The Vampire Diaries panel @ Comic-Con (July 14, 2012)
I think that when “I love you” is said to Damon it’s going to be really specific, deliberate, and very special. I don’t think Elena could have said, “I love you, Damon” and even if she does love him, even if she has these deep feelings for him, because she still loves Stefan and to respect that relationship and to be committed in that moment as she decided to choose that relationship, she couldn’t say it. You know, there’s still that story left to tell before those words can come out of her mouth.
He was destroyed for so many reasons. Meredith had already broken the news to him, so in that moment of lying over Elena’s body, he was mourning her as a human and realizing that ultimately he was unable to save her from the one thing she never wanted, which was to be a vampire. That’s going to weigh on him really heavily and it’s going to piss Damon off like nobody’s business, that Stefan saved Matt instead of Elena. Stefan had a big burden in that moment and what he had to do was be true to Elena. It’s like choosing to take someone off life support because it was their wish or to keep them on because you can’t let them go. It was what she wanted, and Stefan, if nothing else, has always been able to let her make her decision. If, as a vampire, she starts to make the wrong decisions, then we’ll see a shift in Stefan and how he feels about helping Elena through things. I think we’ll start to get a glimpse at the different sides of Stefan in a relationship, where it’s not going to be all peaches and cream and love and unconditional, unwavering support of Elena’s decision. Elena is no longer Elena.
Julie Plec on Stefan