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What Is a Social Butterfly?

Butterflies never stay in one place for very long. They move from flower to flower, gathering nectar, obviously busy but never appearing anything except beautiful, graceful, and eye-catching.

No wonder butterflies lend their name to the term “social butterfly.” This basically means an outgoing female who thrives in social situations. She is comfortable with any crowd, and (as a butterfy flits from flower to flower) she can flit from person to person, and navigate a room full of strangers with ease—charming them so completely that by the end of the night, she’s befriended most of them!

She has the gift of gab, and can make endless conversation. She is often well-dressed, and like the butterfly, is eye-catching and pleasing to the eye. This skill is not only obvious at parties, though. A social butterfly is at her element in corporate functions and large meetings, too. Her “people skills” are actually quite in demand by companies, who rely on her for networking or marketing.

Social butterfly used to be a negative term, referring to a woman who has too many lovers and tends to flit, without rhyme or reason, from one man to another. Unlike her complete opposite, the wallflower—who never budges nor says a word—the social butterfly is constanly moving, talking.

It’s challenging to pin down the origin of this term, since etymologists are still arguing over the origin of the word butterfly. It appears that the term, social butterfly, may at first have been used in derogatory fashion to describe young women who dated many different men. They could be contrasted to their opposites, wallflowers, who sat stationary, waiting to be asked on dates, or especially at dances, waiting to be asked to dance.

The skill of socializing is learned, through proper exposure and practice. Even the shyest person in the world can become a social butterfly through enough resolve, time and practice.

Some people seem to be innately extroverted, and there are now various personality tests which can tell you whether you tend to be more outgoing or less. Generally, you may already know whether you fit social butterfly standards if you’ve had opportunities to take part in social engagements. Do you like to walk about the room talking with various guests, or do you prefer one deep conversation with a kindred spirit? If the answer is yes to the former, you probably are the extroverted social butterfly type.

The term can sometimes be misapplied to people who are obnoxiously social, overbearing, loud, and who make rude comments. They may stomp from guest to guest vociferously voicing their opinions; they don’t flit and they don’t have a light touch and innate social grace. These are not true social butterflies because they detract from a social scene rather than enhance it.

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