want them around.

      One of the hardest parts was not letting them in when they dropped by unannounced. I either didn't answer the door, or - if they KNEW I was there - open it only wide enough to pop my head out (bracing my foot behind the door to make sure they couldn't push their way in) and let them know that "now isn't a good time" and to please call ahead of time before coming over. Then, closing the door before they start interrogating me. WHEW!

      Great hub. Voted up and Interesting.

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 6 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Thanks for stopping by, Naimishika!

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 6 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Thanks Michememe! We are all better off without toxic friends. I definitely don't miss her!

    • michememe profile image

      Miche Wro 6 years ago

      I am laughing, but this is all great things you suggested. I have no problem cutting off toxic people. It's as easy as learning my abc's. Great Hub.

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      coolrthnu 6 years ago

      your right she is always putting me down i'll try that and write back

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 6 years ago from Rowland Woods

      I'm sorry Coolrthnu, but since she's a toxic friend, do you need her? My advice: find a better friend! You deserve it!

    • profile image

      coolrthnu 6 years ago

      my toxic friend is replacing me. she does this to everyone she becomes best friends and then looks for someone better then just dumps you in the dust. i still want to be friends with her but when i try to go with my other friend she gets mad and yells at me and gets everybodies sympathy. what should i do???

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 6 years ago from Rowland Woods

      True, haikutwinkle. Thank goodness I'm not related to this woman.

    • haikutwinkle profile image

      haikutwinkle 6 years ago

      well, one can always choose one's friends... interesting hub...

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 6 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Thanks Robie, for stopping by,reading and commenting!

    • Robie Benve profile image

      Robie Benve 6 years ago from Ohio

      funny and useful... which one should I click? I'll go with useful, because it is so true: toxic friends exist and are better as "formers". :)

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 6 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Well said, Sabrina. Thanks for your input!

    • Sabrina Tells All profile image

      Sabrina Tells All 6 years ago

      Throughout life we are challenged to shed our previous skin and move into the next level. When you reach the point in a relationship where everything seems one sided, you are not having your needs met, you are feeling stifled or perhaps you have completely missed the opportunity to recognize a very toxic relationship; it is important that you first look within for answers.

      "Wait a minute!" One has to answer the question of how you became a part of a toxic relationship, so that you do not make this mistake again. Sometimes it is difficult to pull away when you need to and in this situation, I offer this visual . . . You are floating on top of the water and struggling to stay afloat. Around you there are others that do not seem to be able to make it on their own, so they are pulling at you to save themselves. However, you know you are not strong enough to save anyone but yourself. Do you struggle to save the others that have been toxic in your life? Or, do you save yourself and move on?

      Sometimes you need to save yourself and understand how you ended up in the water in the first place. Still not understanding the reason for the visual?

      In a fleeting moment you may make the wrong decision and pay the price for not saving yourself. If you are in the water, how much time do you have to make that decision? If you find yourself in a toxic relationship (friendship) you have the same amount of time to make a decision. There is no need to analyze it further. If you are not healthy and strong nothing else matters.

      Thank you for listing the struggles that come with making a very difficult decision . . . do I stay or do I go.

      - Sabrina Delaney -

    • hecate-horus profile image
      Author

      hecate-horus 6 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Thanks Alocsin!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Sometimes people just don't get the message -- good techniques for driving the point across. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • hecate-horus profile image
      Author

      hecate-horus 6 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Arlene: Thank you! I think that's why toxic friends are so toxic; they won't change, no matter how many people point out their shortcomings. They always see themselves in the right. If someone tried to tell her she was being rude, my toxic friend used to pout like a child for days or blame others for her behavior. Nothing really changed.

      Ruby: me too! I wanted something unique for this article

    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 6 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      I love your picture on this one! Sweet!

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 6 years ago

      I found it very painful to let her go, and I was very angry for a long time. But since I stepped back and thought about it, I do thank her for showing me the way. I am now more aware of the people I see as possible friends. I made plenty of mistakes with her, but I don't beat myself over my decision to dump her. My former friend had plenty of problems, but the perfectionist in her didn't see a thing. Of course, she's never going to change for the better. Voted up and everything else.

    • hecate-horus profile image
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      hecate-horus 6 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Neil: my toxic friend was often drunk too, doing stupid things to embarrass me!

      Paradise 7:Sweet Karma! :)

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      I had a toxic friend in high school. She wanted me around to make her look thin. I was the "fat" friend every girl should have...you get the idea, I'm sure.

      I'm not sure why I was so brain-dead that I didn't realize how much this "person" (substitute the worst epithet you can think of!) was using me.

      Anyway, years later, after all the weight had come off and I was having a fairly decent life, another friend told me this "person" was living in a trailer park, had five kids, and weighed about 300 pounds.

      Ah, how I savored that information, beast that I still am!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, Oh how I can relate to this! my friend, I loved her to bits as a mate, but she drove me insane! she would knock on the door at two in the morning and ask to come in, drunk! in the end my other friend said, well, its obvious that she is only using you! I was in shock, I never saw it! how dim is that? but yes I had to put her off, she was always round my house drunk, drove me mad!

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