It’s just occurred to me how many similarities there are betwen Stelena/Delena and Bangel/Spuffy. The writers of TVD quite literally took the exact same situation from Buffy with Bangel/Spuffy and created it on TVD with Stelena/Delena.
Bangel - Stelena
Both were human-vampire relationships. Buffy/Elena were the young teenagers with their lives ahead of them, whilst Angel/Stefan were undead vampires with bleak futures. This is where the idea for both couples springs from in that the love Angel/Stefan found in Buffy/Elena brought them back to life, that Buffy/Elena’s humanity, their purity is what helped Angel/Stefan find theirs and to truly feel alive again. Angel really was Buffy’s one true love, just like Stefan was Elena’s. Both couples had an instant attraction and connection, which led to a whirlwind romance. There was an initial rough patch where they tried to deal with the difficulties of being in a vampire-human relationship, but both couples overcame that, fell deeply in love and had a very passionate and happy relationship. Angel/Stefan had a dark past and a self-loathing that tied into that, but Buffy/Elena saw the good in them, saw beyond that darkness and really and accepted and loved them wholly. This acceptance is shown in the scenes between both couples where Angel/Stefan’s vamp faces appear and Buffy/Elena touch their faces tenderly and kiss them. The fact that Buffy/Elena who were so good and pure believed in Angel/Stefan and that they were good hearted, meant that Angel/Stefan could finally start believing in themselves too. The love between the couples was vast and powerful, with them making promises to be together forever and seeming unbreakable. But then they came to face the biggest obstacle of their relationships so far - Angel losing his soul and Stefan losing his humanity. This is where things took a turn. Buffy/Elena were heartbroken to have lost the men they love, whilst Angel/Stefan tormented the objects of their affection. But despite the devastation and hurt, Buffy/Elena’s love for Angel/Stefan was so strong that they decided to fight back. They fought to bring their loves back to their soul/humanity and had so much faith in their relationships, that they never gave up. It all paid off because at the end of those ordeals both pairings found their way back to each other. They were still connected, still deeply in love and even that terrible period of time couldn’t break them apart. In the future both couples separated (for different reasons), but it still remained that their love was valid and important to the characters involved. Until the very end it was canon that Buffy loved Angel more than she had ever loved anything in her life and vice versa, in the same way that Stefan and Elena were defined as soulmates to the very end and some of Elena’s last words to Stefan were “I love you so much.”
Spuffy - Delena
Enter Spike/Damon into Buffy/Elena’s life. From the off-set Spike/Damon were the bad guys. The exciting, dangerous ones, the enemy of Buffy/Elena. Buffy/Elena hated Spike/Damon with a passion in the beginning and promised that nothing would ever be romantic between them. A love triangle formed on both shows with Angel-Buffy-Spike and Stefan-Elena-Damon, with a young human girl caught between two vampire brothers (Angel and Spike weren’t brothers, but had a brotherly bond). Spike/Damon were defined as being the opposite from Angel/Stefan and Buffy/Elena made it clear they hated the people that Spike/Damon were. Despite this there was still an unspeakable and silent attraction between both couples, which occasionally reared it’s ugly head. As the seasons went by Spike/Buffy and Damon/Elena were thrown together more and more, mainly when they were uniting to defeat an enemy. This in turn meant that the couples developed a camaraderie and sense of trust, which strengthened the attraction even more. The feelings developed on Spike/Damon’s side first and for the longest time Buffy/Elena were horrified and completely dismissive of it. Spike/Damon’s feelings for Buffy/Elena actually became an obsession of some sorts and their mood and actions were revolved around Buffy/Elena. Both Spike/Damon were impulsive and reckless, with very little sense of right and wrong. But as time progressed and Buffy/Elena’s relationships with Angel/Stefan broke down, Spike/Damon had the perfect opportunity to make their move. Spike/Damon were there for Buffy/Elena whenever something went wrong so that Buffy/Elena began to rely on them. Then Buffy/Elena went through a hugely traumatic and life-changing event - they died. Elena came back as a vampire and Buffy didn’t, but the apart from that the impact on both of them was very similar. They were severely depressed, angry and afraid and felt they had no one to turn to and that the only person that would understand the darkness that overtook them would be Spike/Damon. Buffy used Spike as a way to deal with the way she was feeling and Elena used Damon as a way to deal with becoming a vampire. Buffy/Elena felt that something had changed inside them and that they’d lost their innocence and purity, what made them good, so they felt that the people they loved (their family, friends, Angel/Stefan) no longer deserved them or understood them. Once Spike/Buffy and Damon/Elena started sleeping together it was extremely volatile and abusive. Spike/Buffy were constantly coming to physical blows, arguing, Buffy used Spike physically and emotionally, she manipulated him to get what she wanted and the relationship has a negative impact on both of them. Damon controlled Elena, Elena did terrible things because of Damon, she became a worse version of herself, they admitted to being in a toxic relationship and being bad for each other.
In short Bangel/Stelena were the opposite relationships to Spuffy/Delena. Bangel/Stelena’s love is defined as being a pure, unconditional and secure love, whilst Spuffy/Delena’s love is unpredictable, dangerous and consuming.
Even though I’ve only just made this connection between the couples, maybe this is why I’m so angry with what TVD did with Stelena and Delena. I’m not against Spuffy and enjoyed their relationship, but in terms of a good relationship for Buffy, I’m 100% for Bangel over Spuffy. I think Buffy and Angel were the true love story of the show (just like I think Stelena are), but the difference with BTVS, is that the writers knew exactly how to handle the relationships and what direction to take them in. The abusive elements in Spuffy’s relationship weren’t glossed over, they were addressed. Buffy admitted what was wrong and confronted Spike and spoke to him about it. They actively recognized there was a problem and that’s why Spike set out to find his soul - so he could be with the woman he loved and treat her right. Unlike Delena, where Elena has repeatedly ignored and overlooked the faults in her relationship with Damon and how negatively it’s impacted her. BTVS also remained true to Buffy’s feelings for Angel. It was made clear that Angel and Buffy’s love was unbreakable and that they were the love of each other’s lives, but that circumstances didn’t allow for them to be together. Her feelings for Angel and Spike were displayed perfectly and the contrast between them was so interesting. She was in love with Angel and she was in love with Spike, but for completely different reasons and she never apologized or made excuses for her feelings for them or the faults in her relationships with either of them. But TVD got it all wrong. Instead of doing the same thing, they turned Delena’s relationship into something it wasn’t, completely re-wrote Stelena’s histroy and Elena’s feelings for Stefan and destroyed everything that was interesting and appealing about the love triangle. Just like Buffy with Angel and Spike, Elena was in love with Stefan and Damon, for different reasons. Her relationships with both of them changed her and provided her with different things, but instead of showing us the impact that had on her and how she dealt with it, the writers took the easy and boring route of trying to turn Delena into Stelena(2).
My conclusion here is that the writers of BTVS were pure genius and the writers of TVD are complete idiots. From start to finish Buffy’s character was a breath of fresh air and even when she went through changes they made sense and were logical and in keeping with who she was. Buffy’s character was developed and grew with every single episode and so did her relationships with Angel and Spike. But Elena? HAH. After season 4 her character was basically slaughtered. There was no consistent progression or development for her and her character swung back and forth repeatedly until she was barely even recognizable as Elena Gilbert. As for her relationships with Stefan and Damon, they fell on their ass around mid season 4. The idea that Damon would become Elena’s human husband and the father of her kids and Stefan would be her friend and brother in law, is completely laughable.
Elena’s love for Stefan was exactly the same as Buffy’s love for Angel and that never goes away. Buffy fell in love with Spike, just like Elena fell in love with Damon but that doesn’t and shouldn’t in any way undermine or taint the love Buffy/Elena have for Angel/Stefan. If the writers of TVD had any sense they would have understood that and chosen to take the triangle in a different direction.