I have seen numerous people over the years who still suffer from old wounds, from emotional injuries incurred many years, tears and relationships ago. The nature of the injuries can be about anything, from abandonment or rejection to betrayal. The problem is not that a person has experienced these injuries but what the person does with the injuries. Some people do the healthy thing and simply take the time necessary to feel what they feel, cry or scream their way through it and then give themselves the opportunity to heal from the injuries and allow the wounds to become scars. Other people keep their past injuries alive and painful by “poking” at them with continued contact with the person who hurt them, with continued efforts to get the past person to see how wrong they were or how badly their behavior hurt the sufferer, or by ruminating or obsessing about the previous person, the relationship or the injuries incurred. Still other people do something that is even more detrimental to their future happiness: they look for a new person to “fix” or make up for whatever a previous person did or did not do to or for them. This is insanely unfair to a new person because, in essence, the sufferer expects the new person to pay an “emotional debt” that they had no part in creating and one that someone else ran up. If the previous person was insensitive and never apologized for anything wrong that they did, then the new partner is expected to be exceedingly understanding, sensitive and apologetic for everything. If the previous partner was inattentive and distant, then the new partner has to be overly attentive and readily available at all times.
The damage that these expectations does is in keeping the sufferer suffering because, even though they are now getting sensitivity or apologies, for example, they are still not getting them from the previous person who actually hurt them and from whom they wanted them; so no matter how accommodating the new partner is to the sufferer, it will never be enough because it’s not coming from the true source. The damage done to the new partner is that they are put at a disadvantage in making up for damage they did not cause, they are not allowed the luxury of making their own mistakes because they’re too busy making up for someone else’s, and they are witness to the sufferer still grappling with old issues and an old relationship. For some new partners, this is too high a debt to pay off, especially when it is not their debt to pay, and they leave the new relationship.
The lesson here is that “fairness” should play a huge role in starting a new relationship; fairness to yourself and fairness to the new person in your life. The previous emotional debt should be written off as “an old debt”. If you didn’t get that apology you feel you were owed or if you didn’t get the previous partner to see how wrong they were or how “right” you were, for the sake of a new, healthy relationship and a healthy future for yourself, you’re going to have to write it off and let it go. You cannot grab hold of something new in your life while you’re still holding on to something old.