What often happens in relationships, especially those which last for a long time, men and women tend to become comfortable with and around each other. This doesnâ??t sound like a bad thing.

But what happens when they become too comfortable?

According to sexpert Julie Elledge, when men and women become too comfortable in a relationship, they try to pull the bonding into their favoured style.

During the first stages of a relationship, one usually tries to impress the other and the other way around. For example: a woman wonâ??t mind to go and see a movie like Terminator with her man since she wants to make him happy. Elledge states that once a woman begins to feel more secure and comfortable, she regards his choice of movie as a failure to think of them first.

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Once a couple commits to each other, the woman expects her man to put her needs and desires first. Elledge says that bonding preferences can lead to unnecessary misunderstandings between couples when they struggle to accept that men and women are not the same.

There is a reason why â??men are from Mars and women from Venusâ? is a cliché.

Different sexes: different bonding preferences

Elledge reveals that most women prefer to bond by simply looking at her manâ??s facial expressions and body language in order to understand and recognise his needs. In other words, face-to-face bonding.

On the other hand, a man rather prefers to do things with his girlfriend. He wants to share experiences with her. A woman is an emotional being by nature, so she wants to be understood.

As men and women are extremely different beings, Elledge says that to love another person requires that each person in the relationship stretch outside his or her comfort zone so that the connection between them will continue to grow. 
Donâ??t just watch television together, do fun things!

Stretching outside the comfort zone isnâ??t always easy. But if you and your man are stuck in a bonding rut, and tired of watching Masterchef together as a way to bond, try to do the following things instead of simply watching television or dining together:

Play games 

Like Twister, card games, Monopoly and poker…maybe even strip-poker? Playing a game means you speak to each other, spend time with one another, instead of just passively being on the couch together.

Learn to cook

If one partner always does the cooking, try to cook a fancy dinner together. Try out new recipes and take charge of one course each. This can even lead to a romantic evening with candles, wine and strawberries and cream.

Volunteer at a nursing home or an animal welfare society.

Plant flowers and plants or simply water the garden together.

Make an effort to visit nearby tourist sites

Never been to the top of Table Mountain? Or had a picnic in Durban Botanical Gardens? Nowâ??s the time to explore together. If your budget is tight, try museums; entrance fees are usually minimal if not free.

Go for a picnic or walk the dogs.

A woman doesnâ??t always have to shop alone, take your man along and shop for both of you.

If you live at the coast, go to the beach and take a long stroll.

Join the local gym and try to exercise regularly

If gym fees are too high, start by jogging together â?? itâ??s a great way to get to know your own neighbourhood.

Try to take a bath or shower together, even if itâ??s once a week.

Go for a massage

But make sure you book a coupleâ??s massage so you and your man are being massaged simultaneously. It will help the both of you to relax and get rid of stress.

Decide on one night during the week where there will be no television

This will ensure that he will not be glued to the television remote and the two of you will be able to communicate without the intervention of reality shows, sports and soaps.

Join him in the things that he enjoys even if you really donâ??t want to

Bonding opportunities are endless and many of them wonâ??t cost you and your man a cent. If your man really wants to watch an important rugby match on a Saturday instead of walking the dogs with you, stretch out of your comfort zone and join him.

He will be pleased and the connection between the two of you will definitely grow. Who knows, maybe next time he will accompany you to do shoe shopping!