The documentary series Desperately Seeking Soulmate: Escaping Twin Flames Universe looks at the dark side of a relationship cult.
I discovered Twin Flames (which I will categorically identify as a cult in the rest of this post) through a random podcast and was immediately hooked. (Read my review!) At the time, I knew nothing about Jeff and Shaleia Ayan (AKA Jeff and Shaleia Divine) or their followers, but what I discovered seemed unthinkable. I couldn’t believe the power they wielded over their members and, even more so, what their members were willing to go through to find true love. Now, after seeing the Amazon Prime documentary series Desperately Seeking Soulmate: Escaping Twin Flames Universe, I’m at a loss for words. This cult is even worse than I imagined.
How it started…
Twin Flames may have begun with a desire to help others find love. It’s hard to tell. Nonetheless, it evolved into a full-fledged cult in which members pay significant sums of money to be controlled and, often, shamed. Jeff and Shaleia fostered harmful behaviors such as stalking, self and public humiliation, and bullying. It didn’t stop there, either.
Jeff and Shaleia appeared to be open to everyone at first. Their first, and for a long time, only “Twin Flame Union” was a lesbian couple who found genuine love. The women previously knew each other and joined the program to validate their existing feelings. The couple became an instant success story that the Ayans used to recruit new members. They encouraged others to go to any length to obtain their desired love. If members wanted someone who didn’t want them back, they were encouraged to ignore every rejection and try harder. Instead of accepting the fundamental truth: not everyone will feel the same way you do, rejection was a sign the member wasn’t working hard enough. Because of this guidance, members were arrested, physically harmed, and psychologically scarred.
How it’s going…
The most baffling shift occurred after some participants complained that despite years of participation in the program, they had yet to see results. To retain members, Jeff and Shaleia started matchmaking within the program. This was a big change. Members had been identifying their “twin flame” on their own since the beginning. Sometimes, it was someone they had fallen in love with, sometimes a crush, but it was always someone they genuinely felt for. For years they were instructed to never give up on that person. Suddenly, these same members were told their “twin flame” was actually another cult member.
That’s when things started to get super weird. Twin Flames had more women than men, so there weren’t many opportunities for heterosexual women. Despite numerous reservations from those involved, Jeff and Shaleia decided to pair up women with women and then bullied one of the women into identifying as male. Through this practice, their original lesbian poster couple decided they’d had enough of the cult and were ready to leave. It became clear that Jeff, in particular, desired more conservative pairings (even though HE matched the women with women in the first place), and by pushing one of the females to identify as male, he was imposing a traditional union by his standards. But that’s not the craziest part; it’s wild how many followers accepted the lifestyle and did what they were told!
When I learn about most cults, I feel empathy for the members. I understand the immediate want for connection and the desire to feel “seen.” And while I understand why people are drawn to Jeff and Shaleia’s program initially, I don’t know why they stick around.
Should you watch the series?
I was captivated by this docuseries! You really have to see the madness to believe it. If you enjoy true crime, cults, or documentaries, watch Desperately Seeking Soulmate: Escaping Twin Flames Universe on Amazon Prime.