Lending Clothing to the New Subtenant: Good or Bad?

By Amanda Cohen on December 22, 2016

As you progress in college, it is pretty inevitable that many of your friends will be traveling abroad for either the first or second semester of the year. In my case, two of my roommates are traveling abroad, and one of the two has found a subtenant for the 2017 half of the school year.

Even though it is exciting to meet new people and to change up your living situation, it also poses some trepidation. My roommates and I have already established a “routine” in our apartment. We know what’s communal and what isn’t, we know that we have to alternate who buys items like paper towels, Tide pods, Cascade pods, tin foil, olive oil, canola spray, butter, etc. Plus, we have no problem lending clothes to one another because we have established rules that if you borrow something, you dry clean it and then give it back right away.

With a new roommate coming into the mix, we can debrief her on the communal items and whatnot, but what happens when it comes to clothing (especially when the new roommate is a complete stranger)? Is it okay to let your original crew borrow your clothes and not the new roommate, or is that too mean? You want to ensure that you are as welcoming and inclusive as possible, so, here is how you accomplish this when it comes to clothing!

Image via. pinterest.com

First, give the new roommate a “test run” before deciding anything. By this, I mean let her borrow something of yours that is (1) not too expensive, (2) that you do not care (as much) about losing, and (3) that is machine-washable. Once she selects the item out of your closet, write some information in your phone: (1) her name, (2) a description of the item that she borrowed, and (3) the date that she borrowed it.

Okay, so 24 hours pass and here are the various scenarios that could happen. One, she brings up the item she borrowed and offers to wash it without you having to say anything. Two, you bring it up to her and ask her to wash the item. Three, she does not bring it up (and does not do so for a few days after that). If your new roomie falls into scenarios one and/or two, it is a safe bet that she is responsible and will be trustworthy with your clothing (however, still conduct a few more test runs to see if this is how she is all the time). If she falls into scenario three, talk to her and explain to her why you are now hesitant to lend her clothing. If she becomes defensive, do not lend her anything anymore. If she apologizes and recognized that she was at fault, give her another chance following the same guidelines stated above.

Even if you trust your new roommate, continue to be cautious of what you decide to lend out. For example, I never lend out anything that is over $100 nor do I lend out anything that I would sob over losing (however, this applies to anyone you decide to lend clothing to). Also, never lend out jewelry. I get nervous wearing my own jewelry when attending parties, therefore I would be panicking if I ever lent my jewelry to another person (no matter how trustworthy that person is).

Once your new roommate becomes more comfortable, it is possible that she will also become less considerate. If she starts having more than two slip-ups when borrowing clothing, talk to her. Don’t immediately cut her off because of a few mishaps, make sure you are giving her the benefit of the doubt. Gauge her attitude, and if she starts being hostile about the situation, just stop lending her clothes altogether. This may sound harsh, but, I can tell you from personal experience that if someone loses a pair of your favorite shoes, you are allowed to become a bit skeptical when lending out your items.

Also, just a side note, if someone (whether it is your roommate or just a friend) loses something of yours and does not offer to reimburse you, never let that person borrow something from you again.

I know that people, including myself, are nervous about their potentially new living situation this upcoming semester, but I promise you that there are ways to diminish some of your fears. Also, just a reminder, if you are not comfortable with people borrowing your stuff, it is okay to say no. Never feel pressured to lend someone something just because you’re afraid of coming off as a mean person. Everyone is different with sharing and their general living rules, so interpret the methods listed above and personalize them to your own situation.

No matter what you decide, I promise that having a new roommate will not be as scary as we all think!

Image via. pinterest.com

I am currently a junior at the University of Michigan.

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