What are twin flames and how does the controversial term define relationships?

Netflix is releasing ‘Escaping Twin Flames’ documentary on 8 November

Amber Raiken
New York
Tuesday 07 November 2023 22:18 GMT
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Related: Daily Affirmations with Pete Holmes: Relationships

There are many ways to describe the strong connection you have with your partner, but a new term is consistently being used in today’s dating world: twin flames.

The concept of “twin flames” is the focus of the controversial Facebook group, the Twin Flames Universe. The group, founded by Jeff and Shaleia Ayan, offers online classes to members who wish to find a “harmonious union” with the ones they’re destined to be with, also referred to as their “twin flames”. The Twin Flames Universe has gained a wide presence on social media, with more than 67,000 followers on Facebook.

On 8 November, Netflix will be launching a new documentary, Escaping Twin Flames. According to the trailer, the three-part documentary will reveal some of the “horrifying” experiences that former members had within the Twin Flames Universe, including “stories of coercion and exploitation” surrounding Twin Flames Universe - from “encouraging stalking behaviour to manipulating gender identities”.

The series will also show family members’ efforts to “rescue their loved ones from Jeff and Shaleia” of Twin Flames Universe.

“We hope viewers see the former members of Twin Flames Universe as having survived intensive, systematic coercive control,” series creators Cecilia Peck and Inbal B Lessner told People. The Independent has contacted Twin Flames Universe for comment.

Ahead of the Netflix documentary, many people are wondering what the term “twin flame” means and how its changed over the years. Here are some of the meanings behind the conversational dating term, and how it can ultimately affect relationships.

What does it mean to have a “twin flame”?

A “twin flame” describes an intense connection between two people who are ultimately destined to be together. Speaking to Forbes, licensed clinical social worker Angela Amias explained that those who are each other’s “twin flames” are matched in their “commitment to themselves, to the relationship, and to each other”.

“[Twin flame] relationships begin with a spark of such intensity that initially feel overwhelming to one or both people,” she said. “[These] relationships quickly deepen and it often feels like you’ve known each other forever.”

She added: “One of the clearest signs that you’ve met your twin flame is the rapid development of a deep connection and the sense that the relationship was meant to be.”

Amias detailed other potential signs you’ve found your twin flame - from feeling an “inner pull” towards the person, to feeling like you’ve always known each other after just meeting.

What is the origin of “twin flame”?

There have been many different theories about where the term “twin flame” comes from. According toVeryWell Mind, ancient Greek philosopher Plato set off to examine what love means in his text, The Symposium. The book, which uses different dialogues to explore and describe love, is one of the earliest dialogues to introduce the concept of twin flames.

In The Symposium, Plato examines fictional playwright Aristophanes’s speech about how humans “used to be round and had four arms, four legs, two pairs of genitals, and two faces on one head”.

“He said that one day, however, the gods believed these humans had far too much power and cut them in half, creating the human form we know today,” Plato reportedly wrote in his text. “Thus, humans spent the remainder of their lives desperately searching for their other half - their twin.”

The term has also been discussed by controversial American spiritual leader Elizabeth Clare Prophet in her 1999 book, Soul Mates And Twin Flames: The Spiritual Dimension of Love and Relationships.

Should you use it to define your relationship?

Ultimately, how you define your relationship is entirely up to you; that includes whether or not you view your partner as your “twin flame”. However, psychologists still question if the aspect of “twin flames” actually exists.

Speaking to VeryWell Mind, Dr Lastenia Francis - a licensed marriage and family therapist - acknowledged that it is possible to feel a strong bond with one person in your life. “It’s very common for people to have an instant connection. In fact, it can often build and blossom into more than that connection and lead to a self-discovery process,” she said.

However, the term has caused controversy over the years. Avigail Lev, a San Francisco-based licensed clinical psychologist, told Forbes that it can glorify a connection that doesn’t properly represent a stable relationship. “[The term can promote] an infatuation phase that’s not conducive or realistic to healthy, long-term relationships, [in addition] to toxic relationship dynamics, such as fantasy relationships, situationships… which involve love bombing and future faking,” she explained.

According to Lev, love bombing refers to the excessive attention, admiration, adoration, and mirroring of behaviours that resemble understanding. Meanwhile, future faking describes when someone makes false promises about the future.

If you feel like you must maintain a relationship with someone because they’re your “twin flame”, it could also affect how you examine your compatibility with them. Kailania Raye, a certified hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner, told VeryWell Mind that “if we’re relying so heavily on” the concept of twin flames, we can “disconnect from our own intuitive power”.

She also urged people to be “in control of our judgement, our thoughts, [and] actions” when dating.

Escaping Twin Flames hits Netflix on 8 November in the US.

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