We all know that the voice that Stephanie Beatriz uses on Brooklyn Nine-Nine is not her real voice, but no matter how many times you’ve seen Encanto, it’s still weird getting used to Beatriz’s natural voice as host of the Wondery podcast Twin Flames. “Twin Flames” refers to one’s “mirror soul,” or one’s “other half,” and some desperate people in search of romance are particularly vulnerable to the idea that they might have a divinely proffered perfect romantic match out in the world.
That’s where Jeff and Shaleia come in. Jeff and Shaleia are a young couple with a sort of Bohemian aesthetic who claim to be each other’s Twin Flames, and the two of them operate an online fiefdom dedicated to that concept. People can join their group, which at one point had as many as 15,000 members in its Google Hangouts, and pay out of the nose to become part of Jeff and Shaleia’s Internet cult. Jeff and Shaleia not only provide the secrets to securing a relationship with your Twin Flame, but they also recruit cult members to sign up new cult members in a sort of love pyramid scheme that can cost thousands of dollars for vulnerable people who believe Jeff and Shaleia can provide the secrets to forming a lasting relationship with your office crush.
Jeff and Shaleia’s advice, as explored in the podcast, basically boils down to: You have the power to bend reality to your will if you will only put in the work. If your Twin Flame hasn’t fallen in love with you yet, it’s only because you haven’t tried hard enough. You have to change your appearance, and if that doesn’t work, you have to change your personality, and if that doesn’t work, you have to intrude into the life of your Twin Flame, and if that doesn’t work, you have to cajole, berate, and stalk, if necessary. Don’t let that restraining order stop you! It is but a temporary obstacle to true love!
The podcast interviews both former members and, at least in one case, a “Twin Flame” subjected to the overbearing and often frightening stalker-like actions of an ex-girlfriend counseled by Jeff and Shaleia. Their stories are heartbreaking, enraging, and frustrating. One woman plowed thousands of dollars into the program and devoted her entire life to it to the exclusion of her friends and family. She was told to dress more feminine to attract her Twin Flame, but after he repeatedly rejected her in an angry fashion, she was matched with another Twin Flame, who just happened to be another member of their program. It was a same-sex match, only this woman isn’t gay or even bisexual. However, after being told to behave in a more feminine manner, she was then told she was “divine masculine” and had to behave as such with a woman who was no more romantically interested in her than vice versa. Objections were not allowed, because God speaks through Jeff and Shaleia, and how dare anyone defy the will of God.
From what I can gather from the podcast, Jeff and Shaleia are not particularly charming — not the sort of personalities one might typically associate with a cult. They attempted a number of other online scams before stumbling upon one that stuck in Twin Flames. It stuck because lonely single people with a lot of disposable income who are desperate to find love matches are particularly susceptible to their brand of bullshit, which is basically the romantic version of The Secret. You cannot will love into existence, folks. When it comes to unwilling romantic partners, Bonnie Raitt has all the advice one needs, and it doesn’t cost thousands of dollars.
Twin Flames is available in all the usual places.