What It Really Means If You're A Social Butterfly & How To Thrive
For social butterflies, "booked and busy" is a lifestyle—but being a socialite has its difficulties. Think you fit into this extroverted personality type? Here are some telltale signs you're a social butterfly and tips on how to get your fill of socializing while maintaining healthy boundaries and avoiding burnout.
What does it mean to be a social butterfly?
A "social butterfly" describes someone who's socially oriented, outgoing, and often very charismatic and charming. If someone's called you a social butterfly before, it's probably because you've always got plans lined up and/or you have a way with people that others notice.
As holistic child and family psychologist Nicole Beurkens, Ph.D., CNS, tells mbg, social butterflies place a high priority on connecting with others, actively seeking plans and conversation.
These folks can also be considered extroverts, which certified couples' therapist Alicia Muñoz, LPC, previously described to mbg as someone who gets their energy through socializing and going out and is more inclined to focus on external activities, people, and events.
Social butterfly personality traits:
To be extroverted is to thrive in social interactions and favor them over personal alone time. Such is the life of a social butterfly, whose days nearly always include plans to see, or at least talk with, the people in their lives.
They love going out to events, have no problem meeting new people, and often, these butterflies will find themselves flying between multiple friend groups.
Along with having no problem meeting new people, social butterflies also tend to be skilled conversationalists. Things like chatting it up with a stranger, networking at a professional function, or keeping a group discussion engaging come easily for the social butterfly. Hardly shy, these folks can keep a convo going as long as they want to.
Being extroverted and talkative doesn't necessarily indicate charm, but in the case of the social butterfly, they often do have a certain charisma that's obvious to other people.
They're friendly and warm because they genuinely love spending time with people. They have no problem keeping their social calendars full because others enjoy hanging out with them too.
Social butterfly challenges.
While there is nothing wrong with being a social butterfly, these are a few obstacles that those with this extroverted personality might come up against:
As Beurkens explains, social butterflies' love of socializing can get in the way of other tasks and activities they need to complete.
"Some social butterflies find that this creates problems for them in a work environment," she notes, "where they may spend more time chatting with co-workers or doing other socially oriented things than actually getting their work done."
They may also struggle when it comes to being on time to things, "as many social butterflies will stop along the way to talk with others they run into," she says, adding, for example, they may "take the call from a friend when they should be rushing to get out the door to a class or an appointment."
From overbooking themselves to serving as a confidant to multiple friends at once, social butterflies can face difficulty setting boundaries—sometimes when they need them most.
They may feel overwhelmed by other people's needs and issues, Beurkens says, as they "often hear about the problems people are encountering." And of course, they also may struggle with taking on too much, and "saying 'yes' to too many people and events," she adds, which can also contribute to feelings of overwhelm.
In the case of overbooking themselves, social butterflies can get a reputation for flakiness. It can be impossible for them to follow through with all the grandiose plans filling their schedule, and so they often have to back out.
"They are likely to make impulsive decisions at the last minute, as opposed to committing and following through in advance," Beurkens says, which can be "very frustrating for their friends and others in their lives."
And lastly, Beurkens notes that despite social butterflies' ease when it comes to making connections, deepening those connections doesn't always come as naturally. "Relationally," she says, "these people tend to have many surface-level relationships, but can find it harder to develop closer intimate relationships with people."
Self-care as a social butterfly.
As you probably guessed, self-care for the social butterfly involves a healthy dose of time management and boundary setting.
Beurkens suggests investing in tools like a daily planner and alarms on your phone to help you stay on top of your commitments. This will ultimately help you stay more relaxed and organized and benefit those in your social circles too.
"If a social butterfly knows that they tend to be late for work because they stop to chat with people on the train or on the way into the office," she adds, "they should plan ahead to build in time for that behavior so they are still able to arrive at their office on time."
It's also important for butterflies to really consider the times they want to be available—and unavailable—to others, "to avoid becoming consumed with other people's problems and issues," Beurkens says. This is easier said than done for a social butterfly, "but it's important to set some boundaries around this for their own mental health," she adds.
And to help manage the impulse to drop what you're doing and hang out with a friend or get on an hourlong FaceTime, Beurkens suggests creating a list of your top priorities that you can check in with.
Haven't finished your online Pilates class? Your friend calling can wait! Anything that can help a social butterfly pause to consider the situation before impulsively deciding to hang out with people will be beneficial to them.
How to make the social butterfly in your life happy.
Whether the biggest social butterfly in your life is a friend, family member, or significant other, here are three key ways to help keep them happy:
Understand (and honor) their social nature.
If they're a social butterfly and you're not, it can definitely be frustrating if they bail on plans, double-book themselves, or show up late to your dinner date. Be honest with them about how you're feeling, but understand that things like spontaneity, variety, and excitement are important to these folks.
This takes a degree of balance, which brings us to our next point.
Strike a balance.
Beurkens notes it's important to try to find "a balance between attempting to get them to commit to things, while also recognizing their drive toward spontaneity."
It can be a bit of a compromise, particularly if you're more introverted, or at least less socially inclined than they are. Be firm when you want them to follow through, but know if for whatever reason it doesn't work out, it's likely not personal.
Remember that communication is key.
And of course, as with any relationship (romantic or non), communication is always key. "These people need to know when their behavior and choices are leading others to have discomfort or feel bad about the relationship," Beurkens notes.
"By being upfront and honest with them, you give them a chance to shift their behavior to preserve the relationship—whether that's in the office or with a friend."
The bottom line.
Social butterflies know their way around a conversation and can network like it's nobody's business—but it's still important for them to practice setting boundaries and managing their time. When they can strike that balance between getting ample social time while still staying accountable to their needs and commitments, they truly are the life of any party.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, as well as a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.