A lot of women are interested in true crime (myself included!) but for some women, that takes an unhealthy turn in the form of attraction. As in, they’re attracted to dangerous criminals, most notably, killers. And sure, it’s not necessarily common, but it happens often enough for one to wonder why some women are attracted to serial killers.

Related Read: Why Women Love True Crime


Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Chris Watts are just some of the infamous killers who’ve had their fair share of fan mail in prison. Specifically, from women expressing romantic interest in them. And, yes, there’s a word for this.

Hybristophilia, sometimes called Bonnie and Clyde syndrome, is defined as a sexual attraction to someone who commits crime. Frequently, it’s applied to serial murderers.

Female killers also exist, of course, but this phenomenon of serial killer attraction rarely happens with them. Instead, it almost exclusively occurs with men who’ve killed.

But hybristophilia is thought to be pretty rare. And serial killers having groupies… well, it isn’t that rare.

So, what else explains why some women are attracted to serial killers.

Why Women Are Attracted To Serial Killers

Bonnie and Clyde syndrome can explain why some women are attracted to serial killers.

1. Seeking Fame

One possible reason for this phenomenon is a desire for fame. Serial killers become infamous for their crimes. And some of them, like Ted Bundy, amass an epic amount of attention from the media. Of course, it’s not good attention, but it gives them notoriety.

Thus, women who send love letters to killers might be doing it because they want some of that fame for themselves. However, a lot of experts believe it isn’t something they’re consciously doing. Rather, these women have an unconscious need to feel special or important, and getting into a relationship with a known serial killer might fulfill that need.

2. Overly Empathetic

Oddly enough, some women may have a serial killer attraction based on their own high levels of empathy. Women are naturally more empathetic, and because of that, they try to see the good in everyone.

When it comes to serial killers, some women might convince themselves that the dangerous killer is really just “misunderstood.” Or they might look at his history—a terrible childhood or an undiagnosed mental illness—and find themselves empathizing with him.

That empathy, then, allows a woman to disregard the violent crime he committed and focus on other aspects of the serial killer.

3. Fear Linked To Arousal

Psychologically speaking, there’s a link between fear and arousal. Fear causes a spike in adrenaline and that feels very similar to arousal. It’s why some people find it sexy to watch a scary movie with a partner.

For women attracted to serial killers, that feeling of fear and danger might be driving their sexual interest.

4. Desire To Heal

A lot of women are attracted to the “bad boy.” And part of that comes from this idea of wanting to “fix” him. It’s not uncommon for women to want to heal a damaged man. Women who are attracted to serial killers just take that one step further.

They might look at his abusive childhood or see that he has his fair share of demons. But at the same time, they think that with enough love they can fix him.

5. History of Trauma

Serial killers tend to have a female fan-base, but in reality, it’s not normal to want a relationship with a convicted murderer. It’s confusing and, honestly, kind of sad. So is the final, and most oft-cited reason.

According to the author of Women Who Love Men Who Kill, women who become infatuated with serial killers almost always have their own history of trauma. In fact, she said that all of the women she interviewed for her book had been previously abused, often early in life.

For women who have experienced abuse, being in a relationship with a man in prison actually made them feel safe and in control. It may seem counterintuitive—after all, how can you feel safe with a partner who has murdered people? But the fact that they’re behind bars means they aren’t an active threat anymore.

On top of that, she’s the one with more power in the relationship. She has the freedom to visit him, she’s in control of when they see each other, and she always knows exactly where he is and how to get a hold of him.

Why do you think some women are attracted to serial killers? Let me know in the comments below!

And, of course, thanks for reading.

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  1. avatar

    It was really an interesting article I enjoyed it:)

  2. avatar

    I just read an article yesterday about how women were lining up to date Peter Madsen. He murdered the Swedish journalist Kim Wall on his submarine, and I did not understand why anyone would want to date him or a serial killer. It was interesting to read the reasons why women can be attracted to serial killers, and it does make sense that they empathize with them and would want to heal them. Also, I can see how fame plays a role.

Let me know your thoughts!

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30ish Lifestyle blogger, relationship "expert," and modern-day agony aunt.
Sometimes humorous, always honest.