You seem to interpret Spike much differently than I do! Of course, that's the fun of enjoying his character :) Did you think their was any possible chance that Spike could offer a healthy relationship to Buffy while soulless? Because while I get that Spike is supposed to be "evil", he also seems to get what Buffy needs a lot of the time. I personally found it difficult to understand how he went from "I know you'll never love me" to insisting that Buffy does. Was that lin manipulative or genuine?
Thank you, Anon, for being so civil about our disagreement regarding Spike. I honestly appreciate it! That’s how one does fandom right!
Tbh, even though I am and forever will be Spuffy trash, I don’t really think Spike could’ve had a healthy relationship with Buffy while soulless, as much as I would love to feel otherwise. It’s not that Spike is supposed to be evil, he is evil by definition. He is a vampire, a demon soul inhabiting a formerly human body. Yes, Spike seems to be much more in touch with his humanity than most vampires, but it always seems to be the “darkest” side of humanity since all his actions are motivated by selfishness and the need to satisfy his own desires. He does show emotion and empathy occasionally, but I wouldn’t exactly say he gets what Buffy needs. He has the vantage point of the outsider, and he’s definitely quite observant and insightful - not only when it comes to Buffy but as regards pretty much everyone. So yeah, he definitely reads Buffy quite well, and at the beginning that helped him get to her when no one else was seeing through her and understanding what she was going through. Later on, however, he pretended to be reading her and getting her when in reality what he was doing was feeding her lines so that he could keep her to himself (”you came back wrong” - “you belong with me, in the darkness”)
When it comes to Spike going from “I know you’ll never love me” to insisting Buffy did love him, well, that’s literally his M.O because that’s the twisted concept of love he learned as a vampire. You need to remember that he only knew “love” as a vampire, and it was always associated with pain, torture, manipulation and mind games.
Drusilla: “We can love quite well, if not wisely.”
Spike: “If I want Dru back, I just gotta be the man I was, the man she loved. I’m gonna do what I shoulda done in the first place: I’ll find her, wherever she is, tie her up, torture her until she likes me again.
We need to remember that no soul = no moral compass. There’s no sense of good and evil, and every action is to cater to their own primal needs. I don’t think it’s possible for a vampire to love in a healthy, selfless way without a soul.