I’ve been asking myself this question lately, thanks to binge-listening to the podcast A Little Bit Culty. It’s interesting, even if the hosts probably aren’t people I’d be friends with (they seem nice enough, but we wouldn’t have much in common). They’re former members of the NXIVM cult who are doing the show to help other escapees from cults. There’s a lot about the psychology of how people get indoctrinated and how cult leaders control their followers.
I think the reason I never joined one is sheer luck. I’ve tried to join groups based on spiritual ideologies, from the Unitarian Universalists to The Satanic Temple, but nothing ever stuck. I eventually realized that I’m better off just talking to my friends about shit and avoiding groups.
However, I think it would be pretty easy to indoctrinate me into something. (That’s not an offer.) I’m easily influenced. I may not have been in a cult, but I have been prey to charismatic yet manipulative people. Most of my serious romantic relationships were with abusers (the reason why I don’t date anymore), so I know I’m good at ignoring red flags and falling prey to what the cultiverse calls “love-bombing.” I know that I stayed in those relationships until I felt replaced (the abusers all used polyamory against me), when the abuse should have driven me away years before.
So yeah. I would have been a great cult member. My ex-partners just got to me first. Now I avoid romance and groups that are ideology-driven. (I’m active in a crafting guild and in a medieval reenactment group, and both feel pretty safe.) Let’s hope I’m never a victim of either.