At first blush, the love of Elena Gilbert's life seemed to be Stefan Salvatore. Sweet, caring, heroic Stefan. He looked especially lovely when his seemingly good-for-nothing, brutish and arrogant brother, Damon, came to town.
But it didn't take long before viewers were thinking: hey, not so fast!
Stefan spent a good portion of his relationship with Elena lying about his past, never allowing her to discover his true self. Through generations, he and Damon had fought over one woman, Katherine. When we finally learned the truth about their past, it appeared Damon got the short end of the romantic stick. Caring and passionate, he was easily swayed by the charms of a woman he loved.
Through the years, Damon has learned how to hide his feelings. Rather than be hurt, he does do the hurting himself. But it turns out even the cockiest of dark souls can be tamed by the innocence of Elena. Instead of lying to her and pretending to be someone he wasn't, he let it all hang out. He drank greedily from the throat of her one good friend and tried to kill another. Still, through it all, these two came to an understanding.
Being honest with each other has its advantages. Whereas Stefan set up Elena for disappointment, Damon had nowhere to go but up. When she thought Damon might be dying at the end of season two, Elena kissed him. That smooch held far more emotion than she dreamed, and they both knew it. Once he realized what he was feeling, Damon never let an opportunity pass to express those emotions to Elena. To wit:
"As I Lay Dying"
Damon: I know you love Stefan. And it will always be Stefan. But I love you. You should know that.
Elena: I do.
Damon [to Elena]: I promise you. I will never leave you again.
Damon: When I drag my brother back from the edge and deliver him back to you, I want you to remember the things you felt when he was gone.
Damon: I just need to say it once, and you just need to hear it. I love you, Elena. And it's because I love you that I can't be selfish with you. And why you can't know this. I don't deserve you. But my brother does. God, I wish you didn't have to forget this, but you do.
Despite her unending faith in Stefan, Elena places more in Damon every day. He's become her rock, the one being she knows will always have her back. When he says he isn't leaving, she knows she can rely on his honesty.
Through their many turbulent adventures together while trying to save Stefan from the dark side, Elena and Damon have grown ever closer. It's that kind of foundation upon which lasting relationships grow. Their antics don't become old and they will always inspire each other, but never tire of one another. There will come a day when Elena sees it as clearly as does Damon. He has both secretly and openly given her his heart. She needs only grasp onto it to find a true, unwavering love.
Do you agree? Who is your favorite teen couple?
Poll is now closed! Here are the results:Elena and Stefan (The Vampire Diaries)
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.