Two years ago, I met someone who I would start to refer to as my “twin flame,” i.e. the other half of my person that would make me whole through reunion. He seemed to be the person who was perfectly described by the male character I had invented and fantasized about my whole life. I started consuming a lot of twin flame-centric blogs, YouTube videos, and email newsletters, trying to figure out what I had to do to achieve our “union.” I thought that all my previous toxic relationships were preparing me with the skills I would need to handle such a challenging connection. I was still excited by the notion that there could be one person, one relationship, that would “make sense” of all the terrible things that had happened to me, and that this person could one day fully “understand” and “accept” me.
I ignored, of course, the feelings of “spiritual connection” I had felt with previous partners, as well as the feeling of each of them being that “prince” I was looking for. And I ignored the fact that I was once again falling into a codependent tendency to look for the fulfillment of my childhood fantasies and wounds in another person and all the maladaptive behaviors that came with that.
And so I kept consuming the twin flame content, even as I started to suspect my feelings were being preyed upon for ad revenue. When he fell back into his addictive habits, I blamed myself, thinking he must be mirroring my own doubt about his ability to get clean, or my ability to have a healthy relationship. Any time we would start to get close, I thought that the promise of “reunion” was imminent, and so I was crushed each time we would get close but then immediately re-enter that “runner” state (i.e. what could also be referred to as the classic love avoidant + anxious attachment combo I tended to find myself drawn to).
But what was really going on here? Why did the twin flame delusion specifically hold such swaying power with this particular connection? I currently believe it’s because it’s partially true — there is a breakdown in the inner psyche between the female and male archetypes (what Jung would call the anima and animus) that need to be reunited and established in a healthy relationship. And it is, of course, tempting to play out that fantasy in a relationship where the effects can be observed more directly, and when the person has the same traits as the rejected part of self. For me, there was a childhood fantasy of a “villain that becomes good” character that he reminded me of specifically, and in fact the night I met him he even described that as one of his inner archetypes without me mentioning that.
Sometime in the last year, I started to ask myself what it would look like to resolve these inner archetypal dramas without his help (or even if he only served as a proxy to remind me what they looked like). I imagined parts of myself as characters, sometimes journaling as if I was them, to see what messages I was ignoring from myself. Slowly, I started to identify the rejected parts of myself I had seen reflected by him, the parts my old therapist would have referred to as “exiles.” This year, I’ve started to get more comfortable with seeing the truth about my behavior, just as several articles about the exploitative and cult-like nature of twin flames communities have started coming out. In the past few weeks, I was finally able to see the issues my “twin” had with compulsive sexuality were also issues I had but had ignored in pursuit of relationships and fantasy.
I think twin flames *are* real, perhaps not in the spiritual sense of two halves of a whole person, but rather in the psychological sense of two whole, real people reminding eachother of their forgotten selves. And it’s okay to love that person from a healthy interpersonal distance, even with no “reunion,” without trying to “make it work” with a bunch of magical thinking and manipulation or projecting your unmet needs onto them. That effort is better spent trying to reunite with the parts of yourself that need this connection so badly. Because you are your own twin flame.