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Meaning of ‘Too Good At Goodbyes’ by ‘Sam Smith’

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Released: 2017

“Too Good At Goodbyes” by Sam Smith is a gut-wrenching narrative of painful heartbreak and self-preservation. It blatantly illustrates the emotional defense mechanisms one adopts after experiencing repeated heartache. The underlying message? Protecting oneself from further hurts sometimes means being “too good at goodbyes.”

Smith starts by confronting his lover, accusing them of underestimating his awareness to the situation. The lines “You must think that I’m stupid / You must think that I’m a fool”, demonstrate his cognizance of the heartbreak that’s imminent. He’s not “new to this”, indicating familiarity with the painful pattern of love and loss.

The chorus, a sad mantra of self-preservation, hits us with a double-edged sword. When Smith sings “I’m never gonna let you close to me / Even though you mean the most to me”, he’s setting boundaries with the person he loves. It’s worth noting the phrase “‘Cause every time I open up, it hurts”. This line is a raw disclosure of the damage love has caused Smith, leading him to fortify an emotional wall.

And this wall is not for display. Smith actively reminds himself of the pain his lover inflicts on him, to keep the wall standing. Lines like “every time you hurt me, the less that I cry” and “every time you leave me, the quicker these tears dry” portray an emotional desensitization. He’s building resilience through heartbreak, becoming less affected with each goodbye.

The line “I know you’re thinking I’m heartless / I’m just protecting my innocence / I’m just protecting my soul” presents his detachment as a defense strategy—a way to safeguard his innocence and soul. Note the line “Baby, we don’t stand a chance, it’s sad, but it’s true”. It’s a blunt acceptance of a doomed love, encapsulating the core sentiment of the song.

His repeated declaration, “I’m way too good at goodbyes”, is a self-assertion of his strength in separation, an almost snide boast of his mastery over ending relationships. Yet it carries a sense of poignant regret—a lament of what could have been, had it all not become so painful.

In essence, “Too Good At Goodbyes” is a beautiful, heartbreaking self-portrait of a lover who’s been burned one too many times— an emotional fortress who won’t let anyone close enough to inflict more pain. It boils down to the classic pop heartbreak narrative, but it’s Sam Smith’s raw openness that elevates it into something deeply resonant and profoundly human.

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