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Thread: Buffy's Ultimatums

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    Default Buffy's Ultimatums

    Listening to a podcast where one reviewer suggests that it's not fair to criticise Riley too much for his ultimatum to Buffy in Into The Woods, because he feels Buffy threw out a lot of ultimatums to Angel and to others.

    Is this fair? Does Buffy issue ultimatums to Angel? Or to others? I can't remember any that fall into the same category as the one Riley issues.

    (The reviewer does own his biases and the other reviewer hates Riley and is defending Buffy)

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    I am baffled. I can't remember a single scene in which Buffy gives anyone anultimatum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flow View Post
    I am baffled. I can't remember a single scene in which Buffy gives anyone anultimatum.

    flow
    Same here. I was wondering if they were thinking of Buffy saying they can only see each other as long as Angel says he doesn't love her (in Lovers Walk) and Angel can't say it. But they keep seeing each other anyway. Buffy doesn't push Angel out of her life, so it's not much of an ultimatum.

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    I can't think of something similar from Buffy either where it is a 'do this or...' situation. I'll dwell and see if anything surfaces.

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    Maybe the podcaster is talkng about ultimatums like We have to get out of here before Glory kills us off one by one.? Or else it's about hating Buffy in season 7.
    Can we agree that the writers made everyone do and say everything with a thought to getting good ratings and being renewed. This includes everything we love as well as everything we hate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bespangled View Post
    Maybe the podcaster is talkng about ultimatums like We have to get out of here before Glory kills us off one by one.? Or else it's about hating Buffy in season 7.
    He specifically mentions Angel and that he thinks Buffy is a bit hypocritical because she gave Angel ultimatums. He's not a particular Buffy fan (the character, he loves the show) so I think he's just misremembering. Once again it's a podcasters view of a character that's making him misrepresent what has actually happened.

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    I can't think of any moment when Buffy gave Angel an ultimatum, perhaps it happened in S3? I don't remember much of their relationship that season, but it was this on again/off again type of relationship, so maybe it happened in that season.
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    Well, Buffy definitely did give Angel an ultimatum in "Lovers Walk" ("There has to be a way we can still see each other" "There is. Tell me you don't love me") and I guess one could interpret her as giving him an ultimatum in "The Zeppo" as well ("Okay, this is my fight, and if you won't do it my way, then..") but the latter is in regards to the apocalypse more-so than relationship-y stuff. Nevertheless, two examples is hardly a defining characteristic of their relationship and nor does it make Buffy a hypocrite.

    I don't actually have a problem with Riley giving Buffy an ultimatum, either. Okay, I mean, it's really unfair, and I can completely understand why Buffy was so angered by it, but Riley didn't have much of a choice. He was presented with a one-time opportunity and had to make a choice that very night. It was far from ideal but I don't think Riley was deliberately giving Buffy an ultimatum. It was just really unfortunate circumstances.
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    I don't think I've ever really given Riley consideration on that front because of the context of the situation he was in, so it is an interesting/fair point to raise. I'd probably have felt more sympathetic to him on that front and more able to see that aspect initially if he hadn't been greatly blaming Buffy for his choice to go to the bite house at the time. But this does still help with my overall increasing understanding of Riley's perspective and path, so thank you for that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    I don't think I've ever really given Riley consideration on that front because of the context of the situation he was in, so it is an interesting/fair point to raise. I'd probably have felt more sympathetic to him on that front and more able to see that aspect initially if he hadn't been greatly blaming Buffy for his choice to go to the bite house at the time. But this does still help with my overall increasing understanding of Riley's perspective and path, so thank you for that.
    THIS. He was such a big baby

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    I don't think I've ever really given Riley consideration on that front because of the context of the situation he was in, so it is an interesting/fair point to raise. I'd probably have felt more sympathetic to him on that front and more able to see that aspect initially if he hadn't been greatly blaming Buffy for his choice to go to the bite house at the time. But this does still help with my overall increasing understanding of Riley's perspective and path, so thank you for that.
    See, I don't even think he was trying to blame Buffy for going to the bite house either. After all, he does state;

    RILEY
    This isn't your fault. It's mine. I feel like hell for what I've put you through.
    I think Riley was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Granted, much of that is his own doing, but his behaviour *was* a reaction to how he perceived, at least, Buffy's behaviour to him. I think his attempts to explain why he did what he did comes across to Buffy (and much of the audience it seems) as him blaming Buffy for his behaviour, whereas, I think he's just trying to honestly explain to Buffy what he's going through and why he messed up.

    Riley's actions are a case of cause and effect. They don't exist in a vacuum. He believes Buffy was acting a certain way in their relationship > which leads to Riley feeling unneeded > which leads to Riley messing up. Riley still takes full ownership of messing up (see my quote above ^) but he attempts to explain to Buffy *why* he messed up. That inevitably leads Buffy to perceive his explanation as him trying to assign blame but I really don't think that's what he was doing. He was just trying to be emotionally honest to get to the root of the issue that caused him to go to the bite house. Now, I don't even agree with how he perceives Buffy as I feel it's unfair, though I do think I understand it, but I think it's far more important to be honest rather than just self-flagellate about how badly he's behaved even if that's more appeasing to Buffy (and the audience).

    I think Riley was a little damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. Which, again, is a lot of his own fault, but I think Buffy was too hurt and too defensive to really engage in a conversation with him. She says it herself that she's not ready to talk to him yet. However, the circumstances of that night demanded it of course.
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    I don’t think Riley blamed Buffy for his decision to go to the bitehouse, but I do think he blamed her for the problems in their relationship. He owns up to the wrongness of his actions and what he put her through, but when talking about the actual problems in their relationship, he puts it all on her. IMO, the problems with Buffy and Riley’s relationship in Season 5 was more about Riley’s insecurity than it was about Buffy’s guardedness.

    I mean, don’t get me wrong, I think Buffy *does* shut him out too much during that arc, but I don’t think she does it consciously. Honestly, I think Buffy’s guardedness with Riley during the “No Place Like Home” – “Into the Woods” arc could have been solved if Riley had actually communicated with her about his problems with feeling left out, but his insecurity prevented him from doing that.

    IMO, Riley didn’t really want to talk to Buffy about his issues with their relationship. If he did, he would have instead of waiting until he was caught to do so. He just wanted *her* to open up to *him*, not vice versa. Riley didn’t want to be the needy one, he wanted to be the one who was needed. But talking to Buffy and letting her know how much her lack of emotional transparency was upsetting him would have contradicted that and made *Riley* the needy person, which he doesn’t want to be.

    Riley would have been way more sympathetic to me during that arc if 1) he had actually *tried* to talk to Buffy about his feelings, only for her to shut it down or 2) if, during their confrontation, he had actually owned up to his own insecurities about not having a purpose and how that affected his and Buffy’s relationship and caused him to seek vampwhores in order to feel something. Instead, I feel like he just places everything all on her.

    That whole arc just leaves a sour taste in my mouth because, even though she’s too emotional and angry to listen to him during the actual moment, I think Buffy really does take Riley’s (and Xander’s) words to heart and believes that the imploding of their relationship is entirely HER fault. And it’s not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vampmogs View Post
    I think Riley was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Granted, much of that is his own doing, but his behaviour *was* a reaction to how he perceived, at least, Buffy's behaviour to him. I think his attempts to explain why he did what he did comes across to Buffy (and much of the audience it seems) as him blaming Buffy for his behaviour, whereas, I think he's just trying to honestly explain to Buffy what he's going through and why he messed up.

    Riley's actions are a case of cause and effect. They don't exist in a vacuum. He believes Buffy was acting a certain way in their relationship > which leads to Riley feeling unneeded > which leads to Riley messing up. Riley still takes full ownership of messing up (see my quote above ^) but he attempts to explain to Buffy *why* he messed up. That inevitably leads Buffy to perceive his explanation as him trying to assign blame but I really don't think that's what he was doing. He was just trying to be emotionally honest to get to the root of the issue that caused him to go to the bite house. Now, I don't even agree with how he perceives Buffy as I feel it's unfair, though I do think I understand it, but I think it's far more important to be honest rather than just self-flagellate about how badly he's behaved even if that's more appeasing to Buffy (and the audience).

    I think Riley was a little damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. Which, again, is a lot of his own fault, but I think Buffy was too hurt and too defensive to really engage in a conversation with him. She says it herself that she's not ready to talk to him yet. However, the circumstances of that night demanded it of course.
    I do see the cause and effect of what fed into Riley going to the bite houses. I have actually come to find Riley's arc a really interesting aspect of S4-5 and the issues of self worth and purpose in his relationship with Buffy is really fascinating. But like Andrew S my perception was always that there is too much pushing onto Buffy in the conversation between them. I appreciate what you're saying about him somewhat holding his hands up about the bite houses, he's not without any self awareness or self blame at all. But the pressure of the moment and his wish to finally be understood and face what has happened in their relationship does give a leaning towards how Buffy's withdrawal and limitation on them created his issues rather than really drawing out his underlying insecurities that feed those responses. A lot of Riley feeling unneeded is about his own wishes within a relationship that feed from his personality. Some of that isn't wrong and is just about individual wants, but some of that is about his expectations that Buffy would/could change to be what he wanted rather than trying to find what he needed elsewhere (like having his own mission, which is what he is going to leave to do), just within a workable distance to where he could also have the relationship too. Owning and saying it is your fault sounds pretty hollow when you then go on to explain why someone else's behaviour created or fed into what you did and that becomes the focus of the discussion. I really need to rewatch it to consider how the time pressure fairly generates the direction the conversation goes. My feeling at the moment is that it is a no win situation as it is the scenario he has been presented with but it isn't really reasonable to expect Buffy to process everything that has happened and decide if she can get past it in that short a time, it's too big.

    I actually don't think he's entirely wrong about the ways that Buffy shut him out and the fact of why the time pressure is even there really underlines the lack that he feels because of what promise there clearly is for him in the opportunity he has been offered. But that time pressure and desire to finally air all has always felt to me like it does push what bothered him to the front rather than owning/airing his own inadequacies and neediness that was unfulfilled and giving any sense that he could look to manage that in a different way to give their relationship another breath of life himself, other than running off for the job he's been offered. I'll be interested to see when I next rewatch it if this discussion about the time pressure of the moment has affected how frustrated I've always felt with that sense of blaming Buffy, even if it's just a little.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    I do see the cause and effect of what fed into Riley going to the bite houses. I have actually come to find Riley's arc a really interesting aspect of S4-5 and the issues of self worth and purpose in his relationship with Buffy is really fascinating. But like Andrew S my perception was always that there is too much pushing onto Buffy in the conversation between them. I appreciate what you're saying about him somewhat holding his hands up about the bite houses, he's not without any self awareness or self blame at all. But the pressure of the moment and his wish to finally be understood and face what has happened in their relationship does give a leaning towards how Buffy's withdrawal and limitation on them created his issues rather than really drawing out his underlying insecurities that feed those responses. A lot of Riley feeling unneeded is about his own wishes within a relationship that feed from his personality. Some of that isn't wrong and is just about individual wants, but some of that is about his expectations that Buffy would/could change to be what he wanted rather than trying to find what he needed elsewhere (like having his own mission, which is what he is going to leave to do), just within a workable distance to where he could also have the relationship too. Owning and saying it is your fault sounds pretty hollow when you then go on to explain why someone else's behaviour created or fed into what you did and that becomes the focus of the discussion. I really need to rewatch it to consider how the time pressure fairly generates the direction the conversation goes. My feeling at the moment is that it is a no win situation as it is the scenario he has been presented with but it isn't really reasonable to expect Buffy to process everything that has happened and decide if she can get past it in that short a time, it's too big.

    I actually don't think he's entirely wrong about the ways that Buffy shut him out and the fact of why the time pressure is even there really underlines the lack that he feels because of what promise there clearly is for him in the opportunity he has been offered. But that time pressure and desire to finally air all has always felt to me like it does push what bothered him to the front rather than owning/airing his own inadequacies and neediness that was unfulfilled and giving any sense that he could look to manage that in a different way to give their relationship another breath of life himself, other than running off for the job he's been offered. I'll be interested to see when I next rewatch it if this discussion about the time pressure of the moment has affected how frustrated I've always felt with that sense of blaming Buffy, even if it's just a little.

    Buffy had no responsibility to change her basic nature in order to better suit Riley. That's what he was unwilling to face. Buffy doesn't damsel, and she doesn't confide. Part of loving someone is accepting who they are, and loving them. His way of trying to make her change was to let her know that her love was inferior in quality, and she wasn't able to make him feel loved. That was also Riley's problem that he wanted Buffy to fix.

    Riley didn't love Buffy - he loved the companion super soldier she'd been before the Initiative folded. It got worse after he lost his super powers. He needed a woman who was willing to come to him with her problems so they could do everything side by side. They were now a bad match and Riley wanted Buffy to diminish in order to feel like the man in the relationship. That's not love. She's the slayer - not a prop for his masculinity

    What should he have done? Not drop all his needs on Buffy. Taken a few classes to meet more people....gotten a job to support himself...created a life that Buffy could have been p[art of instead of insisting she had to be everything to him. Buffy had far more pressure on her than he had - and she tried to love him the best she felt she could. If it wasn't enough for him then he didn't need to act out to get her attention so she would drop everything to reassure him again.
    Can we agree that the writers made everyone do and say everything with a thought to getting good ratings and being renewed. This includes everything we love as well as everything we hate.

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    The Riley ultimatum has always been simple to me, it's Riley saying 'I've cheated and I'm sorry I got caught, but it's all your fault. If you'd have been different, I'd have been different. So I can't be blamed for anything really, oh and if you don't change your behaviour I'm leaving,'

    When he and Buffy finally talk he paints himself as some sort of victim in this relationship, while also trying to confuse and silence Buffy. His opening gambit is 'I wanted to even the score after you let Dracula bite you'. So he immediately blames Buffy - she 'let' Dracula bite her, it was her fault and Riley feels bad that he can't compete with vampires.

    When he does talk to Buffy he says 'This isn't your fault. It's mine. I feel like hell for what I've put you through. (Buffy still doesn't look at him) It's just... (sighs) these girls-' Now this is straight out of the Joss Whedon playbook . . . all those young needy actresses . . . made him feel something his wife couldn't

    As for Buffy not opening up to him about Joyce, when has she ever been an open person? Her nature is to deal with things herself as much as possible. I would also say that when Riley was having heart problems, he didn't go to Buffy to discuss them with her. When faced with them, he ran away, afraid to deal with his own emotional issues.

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    Apologies, first, for my long delay in joining this thread:

    Have been reading with great interest, but a deadline—one
    that I am, for this short passage of words, denying, looms, even
    as the words refuse their flow…

    But—

    I am suddenly overwhelmed by a desperate desire to pretend that
    Dickinson, Darwin, and the Anthropocene do not press demands
    upon me….

    Much of what I have to say resonates with the fine posts of vampmogs,
    Andrew S, Stoney, bespangled, and Priceless, although it takes your
    ideas in a slightly different direction…

    It also draws on a longer piece I wrote months ago on the Buffy/Riley
    relationship: the link it is just below, if you are interested, but I will here
    just quote the most relevant passages, as much of the remainder involves
    a discussion of Irony, Schlegel, and AYW

    At work, to me, in the final confrontation between Buffy and Riley is not
    simply that Riley is, in his way, in love with Buffy, even as he knows that she
    is not in love with him (much as I do think she loves him in a certain way): it
    is also that rather than directly face this, as bespangled noted, he tried to
    salvage a sort of relationship with her even knowing this—and that the relationship
    he sought was utterly normative. Here, I do not think his drive to normalization
    grounded itself in patriarchal expectations, in expectations that Buffy damsel
    herself for him; rather, it lay in his desire—despite his stated love for Buffy’s
    craziness (see The Replacement)—for a perfectly settled, ordered relationship, one
    in which he knew always his place, one in which Buffy would be a proper girlfriend,
    turning to him in times of distress, depending upon him, so that he would know
    exactly where he stood in relation to her. But this was impossible for two reasons:
    first, Buffy was not given to structured relations, with set roles to play—a boyfriend
    does x, y, and z, a girlfriend a, b, and c—was given more to a certain spontaneity and
    subversion of settled orders (hence her turning away from the Council); second, Buffy
    could not trust Riley fully because she sensed, at least unconsciously, his devotion to
    order, sensed what that might lead him to do (see, in the early episodes of S5, his
    repeated references to the Initiative or the Army as a source of support).

    For if there is one thing Riley loves more than Buffy, it is being a soldier: his deepest
    sense of self is grounded in that normative form. And this is something he cannot admit—
    an inability that leads him to be dishonest not only Buffy but, more crucially, himself, in
    his explanation of his turn to the vampires—

    As I wrote before:

    Riley: It’s just, these girls…

    Buffy: Vampires. Killers.

    Riley: They made me feel something, Buffy—something… Something I didn’t even know I was missing until…

    Buffy: I can’t—I can’t hear this—

    Riley: You need to hear this—

    Buffy: Fine. Fine. Tell me about your whores. Tell me what on the earth they were giving you that I can’t.

    Riley: They needed me.

    Buffy: They needed your money. It wasn’t about you—

    Riley: No. On some basic level it was about me: my blood, my body. When they bit me—it was beyond passion: they wanted to devour me. All of me.

    Buffy: Why are you telling me this?

    Riley: It wasn’t real—I know. It was just physical. But the fact that I craved it, that I kept going back—even though it was fleeting, they made me feel as if they had such… hunger… for me.

    Buffy: And I don’t… make you feel that way?
    ItW
    They needed me…. On some basic level it was about me: my blood, my body.

    In biting Riley, sucking upon him, drawing their life from his, the vampire “girls”—we may speculate upon Riley’s use of that word in place of the more respectful “women”—made him feel not only that they needed him but that he alone would satisfy their most primal need: they made Riley feel as if he had a place in their world, a place that he alone could fill. They gave him a place to stand (or lie supine across…). A place from which the world again became, he thought, intelligible—the world, Buffy, and himself.

    But he was wrong—wrong not only in his understanding but in his attempt to explain it as a misunderstanding, “It wasn’t real—I know. It was just physical.” The need and its specific focus upon him were absolutely real—as well as absolutely random and absolutely momentary. For in the always delimited duration of their intimacy, each woman did need Riley in his personal specificity, but this specific need came only because his was the specific warm body, his the specific blood that chanced to be there. It could have been someone else—and soon it would be. To them, for those moments, Riley in his specificity was utterly necessary and utterly fungible.

    To be in a place where one is at once completely necessary in and of oneself yet utterly fungible—that is the place of a soldier. The military compels obedience in part by evoking in each soldier the strong but illusory sense of her unique value, the sense that she must be the specific one at a specific place at a specific moment to do a specific good and necessary thing, even as it allows the truth of her fungibility to loom, a clouding threat. Each soldier is absolutely needed to perform x act—until she dies… Then another soldier will be put in her place, drawn to save, to kill in the same way. This aspect of his life—this Riley never grasped, not being given to ask questions for himself, not being shaped to see, to think outside the matrices of power that made him. Nor could he see it after he had officially left, walked outside: he was still so fixed on fixing himself, on being fixed to a necessary place, that he could not apprehend the extent to which his mind had been always already fixed to see according to a determined logic of structured relations and commands.

    Thus he could not see the illusory nature of the place he filled in the vampires’ non-life, and thus he could not see the way in which he imposed a certain military structure upon his relationship with Buffy…

    (end of quote... )

    And yes, I do think he ends up blaming Buffy: You keep me at a distance, Buffy. You didn’t even call me….


    Were Buffy’s responses perfect here? Did she truly seek to understand what Riley was saying?

    No.

    In part, most deeply, the wound of his betrayal—that cut too raw for her to be open to listening, to asking, to even grasping clearly his self-delusion.

    Was time a factor? One that created a no-win situation?

    That I am not so sure of…

    On one level, it seems to me that the Army wanted Riley: he could have joined them later…

    On another, I do not think that Riley wanted more time: part of him wanted to leave, wanted to return to his greatest love, to the way of being that would return him to a stable knowledge of who he was, what his future would be. (No wonder he fell in love with Sam—no pushover as a woman but another soldier, wedded to military hierarchy, chains of order… )

    Thus his demand for immediate resolution from Buffy, his ultimatum: not because this was his only chance to return to the Army but because he desperately desired to return to the settled self, the soldier-self with a determined place in the world, the self whose being Buffy, given that her very way of moving through the world worked to endlessly subvert given structures of authority (until S7… but we’ll discuss that soon, how Buffy erred in becoming a general, how she removed herself from that position… ), endlessly ungrounded. She had to give him a place in her life akin to what the Army offered, the place of an boyfriend-as-soldier, or he would leave to take that place, become an actual soldier.

    And here, he really did not have any time to give Buffy to cool down, work things out: as he noted to Spike, I left reason a few exits ago—he had reached a breaking point. Without a place in the world, only the nether-world of vampires gave him the drugish-induced illusion, if temporarily, that such a place existed for him. Even more, I think he knew, in his desperation, growing as it had been over the last months, that Buffy would never fall in line—that no more time, no long talks, that nothing would bring the solution he sought…

    In all this, I do bear a certain sympathy for Riley, bound as he was by his upbringing (I have lived in Iowa… talk about normative forces… ) and his training, incapable, despite his I’m an Anarchist (NMR), of shivering off his inability to bear the world, sustain relations with or within it, without the structures of authority that shaped his being…

    At the same time, his resistance to self-knowledge (another part of his training, I know—but also a sign of his resistance to learning anything from Buffy, his resistance to opening himself to the change she could have given him, the becoming… ) did lead him to blame Buffy—

    And Buffy—in part due to her mother’s death, that abyssal loss; in part due to the traumatic sense of wrongness bred into her by her parents and, I think, the traumatic influx of her Calling under the control of the Council; in part due to her related desire to be a normal girl with a normal boyfriend, her investment in Riley as such a creature, a sign of her own inability to be fully honest with herself—internalizes this blame, sees herself as the one at fault for the crash of their relationship, a blaming that resonates through the end of S5, that resurfaces in the depth of her depression in S6.


    * http://www.buffyforums.net/forums/sh...l=1#post737465


    Last edited by StateOfSiege97; 16-07-19 at 03:53 PM.

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    On another, I do not think that Riley wanted more time: part of him wanted to leave, wanted to return to his greatest love, to the way of being that would return him to a stable knowledge of who he was, what his future would be. (No wonder he fell in love with Sam—no pushover as a woman but another soldier, wedded to military hierarchy, chains of order… )
    Completely agree with this. I think he goes to Spike first because he wants to run down the clock. He wants Buffy not to have enough time to either change her mind, change his, persude him etc.

    Riley uses Spike as a sounding board, to get his feelings clear, to really finally see what's going on and who Buffy is without him. He pretends to himself, and Spike, that he's gone there to kill him, but of course he won't do that because he already knows he's leaving and that he's lost any ground he had.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bespangled View Post
    Buffy had no responsibility to change her basic nature in order to better suit Riley. That's what he was unwilling to face. Buffy doesn't damsel, and she doesn't confide. Part of loving someone is accepting who they are, and loving them. His way of trying to make her change was to let her know that her love was inferior in quality, and she wasn't able to make him feel loved. That was also Riley's problem that he wanted Buffy to fix.
    Don't get me wrong, just because I understand the path Riley took and the character issues that played their parts in why the relationship was unsatisfying for him, can see how Buffy's personality and responses to him didn't meet his expectations, that doesn't mean that I think that the responsibility falls to Buffy to 'fix' things. It doesn't mean that I think that Buffy should have changed what she wanted/needed/herself to be what he wants. Not at all. Either of them could choose to look to shift their own expectations to try to make the relationship work, if they really wanted, and I think that is what Buffy considers doing when she chases after him. But I don't think it would have worked personally because she wasn't ever going to be needy and would always be stronger. I actually agree that they aren't a great mix because I think they do want a different relationship dynamic than they manage together. He'd have had to satisfy those needs at least somewhat outside the relationship and all of this is why I feel that it's fair to think that if Riley really wanted the relationship to work with Buffy that he would have considered where else he could have gained satisfaction for his wish to be leaned on, such as through work (which is, as I said, effectively what he leaves to go and do, just in the jungle rather than close to home when the relationship could perhaps have survived as well). Essentially they just didn't want the same thing from each other.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Great post SoS and I very much agree that a set way, order and discipline are deeply important to Riley. If not I think he could have sought other ways to satisfy his need to feel a place, to have some sense of structure and order alongside the relationship. But the level which he looks for is greater than 'alongside' allows and he wants to feel it in a way Buffy 'as is' doesn't offer. It is in this way he isn't wanting and looking for change in himself but in how they are together which then would/could have come from Buffy trying to be other than she is. Something I really do think would have eventually failed. I also agree that Buffy's tendency to internalise and blame herself for things that she can't 'save' means that she takes on the responsibility for the break and her failure to adapt in time to stop him leaving becomes the focus of the split rather than Riley's choice to go to the opportunity in the jungle rather than finding alternatives himself. The whole relationship and it's twists and turns is really very interesting through S4 & 5 and, as you say, what is seen of the fall out in S6 for them both too.
    Last edited by Stoney; 16-07-19 at 12:36 PM.

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    I completely agree with vampmogs that Riley had been given an ultimatmum as well. He didn't have much time. He had to make his decision within hours.

    Of course he could have made the decision whether he should try to ear back Buffy's trust without putting the pressure on Buffy and demanding from her a promise that she would make his decline of the offer worthwhile. But we are only humans and I can understand that Riley was only ready to let that once in a lifetime chance with the army pass for his relationship with Buffy if there was at least a very tiny possibility that they could and would repair their relationship. He gets a pass for this as well (at least from me).

    What really really really pisses me off though is that he said "I am not giving you an ultimatum". That was not only a lie. It was manipulative.

    flow

    - - - Updated - - -

    I don't agree though that Buffy gave Angel an ultimatum in Lovers Walk. Sure, she said "Tell me, you don't love me and we can see each other as friends".

    However, what she really meant was something completely different.

    She never seriously considered Angel would say those words nor did she want him to. What she really said was "We have both been pretending those last few weeks and months that we are just friends but we were lying to each other. We want to be more than friends and we both want it and we want it desperately.

    We can't go on lying to us and we can't go back to being lovers. Therefore there is no way for us to see each other again. The only way would be if one of us or both of us are not in love any more. Then we could be friends. But that's not how it is."

    She did not gave him an ultimatum. She simply faced a difficult truth and dealt with it.

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    I never had any problem with Riley's "ultimatum" or whatever it was. He was on crossroad, either he would try to save relations that clearly doesn't work anymore or he would return to his military career and try to find purpose in life again. So he tried to clarify his relations with Buffy one last time and gave her choice to made. Was it unfair? Of course it was, but second choice was to decide it himself and just break up with her. Whatever he would chose it would hurt Buffy anyway, so...

    As for it's all been his own "insecurities" then I would say no to that. He was absolutely right about her. Buffy didn't need him and didn't love him nearly as much as Angel and then Spike. She said to Spike that he was "just convenient", but it was Riley who fits this phrase, not Spike. Yes, Buffy had no responsibility to change her nature, but nor Riley should be taken responsible for not wanting to settle for something that wasn't enough for him.

    And one more moment about "nature" of Buffy. In seven season she gave Spike all that Riley could ever hoped for. Spike who wasn't even her boyfriend at that moment was thousand times closer to her than Riley ever was. One phrase "because I'm not ready for you to not be here" sums it up perfectly. If Buffy had ever felt that way about Riley they wouldn't get to that "ultimatum" moment. All what happened wasn't Riley or Buffy fault, they just weren't the right ones for each other.

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