A 'dating cult' inspired Netflix’s newest documentary. The true story is worse than what you’ll see on screen.

A new true crime documentary is about to bend people's brains. Make way for Escaping Twin Flames, a three-part documentary series that's just arrived on Netflix.

Escaping Twin Flames is a story about the bizarre lengths people will go to find love — and to keep it.

The term twin flame has been around for years, but for most people, it became popularised by Megan Fox in 2020 when she described Machine Gun Kelly as "what I call a twin flame," the actor said on a podcast. 

A twin flame is essentially a new-age term for a soul mate, it means finding someone's soul connection, often called a mirror soul.

But this innocent enough concept for finding a partner took a dark twist when Jeff and Shaleia Ayan started Twin Flames Universe, a controversial online community that is the subject of the three-part Netflix docuseries.

“Escaping Twin Flames is the result of a three-year investigation into the sophisticated recruitment and indoctrination techniques employed by the leaders of this online group," the filmmakers Cecilia Peck and Inbal B. Lessner told Netflix.

"We are grateful to those who courageously entrusted us with their firsthand accounts and evidence. We made this series for them and for everyone who has been manipulated or coerced without knowing it.”

Watch the trailer for Escaping Twin Flames. Post continues after video. 

Video via Netflix. 

What is Twin Flames Universe?

Twin Flames Universe started out as a series of self-help classes and coaching seminars performed by Jeff and Shaleia Ayan, a Michigan couple who met online. The aim of TFU is for the members to settle into a “harmonious union” with their twin flame (aka their forever partner). 

The group attracted thousands of members. And of course, none of this is free. Members had to spend thousands of dollars on classes, coaching, books, and products. Then came the community's company Divine Dish, with the Ayans offering paid subscriptions for recipes and cooking classes. 

Despite obviously preying on single people desperate for love, so far, this is all fairly innocuous. 

But then things got weird. 

Jeff rebranded as the second coming of Christ.

The Ayans started to increasingly pry into members' sex lives. 

Members claim they were encouraged to stalk their unreciprocating twin flames, which resulted in people taking out restraining orders against members. 

In one coaching clip, Jeff is overheard telling a student, “Show up at his motherf**king door, bust it down," he said. 

"Show up every day at his house and drag him over to yours. Start grabbing his stuff and putting it in your house. That’s what he wants!”

Shaleia and Jeff Ayan during a coaching session. Image: Netflix. 


As members found they were still not finding their twin flame despite spending hundreds of hours and thousands of money on classes, Jeff and Shaleia started assigning twin flames to people within the group. 

In some cases, straight, cisgender women have claimed that they were pushed to romantically pursue people of the same gender — and sometimes their friends. 

But this doesn't mean the organisation was a queer-positive space. The teachings prescribed that in every "harmonious union" there must be one 'divine masculine' and one 'divine feminine' person. This means that half the women in same-sex matches were told they identified as masculine and therefore, were pushed to change their names, pronouns, and in some cases, even encouraged to transition. 


“The public statement that you would see in the Twin Flames Universe forum, that Jeff and Shaleia would post, is, ‘We’re not pushing anybody to transition. Whatever that looks like for you is fine,’” a former member Victoria says in the documentary. 

“But behind closed doors, the messaging was different. It had become a form of conversion therapy.”

One former member interviewed in the docuseries said they had begun to transition when she left the group. Another member claimed that two people in TFU had already had top surgery to remove their breasts.

Jeff and Shaleia both deny their group is a cult. 

“In a general statement addressed to the media on its website, TFU denies allegations that it is a cult, that it improperly profits off students, that it encourages stalking, or that it separates students from their families," reads a statement at the end of each episode.

Does Twin Flames Universe still exist?

Very much so. Twin Flames Universe's YouTube and Instagram accounts are both still active, the classes are still offered online, and the community's Facebook group still has over 100,000 members. 

The group continues to recruit new members. Jeff has since founded the Church of Union and in the final episode of Escaping Twin Flames, former member Griffin claimed the group's next stage was to bring members together in Michigan to live in trailers on a joint commune where members would birth 'golden children' with each other. 

In April 2023, Jeff and Shaleia welcomed their first daughter, Grace Violet Divine. 

Feature image: Netflix. 

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