I was immediately suspicious since I've always been fascinated by cult groups/activities and this obvious secrecy and lack of information threw up a warning sign. I attempted to look up Sterling on the net, but I didn't have enough info about what Sterling was all about. It was by chance I mentioned my boyfriend's involvement to a co-worker and she also had a friend who was involved and gave me the full name of the Sterling Institute. Again, I went to the Internet searching for answers. My boyfriend swears that if it were not for Sterling, he would not have been able to find the courage or the confidence to ask me out. He also told me that if I go on the Internet to find out about Sterling, I would only find negative, inaccurate information.
In the meantime, my boyfriend continued his weekly meetings, becoming a member of the "Men's Division", but was completely unwilling and/or unable to tell me more about the group other than the intense relationships with men that he had formed. His brother-in-law was the one who recruited him; he has been with Sterling for two years--who also got his wife involved with the women's division, "Family of Women".
My suspicions were heightened on Valentine's Day. We had a date and I asked him if he were going to his weekly Sunday night meeting with Sterling. He said that he was going to get out of it, he just needed to make a call (one of many throughout our time together). When I questioned him later, he said that they asked him why he didn't take me out on Saturday instead, so as not to miss the meeting. I again questioned him about the secrecy and authoritarian behavior of this group but he refused to share information. I also realized that, while in the beginning of our relationship he was incredibly attentive and couldn't wait to see me, he was now more distant, more reserved about sharing his thoughts and ideas. Once I thought his ideas and thoughts were his own, but it once I read other Sterling stories [posted on the Internet] it turns out he was quoting directly from Sterling's teaching.
When I found your Web site, I read the articles and stories on Sterling for hours. I was getting sick to my stomach, reading the words that were quoted to me by my boyfriend, learning more and more about this cultish group. On our last date (a Sunday afternoon), I showed him the articles I had copied--I read to him all of the accounts on what goes on during Sterling Weekends, seminars, etc. While he listened patiently, I could see in his eyes that he didn't believe one word. He smirked when he found out it was your Web site--apparently Sterling warns them about you. He accused me of being judgmental about a subject I knew nothing about. I told him that if this group were so wonderful, supportive, a life-saving group, then why the secrecy? Why doesn't he or Sterling want to shout to the world that they can help men and women in need? Again, I received no answers from him. I suggested that members of Sterling should get on the [Internet] and tell their side of the story, to dispute the so-called lies from the ex-members and non-believers. Again, he had no answer.
As I read the details to him, I questioned him if what was printed were true--he admitted most of what was written was true (not the negative items, however), but vehemently claimed that these non-believers did not get what they needed out of the training. Another disturbing revelation is that he truly believes what Sterling teaches about women. That is, there should be no competition, that women are 100% responsible for the relationship, the covert submissiveness of women and the evils of having a strong woman in his life. He couldn't have chosen a stronger woman than me. I could be the poster child of the kind of woman Sterling is against.
As I looked into his eyes, I searched for any belief he had in me, any doubt that he could be harboring (secretly, of course) about this dangerous group. I only saw the look of someone who is brainwashed--where there was once an independent mind, there now exists a man who is intermingled with the other "men", whose ideas and thoughts are no longer their own. To top it off, that night he went to his Sterling meeting and told them how I was on the World Wide Web, etc. God only knows what was said in response to my concerns.
Sadly, I told him that what we had was now over. While I cited his youth (he's younger than me) for his involvement, as well as his unresolved issues revolving around his deceased father, I told him I could not be a part of his life while he is so involved with this dangerous, cult-like group and that his recent treatment of me was directly associated with the teachings of Sterling. While I feel that we shared something special, I am unwilling to take part in this idiocy. Quietly and accepting my choice (and Sterling-like, not wanting to be weak), we parted ways. I can only hope that he'll open his eyes some day and realize what he's gotten himself into. Until then, I hope that there is a continuance of information given about the Sterling Institute of Relationships. While it may not have religious affiliations, it fits your criteria for being a cult.
To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.