Breakups are hard. They suck, even. Whether you are the dumper or the dumpee, when something you thought had potential, when someone you thought was special, turns out not to be, it’s a blow to both the ego and your sense of optimism.

However, as the pain subsides, as you begin to explore what happened and what comes next, you are likely to discover that the hard reality of your breakup was not simply an exercise in torture. There are many important lessons, about both life and ourselves, that going through a breakup can teach. In fact, some of the most profound realisations you may ever have are likely to emerge from these exact types of painful experiences.

And, while this may do very little to diminish the immediate pain of a relationship’s end, realising that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that you will come through it stronger and wiser is a huge comfort.

So, without further ado, let’s look at three of the harsh (but incredibly valuable) lessons that a breakup can teach you.

1. Appearances Can Be Deceiving
It’s a sad fact, but many people purposefully “put on a face” in public that has very little to do with who they actually are. From the girl who goes to church every Sunday and refuses to drink but secretly sleeps around to the guy who spends money freely, only to go home to tens of thousands of dollars of debt, liars and fakes are everywhere and it is easy to fall for one of their personas.

To make matters worse, even when these people begin to reveal their true nature, we tend to overlook it, especially in the early phases of a relationship. Call it the honeymoon phase, fall back on the old cliche that “love is blind” but there is a disconnect with reality that takes place when you first get with someone that helps you “explain away” their bad or hypocritical behaviour. [Related: 7 Signs You’re in an Unhealthy Relationship]

But this doesn’t last.

Maya Angelou put it best when she said, “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” As anyone who has been cheated on, lied to, or generally treated like dirt in a relationship can tell you, it is actions, not words that matter.

2. Being in Love and the Idea of Being in Love Are Different
Loving a person and loving the feeling of being in love are not the same thing. Too many people get into a relationship because of how they feel, not because of who the other person is. They never actually love their partner, but merely the idea of having a partner in the first place.

In general, people who love being in love are looking to fill a void within themselves. They get a little bit of attention or feel special and that is enough to start a relationship or even keep a relationship regardless of whether it’s for the best or not. Unfortunately, this sort of foundation is unstable because the root of the problem – self-esteem – has yet to be addressed. [Related: What to Do If You Felt Compelled to Stay in a Deteriorating Relationship]

You can only love someone else once you love yourself. Therefore, getting into a relationship when you are uncomfortable on your own, because you are uncomfortable on your own, is setting yourself up for failure.

3. The Heart Is Resilient
In the hours and days immediately following a breakup, it is hard to ever imagine loving again. When vulnerability leads to pain, an obvious reaction is to avoid the vulnerability. It is common to pledge to be “alone forever” or to only keep people at arm’s length.

But the heart is incredibly resilient. With time, and a little TLC, you will move on. In fact, you will likely move on to something (and someone) better, especially if you take the time you need to heal your broken heart and develop your spirit. [Related: How to Get Through a Bad Breakup]

By taking the lessons you learn from a breakup and applying them in your life and in your approach to future love, you ensure that you have the opportunity to not only move on, but move up. This is because one of the most important things you can learn from a breakup is that life goes on and you are stronger than you think.

Are you facing this upcoming new year with a gut-wrenching breakup? Work with me if you need someone to talk to help you get through this. Good luck and I hope you have a prosperous 2016!