1. There’s a clear leader of the pack
They’ll decide if someone should join the group or not. Their opinion is the one that matters the most. Most likely, this person is quite charismatic and charming.
2. All looks way too good from the outside
People don’t seem to fight, feel jealous, get angry or hold grudges. But a real danger sign: no one jokes; they just seem to smile all the time because they’re ‘happy’.
3. You form ties instantly
These people are so friendly at the start that you become a part of the group ASAP. Even if you make few attempts to be a part of the group, they’re with you all the time soon enough.
4. You are told you all are better than the rest
There is a clear demarcation between your group and the rest of the world. This is because the rest of the world is full of terrible people, while you all are the few good ones.
5. Yet you’re always reminded of how bad you are
Your actions are constantly being judged. Sometimes minute acts are seen as big mistakes and you will be pulled up in front of everybody, making your embarrassment acute.
6. There is no sense of privacy
Everybody talks about everything that happened or didn’t happen in everyone else’s life. Any attempt to keep anything private is seen as a betrayal by the group.
7. There are many forms of punishment
The cruelest one is probably the whole group not talking to you, but there are others like being denied to go out for some event with the others in your group.
8. There are endless blame-games
9. There’s always a money angle
Most of us pay for our share if we pool in, but you’ll be expected to contribute for things that are completely unrelated to you. Intense pressure will make you “donate” more and more.
10. You can’t question anything
O ye of little mind, you just have to take the “truth” as it is given to you. Don’t try to point out any flaws in the theory or question the value of the rules.
11. Other parts of your life fall away
Without you realizing it, your family, friends, colleagues all lose their importance. Soon your life is occupied by this group alone. To you they are your friends and family all rolled into one.
12. There’s no room for individuality
You feel like having your own opinions is a rebellious act. Whether it’s about politics or fashion, the group expects you to conform if you want to stay part of it.
13. You’re too scared to leave
You know that if you quit the group, they will badmouth you, try to get you fired, try to ruin your life, etc. You think that you might have to leave city or country to truly get away.
14. Paranoia is always on the rise
Whether it the ‘us against the world’ scene or the leader feeling unsafe, somehow the gap between your group and the world will grow ever larger.