Should I wash the dishes?

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Dear Decorum,
 
When I’m invited to a get-together at a friend’s apartment, I try to offer to help clean up afterward since I feel bad leaving a mess. If we had dinner, this means doing the dishes. But, especially since I’m a guy, it can be weird when I offer to do the dishes. Is it inappropriate for me to offer to do the dishes? Or is it cool?
  – Generous Guest

Dear Guest,

Your offer to help is very appropriate and refreshing. Keep it up! All too often, the hosts of a party are left not only with the monetary cost of the shindig, but also with the burden of cleaning the venue. More guests should be as conscientious as you are, especially if they linger until the end of the party. Firstly, don’t worry at all about being a guy who is willing to do the dishes. If a girl objects for that reason alone, tell her you’re comfortable enough in your 21st-century masculinity to battle those grease stains armed with your army of tiny soap bubbles.
In general, a guest’s polite insistence on helping to clean up after a gathering is appreciated, as long as it does not become forceful. If your host objects to your offer of assistance, he or she probably has a good reason, so do not be offended. Your host might prefer to do the cleaning after the guests have left, for the sake of courtesy. Or perhaps the task at hand would be better performed by those who know the apartment; for example, they might have a certain way of washing and drying dishes which would be too tedious to explain. The best approach is to volunteer for a variety of tasks: “Could I help you with anything? Would you like for me to do the dishes? Or take out the trash?” That way, your host can decide on the best course of action.

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