In the past few weeks, several people asked me this question from Shakespeare's Hamlet (about ending one's life (relationship) or continuing to suffer) . Their pain of staying is becoming larger than their fear of leaving, or for singles, their pain of being alone becoming larger than their fear of being in relationship.
Below is an excerpt from Integral Relationships: A Manual for Men that provides some pointers:
The answer is, of course, "it depends."
IN RELATIONSHIP - HAPPY
Congratulations to you and your partner. You most likely know why your partnership is thriving, healthy, happy, satisfying, and rewarding. You have been (1) lucky, (2) used your insightful experience to attract a compatible mate, and/or (3) did your growth work to co-create a healthy partnership--most likely a combination of all three. By reading the manual you may gain a clearer understanding of your individual developmental levels and the opportunities, challenges, and rewards that may lie ahead as you and your partner evolve further. You will be able to identify early warning signs if you drift apart and so start an integrally informed dialog and practice that may keep you together on your path, or allow you to separate amicably if you have taken different directions. It also allows you to welcome any potential conflict as an opportunity to support each other in your healing and growth.
IN RELATIONSHIP - UNHAPPY
If your Triangles of Love are not balanced and harmonized, then you are not having the most fulfilling relationship possible.
If you lack intimacy (left side), you are most likely at different levels of your consciousness and/or spiritual development, and/or have different interests, needs, dreams, and goals.
If you lack sexual passion (right side), then you may no longer meet each other's Primary Fantasy, be at different stages of your sexual development, have lost your feminine/masculine polarity, or have a different lifestyle.
If you no longer experience dependence (bottom), then you have either completed the emotional healing and shadow work that attracted you emotionally in the first place, or (more likely) are dissociated from your feelings and repress negative emotions into your unconscious to avoid conflicts whose resolution could be beneficial for your healing and personal growth.
If the left and right sides of your Triangles of Love are mostly balanced, and you have occasional fights (apply the 80/20 rule that 80% of the relationship should be harmonious and up to 20% can be dissonant), it will be beneficial to stay and to heal the underlying wounds.
If you are in a partnership and at different levels of consciousness and/or vertical development, then you want to assess the potential for the less evolved partner to grow. Nobody can be legitimately asked to constantly regress in order to make another person happy.
If you are more than one stage apart in any of the four lines that we integrated in the Personality Matrix (consciousness, spiritual, sexual, anima/animus development see the Manual page 87-91), it may be beneficial for both of you to end your partnership in a loving and peaceful way. This is especially true if you are in amber or above and with a partner in red, which happens most often to green.
If you are one stage apart and the partner in the earlier stage is transitioning up, then it is wise for the more evolved partner to stay and to provide loving support for his or her transformation.
If you are at the same vertical and horizontal levels and have conflicts because of communication problems, gender differences, feminine/masculine polarity issues, pathologies, or shadows and complexes, then it is most certainly wise to stay and to heal--if necessary with the support of a therapist or coach, or, in less severe cases, by participating in workshops or working together with an applicable relationship book. (see Appendix I of the Manual for book suggestions). Otherwise, the same problems will emerge in your next relationship or haunt you in your single life.
It is challenging, and maybe impossible, for men at any altitude to be in partnership with a woman that moved into stage four of her animus complex development. Unless she is willing to stay and he can give her all the freedom and space that she requires to transition through stage four, she will inevitably leave him or make his life miserable. In either case it is NOT HIS FAULT. Red men in such a situation often threaten women physically, amber men may plead and use shame/guilt tactics for years to hook their wives, orange men often try to use their financial and/or intellectual power to buy/talk her into staying or make her divorcing him as expensive and painful as possible for her, and green men tend to use manipulative emotional blackmailing to hang on to her. All these strategies will ultimately offend and alienate her. The only way for partners in their anima/animus stage four development to stay together is to be at a similar altitude and to make the transition into stage five a conscious process.
There may be other good reasons for staying in an unhappy partnership, such as caring for others (children, parents, community) and economic or political reasons, but ultimately you are doing neither yourself nor your partner a favor by prolonging a hopelessly unrewarding relationship that fulfills neither one of you.
SINGLE - HAPPY
Being genuinely happy and fulfilled without a partner is unquestionably the best place from which to enter a new love relationship, because you will not come from a place of emotional, economic, sexual, or social neediness, but from a sense of contentment, fullness, satisfaction, abundance, and wholeness. People in this phase of their life have usually arrived at stage four of their anima/animus development and orange and above, which is quite an accomplishment that should be celebrated. Unfortunately, especially in New Age circles, these stages are often hailed as the ultimate level of personal development by men and women who conveniently overlook that any integrated personality development appears in intimate self-other relationships and that most of their living western spiritual teachers and evolutionaries of caliber live in committed partnerships. It is therefore a good idea for them to look at possible pathologies that show up as fears of being in a partnership, and their unhealthy desire/attachment to being alone. Both can be expressions of denial, repression, or narcissism. Once their underlying wounds are healed and they realize that human beings are always partial and already whole, they can fully open up to invite a compatible partner into their life.
SINGLE - UNHAPPY
It can be a fine line between the neediness that originates from a sense of lack and deficiency that insecure people try to fill with sex or romance, and the desire of mature singles who want to share the joy and richness of their life, body, mind, heart, and soul with another human being in an intimate love relationship.
The former is indicated by compulsive serial dating and a desperate behavior towards the opposite sex that dominates the afflicted people's lives and overshadows any other activity. Their sense of urgency causes repetitive cycles of highs when falling in love, clinging while in partnership, heartbroken when abandoned by a lover (or a
bandoning others), and desperate searching when alone. These people are perfect candidates for "SLAA"-Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.
The latter represents the healthy yearning of the soul to find a mate and is experienced as openness towards potential partners that are good for him or her. This yearning leads to a consciously focused approach to find/attract him or her while living one's life purpose, often by working with a dating and relationship coach.