insanity that makes love such a pain in the neck, whether somebody’s biting you there or not.The reasons for this are many and varied, and all the more telling when the people at Mutant Enemy get it wrong. Buffy has had three loves in her seven-year fight against the Hellmouth, and three of these relationships followed the basic psychological progress–assumption, attraction, infatuation, and attachment–which is why they all felt true emotionally, even if some viewers were less than pleased with Buffy’s choices. These are all clues that the object is genetically a catch, physically and mentally healthy; it’s DNA shrieking “Pick that one, I want to live forever!The second season brings the real test: in one of Whedon’s blatant, powerful metaphors, Buffy loses her virginity to a loving, sexually skilled Angel and wakes up with the murderous beast, Angelus.
Infatuation is about conditional love: I love you because of what you do for me, because you’re funny, you’re loving, you’re sexy, you’re smart, you’re not a vampire, etc.
But what happens when the object stops being funny and sexy? “I love you because” is conditional love, based on what the object does for the lover; the “You complete me” statement that sounds good but is really a threat: “Complete me or lose me, it’s all about me.” Mature love, goes beyond that and says that it doesn’t matter whether the object is wonderful or not, the love is just there, like the air we breathe.
So Angel vamps and Buffy screams and rejects him, but when she has the opportunity to kill him, fulfilling her destiny as a vampire slayer, she deliberately misses, and Angel saves her from the woman who made him a vampire, symbolically killing his old life to enter a new one with Buffy.
Their love is unconditional, the season ends, the love story is finished. Buffy’s choice to spare Angel in the first season is not based on blindly unconditional love; she has plenty of clues in that story arc that he is on her side.
Zipping through the assumption and attraction in a rush to get to normal and loved, Buffy misses the cues that would have told her he was a shallow, not very bright user and pays the price.