What would you say to people who think that Stelena was a rushed relationship, they didn't see build-up, or the process of them falling in love, that they just kissed in the matter of "two episodes". I follow a confession page and this is what a lot of DErs like to throw in our faces, saying that they had seasons worth of development with their ship.
I’ve encountered that argument many times and it’s a weak one, it’s in the same vein as the argument that Stefan and Elena had an immature relationship because they were in high school for its duration. Like jfc, nuance people.
It is true that Stefan and Elena have a short build-up. It is also true that the build-up is dense. A lot happens in a short amount of time, which means they get to know each other very quickly. In the first episode alone, Elena tells Stefan everything about her life. There’s initial intrigue because he’s the hot new guy:
There’s wordless flirtation:
Then they actually meet and there’s an energy, a feeling, a connection (which actually happens between people where there’s an immediate click)
So there’s already a lot of intensity and connection in action, in the way they operate around each other and navigate one another.
That’s already a type of build-up, which gives way to the next phase of build-up wherein Stefan and Elena talk. As I already said, Elena pretty much tells Stefan everything about herself. I mean, Stefan sits with Bonnie and Caroline at The Grill, he meets Matt, and this is before they’re officially dating:
And at the party, Stefan and Elena separate from the crowd to talk and he silently prods Elena to open up about what she no longer talks about:
And it should be noted that he sees through her charade:
And then they talk about Bonnie and Matt, they even briefly albeit vaguely condescendingly discuss Caroline; they indirectly talk about what Elena wants out of life (passion):
So by this point, Stefan has met all of Elena’s closest friends, met the ex-boyfriend, already sees in Elena what she hides from others, she’s spoken about her parents’ death, he has encountered the nuances of her interpersonal relationships and this is all in real time, this isn’t because he had watched her months previously, this is because he lived it with her. And then when that is done, he shows up at her house:
And then she invites him so they can do what? Talk.
And then when 1x02 airs, it picks up with Stefan and Elena in their respective beds, dreamy over what occurred the night before:
This morning is different. There’s change. I can sense it. Feel it. I’m awake. For the first time in a long time I feel completely and undeniably wide awake.
For once I don’t regret the day before it begins. I welcome the day because I know, I will see her again. I will see him again. For the first time in a long time, I feel good.
Essentially, they had a conversation that fundamentally shifted how they view themselves and the world around them and it makes them feel good, like actually good about everything inside them and around them. And that happens. I can say from experience that you can have a conversation with someone, whether it’s a romantic interest or a potential friend, that has a transcending effect on you. And that’s what Stefan and Elena shared the night before.
And when they see each other at school, after some silent flirting:
They talk about literature and he gives her a book on their walk to another class, which once again establishes that they’re getting to know each other, sharing interests, revealing passions and hobbies:
And then it’s reiterated that Stefan and Elena spent hours talking when Elena tells Bonnie and Caroline that when Stefan came over they didn’t have sex or make out, they didn’t even kiss and Caroline is scandalized.
And in this episode, Stefan and Elena reach their first roadblock and this is before their relationship even begins and that’s Stefan’s secrecy coupled with Damon’s manipulation and the semi-revelation of Katherine and Stefan tries to get back in her good graces:
And Elena is ready to give up: “We met and we talked and it was epic but the sun came up and reality set in.”
But after talking to Bonnie about it who tells her that shes giving up, after seeing what’s happening with Jeremy and his drug addiction and his struggle to navigate a world without their parents, after talking to Jenna and seeing her struggle to be a guardian, Elena decides that she’s going to risk feeling and goes over to Stefan’s house. And what do they do at Stefan’s house? They talk.
Elena tells Stefan what she’s afraid of, which is happiness, which is him and Stefan responds by using Elena’s own words, “I met a girl, we talked and it was epic, then the sun came up and reality set in. Well this is reality. Right here” essentially telling her that to live in the moment, to risk feeling because feeling is reality and then they kiss:
There has already been a ton of emotional groundwork and they’re still in the process of getting to know each other, like just because they kissed doesn’t mean that the get-to-know-you courtship stops. And it doesn’t stop.
In 1x03, Elena finds out Stefan can play football and pushes him to join the team so he can be more social
while Stefan assuages Elena’s guilt over quitting the cheerleading team, letting her know that it’s OK to not be the person she was before and to figure out life for herself.
He makes it an effort to get to know Bonnie since she doesn’t trust him.
There isn’t any heavy kissing/making out until 1x04
and even with that they say they’ll go slow
and that’s when they go on their first official date
and have their first dance
which turns into their first fight about his secrecy because Elena wants to know about Stefan, everything so far has been about her emotional baggage as opposed to his, her interests etc.
1x05 Stefan tells Elena details about himself, it’s revealed that he knows how to cook, he tells her about Katherine, that he loves Martin Scorsese, and even listens to Miley Cyrus.
In 1x06 she knows about his vampirism
and so he truly gets into his past and is upfront about the fact that he did things he wasn’t proud of when it came to Katherine and when it came to Damon, he tells her about the vervain in her necklace and let’s her know how much he cares about her because Damon will try to hurt her, which is the only way he can hurt Stefan
and then they break up.
In 1x07 Stefan actually kills someone (Vicki) for Elena
after spending the episode trying to help her and they share the angst over how terrible her life has become since finding out about his secret but how better it’s become since meeting him as a man but how that doesn’t change that she’s too scared to be with him.
In 1x08, Elena learns even more information about Stefan, which is that it’s his birthday and that Lexi is his best friend and Lexi calls Elena out on her feelings: “I’m scared.” “But you’re here. Because you’re crazy about him” and they hit yet another roadblock when Damon kills Lexi and Elena has to talk him down from the edge so he won’t kill his brother.
In 1x09 Stefan saves Bonnie’s life and Elena realizes how fundamentally good Stefan is and how much he cares about her so she says she can be with him but Stefan wants to protect her so they remain broken up.
In 1x10 they have sex and it’s after they talk about what they wanted their futures to be before life got in the way of their optimism, after Stefan rescues yet another one of Elena’s friends, after Elena tells him she loves him, which is absolutely valid considering everything they’ve been through since meeting each other.
Stefan and Elena don’t need build-up because they’re constantly evolving in their dynamic, it’s not like the other couples on the show where it’s BUILD-UP and then a lackluster relationship, they’re not binary; they continuously get to know each other and grow together while building on a foundation that was established and re-established in the pilot. So honestly, those DErs can miss me.