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31 July 2013 @ 12:46 pm
Did Buffy love Riley?  
So, I've been thinking about Buffy's doomed love life, specifically her and Riley, and what went wrong.

In "The Replacement" Riley expresses to Xander that he believes Buffy doesn't love him:

Riley: "Hey, I'm well aware of how lucky I am. Like, lottery lucky. Buffy's like nobody else in the world. When I'm with her, it's like... it's like I'm split in two. Half of me is just on fire, going crazy if I'm not touching her. The other half is so still and peaceful, just perfectly content... just knows: this is the one. But she doesn't love me."

Was this true?

We know that Buffy never tells Riley she loves him on-screen, and it's unsure whether she would have told him if she'd been able to catch up with him.

Consider this interaction, after Buffy convinces Riley--with a rather heartfelt plea, I might add--to get help for his health problems caused by The Initiative:

Riley: Loving you is the scariest thing I've ever done, Buffy.
Buffy: I don't know why.

It's telling that she avoids acknowledging what he really said--agrees that he loves her, but she doesn't return the sentiment. Why?

What's your verdict? Did Buffy love Riley? Yes, no or somewhere in-between? If so, why didn't she tell him? And if not, why not?

Riley-hate aside, I don't believe she did. If she had, I don't think she would have had such a hard time saying it to him. Buffy is full of love. She gives it without reserve. But for some reason, Riley did't make the cut. Buffy's gun shy in love, sure, and for good reason. After all, the last person she loved, Angel, well, we all know how badly that ended. But, still...Riley was her safe choice. Why'd she hold back? And, did she push Riley away? If she'd told him she loved him, would be have not cheated on her? Would he have still given her that ultimatum? Would he have stayed?

Tell me your thoughts.
slaymesoftlyslaymesoftly on July 31st, 2013 08:00 pm (UTC)
I don't think she really did. I think she wanted to love him, but the longer they were together, the more obvious it became that he probably wasn't going to work out. Xander never should have sent her after Riley. He made her feel like this was her only chance at happiness with a man and she was throwing it away because said man was getting suck jobs from vamp whores. Yeah - what was she thinking? *growls* She was emotionally unavailable to Riley partly because of the feelings she still had for Angel, and partly because he was more what she thought she wanted than what she really wanted or needed. But Riley's behavior - first the suck jobs, and then the ultimatum when he should have been groveling for forgiveness - to me indicates she was better off with him out of her life.
Beckyjoans_journal on August 3rd, 2013 12:33 am (UTC)
Great points, and I agree.
goldenusagigoldenusagi on July 31st, 2013 11:00 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I don't think she loved him. She liked him, she maybe wanted to love him, but it just wasn't there, IMO.
Lisashipperx on August 1st, 2013 01:45 am (UTC)
I think Buffy thought she SHOULD love him. I think she wanted to love him (which is sort of the reverse of Spike where whatever she might feel, she didn't WANT to love him.) And if someone wants to convince me that she loved Riley in a friendly way, I'd buy it. But she was never IN love with Rileythe way she wanted to be, the way she wished she would, or the way she wanted to tell Angel that she was.
Beckyjoans_journal on August 3rd, 2013 12:34 am (UTC)
Thanks for your input! And I agree.
kudagirlkudagirl on August 1st, 2013 02:11 am (UTC)
I think Buffy loved the idea of Riley. That he was normal and understood her calling. Yet, she was scared of hurting him so held back. Then when he had the chip removed, she babied him. She didn't want him going on patrol with her. He was what she thought she wanted and needed, but it wasn't right for either of them. When she needed his support over Glory, Dawn and her mother, he wasn't there really. He was more about his needs than hers. His jealousy of Angel, his need to be all manly and protect her, and he lost all of his self esteem when he found out about Maggie. He had lost his way and needed her to support his feelings and make it better. She had the world and her family to protect. She just wasn't able to give him what he needed so he sought it somewhere else. Then he couldn't even admit it was his problems, but put it all on her. Xander really wasn't being her friend when he advised her to go after Riley.
Beckyjoans_journal on August 3rd, 2013 12:36 am (UTC)
Interesting point about Xander. I've never thought of it that way. You're right--I guess he wasn't doing her any favors, he was just doing what he thought Riley wanted.
spikesjojospikesjojo on August 3rd, 2013 03:19 am (UTC)
I think Xander always wanted Buffy and he saw Riley as an improved version of himself. I don't think anyone saw this relationship working out but Xander was more emotionally vested in the relationship than Buffy was. If Riley and Buffy broke up then there had never even been a chance between Xander and Buffy.
Beckyjoans_journal on August 5th, 2013 12:47 am (UTC)
Re: o

Interesting! While I don't go for the theory that Xander has always wanted Buffy, I do believe that he really liked Riley, and wanted it to work between Buffy and him because he wanted to keep Riley around.
Rebcake: btvs_buffy_whateverrebcake on August 1st, 2013 05:46 am (UTC)
I think Buffy loved Riley. My definition of love is pretty liberal, however. I don't think she felt the big, dramatic, die-without-him love, which is the brand he seemed to crave from her. But I'd put her somewhere around a "5" on the love spectrum, which ain't bad. I think a lot of happy couples are in a similar place, and with work and luck can make a go of it. Luck was against Buffy and Riley, as you might expect from a relationship that begins in an episode called "Doomed". Right from the beginning, there were fault lines. Riley was not the man Buffy thought he was — he was not reliable or supportive when the chips were down. That's what she needed, and IMO, had a right to expect from her romantic partner. But when her attention was diverted to the needs of her family, he bailed on every level.

Ultimately, if he'd manned up and stuck around, they might have overcome some of the issues facing them, and her affection would have deepened. But isn't that the same as saying that she would have come to love him more if he was a different person? A person she could really trust? It's a bit of a chicken/egg scenario. Was her lack of trust proven by his leaving, or a self-fulfilling prophecy? I don't think she was holding back, but perhaps she was just getting warmed up?
Beckyjoans_journal on August 5th, 2013 12:50 am (UTC)
I don't know. Buffy had gotten to know him pretty well, and she even says that she'd opened herself up to him in ways she never had with anyone else. I think that if the love wasn't already there, with them dating for a year and a half, it wasn't ever going to be there. She held back, definitely, and with good reason. She was afraid of getting hurt again.
Rebcake: btvs_buffy_whateverrebcake on August 5th, 2013 07:50 am (UTC)
Ah, but see, I DO think the love was there. I think love comes in all kinds of flavors, and Riley wanted a different flavor from the one Buffy was dishing out. It's still love, though.

I'm not a big believer in perfect love, or that love is always enough to make a relationship work. If I thought that, I wouldn't be a Spuffy shipper. Or a Spru shipper, either.

Edited at 2013-08-05 07:55 am (UTC)
annegables on August 1st, 2013 07:08 am (UTC)
I always thought the show really worked hard at making sure we knew that Buffy wasn't actually in love with Riley. I think it was portrayed that Buffy, unknowingly, used Riley. Angel told her to find the guy who could go out in the sun - so she did. And when he could fight in the dark and sleep with her as well, that was a bonus. So he fit in with her life for awhile and she was able to have a boyfriend stress free. Her friends, Watcher and Mom were all happy with Riley. It would have been a big relief after all the Angel drama. But I think that the Riley relationship put it front and center that Buffy was not just another girl and a normal boyfriend just wasn't going to cut it. She is supposed to be the one girl in the world - she's just not made for sunshine and picnics in the end. I think she loved him in the same way she loved Xander - just a bit more physicality involved! He was another person in her life that was supposed to keep her human.
spikesjojospikesjojo on August 3rd, 2013 03:21 am (UTC)
Besides which, once he was no longer stronger than normal he felt emasculated. Not a reaction that bodes well - he is resenting something Buffy can't change.
Beckyjoans_journal on August 5th, 2013 12:51 am (UTC)
Good points!
ever_neutral: [btvs] buffy + spike = shadowsever_neutral on August 1st, 2013 08:30 am (UTC)
Yeah, what everyone else said -- Buffy loved Riley, but she wasn't in love with him. I think the kind of love she felt for him was good enough for companionship, but ultimately there wasn't any real passion or intimacy involved. They didn't get each other. And that was the real crux of their demise IMO.
kats_meow: spred the love by mekats_meow on August 1st, 2013 11:52 am (UTC)
Love, affection, camaraderie, fun to have nookie with? Yup. IN love with? Nope.
aka_zoeaka_zoe on August 1st, 2013 04:41 pm (UTC)
This, yup. It seemed to me that she thought she *should* be in love with him, that she *wanted* to be in love with him, but that she just couldn't make it happen.
Moriwen1: Foreheadsmoriwen1 on August 1st, 2013 02:33 pm (UTC)
I always thought she was in love with the idea of having a normal life, and Riley represented that for her. And then she worried that Riley wouldn't be able to cope with her being the Slayer, not because he had a problem with dating a strong woman (we see that when he comes back later) but because her fantasy of a "normal man" was one who wanted to be able to defend his girl.
Beckyjoans_journal on August 5th, 2013 12:52 am (UTC)
Yep. Agreed.
itsnotmymind: buffyitsnotmymind on August 1st, 2013 06:00 pm (UTC)
Here from the SU Herald.

Buffy did tell Angel that she loved Riley, for what that's worth. I tend to believe that she did love him--in S4 she focused on him to the detriment of her friends--but wasn't very good at expressing love by the time she and Riley got together (thanks, Angel). If she had been more openly affectionate, would their relationship ship have survived? I don't know. I think part of the problem was that Riley had lost so much of his own life, the Initiative, Maggie Walsh, and his job as a TA, that there would have been problems no matter what Buffy did. His life revolved around her, and her life didn't revolve around him, especially once the Dawn drama started.
Beckyjoans_journal on August 5th, 2013 12:55 am (UTC)
Good point. Their relationship wasn't equal, and it wasn't healthy how much stock he put in their relationship. I believe that Graham had to say-that Riley was better than the "mission's boyfriend."
ginar369ginar369 on August 15th, 2013 11:53 am (UTC)
Personally I always thought Buffy told Angel she loved Riley to hurt him. It was right after the Faith fiasco and she wanted to show Angel that she was moving on like he told her to. I never thought she was in love with him. Everyone told her she should want a normal guy. Angel, Willow, Xander all of them. This was her chance at normal. But how can a slayer ever have normal?

Riley needed to be needed. He may have gotten over that by time he met Sam or not but the Riley who dated Buffy needed to be the big protective man for the petite little blond girl. It was glaring when Joyce was in the hospital. Riley wanted to hold her and let her cry and she couldn't. She had to be the strong one right then and he wanted her weak. Her mom and sister couldn't see her lose it right then. Joyce was counting on her to take care of things and Dawn needed her to stay strong for her.

So did Buffy love Riley? No. She cared about him. She wanted to love him because everyone said she should. But she didn't and she never would. He wanted her to be someone she wasn't.
Beckyjoans_journal on August 16th, 2013 12:25 am (UTC)
Agreed! Thanks for commenting.