Twin Flame Meaning, Controversy Explained

  • “Twin flame” is a spiritual term gaining traction in the mainstream.
  • Two docuseries, on Prime Video and Netflix, explore how an online community, Twin Flames Universe (TFU), used the concept with its members.
  • Some former members say TFU’s married-couple founders manipulated them into stalking their exes and having relationships they didn’t want.

If someone told you that you had another half, a person who you’ll feel a surprising yet undeniable connection with once you meet them and that they can forever change how you see yourself and the trajectory of your life, would you believe them?

That’s the concept behind “twin flames,” a spiritual term describing two humans whose experiences mirror each other in eerily similar ways, and who some believe can greatly impact each other’s personal growth upon meeting. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a romantic connection to count as a twin-flame dynamic, psychospiritual mentor and love coach Lisa Vallejos told Allure.

The term is gaining traction. In 2020, Megan Fox declared that her then-boyfriend (and now-husband Machine Gun Kelly) was her twin flame, saying that they are two parts of the same soul. Kelly went on to write the song “Twin Flame.” On TikTok, #twinflames currently has more than 6 billion views. And now, one particular online community of 66,000 twin-flame believers, called Twin Flames Universe (TFU), is the subject of two docuseries.

Twin flame vs. soulmate

Twin flames appear to date back to Greek mythology, when Plato mentioned the term in “The Symposium” 2,500 years ago. But in the last few decades, certain spiritual circles and groups have adopted and reinterpreted the concept, using it to guide their searches for lifelong love and partnership. One of the most popular groups, called Twin Flames Universe, now has former members alleging its creators, the married couple Jeff and Shaleia Ayan, manipulated them into dangerous or abusive situations, according to Vanity Fair reporter Alice Hines’ investigation.

When the philosopher Plato wrote about twin flames, he said that meeting yours would feel like meeting “the actual half of himself” and that instant feelings of love, friendship, and intimacy will leave both twin flames feeling “amazement,” according to the Institute of Noetic Sciences, a group of scientists exploring how the natural and metaphysical worlds interact.

But twin flames isn’t a synonym for “soulmates,” and it’s a misconception that twin flames must be romantically or sexually involved, according to Vallejos.

“You meet them and your life just completely changes. You start seeing the world differently. It pushes you to want to engage with the divine, shift consciousness, and become a better, soulful being in this experience,” Vallejos told Allure.

Twin flames could be lovers, best friends, siblings, or in a mentor-mentee relationship, so long as both flames influence each other to look inwards for self-betterment, according to Vallejos.

But there isn’t a singular, agreed-upon definition for the term. The Ayans and TFU members, for example, say that being “in union” with your twin flame, marrying them and committing to them above anyone else, is the ultimate goal, according to Hines’ reporting. But not all twin flames believers think you must marry your twin flame, Reddit and Quora threads on the topic suggest.

What is the Twin Flames Universe and why is it controversial?

Jeff and Shaleia Ayan are a couple that considers themselves each other’s twin flames. They met online in 2012 and shortly after they launched what would become TFU, a community and course-based business to help others find and connect with their own twin flames. Their Facebook group currently has 66,000 followers from around the world.

“Your twin flame is your ultimate lover, your perfect complement of all,” Jeff says in a Twin Flames Universe video on YouTube, where the couple regularly upload content, and many videos have garnered tens of thousands of views. In other videos, the Ayans elaborate on this idea, describing a mirror exercise – where someone writes one sentence about what or who is upsetting them, then rewrites the sentence in first person – followers can do to secure their twin flame, and explaining how finding them can lead to a life of abundance, like landing a dream job or reaching a financial goal.

The Prime Video docuseries “Desperately Seeking Soulmate: Escaping Twin Flames Universe,” released on October 6, explores how the Ayan’s group gained popularity and what it was like to be a member. In it, Hines, the Vanity Fair journalist, says that she found the Ayans used mind games to convince TFU members to stalk their exes and pay thousands of dollars for online courses about how to find and secure your twin flame, even if they couldn’t afford them. Former members corroborate Hines’ findings that they were manipulated into relationships or sexual encounters they didn’t really want while trying to secure their twin flames under the Ayan’s guidance.

Netflix is also releasing a docuseries on the group on November 8, called “Escaping Twin Flames,” which includes interviews and video footage of former TFU members, many who were not in the Prime series. In the Prime series, the Ayans did not comment or provide original interviews, while in the Netflix series they offer comment, denying claims that they manipulated members.

“We take seriously recent allegations implying we wield inappropriate control over our community members,” a representative for TFU said in a statement to Insider.

“The allegations levied against Twin Flames Universe not only distort our true aims, methods, and curriculums but also misrepresent the autonomy of our community members, who are free to engage with our resources as they see fit. We are committed to confronting these allegations in an open and accountable manner.”

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