True crime fans likely think of Nick Godejohn as the most well-known man in Gypsy Rose Blanchard‘s life, but he wasn’t the only one. In The Act on Hulu, fans see the character based on the real-life woman chasing another love interest. Despite her relatively isolated life, it turns out that the now-27-year-old had a couple of different romantic prospects while still living with her mother, Dee Blanchard. But how did she meet them underneath her mother’s watchful eye? For the most part, online — but, just like in the show, she did meet one man at a convention.

Michelle Dean, the co-creator of The Act, interviewed Gypsy for Buzzfeed News and shared the original story in her article. Similar to the storyline in the show, she says that Gypsy met a 35-year-old man at a science fiction convention and that they started talking online to keep in touch. Dean writes that Gypsy even tried to “escape her mother” by running away with the man and that he took her back to his hotel room, where Dee Dee later found them together. Though Gypsy was 19 at the time in February 2011, Dee Dee allegedly showed the man forged paperwork that claimed that her daughter was still a minor, putting an end to the romance.

In October 2014, Gypsy told her friend and neighbor, Aleah Woodmansee, that she’d met another man online. This time she was talking about Nick, the man who would later help her escape and murder her mother. According to Dean, Gypsy said she’d met her then-boyfriend on a Christian singles site and that they’d been talking online for two years. During a November 2017 interview with Dr. Phil, she said, “Our relationship was about almost three years.” She explained that they met in person for the first time in 2015 at a movie theater. But he wasn’t the first man she’d tried to meet online. Behind a computer screen, she could talk to boys and represent herself as the adult she was without her mom interfering to claim that she was a minor or had the mind of a child.

Ultimately, though, Gypsy still didn’t have the freedom she would have liked to talk to boys, and she admitted as much to Aleah online in a moment that is sure to become an explosive plot point on screen. As the women secretly chatted online, Gypsy “became more open about her feelings about boys and how she longed to have a real relationship with a guy,” Aleah said when she spoke to In Touch. “Periodically she would tell me how lucky I was because my mom let me have a boyfriend and go on dates.” Ultimately, Gypsy wanted to be a normal girl — and at conventions and online, she could be who she truly was.

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