It was just four years ago that Gypsy Rose Blanchard and the boyfriend she met online hatched a plan for him to kill Gypsy's mother, who had abused her for years and forced her to pretend she was terminally ill. Now, while serving her 10-year prison sentence, Gypsy is in love again — and reportedly engaged.
Family friend Fancy Macelli told the outlets that the couple are "very happy" and Blanchard is "very excited."
The friend did not reveal Gypsy's fiance's name, but she said the two met as pen pals after Gypsy got locked up and have known each other for about a year and a half. She said he saw a documentary about her story and reached out to her. They began exchanging emails, he visited her in prison and a relationship blossomed from there.
Psychologist Dr. Judy Ho, host of CBS' "Face the Truth," told InsideEdition.com that these types of relationships are "more common than you'd think." And she added that many lead to long-term relationships or even marriage, citing examples of other inmates who met their significant others while incarcerated.
She said "convicted criminals become celebrities in their own right. This leads people to potentially idolize them, dream of what they might be like in person, and fantasize about a relationship with them where they can rescue the misunderstood criminal."
Macelli said the relationship is "a good thing" for Gypsy. “And whether it ends up being that way in the end no one knows, but for her right now it’s a very positive and happy time," she said.
However, Ho said that the abuse Gypsy suffered at the hands of her mother, Dee Dee, and the lasting effects of that could be a challenge in her relationship. Gypsy has said that Dee Dee kept her in a wheelchair and told her she had a slew of physical illnesses and mental disabilities, symptoms of what doctors suspected was a disorder Dee Dee had called Munchausen by proxy. Gypsy said Dee Dee would even restrain her with dog leashes and handcuffs when she was disobedient.
"Her abuse occurred during the crucial developmental years when people are learning how to have healthy relationships with others, how to bond with others and form good attachments, and learning who they are in terms of identity and self-worth. When someone is exposed to lengthy, repeated abuse, it can wreak havoc on the most basic levels of their safety and needs for love and affection," Ho said.
Because of that, Ho said Gypsy may have difficulty dealing with and overcoming conflict that arises in their relationship. But she added that "this relationship, if genuine, can be helpful for her to start to learn to trust others again and to form positive bonds."
And with Dee Dee as her only constant role model throughout her life, Gypsy will have to also overcome any behaviors she may have learned from her mother, Ho said.
"If this is the case, intimate romantic relationships and other close relationships can be very tough. ... It will be important for her to take her time to heal her wounds, visit with professional mental health providers to work through her past trauma, so that she can have healthy relationships going forward," Ho said.
Macelli said Gypsy and her fiance plan to marry after she gets out of prison. Gypsy is up for parole in 2024, when she'll be 32.
What will life by like for the couple when they can finally be physically together, day in and day out?
"Initially there will be a shock as you go from fantasizing about a person through letters, occasional phone calls, and rare visits to living day-to-day together. There may be a period of disillusionment when they realize every day is not a fantasy and comes with the mundane and even struggles," Ho said.
She stressed that communication will be key in Gypsy's relationship with her fiance, so the two can "work through these challenges together."
There's a lot of attention on Gypsy and her fiance right now and a lot of interest in the couple. But that will eventually go away, Ho said.
"They’ll just be another couple. Whatever excitement comes with being media celebrity of sorts will go away, and they will see what their relationship is really based on and if they can go the distance," she said.